Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Email Exchange With Five Star Professonal's Media Manager

NOTE: I sent an email to Five Star Professional seeking answers to several questions.  The answers by Media Manager Jennifer Alexander appear in red below.

First, could you mail me a copy of the advertising insert from 5280 Magazine last September?  I don't subscribe to the magazine and I have never seen the insert.

I have attached a watermarked pdf of the section for you to review. [Posted at www.JimSmithColumns.com.]

Second, you mentioned adding a "minimum production requirement" this year, but you didn't indicate what that requirement is.  No, we don’t. The minimum production requirements are set once we have gathered all the data from each market. This keeps the research values relative to each market. How many seller sides and how many buyer sides must an agent have produced, and how do you get that information without access to the MLS? We contact all recent homebuyers in a given timeframe and ask them to evaluate up to two real estate agents. This gives each recent homebuyer the opportunity to evaluate an agent on both the buy side and the sell side.  

Third, do you provide any data or information to the awardee him/herself as to the responses you receive on that awardee?  No, we do not. Our standard research process encourages respondents to provide an evaluation of their real estate agent, either favorable or unfavorable. To encourage this kind of response, the respondent is assured anonymity. 

Fourth, is it not true that your only phone call to the awardee is by a telemarketer seeking the purchase of advertising space, reprints, plaques, etc.? No, this is not true. We reach out to each award candidate during the research phase, sometimes 3-5 times, before they are ever named a Five Star Professional.
 
Fifth, can you provide me with the rate card for each of those upsells?  (price for each size display ad in the supplement, plus other products they can purchase) I have attached an order form from the 2012 program in Denver. Please note that no one ever pays to be included on the list. We provide the listing in the magazine and on our website at no charge to the winners. The items contained on the attached order form are optional. [Posted at www.JimSmithColumns.com.] 

Sixth, do you inform awardees that they should not say they were selected "by 5280 Magazine" for this honor, that they may only say they are a "5280 Five Star Agent".  (This is from 5280 Publisher Dan Brogan's email, saying that would be wrong.)  Could you provide me with the written instructions you give to all awardees (not just the upsells) as to how they may promote their award? Our award guidelines are similar among all of our programs. Our standard guideline for how to refer to the award reads:  “Do not imply endorsement from Five Star Professional or the magazine. Correct use: Jane Doe is featured in 5280 Magazine as a 2012 Five Star Real Estate Agent. Incorrect Use: 5280 Magazine selected Jane Doe as a 2012 Five Star Real Estate Agent.”  Our Real Estate Award Guidelines are currently being improved and will be finalized shortly.
Seventh, I understand that 5280 Magazine provides you with a subscriber list so that you can mail all subscribers a survey form, apparently without knowing in advance that any given subscriber had a transaction within the study's timeframe.  Is that correct?  No. At one time we included a portion of magazine subscribers in our research activities, along with the complete list of recent homebuyers. We stopped doing this in Denver in 2011.  

If so, what percentage of your survey responses come from such a mailing versus other outreach.  All evaluations of real estate agents came from recent home buyers. For the 2012 program in Denver, we surveyed all homebuyers with a transaction of $150,000+  between February 2011 and October 2011. 

Assuming you have other outreach, who is your vendor for providing the contact info for buyers and sellers of homes in the target area and during the target timeframe?  All of our research is done internally. Information regarding the list vendor we use is proprietary to Crescendo Business Services. 

Eighth, what exactly is meant by "partnering" with 5280 Magazine?  It seems to me that the magazine is simply selling you advertising space.  Is the provision of their subscriber database for mailings (if true) the extent of your partnership, or is there some other aspect to it?   Again, we did not utilize the subscriber list in our research. Our partnership with magazines is a mutually beneficial relationship. The magazine provides an outlet for showcasing our award winners, and the magazine benefits by having high-quality content readers enjoy. Our program creates an opportunity for the magazine to set their reputation as a resource when looking for real estate-related content, which tends to be popular among readers.

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