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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Find a ‘5-Star Professional’ in This Month’s 5280 Magazine

[Published Sept. 11, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

Every year readers of 5280 Magazine are treated to a paid advertising supplement from a Minnesota company called Five Star Professional.  The supplement — 109 pages this year — is surely a money-maker for the magazine, which has nothing to do with its content.

The business plan of Five Star Professional is to find hundreds of agents who have sold home(s) during the past year and who are licensed by the state, with no disciplinary actions recorded against them.  Once the “nominated” agents satisfy those criteria, they are offered upsells starting at $445 for a 1/14th page directory listing (on their 2012 order form) up to $4,695 for a full page ad. Read their full 2012 upsell price list at www.JimSmithColumns.com.

Each year I’m surprised by how many of my truly successful colleagues are not listed. In its defense, Five Star Professional will tell you “customer satisfaction” and not sales volume is their criterion. They claim to interview thousands of past clients, but the organization won’t tell even the nominated agent which client(s) nominated or spoke well of them.

Bottom line, consumers need to realize that it’s all paid advertising — as is my own column/ad, of course — and that nominees who don’t pay extra get only their name and company listed — no contact information is provided.  Agents who don’t buy the upsell are basically “overhead” for Five Star Professional’s advertising supplement.

What I object to most, as a former professional journalist, is that 5280 Magazine appears unconcerned with how most Five Star “winners” portray themselves as having been awarded that status by the magazine, when the magazine has absolutely no role in selecting them or creating the advertising supplement, and the agents who pay for those larger display ads write the ad copy themselves. 

You’ll note that the ad supplement isn’t even mentioned on the magazine’s cover (see photo above), in their table of contents or on their website.  Check it out yourself at www.5280.com/magazine
 
Compare this to 5280 Magazine's August issue featuring “Top Doctors” — an entirely in-house effort meeting high journalistic standards — and featured on their cover and on their website. The publisher is justly proud of that product.

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