Back in New York City: Urban Registry, A Journey Back In Time

UrbanRegistryProofOfConcept

Posted originally on June 02 2006.

Look at the apartments in New York City! Check out http://www.urbanregistry.com, if you live in Manhattan or Brooklyn, or are looking to rent or buy a home in Gotham city. They’ve opened their doors to thousands of apartments and houses available for rent across the entire city. You know another good thing, there’s no service fee!

Ever searched for Housing or Apartments online? Well, I have searched for real estate and/or apartments in recent years – using Craigslist, Zillow, Trulia and such… but that’s now.

Way back, in 2006, Urban Registry was also in the same space (pun intended) i.e. in the domain of aggregated real estate search. We were building this vertical search engine, and in my role as Marketing Director, was looking for every which avenue to market our virtual product. Initially I had zero marketing $$$ at my disposal… but went ahead to create a page on Wikipedia with a ‘neutral pov’. (Soon after it was deleted.) Later, with just a $1,000 as my budget, I liaised with the Gothamist, Curbed.com, and many such New York centric online publications to figure out the how to for promoting our brand. Trulia, Redfin, Zillow, PropertyShark and a whole bunch of other sites were in the running.

I learned a bit about ‘aggregation’, and earned just enough to keep head above high water.  I wrote copy for banner ads that would run sporadically on the online websites… measurement of the effectiveness of ads, hits, eyeballs, conversions, was hard to gauge. SEO was in its nascent stages (no matter what anyone will say). Before you knew it, in a blink, the princely thousand dollars had vanished in cyberspace. Zillow went public, then acquired Trulia, Redfin is around I believe… but Urban Registry… no marks for guessing about its whereabouts. My contract with them had ended. Oddly, what could have been a great brand in the real estate search space… became another me-too, a forgotten internet company in cyberspace. Why did they let it go, I’m still baffled!  Did I post about lost kingdoms a short while back? Well, those who own parking garages and real estate in Manhattan needn’t to worry about loose change, eh? 😉

Our failures stem from fear… but surely someone succeeds?

Yesterday, I blogged about the basis of our fears. Today I’m thinking of other issues related to fear. Think of the personal consequences, and think of who benefits from one’s personal fears. You and I may not even consciously view these as fears or as the demons you must battle against.

When danger looms ahead, we are alarmed, filled with fear, dread the consequences e.g. in an exam for which you did not do quite as well as you should have, you dread the results – that sense of anticipated failure. Now if the exam is critical, the fear gets compounded. Think of it, if you fared poorly, and your job promotion had depended upon it, you will be anxious. But if   you were without a job for months, and if this exam was your singular ray of hope, the consequences of failure may be even more severe. Anxiety, worry, tension aside, you may actually stand in cold sweat, fearing the worst consequences, while you await the results.

Fear also causes:

angst, anxiety, concern

despair, dismay, doubt, dread

horror, jitters, panic

scare, suspicion, terror, unease

worry, abhorrence, agitation

aversion, awe, consternation

cowardice, creeps, discomposure

disquietude, distress

faint-heartedness, foreboding, fright

funk, misgiving, nightmare

phobia, pre-sentiment

qualm, reverence, revulsion

timidity, trembling, tremor, trepidation

bête noire, chicken-heartedness

cold feet, cold sweat

recreancy or defection

Why so many words? Well, there are subtle differences. Some of these are more pronounced than others, depending on the cause and/or consequence.

Have you ever considered that much to their own advantage, companies across the board feed off customers’ fears. In direct contrast to the variants of fear, they offer “value additions” along with their products. We, as their customers, buy into their reassuring ad campaigns, which more often than not offer a combination of these:

calmness, cheer, confidence, contentment

ease, encouragement

faith, happiness, joy

trust, comfort

like, love

bravery, courage

heroism, unconcern,

fearlessness

Through their social media marketing, or advertising messages, when brand or corporate ad campaigns do not reinforce these positive emotions in their audiences, the campaigns are deemed to have failed. Little or zero impact on customers’ psyche leads to fewer conversions, and thereby a failed media campaign. All the hi-flying numbers, communication strategy etc means nada, if social media marketers or corporate leaders do not get this basic idea right.

In closing, think of all the insurance companies, beauty products, health-related brands/services, funeral services, real estate, transportation, education, political campaigns, or then even social media… Beneath all the sweet words of wisdom is an underlying message – If you don’t buy into our brand, the chances are you will lose out. They subliminally evoke latent fear.

Lose out from being part of a larger social circle, or a club, or a group, or from your family… the “affiliation to something desirable” or sought after. That causes fear, which could then lead to personal failure; “If I don’t buy into this pricey club membership, my circle of friends will think I’m uncool and folks may begin to alienate me.”  This notion of failure is daunting for all of us… hence this business strategy propagates, companies funnel their offerings through the media you and I are likely to use; and we feed through it consuming their whole nine yards.