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Plan your Xmas Shopping Ahead & Get it Done Stress-free2014-12-03T14:47:15+00:00

The holidays are here and besides having fun with your family & friends is also time to get crazy doing your Christmas shopping, right? Well, at least for most of people holiday shopping means congested malls, crowded stores and a tireless search for the perfect gift for those that you care about.
But here is the thing: everything will be easier if you have a plan set. So follow our tips and enjoy the Christmas season more.

1. Take Your Christmas Gift List

Remember our last post about learn how to organize the best Christmas Gift List and keep within budget? So it’s time to take it! Hopefully, now you have an idea of what you are going to buy for family & friends.
And if you are missing clients and colleagues’ presents, sign up for Nimble to find out the best gift for them. It will help you to know what they have been up to and subsequently, it will make your life much easier.
In addition to this, remember that you have a budget so that you will not end up overspending.

2. Try The Online World & Skip The Lineups

If shopping centers sound like a mayhem and you would do anything to avoid it, so Internet will be your best friend! You can search options and prices, find Xmas wish lists, order gifts online and all this from the comfort of your own home.

Here are some ideas of website that you should take a look at:

Amazon l Chapter Indigo l eBay l Home Depot l FutureShop Online l Marcy’s l Toys R us l Walmart

And even if you still have to go shopping afterall, searching online first will definitely help you to save time & money.

3. Check The Malls’ Schedules

Try to hit the mall as soon as the stores are opening, when there is no lengthy lineups and store clerks are all available only for you. And it’s even better if you can shop during the week.
For those who can only go after work, the good new is that most of the shopping centers are open until later.

Check out some of the schedules:

Metrotown l Oakridge Centre l Pacific Centre l Park Royal

4. Stop postponing

Last but not less, Xmas shopping is inevitable. So put off procrastinating, make your plan and go shopping right away! Call a friend and enjoy the opportunity to hang out and see all the kind of ornate around the city.

It’s all about Christmas, so have fun and Happy Holidays!

Follow us for #30daysxmas on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram!

5 Realtor® Branding Myths, And How To Avoid Mistakes2017-11-03T00:25:15+00:00

The term Branding can be an ambiguous word for many business people. When many so-called graphic designers cannot even get a full grasp of it, it is hard to define what exactly is entailed in this branding process. Our Realtor® Branding Services comprehensively address all the objectives you have when it comes to branding your real estate business.

Lack of understanding of what a true branding job is can lead to a series of mistakes that can be costly down the road, both time wise and financially.

Myth #1 – I will brand later when my business grows.

Many real estate agents take the position that investing money into a branding scheme is something they should do later when there is more budget, and will hold off on it. This is one of the most common and costly mistakes you can make.

Why it’s a poor choice for your business

Whatever business cards, envelopes or feature sheets you get from your brokerage or print off on your own from your computer will not have any originality to it, rendering it mundane and forgotten among the pile of other junk. At this phase of your business when you are new & fresh, you don’t want to emphasize the lack of experience. Self-made cheap stationery, or generic brokerage provided items (unless you are with a heavily branded firm like Sotheby’s) will scream “I’m green and fresh with no budget nor experience!” Is that the brand message you want to send?

How it will cost you more $$$ in the long run

Eventually as your business grows, you will invest into a branding system (hopefully). When that is done, whatever business cards you have printed, whatever letterheads printed etc. have all gone to waste. You will also have wasted valuable months of your business phase during which your gorgeous, noticeable brand could have been exposed to more customers in your community, and online. The lost printing costs as well as the opportunity cost will far outweigh the cost of our branding packages, which start at a mere $400.

Myth #2 – I can just get my friend who’s good with Photoshop to do this.

Everybody has that one friend who’s “good with Photoshop” that offers to design a logo for you for a bottle of wine. It seems like a great cheap (or free) way to get your branding set up. Seems like a great idea, right? Wrong.

Why this will dissapoint you

We’ve seen countless incidents of such, with real estate agents bringing us a “logo” done on Photoshop. For one, Photoshop is not a vector processing software meant for press printing, so whatever looks decent on the screen has a good chance of not working out so well once printed. A proper branding job should be consistent across print & digital. Many logos have fancy metallic, gradient designs etc. without any plans on how to effectively translate that into printed surfaces. If your online logo and your business card logo has no cohesion, you do NOT have a branding scheme at all. You just have a stand-alone emblem that cannot play with others!

What a proper branding job looks like

For one, it starts with an in-depth interview of who you are, then the artwork is produced, along with a proper colour scheme and a font scheme that works in harmony. We also ensure that the brand can be consistently replicated on digital & print, on coated and uncoated surfaces, as well as on black & white. The brand should also look good in inverted colour schemes (Whether you print on black or white backgrounds), and easily applied to unconventional methods such as engraving, stitching or round-surface printing.

A good business branding system is more than just a doodle on Photoshop. Overuse of gradients, shadows, shines and other effects that ONLY look good on computer screens will lead to failure, as the main effect you considered critical to your brand cannot even be printed consistently.

Realtor branding fake logo

A great example of a poorly designed photoshop logo that has a lot of shiny visual effects that will NOT print very well at all.

Myth #3 – I should use the font used on my logo on all material.

Your name on your logo that your photoshop-fluent friend is written in a fancy font, and your first instinct is to ask “Can I have that font file?” because you want to use it on EVERYTHING you print. That is one of the worst ideas you can have.

Why this is a terrible idea

Look at some of the greatest brands in the world that have a world-wide recognition. Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson for example have very memorable fancy fonts on their logo. You will not see that logo repeated anywhere else on any of their packaging, product titles, descriptions etc. The reason is that repetition of the same fancy font is an over-indulgence that actually dilutes the brand rather than strengthens it. It’s contrast that makes you stand out, not by drowning in the same font over and over.

What to do instead

A professional branding scheme will come with a set of recommended font faces to use in conjunction with your brand to ensure the brand is emphasized well. If you didn’t get your branding done by the professionals here at Brixwork, there’s still a way. Find generic, easy-to-read fonts that contrast heavily from the style of your logo font, and you are miles ahead of the amateurs who think that repeating the font is a great idea to get the brand across.

Examples of some of the most successful and widely known brands that utilize text based logos.

Myth #4. I don’t think I need one, it’s not worth the money.

This is probably a worse mistake than #1. Many agents have all sorts of excuses to avoid the branding process. It could be that they feel that their brokerage brand is enough, or that their name & personality is enough. Also cost is another objection point.

Why it’s a gross act of mis-prioritization.

With the amount of competition of real estate agents out there, generic cards and names will be drowned out into oblivion very quickly. Our professional branding schemes, done in-house here in Gastown Vancouver, BC, cost between $400 ~ $1600 at most. Many car lease payments for just one month can fall somewhere in the middle of this range. To say that you cannot invest the equivalent of a month’s car lease payment into the face and forefront of your business is like saying “Why buy a suit when I can just wear my sweat pants to the meeting? I already have one, and a suit will cost me more money.” 

How it will cost you in the long run

Similar to #1, the amount of time you are in business without your personal branding scheme is NOT helping you at all, and the lost opportunity cost can be enormous at the end. The longer you trudge along without a clear identity presence, the more business you are losing.

This website is the result of a poorly done, or non existent branding scheme.

Myth #5. A brand/logo has to be a complex shape.

Many people think of “logos” as a complicated piece illustrated artwork that involves swirls, lines, symbolic shapes etc. and see it as a daunting process. Not all logos need to look like a complicated medieval coat-of-arms.

False. Because Less is More.

Less is more has never been a truer statement. In a world that is over crowded with over stimuli, the simplicity and elegance can often make a bigger impact. We offer a full range of services from illustrated branding which involves custom hand-drawn, hand-crafted unique symbols, all the way to type-art branding, which leverages intelligent and elegant usage of beautiful typography and simple shapes.

Check out the gallery of elegance.

Some of the branding systems we’ve created over the years demonstrate this well. Check it out on our gallery of real estate agents that we’ve had the pleasure of working with!

This is a branding scheme we did for our client Chris Brown. It features bold shapes and text that are simple and memorable.

In Summary, You Need to be Branded

We’ve helped properly brand and present countless real estate agents over the years, and we’ve seen first-hand the tangible benefits of a proper branding system.

Our clients have reported getting more compliments from their clients, which means they are more likely to remember him/her over the competitor. We’ve heard of new & unexpected listings being acquired through proper presentation of marketing material at open houses. We’ve heard of listing customers who were excited to see all the properly branded & consistent property feature sheets and mailers, which indicates confidence in our clients.

Our Branding Services
Our Portfolio

Paper Thickness & Weight: First Impressions2021-10-07T16:48:23+00:00

Like we said in our article Beautiful Design is Functional Design: What’s on the outside counts, and first impressions matter[…]Websites and printed material that are designed beautifully are also more functional.

We stand by that statement. First impressions are everything, especially when it comes to print media. When you hand someone a business card or mail out fliers for a new listing, it is the style and quality of that product that is influencing people – for better or for worse.

As on of our five senses, texture has a great impact on our perception of the world. Think of the satisfaction of that fizzy coca cola. Or imagine the feeling of cashmere against your skin. It makes all the difference and the type of paper you use for your marketing material is no exception.

The many factors of choosing the right paper stock:

In order to make a quality decision about what first impression you want your marketing paper to give, you must first understand the many factors that effect what kind of paper will put your best foot forward.

  1. Your market & the image you want- are you are selling homes to a middle class buyer? offering rentals? or grand, luxurious mansions?

  2. Purpose of this print project – is this a wide scale mailout for an open house? a new, upscale business card that you can write notes on? or a professional, clean folder with your own personal style?

  3. Quantity of printing- do you want 50 feature sheets for your open house? or 500 for a mailout?

  4. Budget – money, money, money… it always plays a part and the amount you want to spend can greatly affect the type of stock paper you will want to use.

Print Graphic Design and picking the right paper thickness

Thickness: Pros and Cons

Bigger = Better is often the mantra, but it isn’t always true. Here are some examples:

Pros:

  1. Thicker paper feels luxurious & serious, like you spent a million bucks on it.

  2. You’re more likely to be taken seriously with a thicker card than thinner counterparts because it FEELS like you’re serious. It feels like you are getting down to business.

  3. It is able to handle specialty applications such as foil stamping better without distortion. This can add some really professional, and – lets face it – pretty cool effects to your print media.

  4. It wins more draw prizes. Thicker paper is more likely to catch the fingers when they draw for that free lunch!

Cons:

  1. Thicker paper stock prices go up by a big margin! i.e. Our 16pt cards with laminate can be as cheap as $120 (1,000), while a 29pt card can quickly exceed $500. That a big budget difference…

  2. Less cards will fit in your business card holder. You’ll need to keep on top of refilling that stock you cary around with you.

  3. When paper is too thick, it’s hard to fold over without breaking the edges… which means that any colour you have like black will look cracked and peeling on the fold. So folders, folded booklets or pamphlets should be limited to a certain thickness (16pt max, 14 is safer).

So now that you’ve learned about the pros and cons, when is it ok to use thick paper?

When to go thick:

  1. Business cards

  2. Single-sheet cards that are not folded

When to keep it 16pt or under:

  1. Folders or folded feature sheets to avoid cracking.

  2. Lower quantity print-jobs. Thicker paper is more expensive in small quantities than in bulk.

Printing has such a wide variety of options & specifications that it can be overwhelming. If you are interested in printing with us, please inquire with our design team to discuss your needs.

We specialize in branding & print media design for real estate agents and will know exactly what will help your print media give the first impression you want.

We Are Hiring A Talented Web Developer!2014-01-14T00:28:56+00:00

Brixwork Real Estate Marketing provides boutique marketing services for the real estate industry in Canada & USA. We are a small team expanding quickly and are looking to fill a position for an intermediate HTML/CSS/JS/PHP coder who can handle composing websites based on the Brixwork real estate back-end.
We are looking for a new web developer with savvy coding skills to join our team to assist in developing the websites. The chosen candidate will be working out of our Gastown studio in Downtown Vancouver. No foreign contractors need apply, we have a very strict policy of our entire workforce operating out of our headquarters in Vancouver.
The ideal candidate will have at least 1 year of experience handling the following (not necessarily through a job position, but as a personal hobby or studies is fine. In other words,  you do not have work experience but have relevant education or other experiences, we may still consider you).

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript
  • PHP

 
Candidates with experience with the following skills that are considered; more recent & relevant will be preferred:

  • jQuery & jQueryUI
  • CSS Wireframes such as Skeleton, Boilerplate etc.
  • CSS3 Transitions & Animations
  • AJAX combinations using advanced jQuery & secured PHP back-end
  • MySQL database administration experience
  • Understanding UI requirements based on Photoshop drafts
  • Work environment in a cloud
  • Mac OSX environment

The personality traits our team is looking for in regards to this position:

  • Focused and dedicated
  • Problem-solver with determination
  • Efficiency driven mind
  • Respect for data & website security with attention to detail
  • Not afraid of learning new techniques, experiments and enhancements

How To Apply:
Write an email to info at brixwork dot com (you can also find this email address on our website, www.brixwork.com) with the following conditions met:

  1. The email subject must contain “Web Developer Position”
  2. Attach your resume
  3. Attach a cover letter, or write in your email, explaining why you want to work with Brixwork and outline your relevant skills, experiences and attributes.
  4. Attach examples of your work, either live on a website, or code snippets.
  5. Attach your expected salary range based on your perception of your own skill levels.
  6. Don’t phone us, please. We’re busy as it is with client phone calls. We will review your resume on our own time and get back to you when we are ready.
Improving Your Website Text with Headers & Font Styles2012-05-30T05:41:31+00:00

The Identity of Louis Riel’s Wife???

One of my memories from high-school include wondering why textbooks were formatted as they were. It was long – with paragraphs after paragraphs with a section break every page or two. To find something important, I had to scan through the tiny text for a while… and finally I’d find the tribe from which Louis Riel’s wife was from. It was boring, time-consuming to scan through, and it made me fall asleep. If textbooks were formatted in more interesting and attention grabbing ways, perhaps we would have all paid more attention.

It’s not as interesting to them as you’d think!

When one writes out his or her own biography, article or any other content, they are self-absorbed and narrow-perspectived- however the others visiting your site don’t necessarily share that enthusiasm about you (yet). Drowning the visitors with the typical “I care about you, I can negotiate, I put clients first, I have experience, I have a family and a dog” in 4 paragraphs is biography suicide. In fact the above short sentence would be more effective compared to having it take up half the page in longer sentences.

The question that the modern day marketer has to ask is, “How do I format my page so it’s not boring? How do I get across to my potential client without losing them among lines of scribble?” There are ways to make sure your website text is more interesting than my History 12 textbook from 10 years ago.

How to Make Your Content Text More Engaging, Less Boring, and More Effective/Efficient

1. Use Headings In Your Content Text

Website text is broken down largely into headings & paragraph text. Headings range from heading 1 to heading 6. Headings are like the pack leaders – for each paragraph or two, you should always put a heading above it that emphasizes the key points. Assume that 95% of visitors will scan through the headings and not even bother with your paragraphs (at least at first, they won’t).

What this technique can do for you:
  • Summarizes each paragraph, often with a colourful & larger font.
  • Creates visual division between long blocks of text, and draws the eyes quickly.
  • Gets the key points across to readers before they get bored by the long paragraphs.
  • Even if somebody had no intention of reading more, an enticing heading will get them to take a second look.
  • Keywords in headings have a larger impact on how Google sees your site. This has search engine optimization implications!

2. Bold, underline or italicize some of the text

If there are certain keywords within a paragraph that you’d like to put some extra jazz into (“Award winning”, “Vancouver local resident for 25 years” etc. are good examples), feel free to make those blocks of text bold, italic, underlined (or a combination of them). Just be careful to not over-do it – if you have too many of these, your content is going to look like it’s been ravaged by a pack of rats. Pick just a few very important ones you want to really get across to your new leads on your webpage.

What this technique can do for you:
  • Like the heading, draws the eyes by the emphasis.
  • For readers who are quickly scanning, they will pick up the keywords.
  • Google also likes to put more weight on words that are bolded or underlined. Accented words have a lot more relevance than the other several hundred words.

3. Don’t make your paragraphs too long. Use techniques #1 & #2 to help you achieve this.

Be concise. Short paragraphs are more popular, not only to high-school kids reading a textbook. If one sentence will do, don’t make two – instead, get more juice across by bolding some of the text that really matters. Don’t try to make two large points in one paragraph when it can be split into two.

What this technique can do for you:
  • Keeps your page clean & tidy, without being too long.
  • Not overwhelm the other elements of your page.
  • Give the due attention to headings & bold text for faster communication to the readers

An Example on Rhiannon Foster’s Website

Here is a before & after shot comparing the homepage intro text. After the text was modified to include some key headers, and some of the text bolded, the main points are delivered to viewers much quicker – Core Business Values, Professionalism, Authenticity & Education.

Before & After The Text Styling

 

You Want Baby Boomers – Find Them on Facebook2012-05-07T17:38:19+00:00

“the portion of baby boomers active on social networking sites could be close to half”

Many Realtors® question the viability of an active social media marketing campaign, let alone having a presence on social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Many modern day marketers (and yes, all Realtors® are marketers, in essence) still do not see the value of being present on social media, and there are many excuses. “I don’t see how that’s going to get me a sale.” or “I don’t want to spend time on it.” are among the most common reasons why they refuse to invest time into social media marketing. And then there’s the age rhetoric: “Buyers who are able to afford are on the older side, and they are not on Facebook. I don’t need college kids as customers. I need baby boomers, people who are active in the labour force as buyers.”

32% of baby boomers are now on social networking websites

According to a recent study by Pew Internet(a division of the Pew Research Centre), this is a terrible excuse. 50% of all adults in the USA use social networking websites regularly! As for the baby boomers, their usage rate of social networking sites was up to 32% from 20% the previous year – that’s a 60% increase over one year. And these are 2011 statistics – if the trend continues into 2012, which is more than likely, the portion of baby boomers active on social networking sites could be close to half!

So how do Realtors® capitalize on this market?

We’re not suggesting that you can find fresh buyers all from Facebook, and that you spend a tonne of money on buying advertisements on Facebook. In fact, this is not even how a proper social media marketing scheme works.

The 3 Rs for Realtors®, as we like to call it, is to be Remembered – and get Referrals, and get Repeat transactions. Social media helps you to be remembered by your clients, or your friends & family so that when somebody asks them “do you know a good Realtor®?”, the answer will be your name.

Here’a  list of very simple things you can do on your social media network to be remembered by everyone as “The Realtor® I know”:

  • Post interesting & meaningful articles. Do not copy-paste news bulletins from your local real estate board. Write your own blog article in your own words if you can, and then link it to your website page containing the article.
  • Keep in touch with people. When you see somebody getting married, offer a congratulatory comment. If you have their address, send them a nice postcard. Facebook will allow you to keep on top of these life-changing events. Did a client post pictures of a new grandchild? Did the client’s son just graduate from college? Send them a note and let them know you remember them. Back in the 80s you had to make phone calls to find out about these things. Nowadays, you can get updates on Facebook. Easy enough?
  • Offer advice and become the expert in their lives. People will often post questions on Facebook, of all topics. “Do you know a good plumber?” or “Thinking of moving to the suburbs… thoughts?”  Be the expert to answer even the simplest questions when you have a chance.

These are things that will help you be remembered. The baby boomers are now getting on the social networking sites – be there with them!

5 Reasons why Business People Should be on LinkedIn2012-04-05T10:00:41+00:00

For years, LinkedIn was somewhat shunned in the SMM (Social Media Marketing) industry as it had a lower user base than Facebook or Twitter, and due to the relatively dry nature of the system it was viewed as less engaging. Don’t scratch LinkedIn out of the list just yet. Whether you are a Realtor®, mortgage broker, or any other small (or big) business person, LinkedIn has several benefits for you and here’s our top 5 list, but not in specific order of importance. Depending on your business and the way you engage with your customers & social media, the importance of each one will differ.

1. Get more connections with people easily – better than Facebook friends!

The LinkedIn algorithm for finding “People you may know” is by far more powerful and more business oriented than that of Facebook. It searches not only based on your current connections (Facebook’s equivalent would be the algorithm that finds people you may know based on mutual friends), but also by the company at which people worked at, schools they went to, geographic location & business interests. Using this filter, I was personally able to find many more old connections that I may have forgotten about, since not everybody is on my Facebook, or for that matter, on Facebook at all. This brings me to another important point, and that many people do not use Facebook for privacy reasons, as they find it to be a much more personal ground. Even if they do, they do not want to add people to their Facebook beyond their close friends. But, LinkedIn is viewed as a more public and professional space, so even those who may not want to be your Facebook friend will probably happy to be your LinkedIn connection. Even the term “connection” is much less intrusive than “friend”.

2. Claim your place on Google’s 1st page

Unless you have a very generic name such as David Jones, you have a great shot at becoming the #1 search result on Google when somebody searches up your name. Go search up “Jeff Kee” for example on Google, and most (if not all) of the first 10 results are actually about me personally. Social media profiles always have your name on it of course, and it also can contain links back to your business website or your personal website, which is great for forging free back links to the websites you own. Don’t have a website? No problem – think of your LinkedIn page as your website which will show up when somebody searches your name. When a potential business prospect (or an employer) wants to do a background search on you through Google, your well-groomed LinkedIn page should be the centre of attention, not your Vegas trip photos on your Facebook. On a related note, here’s some important security tips for your Facebook page since the new timeline launch.

3. Relevant News & Updates

I’ve been using the LinkedIn news feature (I get it emailed to me, but you can also choose to log into the site to see them), and I love it. The news articles are filtered based on trending, popularity, and best of all, your profession & interests, meaning that they will be much more relevant to you than, say, hitting bbc.com as a habit. These news articles have been a great source of information and thoughts for each day as I start my work hours. It saves me a lot of time compared to having to look through multiple news sites for information.

Also, LinkedIn has a feature for members to share links to other websites, articles and more. This means that you can see what your connections are talking about, and see if there’s any business opportunities anywhere. It also keeps you in tune of what’s trending and what you should be on the lookout for. You can also join Groups on LinkedIn based on your profession & interests, which is another great way to keep updated. And don’t be shy to share your blog posts or any interesting articles you found – show your expertise in your field!

LinkedIn users may be fewer, but with more relevancy

LinkedIn users may be fewer, but with more relevancy

4. Growing user base that is also relevant

LinkedIn, for a while, trailed far behind other social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter due to its more “rigid” appearance. However, LinkedIn’s member count increased by 60% in 2011 since their IPO. Their numbers are still smaller than that of Facebook, but the quality of the members is much higher. Facebook is accessible to everybody – whether you are a pre-pubescent high school kid trolling around for attention, or whether you are a senior trying to keep a tab of your grand children. However, LinkedIn, with its professional-purposes-only niche, contains many more quality connections who are actively engaged in business, and can be of value to you. In case you’re curious, as of April 2012, the numbers on Facebook are 845M active users, while LinkedIn reported 150M in contrast. We probably won’t see LinkedIn getting higher numbers than Facebook, ever, because of the limited usage – which is good news for the quality of each connection on LinkedIn.

5. Professional Appearance & Online Resume

Even if you’re not planning on being active on the social media scene, when a potential client (or employer) looks up your name on Google (which is commonplace these days) you will have a place to show your work & education history, as well as your personal interests. It beats having nothing online. LinkedIn’s profiles are much more geared towards your professional & educational track records rather than photos of you.

Combining PDFs Online For A Comprehensive Presentation2012-04-01T18:19:35+00:00

Recently one of our Realtors® asked us an interesting question – how do I combine multiple PDF documents into one neat PDF? There are times when you want to combine your introduction letter, the marketing plans, an assessment, your brochures, newspaper ad template etc. into one chunk – whether it’s for acquiring that new listing, or to send reports of an open house, or really any other purpose, this can be an easy way to send documents to your clients without attaching too many PDFs into one. Less files: less confusion, and easier file management!

So, how do we achieve this? There are many ways, but let’s look at the most accessible ways first.

Convert PDFs online

This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to achieve this. There are many sites you can use:

  1. www.pdfmerge.com – it provides the service free for up to 15MBs, which should be plenty for most situations. When using this one, ignore the red “Download Now” button (unless you want to pay for a desktop software to install, which is not what we recommend).
  2. www.ilovepdf.com/merge_pdf – Up to 10 PDF files, maximum 80MBs means a larger limit. The upload/download speed on this website was much better than the one above. So far ILovePDF is the winner on our books!

Use a Desktop Software

Adobe Acrobat Pro is a powerful PDF management software for Mac & Windows

Frankly we do not recommend this – more and more software is going in the direction of web-based services, and cluttering your computer with more programs is not necessary. That being said, when we combine PDFs in-house, we use Adobe Acrobat Pro – it’s not a free software, but it is extremely powerful. The functionalities go way beyond simply combining PDFs.

Adobe Acrobat Pro allows you to:

  1. Create PDF forms that can collect data
  2. Include multimedia (pictures, videos) from multiple sources into the PDF
  3. Sign PDFs
  4. And more!

Acrobat Pro is available for both Windows and Mac OSX. However, the price tag is not exactly low.

Another open-source (free) option is PDF Rider – it appears to be only for Windows at this point. You can read a review of PDF Rider by Addictive Tips.

Safety Warning for Realtors in the Vancouver Region2012-02-01T00:14:32+00:00

This is an important notice we received thanks to our client Yujin Jung (www.yujinjung.com Tri-Cities Real Estate, Vancouver/Burnaby/Coquitlam/Port Moody) and we thought it’s an important notice to put out there for the safety of all real estate agents, especially young females.

——————————–

We have recently received information from members about suspicious activity characterized, at the least, as “creepy.” A person who identifies himself as “Damian” has contacted at least three female REALTORS® posing as an interested condo buyer. In one case, one REALTOR® set up a meeting at his home for a presentation, where he made repeated attempts to initiate physical contact by putting his arm around her despite her requests that he not.

In at least one other instance, he phoned a REALTOR® late at night – again posing as an interested condo buyer – before making inappropriate suggestions and requesting late-night meetings at his home.

In any of your day-to-day business, it is important that you feel secure when meeting with potential clients in public or in private. Always tell your colleagues when and where you are going to meet potential clients and when you will check-in.

If you have concerns, consider asking a colleague to come along. And always remember that you simply don’t have to engage further with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable. Go with your instincts!

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Let’s not forget the case of Lindsay Buziak, a young BC real estate agent who was murdered in a house she was showing to a stranger. Always be careful!

How SOPA and PIPA can affect Real Estate Agents2012-01-20T20:03:30+00:00

If you haven’t heard, the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) are new legislations that were (until this morning) sitting on the table of Congress in the USA to be potentially voted into law. While the original purpose of the SOPA bill is to stop piracy of copyrighted intellectual property such as movies, tv shows, video games & software, the provisions of the bill set a dangerous precedent to allow unprecedented amounts of power (to be exploited inevitably) by the government.

Here’s a few articles you can read to get a grasp of this unrealistic bill:

You may be wondering why this is so relevant, with a few questions.

“Isn’t this law about pirated movies and what not? How does it affect us?”

If this bill was crafted well enough to target only the movie piraters, it would be a nice indeed. However the provisions of the bill allow the US government to order ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to block out DNS queries of certain domains (in other words, the domains will no longer load) with a complaint from any copyrighted material holder, unless the defendant is willing to show up in US court to defend their case. Let’s imagine a worst-case scenario; while you write a blog article about the real estate market, you happen to quote a newspaper, or have the same phrase as another real estate statistic website… and some overzealous monitor spots your site and reports you. Your site could be down in a matter of days, with no chance of fighting it unless you take it to court. That’s just ridiculous abuse of power. And that is the main issue with the SOPA bill – it has so much potential for abuse that goes beyond stopping piracy of movies & TV shows.

This bill also is a major blow to the concept of content sharing, which is the backbone of how the internet works; to post links on Facebook, other blogs, other social media sites etc. It’s a vital tool for most small and medium businesses, as well as larger businesses. It’s how we get open access to information from sources other than mass media TV channels.

“But we are in Canada.”

True, most of our real estate agent customers are Canadian. But consider this – the law requires any USA based ISP to cease to display & route for domains they deem unfit. That means in the blink of an eye, due to some bad misunderstanding of where certain content came from, your site could be no longer visible to US viewers. And do we not have potential US buyers? Also Google (A US company) can be ordered by the government authorities on which sites (domestic or foreign) to block from its search results.

In short, this could affect even real estate websites. In fact the bill could break the internet as we know it, and affect the industry greatly. Check out this video:

So what can we all do? Show your support; educate your US friends about this bill, and urge them to contact their local representatives to have their voices heard against SOPA and PIPA. If you are a US citizen, please take your time to make your voice heard to your local senator & congressman. Wikipedia has a page set up to make it easy to find and contact your local representative.

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