top of mind
Mother-in-Law Knows Best It sometimes takes counsel from unlikely sources to get outside yourself and take your business marketing to the next level.
hen I was growing up, there
C O M M E N TA RY
was nothing better than getting my mother’s glowing approval.
She was—and still is—the biggest fan of
I had just started the new design, and it was already being torn to shreds. Or was
Connect conference in January. It was ego-driven, not wisdom-driven.
it? “Mom, what do you want to see ﬁrst?”
all things “me.” Then I met my wife, and
I started on my design again with a
she became a pretty vocal advocate of
pen and paper. I sketched it out, stopping
mine as well, always able to communicate
only when I reached a place of calm. I
she loved and hated about the design.
with love how I can make something even
ﬁnally got it! I started feverishly creating
She became my focus group of one—the
the coding for the Web design. Then, my
best money I never spent. As I developed
mother-in-law got involved.
the site from the initial sketch at her
But last autumn, something happened
I asked my mother-in-law. Over the next hour, she told me what
that neither the praise of my mother nor the support of my wife could ﬁx. I had tasked myself with creating my company’s new website. It was a complete
Nothing I created satisﬁed me, and I was driving everyone around me crazy.
redesign from the bottom up. The problem was that nothing I
Now, unlike my mother and wife, my
kitchen table, I would send her updates
created satisﬁed me, and I was driving
mother-in-law is virtually unbiased when
weekly. I would listen and take notes. I’d
everyone around me crazy. I heard things
it comes to my abilities. She loves me, but
ask more questions. Then I’d act.
like: “It’s ﬁne.” “It’s good enough.” “You’ll
she’s not vested in what I do.
never be satisﬁed.” That was all true.
“What’s that?” she asked, pointing to
Now, the creation I’m most proud of in my professional adult life—aside
an image I used to represent my com-
from my own brokerage—has been
Eve, when I found myself working away
pany. The image was a retro graphic of
realized. My company’s new website,
at my mother-in-law’s house. I was
a woman with a phone, which basically
RLathome.com, gets nine times the clicks
positively fuming: After four months of
meant to say, “Contact us.” I explained it
that the old one did per week, and the
work, I wasn’t happy with the results and
to my mother-in-law.
average usage time is 6.5 minutes, up
I barreled through until Christmas
decided I would have to trash the site. “OK, who is making you do this?” my
“The image is wonderful,” she said. But there was one problem, she added: It
from one minute. And I owe it to my mom. Not the one
didn’t inherently get across the intended
who gave birth to me, but the one who
“I am,” I replied.
message. If I wanted the image to tell
came into my life 15 years ago. Next year,
“Right, but what’s the rush?” she
people to contact my company, then it
I won’t complain about the long drive to
countered. “Getting it right is more
should literally say so. “Don’t make me
get to her house. I think I owe it to her.
important than releasing something that
think,” she said.
isn’t ready.” Of course, she was right. My release date was arbitrary, based on my goal to launch before the Inman Real Estate
“You know, my focus goes here ﬁrst,” she continued, pointing to another spot on the site. “Is it supposed to?” Holy moly—no, it wasn’t supposed to!
Darrin J. Friedman is co-CEO and cofounder of Chevy Chase, Md.–based real estate brokerage Real Living | At Home. [Darrin@RLathome.com]
Note: Opinions expressed in “Commentary” do not necessarily reﬂect the position of the National Association of REALTORS® or REALTOR® Magazine. Submit Commentary ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
REALTOR® MAY/JUNE 2014