Congratulations, Gemesis!

It’s an absolute pleasure to spotlight local companies making a splash outside of our region, and so imagine my delight when I spotted this piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on our very own Gemesis Corp.

Published today, the story casts Gemesis in quite a positive light as an industry leader in cultivated diamonds, noting that Gemesis’ Stephen Lux was in the Bay Area to hold a show centered around the lab-grown stones. Judging from the Chronicle piece, the stones were received somewhat favorably by area jewelry retailers, and may be making some appearances in display cases in the coming months.

Hope everything goes well in your new test market, Gemesis… and on behalf of Sarasota, thanks to Stephen Lux and crew for representing!

Sarasota Real Estate Outlook

The Sarasota real estate market continues to be something I’m paying close attention to.  Why?  Very simply: our local economy is inextricably tied to what this market is doing.  When the housing market started to tank locally, it was the first domino in a long line.  As inventory levels (representing the number of single family homes and condominiums listed as “for sale”) have climbed, construction and other business sectors related to housing have all dived.

So, a couple of recent tidbits from Perry Corneau represent good news.  First, inventory levels are at their lowest in two and a half years.  This is great news, and I can anecdotally attest that I’m seeing fewer for sale signs.  What’s unclear to me is exactly what this represents…

  • Is sales volume actually up?
  • Are more banks in possession of properties now? If so, it seems to me that they’ve not been good at marketing the properties they own.  And when foreclosure occurs (as opposed to short sales), these properties wouldn’t appear in the MLS anyway.
  • Have sellers given up on moving properties as prices have declined?

Another piece of good news: prices are still higher than they were 5 years ago.  In 2003, the market was still on a major upswing, but of course the highest prices were 2-3 years later.

Based upon numerous conversations with those keeping their eye on the market, here are my predictions: prices will continue to drop and volume will begin to surge.  For how long?  I’m not sure, but it seems to me that the “bottom” of this market hasn’t quite yet been reached — at least in terms of pricing.  There are a few investors who are starting to dip their toes into the water, but the buying frenzy that I expect isn’t here yet.

The best thing that can happen for this market is for transaction volume to increase.  This will help prices bottom out sooner rather than later.

And… in the interest of full disclosure… I currently do not have any property on the market.  😉

Have An Epiphany In Your Marketing

With so much talk of recession… and some actual slowdowns — some of them serious, especially within certain industries — businesses have a tendency to cut back in areas that can make matters worse.

Marketing is at the top of the list.

If you know me, then you know that I’m not in favor of untracked, unmeasurable and expensive advertising anyway.  So, don’t get too upset if you think I’m thinking mainly of advertising… I’m not.  What I’m referring to are the systems in your business that produce new prospects and/or customers on a regular basis.

You do have some of those, don’t you?

If not, then the time has come for you to put some in place.  And fast!  If you do, then it’s important that you proceed with caution if you’re eyeing them in your budget.

2 Big Announcements

First… we are happy to unveil a shiny new blog site that just launched. It is focused on small business marketing and already has a few posts on it (some of which were gleaned from other publications for which we’ve written).  This reflects the renewed focus in our business: Epiphany Marketing.

Secondly… there are a couple of big things coming in the next few weeks.  So, this is an announcement about our coming announcements!  But there will be some significant new opportunities for you as a business person to learn how to use applied strategy along with some free and low-cost technology to make sure that your future customers find you instead of someone else.  It’s going to be big!

Here’s a hint: there will be something happening in Sarasota.

If you’re one of our many readers from across the US and around the world… not to worry, we’ve got something coming for you, too.  Keep your eyes glued to this spot… and the new marketing blog, too!

Syesha Coming Home to Sarasota… But Just for a Visit!

After this week’s emotional round on American Idol, it’s official, Syesha is in the AI Season 7 Top 3!!  Congratulations, Syesha!!

We’ve already posted our support for this hometown Sarasota girl, but the exciting news this week is that local residents will have a chance to see Syesha tomorrow (Friday, May 9th) when she blazes through on a whirlwind visit to the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Evidently, she’ll be making some stops in the morning on Tampa TV & Radio, but she visits Bradenton (where she’ll receive a key to the city) and then comes to Sarasota for a concert on the gorgeous grounds of the John & Mable Ringling Museum!

According to the Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau, the concert is FREE and open to the public!  Park nearby on the New College Campus.  I’d get there early (parking is available at 1pm) for the 3:30PM concert.  It’ll most likely be brief, as she’s got to get back to Hollywood!

If previous seasons are any indication, we should see footage of Syesha’s Homecoming Visit on next week’s American Idol!

Sarasota Real Estate Market: Rebounding or Not?

Ever the optimists, Real Estate brokers always manage to locate a silver lining… no matter how far and how hard they have to look.  And, with a number of friends and business associates connected to the real estate business, I certainly am personally hopeful that their optimism has its roots firmly cemented in reality.

But alas, this is not always the case.

Take, for example, the blog published by Michael Saunders & Company.  Here’s a great example of a company reaching as deeply as it can for data — any data — to support the notion that somehow the market is on its way back to normal.  Is their data pulled from the number of transactions in the MLS, you ask?  Perhaps it’s based upon some newfound trend in the tax rolls?


In fact, it’s taken from their Google Analytics account.  Yes, that’s right folks.  Now we’re basing the real estate outlook for Sarasota on the performance of Michael Saunders’ website according to the ever-so-reliable folks at Google.

Now… don’t get me wrong.  I’m a big fan of Google.  Chances are you’re here thanks to one of the many Google searches that we rank well on.  But… as we know, their analytics package — feature-rich though it may be — is fraught with inaccuracies.  And… even if it were 100% accurate, the Michael Saunders blog post smacks of a self-congratulatory webmaster more than it does market realities in the real estate business.  After all, our traffic is way the heck up, too!  Doesn’t say anything about the consulting business, though…

But… I digress.  (By the way, business is better than ever!  Not a touch of whining here!)

What Michael and gang aren’t really interested in pointing out is the simple fact that, by every measure, the housing crisis is only deepening.  Even if transactions are up, prices are down.  And this is based on real data from none other than Standard & Poor. Granted, the data are not local to Florida.  But then, we the unwashed don’t have ready access to the data for our market.  This is part of the classic information asymmetry associated with buying and selling real estate.  Your broker knows more than you do.  Perhaps someone with readily-analyzed data would be willing to step forward and comment.

In the meantime, I’m going back to my web analytics to look for more optimism…

Financial Revolution – Featuring Gary Keesee

*Update (May, 2011): Unfortunately, the downloads we originally linked to are no longer available as The Kingdom Alliance website (see below) has been taken down. We have located this downloadable product (link fixed, January 2014) available for purchase directly from Gary Keesee’s ministry that can serve as an update to / replacement for the materials we originally recommended here.

This week’s Financial Revolution Conference in Sarasota got underway last night with a powerful kickoff meeting.  Gary and Drenda Keesee shared the emotional story about how they turned the tide on their drastic financial situation — credit cards, finance company loans, IRS debt, medical bills, personal loans from family, mortgages, etc. — and began creating wealth instead.  Gary pointed out that the “switch” for this about face was in their hearts.

The Kingdom Alliance has posted the audio from Gary’s talk (*Update: 5/11/2011, the Kingdom Alliance website is unfortunately no longer available) last night for all to hear at no cost.  It is definitely worth the time to listen to it.  Those who came to the event last night expecting to hear a talk on better money management, budgets and numbers were surprised at what Gary had to say.  Not only did he address the issues of the heart, but he also dealt with what he characterizes as misconceptions that have been perpetuated by church teachings regarding money.  Based upon the content of last night’s talk, the remainder of the conference promises to be significant.

The conference continues with meetings tonight (Friday) at 7pm and Saturday at 9am.  The meetings are being held at the facility belonging to the First Church of the Nazarene, 3375 Fruitville Road in Sarasota.

If you’re not familiar with who they are, The Kingdom Alliance is a group of 5 congregations who have joined forces to increase their impact on the communities of Sarasota & Bradenton.  This type of cooperation among church leadership is quite rare in a landscape filled with competition over what some experts would describe as a dwindling pool of potential congregants.  This is the first community event that they have publicized, and it’s a good taste of things to come!

Syesha Mercado Makes Us Proud Yet Again!

Sarasota-born Syesha Mercado heads for the next round in American Idol Season 7.

This week, she seems to have picked up some supporters, since she avoided landing in the bottom 3. The AI theme this week was focused on the music of Dolly Parton, and Syesha admittedly took on an ambitious song with I Will Always Love You. The judges noted the difficulty of doing the song, which was launched to mainstream popularity by Whitney Houston.

Syesha’s vocal arrangement ran right down the middle between Whitney and Dolly — not overly flamboyant like Whitney, but certainly not country like Dolly (although the band lent a bit of a “Nashville” flavor to the overall arrangement). Comparisons to Whitney were inevitable, however, which may have hurt Syesha a bit.

Even so, she did just fine in the end, amidst a strong field of candidates. Fellow Floridian Ramiele Malubay was the candidate who drew the fewest votes this week, which leaves us with only 8 candidates for next week.

As we previously noted, Syesha Mercado is a Sarasota native and hometown girl. Sarasota is behind you!

Syesha Mercado Tears it UP!

American Idol Season 7 is already proving to have its ups and downs. Tonight, many of the AI 7 girls seemed to be struggling with an illness and their performances reflected it.

But Syesha is definitely one of the UPs of this season. And, even though this is a business website, I must say we’re cheering the Sarasota girl on (as we mentioned in our earlier post on Syesha). We won’t even hold it against her that she moved to Miami! 🙂

Tonight’s big performance featured Syesha’s high-gear vocal over Paul Jackson Jr.’s sizzling guitar work. And, since it’s our first chance to vote, Syesha gets ours! Even the judges agreed that she’s one of the most talented young ladies in the competition.

Keep it up, Syesha!

Syesha Mercado – Making Sarasota Proud!

Congratulations to Syesha Mercado on her progress in Season 7 of American Idol!

Syesha is a hometown girl who graduated in 2005 from the Booker High School Visual and Performing Arts Center (VPA).  Evidently, she was a great student who served on the Student Council and managed a 3.4 GPA while participating in a variety of productions through her high school career.

Since her departure from Booker, Syesha has been no stranger to reality television, appearing on the ABC series, “The One.”

Syesha: thanks for doing such a great job and representing!  We’re rooting for you here in Sarasota… and voting — as soon as we get the chance!