Driving into Blue Ridge, you may get a sneaking suspicion that Big Brother is watching you. Then you realize, nope, it’s just that guy Mark. He moves mountains. Gee, he must be strong.
On a big, obvious billboard on hwy 575, the main drag into town, my husband has a billboard announcing his new avocation. This may seem odd to those of you living in a place where realtors don’t personally advertise, but he happens to be one of the five or so house-selling superstars that make their presence known to people visiting the mountains in this fashion.
The billboard has been up for about a month, and already he has become a household name (or face) in our small town. The other day in the local coffee shop, a fellow stopped him and said, “Hey, you’re that real estate guy, right? The mountain-mover. I recognize your picture.” Then, he talked about a piece of land he wanted to sell. The billboard works.
Neva told us that one day while she was in the office at school, the woman working the desk looked at her name and furrowed her brow and said, “Hendry . . . hummm. . . your dad isn’t Mark Moves Mountains, is it? I’ve seen his face everywhere.”
So, there you have it. We used to be Mr. and Mrs. FLEX. Now we are Mr. and Mrs. Markmovesmountains. I guess a person’s work defines them in integral ways. That would make me . . . um. . . Mrs. Writeandgetnowhere? Ah well.
Years of owning a business taught us just how important branding is to establishing a reputation and so Mark has begun the process of defining both an image and a catchy slogan. Not a day goes by that people don’t mention his smiling face looming over the highway. Of course, occasionally, he’s encountered some interesting feedback. One day, when he was tired and “dressed down” because he was working out, a person said, “Hey, you’re that Mark guy. Wow, how long ago was that picture taken? You must have been a lot younger.” Mark actually had the friend who took our dance pictures for years snap the shot only a few months ago. He was like, “Thanks, buddy. You run a dance school for eighteen years then switch to selling houses and see if you can avoid turning gray.”
But he has had some positive comments too. We sent a few thousand brochures showcasing our house to executives and a woman called long distance and said, “My friends in the office dared me to call you. We want to know if this picture is really you. Are you truly this handsome, or did you just put a picture of a cute guy on the back so people would read the brochure and want to buy this house?”
Mark sort of laughed and said, “That wasn’t my intention, but hey, if it works . . .”
She said, “Do you really look like this?”
He said, “That’s me, but in real life I probably have bags under my eyes. So, what did you think of the house?”
She said, “Oh, no one bothered to check out the house. We just were ogling the picture.”
So much for the brilliant house-marketing brochure. But it’s nice to know that if he doesn’t make it in real estate, he has a potential future as a male escort. Might even be able to use the same business picture for his next brochure.
Since he was getting good feedback from his billboard, we went ahead and put another two sided one (albeit smaller) up on our lot in McCaysville just opposite where the train lets off their zillion customers. We are actually going to sell this property now that we have changed course and decided not to open a retail business, but until we do, the land will serve as another marketing resource. Better than having it just sit there.
Mark truly loves real estate, and he is doing well considering the market is at an all-time low. He is entering the field when everyone else is getting out, which demands a great deal of diligence and faith, but he has both in abundance. He is a natural. He loves houses, knows a great deal about building, has a remarkable eye for design, both interior and structural (so he gives fantastic advice for improvements for sellers), has years of experience in marketing and finance, and good people skills. His broad life experience gives his the uncanny ability to comfortably communicate with all walks of life, and he builds instant report with people whether they are millionares or simple country folk, so he can service both with equal respect. Heck, he even speaks Spanish in case a foriegn buyer needs help.
He is working 7 days a week, 14 hour days. I am proud and appreciative of his commitment to establishing a new career, but I admit, I miss him. He says this endless time commitment won’t last forever, but sometimes, I wonder. We used to say that about FLEX, but the harder we worked, the harder we had to work to keep the machine purring. When you deeply care about the quality of your work, that tends to happen. But we learned some poignant and valuable lessons from our many years at FLEX, both about ourselves and our relationship to work, so I trust that when life evens out a bit, he’ll find balance. As long as he’s happy.
In the meantime, I can go see his smiling face looming over my car as I careen down the highway anytime I need a Mark fix.