Creative Real Estate Agent Marketing – What are You Afraid Of?

by on January 16, 2013Shannon O'Brien

The residential real estate professional’s sole job is to market – either a home to potential purchasers, or a buyer to a homeowner. Isn’t it amazing, then, that there is almost a complete lack of creativity when it comes to how the typical real estate professional markets his or her own business?

The typical real estate agent starts her career with a box of business cards and a pat on the head from a broker who tells her to bounce down the street and make money. Granted, those first few years are tough. There’s little money and no training on how to run a business, so most agents fall into a trap of just doing what everyone else does.

The fear of alienating even one prospect keeps most real estate agents glued into a vanilla marketing plan that bears little, if any, difference to most of the other agents’ in town. The thought of stepping out into the spotlight is frightening – so much so that most agents are content to sit in the shadows.

Be Bold

creative real estate marketingKen DeLeon knows what it takes to stand out from the crowd. The Wall Street Journal crowned him the number one agent in the country – out of one million agents – in 2011. DeLeon didn’t get there by being a wallflower, by blending in with the mass of other Silicon Valley real estate professionals.

In DeLeon’s city there are 700 agents clamoring to list and sell 400 to 500 houses. “I realized that since I wanted to be distinct, I needed to do something bold.” And bold he was. He took out a two-page ad in the local paper, dressed up as the Village People, and sang S-O-L-D to the tune of “Y-M-C-A.”

“I became so distinctive and memorable that people started calling,” DeLeon continues. This boldness led to him selling 12 percent of all available homes in his area.

DeLeon also provides potential clients massive, 200-page neighborhood guides, packed with market statistics. He holds what are arguably the best open houses in Northern California – fully catered affairs that include the services of a barista.

Overall, luxury homeowners in Silicon Valley know they’ll get an expert marketing plan for their homes, from an agent who doesn’t hesitate to spend the money required to attract the right buyers.

Be Quietly Effective

Don’t have an outrageous bone in your body? You might be surprised at what you can do to distinguish yourself from the other agents in your area –simple things, free things – that the majority of other agents just don’t do.

While you don’t have to dress up like a disco character, you do need to be willing to think differently or, as Emerson said, “Turn your eyes upside down, by looking at the landscape through your legs.”

Look around. Find a real estate task that you can perform better than everyone else in your area, and become amazing at it. For instance, other agents hold open houses – make yours more memorable. Some agents return phone calls, but you might make it a point to return them within an hour of receiving them and let everyone know that you do. Kick your broker’s opens into high gear to slow down agents as they tour a hard-to-sell listing.

While these seem tame, if done consistently, they’ll work as word-of-mouth marketing. Trust me – few agents return phone calls within an hour.

Make it a point to connect with prospects in a way that is convenient and meaningful to them, not you. Then do it consistently.

The Top Producer

Many new agents have no choice but to model their businesses after those of the other agents in their office. If I were to do it all over again, I’d sign up with the broker that oversees the number one agent in town. I’d glue myself to that agent until I had absorbed every last bit of marketing know-how she had.

We called that top agent “the listing pig” because of the sheer volume of listings she carried every month. You’ve got one of those in your town too – that agent who has his face plastered on billboards, bus backs and shopping carts. This is the agent whose name comes to mind first when someone thinks of real estate in your town. This is the agent who has successfully branded herself as the area expert and leader.

How did this happen? Typically, this agent is a veteran who has been serving your town for a long time – someone like Martin Levy, who works in the beautiful Sonoma County wine country, north of San Francisco.

Levy knew when he got his license that he’d need to stand out from all the other agents in town if he hoped to be successful. He toyed with a number of different marketing ideas and finally decided to do a mass mailing. With limited funds, it seemed to him to be the best use of his money. With his wife’s approval, he maxed out their sole credit card to pay for his initial marketing push. The mailing, of course, brought in enough clients to pay for itself several times over, and Levy has never looked back.

Flash forward 35 years. His face is splashed on local billboards and his name is a household word. He averages 135 transactions a year. During the tail end of the recession, however – from 2009 to 2011 – that number increased to 222 per year. Levy has produced $1.6 billion dollars during his entire real estate career.

I know what you’re thinking: What’s so creative about a direct mail campaign? The point isn’t the creativity of the campaign Levy chose, it’s the fact that he began thinking creatively right out of the gate.

He knew he needed to do something to get his name in front of consumers – something to make him stand out from all the other agents in Sonoma County. Not only did he understand this marketing fundamental, he wasn’t afraid to spend the money it took to do it, even down to his family’s last penny.

Don’t Be Average

Zen Habits’ Leo Babauta distills the traits of most successful people down to one: “the willingness to challenge mainstream ideas.” He goes on to explain that to be successful requires the ability to not only question what others do, but the courage to try new ideas, different ideas.

When you’re brave enough to stand out from the masses, eschewing the safe route, you avoid being average. Instead, you innovate, pioneer, discover and invent the real estate business of your dreams.

So what are you afraid of? What stops you from pushing the boundaries in your marketing efforts?

The 5-Day Marketing Cleanse - Hitting the Reset Button on Your Real Estate Marketing

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jordan June 26, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Great article!!!

We strive to help out real estate agents all over the county with our unique services and products. Please contact us so we can show some truly unique ideas, I promise no one else is doing them.

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David Pazdernik July 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Tell me more, please

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Mary Morrison April 4, 2014 at 6:29 am

great article. i’m now on a mission to make my open houses stand out from the crowd of builders in my area!
thanks

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Haynes November 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Excellent real estate marketing tactics you got there. I can’t agree more that real estate is a very challenging industry and you always need to be one step better than your competitor in order to win. Appreciate the time writing and keep it up.

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Mindy Allen September 19, 2013 at 8:05 pm

I really needed to hear what this article had to say today. Thank you!

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arch May 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Great article. One thing you forgot to mention is using mobile marketing for real estate sales. that seems to be the hottest new trend in landing them real buying prospects with each property they list.

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debbie September 18, 2013 at 7:37 pm

how do you do mobile marketing

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Jordan June 26, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Contact us we do landing pages, mobile marketing, just about everything!

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L. James July 18, 2014 at 9:11 am

Jordan,

What is your website and contact info?

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Al May 1, 2013 at 7:08 am

Great Article!! Don’t forget to maximize your networking opportunities. Insurance agents, home warranty companies, home repair companies etc. will all link to your website on the internet for referrals – this in turn will boost your ranking on search engines and put you in front of all of their customers.

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Rick Beck March 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Great advice for realtors. Thank you for sharing this great article.

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Darren February 6, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Love the article.. I am going to print it and read it everyday as a reminder to be different. So few stand out but those who do, succeed.

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Carla Bainer January 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm

What an awesome article to read. Well done!

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Shannon O'Brien January 21, 2013 at 1:58 am

So, Brian, are you saying you hold yourself back because your competition is mediocre? Do you think they won’t want to work with you if you are different?

Seriously?

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Brian Hickey January 16, 2013 at 9:39 am

Shannon,

IMO, it’s tough to be creative when there is little (to no) differentiation practiced amongst the players in the business.

Lots of comfort in the status quo. Boat rocking is scary….what if I upset my competitor? I may need them to do a deal……..

Thanks,

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