RTRE 64 – Get Off My Lawn: A Guide to Modern Marketing in Real Estate

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Audio length 24:20

RTRE 64 – Get Off My Lawn: A Guide to Modern Marketing in Real Estate

[music] [Chris] Welcome to re:Think Real Estate, your educational and hopefully entertaining source for all things real estate, business, news and tech. 

[Christian]: I am Christian Harris in Seattle, Washington.

[Nathan]: Hi, I am Nathan White in Columbus, Ohio.

[Chris]: And I am Chris Lazarus in Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks for tuning in. 

[music] [Chris]: Hey everybody and welcome back to re:Think Real Estate. Chris here with Christian and Nate. What’s going on guys?

[Christian]: Hey fellas.

[Nathan]: What’s up? Another week since last week. And I don’t know. You know, the usual grind here. It’s…

[Christian]: You seem excited to be alive.

[Chris]: ow’s your CRM coming Nate? [laugter] [Nathan]: It’s gonna get done after I get back from Key West next week. So…

[Christian]: Let me know. I will walk you through it. 

[Chris]: Man.

[Nathan]: Work hard play hard boys. Work hard play hard.

[Chris]: Must be good to be a real estate agent. 

[Nathan]: I guess so.

[Christian]: It is good to be an agent. 

[Nathan]: I like it. What are we talking about today?

[Chris]: Well we were just talking about [censored] marketing in real estate and how not to do it. You were just showing us a sign of a real estate agent that put his sign out in the middle of the Utah backcountry. On a…what was that Nate?

[Nathan]: I mean literally it’s in bum [censored] Egypt. I mean it was out…I mean literally it’s a like a 16 mile hike. Like I mean maybe it’s genius because here I am talking about it. Right. I don’t know.

[Chris]: Good marketing.

[Nathan]: You know, I mean I don’t know. But literally like it’s like who’s gonna see this, you know. Like you spent a…I mean what’s an average sign cost? Hundred bucks?

[Chris]: 47.

[Nathan]: What’s that?

[Chris]: 47.

[Nathan]: You use the cheap one. 

[Christian]: Depends on how many you buy at a time.

[Chris]: That’s a temporary sign with the thing in the middle.

[Nathan]: OK well either way I feel like this guy throw away 47 dollars. Because I doubt he’ll ever go back to get it. But, you know, bad marking. You know, Christian was asking me do I do marketing. No. I mean yes and no. I think we’ve talked a little bit about that. That Ohio running realtor Instagram is of course my marketing. Even though it has nothing to do with Realty.

[Christian]: Your Donut Saturday with your son. That’s marketing.

[Nathan]: It is but it had…I mean that was actually started before I became an agent. So I’ll be at…a ton of people identify me through the donut Saturday. But I don’t…I don’t…I don’t mail stuff out. I don’t, you know, I’m not out blasting stuff on social media. I really hate most of that stuff. I think there’s…there’s more organic ways to do it. and I generally find that there’s more bad examples than good examples.

[Christian]: Yeah so you’re saying that there are different ways to do marketing?

[Nathan]: Yes but…let’s go…there’s…there’s many different ways to do marketing. The question is can you do it well? And my answer would be no. Most agents do not do it well.

[Christian]: So there’s plenty of examples of bad marketing. How do you…how do you not do bad marketing and do good marketing? What is that? What does that mean? What are those standards?

[Nathan]: Well I think…OK so I, you know, how do you not do bad marketing? OK well that’d be like saying all right, it’s same reason I don’t take pictures. Right. I’m not a [censored] photographer. And I’m not in marketing either.  If you have a marketing background, maybe I get it. But most of the stuff I see agents do is poor. It’s poor video. It’s poor pictures. They’re there…I don’t know what even the terminology is when they create their own business cards.

It’s just horrible. Like there’s a reason there are people they get paid in marketing. And you should go pay them to do it. I mean you get a better result. I’d rather be really…

[Christian]: Do you? Do you Nate?

[Nathan]: Yeah I think so absolutely. 

[Chris]: So please do not go buy the printable like perforated business cards and then use your word art. And print them. [laughter] [Nathan]: Yeah word art. Yeah right. Well you see a lot of that. You see really bad names of real estate teams. And, you know, it’s just like oh man it’s so tacky. I mean there’s…I guess there’s a place for them because they’re still doing business. But…

[Christian]: Well…well I’ll back this up a little bit. I don’t know if you wanna scratch this or not. So, you know, we’ve got a bit…

[Chris]: No this is all good. 

[Nathan]: I know you’ve been picking at soething. 

[Chris]: This is alright. 

[Christian]: So so far we’ve kind of [censored] around about bad marketing which is very subjective. Because…

[Chris]: Welcome to the water cooler.

[Christian]: What’s that?

[Chris]: Welcome to the water cooler. 

[Christian]: Right, you know, like I myself when it comes to marketing try to put myself at the consumers shoes. And say “OK what’s, you know, what…what’s the objective of the marketing and am I accomplishing that?” You know, and so I think there’s unfortunately most…at least in my experience, most, you know, brokerages and agents. You know, there’s kind of the standard of like “Yeah well you do a farm, you know, and you just solds and just listed postcards and you have, you know, your face on your business card and, you know, just kind of all this really low bar like everyone does it. Everyone’s told to do it.” 

And people who aren’t agents don’t pay any attention to it. They don’t care. You know, it doesn’t bring them any value. It goes right in the recycling. You know, you direct me on stuff. And so that brings a question about what is…what is good marketing. Yeah I know what caught my attention as a new agent when I saw social media stuff that stood out or community events or, you know, things that I thought were interesting and unique in this space. 

And I think that’s kind of the key. Is like is it different? Is it gonna catch people’s attention in an industry of white noise? Or, you know…And so I think a lot of that there’s not just like hey you do this one thing and that’s good marketing. I think in this world of noise, you have to have many touch points. It has to be consistent. It has to be driven towards a specific end result. You know, whether that’s someone saving up for email or a meeting or liking your page or following you.

You know, like it all has to be designed in a consistent way to…to push people towards a certain desired objective. And most people don’t approach marketing in that way. There’s kind of like half hazard-ly throw stuff out there without a desired intention in mind. 

[Chris]: It’s a weak thought Christian. Among real estate agents.

[Christian]:  What’s that?

[Chris]: To think about how the consumer is gonna like the content and the message.

[Christian]: Yeah. 

[Chris]: You know, it’s…I’m not a marketer. By all means like that’s not my forte. I can train a real estate agent to sell and have a successful business. I could teach them some of the techniques that they should think about when they’re finding how to market themselves. But by all means I am NOT a marketer. Like I’m not gonna create a campaign. I am NOT gonna run all that stuff. I’ll leave that to other people who are more creative than I am and just let them do their thing.

[Christian]: But it certainly had that desired effect to you once. And you could send that to a marketer.

[Chris]: I…I know what we need to accomplish. And so here in Georgia, we…we actually do recruit new agents at my firm. So we have…we get all of the information for the people who pass and we send out collateral. We send out like we send out really nice marketing pieces to them. And so my wife recently got her real estate license to help out in the office because she’s a part owner in the company. So some of the things that she’s doing, she needs a license now. So she got her license and just for the hell of it we decided “OK we’re gonna see what other brokerages are sending out.”

And it ranges. Some of them send out, you know, one eight-and-a-half by 11 piece of paper that’s a letter. Some of them send out postcards. Some of them send out…there’s one KW office. They send out like this worksheet. Right. And it’s got this three boxes or three columns and a bunch of rows. And each row it’s like “Check about if this broker offers this.” It’s like a broker checklist. Interview other brokers and see if they have everything we have.

[Christian]: Like a comparison sheet.

[Chris]: Yes. Yes that’s exactly what it is. And that was probably the most creative. There was a Coldwell Banker office, it sent three po…three postcards from the exact same broker. Brokers face on it. And then it has like no message. Right like the postcard says like “Be bold.” Or like “Be strong.” Like on one. And it’s like you’ve got two or three words taking up the entirety of this like six by nine postcard. And it doesn’t say anything of value at all. It’s just like motivational [censored].

So then like we look at what we’re sending out. And we’re sending out this like…we’re sending out two mailings, in depth packet of everything that the company offers on this. Like premium glossy photo. And I’m like “You know what? This is why people call us off of this stuff. It’s because these other brokers that are in our market doing this, it’s garbage.” You got to…you got to focus on what the consumer is gonna want. I’m glad you do that.

[Christian]: Sure. Well I think to, you know, the key in on what you said, you know, it’s a little cliche these days or whatever. But talking about bringing value. Right. Like you’ve got to resonate with whoever you’re trying to get in front of with something that…that they’re going to, well, resonate with. You know, there’s gonna be a value that they use. That…that catchphrase.

And so it’s typically not going to be “Hey I just sold this house or I closed in five days.” They don’t give a [censored]. They don’t know what that means. Like, you know, but if you are like, you know, you’re specializing in a certain community. And, you know, you’re sending out something who says “Hey have you checked out this new pizza joint that they just opened? Here’s the interview with the owner.” You know, like that doesn’t have anything to do the real estate. But you’re getting your name and message out there. In alignment with “Hey this person is actually invested in the community. Actually supporting that business of actually providing something to the people that would frequent that business, who might find that interesting.” As an example of, you know, a community aligned marketing strategy that’s, you know, one touch piece amongst many. 

You know, whether that’s, you know, if you’re gonna do a farm have that be consistent. And there’s technology you can utilize to do, you know, retargeting Facebook or Google Ads that, you know, have that consistent message to those same people you’re mailing. If they, you know…you know that kind of thing. But that takes planning. That takes technical expertise. And I think that’s a far cry from, you know, Nate was saying “Hey I’m not a marketer. Hire that [censored] out.”

And I agree with. That but there’s so a lot of low bar marketing stuff out there, that’s like…My last brokerage, you know, they’ve had like a social media company come in who basically said “Hey, you know what Facebook is? We’ll take care of that for you. And what they meant by that is “If you sign up with us, we’re gonna send out this exact same [censored] generic posting…”

[Chris]: That you would.

[Christian]: Yeah right. And like, you know, I’d be falling for some this people. And you’d see the exact same posting on six different agents sites in the same company, because they’re just sending out the same generic [censored]. I’m like that does more to harm you and your reputation that does to like not send anything out at all.

[Chris]: Definitely. One of the major things that I learned when…when we started doing SEO on our website, is that for any third party, like if you really want to get your money’s worth, you have to hire in-house. Like if you’re not hiring in-house, you’re just going out and hiring a firm, unless they are a premium level firm where you have a dedicated account manager that is spending X number of hours on your account every month…you’re just not gonna get your money’s worth.

[Christian]: Right and it’s not gonna be cheap.

[Chris]: Hire in-house. 

[Christian]: Yeah.

[Chris]: Where you have to monitor it in-house and then outsource the work itself. But to just go out and say “Here take care of it.” That’s…that’s like, you know, you’re eating in a den of snakes. 

[Christian]: Right. Well and if you’re gonna hire that out, if you’re an agent you’re like “Hey marketing is not my forte. I’m gonna hire it out.” you better make sure that wherever you hire is asking you questions. To make sure that that content is, you know, in your voice. It’s, you know, it’s not gonna be, you know, if someone who’s following X agent knows you personally, and they see something coming out, they’re like “That doesn’t sound like them. They wouldn’t send something out like that.”

Like now you’ve got a authenticity issue. And, you know, you’re going to be doing more damage. I mean especially as you we’re seeing, you know, the demographic shift and the impact of social media. What people care about is…is authenticity, being genuine. If they catch wind of “Oh you just hiring out some generic someone, someone, some bot or some company is running your social media…yeah unfriend. Not interested. I’m not going to work with them because, you know, they can’t even bother to post real stuff from themselves.”

[Chris]: If you’re looking to hire an ad agency, you’re gonna be on retainer for a minimum of 5k a month. And that does not include your ad spend. Like if you want a good ad agency, if…if you’re just looking to hire, you know, a marketing consultant who’s gonna charge you, you know, 150 dollars a month, for this number of posts on social media, it…it’s…you might as well light your money on fire. It’s not going to do anything for you.

[Christian]: Well there’s different…I mean they’re just from models, you know. I mean I’m a very DIY person. But I also know that me, I’m not a professional marketer. Like I know, you know, kind of the strategy aspect of it and…but, you know, I’ve hired like a local marketer. Who would sit down with me and flush out, you know “OK this is what you have going on. How to be aware where are your missing pieces. And not leverage things where they’re not connected.” That kind of stuff and kind of map it out for me. And then I go execute it.

Now if you can hire someone to execute it’s, that is gonna be a lot more expensive. Because that’s very times, you know, intensive. 

[Chris]: Yeah I mean and that’s gonna be the difference. Like you can…you can bring in a consultant, for almost anything. But then you have to do the work. And the consultant is not gonna come up with the whole idea for you. They’re gonna help you work through it. So but if you want…but if you’re…My point is, you know, if you’re hiring, you know, the hundred and fifty hundred and ninety nine dollar marketing company online, that’s a subscription, versus you really want advertising, it’s a difference. 

Like you’ve got that retainer every single month. And you’ve got to hit that spend limit with them. And that does not include your ads.

[Christian]: Sure.

[Chris]: They’ll go through and they’ll do everything from your direct mail pieces, to video creation, to all of it.

[Christian]: Right. And that’s gonna be an actual marketing campaign with multiple platforms and tiers. Not just “Hey we’re sending out social media posts on your Facebook.” It’s entirely different. And I mean it’s some agents who don’t, you know, see the benefit of that. Or like “I don’t have time for that” you know, like Nate. I mean he stays busy enough and successful enough to not need that. But…but I mean the stuff he does organically is still marketing. It’s just not your typical overt cheesy agent stuff. Which I think speaks…it’s a lot more powerful than if you did the traditional “Just sold, just listed, hey look at me, I’m in an open house.” You know, and everything’s just overtly real estate. Which it doesn’t resonate with the majority of people, the majority of the time.

[Nathan]: No and, you know, I think you actually…what’s you’re gonna see and unbeknownst to you guys, but you’re gonna see me doing a little more marketing here in the future. But yeah well I have the luxury though of…Our company just brought on a marketing director that has a very strong marketing background. So we will have an in-house marketing department that…

[Christian]: Nice.

[Nathan]: Make, you know, will be able to take on what visions I have. Or I don’t want to say visions. I call them thoughts. Yeah I mean I had a meeting with her last week. She’s awesome and I…I equate what she can do to what like my tattoo guy does. Right. I come up with this wild little sketch on a piece of paper that looks like a third-grader did it. I say “Hey here.” And then a week later he hands it back and I’m like “I don’t know how you got that, but it’s perfect.” You know…

[Christian]: Sure. They will take your vision and make it into something.

[Nathan]: And make it into something and Karen will be able to do that for it. Some…a lot of brokerages I don’t think have, you know, that good fortune of having a marketing director that has a very solid background with a large company that can create some of these things we want. Within the vision that you need to do.

I think it’s important that whatever your theme is, you have consistency with it. And a lot of people don’t do that. I think a lot of real estate and what you do is marketing. Right. So if you’re gonna do it, do it well.

[Christian]: Sure. Well I think a lot of agents don’t realize it like what they’re putting out there, you know, is represent themselves. You know, because I mean you can have your marketing and your advertising. Typically people use them interchangeably. But they’re not, you know. Like for us, you know, we just, you know, ponied…pointed up. And…and hired Max the designs to…to do our marketing piece, you know, pieces. Which is essentially a design firm, you know, small design team down Los Angeles that walks you through a creation process of like everything, from color scheme to…to fonts to like what’s the feel, you know, your brokerage has. And all those kind of stuff to make stuff that’s customized for you. All the pieces are consistent. Totally customized to provide a platform. All your agents can log in and create their own stuff. Customize it, you know, download it. 

Like all that is like the bare minimum marketing pieces that you can then use for presentations or social media stuff. Or…or whatever. But, you know, something like that gives you a consistency for your agents, for your firm. But then on top of that you’ve got the actual “OK I’m gonna run a marketing campaign and that requires, you know, some intentional thought behind. What’s my desire goal? What messages are gonna resonate with whom? What platforms win?” You know, much more complex than just aesthetic marketing piece. 

You’re muted. 

[Nathan]: Everybody got quiet. So…

[Chris]: No one’s muted. We just were talking…[laughter]. All right. Well I think that is definitely you now…

[Christian]: Helpful. Hopefully it’s interesting. Oh boy this is the funny part. 

[Nathan]: Anyway. 

[Chris]: No I mean it’s…it’s great. We…we haven’t put anything in place like that for our firm right now. Even though we have a…our listing coordinator has a marketing background. She’s actually in portfolio school right now. So to kind of an extent we can…we have that ability. She’ll bounce some ideas off of us. We’ll bounce ideas off of her. Actually just to make sure we’re not doing anything stupid. 

But for everything with us, it’s a lot of…it’s word-of-mouth. And I think that that’s another type of marketing that people don’t pay enough attention to. Going back a few years to when Scott Stratten [phonetics] talked about on marketing. At Inman he said, you know “If you want word of mouth, what do you do? You do something worth talking about.”

So there…there’s that whole aspect to marketing our businesses. Doing things like Ritz Carlton. Doing things like Disney. Doing things…taking so much advanced precaution with our clients, thinking about their problems before they ever have it. That that way the client has no other alternative but to say how great their experience was. And I think that that’s something that, you know, we need to figure out or put more focus on also, because that stuff’s free.

[Christian]: Yeah well and that’s what, you know, for all that you’re leveraging the client experience. Right. It’s how you do your business, you know. All the marketing advertising is how you build up from, you know, getting in front of people to get them to that place where they’re your client. And then that experience comes in and the referral business can happen. It’s all part of a, you know, a long cycle of business. Hopefully.

[Chris]: Absolutely. So I think that’s good.

[Nathan]: Yeah.

[Chris]: Any final thoughts while you’re at it?

[Christian]: I would say as an agent, know your strengths, know your weaknesses. Don’t try to do everything. Hire out the stuff that you’re not an expert in. In this case marketing. But, you know, you got to find…you got to find someone that can draw out what that vision is. So that it’s consistent. Enhances your brand as opposed to completely contradicts your…consistency. [laughter] Words.

[Chris]: Nate any final thoughts?

[Nathan]: No. Stay off Facebook. Don’t request me. [laughter]. Get off my lawn you kids. Seriously I was like…all of that stuff that everybody else does, don’t [censored] do it. 

[Christian]: There’s that.

[Nathan]: I don’t want to be your friend because you’re not gonna sell me a house. All right. All right. Guys good luck and hope it works out for you.

[Chris]: Yeah. All right so basically there’s different types of marketing. Figure out what you want. Avoid the shiny object. Don’t think that you’re gonna find something that is going to solve all of your problems for one low monthly subscription. And then don’t leave out the word of mouth. Make sure you’re doing the things for your clients in your daily business. Make sure that your clients are your number one focus. Because guess what? Costs a whole lot less to keep a client than it does to acquire a new one. Everybody this has been re:Think Real Estate. We’ll catch you next Monday.


[Chris]: Thanks for tuning in this week’s episode of the re:Think Real Estate Podcast. We would love to hear your feedback so please leave us a review on iTunes. Our music is curtesy of Dan Koch K-O-C-H, whose music can be explored and licensed for use at dankoch.net. Thank you Dan. Please like, share and follow. You can find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/rethinkpodcast. Thank you so much for tuning in everyone and have a great week.