Business Marketing

Seth Godin Tells Real Estate Agents to “Quit being an agent. Get a job doing something else.”


..and you know that there will be plenty of agents out there who will follow that advice.

As many of you know, Seth Godin was the Keynote Speaker for the 2008 Keller Williams Convention (or as we Keller-ites like to call it: Family Reunion). This was the same message that he gave us … right up front … Quit. This is what he calls Plan A.

Seth just posted about this event, in fact… Advice for Real Estate Agents (quit now!)

As those words echoed throughout the room of over 8,400 agents, my smile broadened as my eyes scanned the semi-dark room in search of reactions. Boy! Did I ever see reactions! Some agents had the look of “Huh? What did he just say? I don’t get it. [scratching head]. Some agents looked appalled that someone at a real estate conference would offer such advice, and I knew that they were about to tune out the rest of what Seth had to say. Some agents had the relieved look on their face – relieved that someone had just given them permission to quit. (Then there were a few out there, smiling, like me. Why? Because they knew.)

It was in that very moment, that Seth’s point was made.

We are in a market where, according to Seth “the agents who built their business on low interest rates, easy money and speculation (the order takers) have left the building.”

So, now what?

The real estate agents who have not heeded his initial advice, what he calls Plan A, can now take part in Plan B, without the competition of from the “order takers” (the agents who have just followed (or plan to follow) Plan A) of the recent market. Although competition is dwindling, the now smaller group of Plan B Agents has a hefty hill to climb, though.

(I shall call Plan B Agents “we” now, as I am certain that if you are reading this right now you are not of the Plan A variety … In fact, you may even be a Renegade Realtor®, in which case I love you all the more…)

Anyway, we now have the opportunity to transform what it means to be a Real Estate Agent. (Or, is it a duty?)



We now have the opportunities to become REAL EXPERTS – Superstars – at what we do. He spoke to us about how there is a “Superstar Shortage” in almost ALL businesses, real estate included. Right now, no one really stands out and actually IS the BEST. So many real estate agents claim to be the best, but really just blend together in the so-called-top-producing-agent-look-at-my-Glamour-Shot-13-years-ago- picture-on-my-business-card/bus-bench/glossy-magazine-throw-a-sign-in-your-yard- and-forget-about-you-but-do-you-like-my-turquoise-polyester-suit-and-fluffy-hair kind of way.These are all the agents that need to (and probably will) follow Plan A. Leaving a wide-open playing field for all of us Plan B agents.

Seth goes onto say, in his recent post, that we can now “become the source of information, the watercooler, the person to turn to” by honing our focus to hyper-local permission-based marketing. Gone are the days of dominating an entire city with your face on a bus bench.

One way to become a “watercooler agent” a successful Plan B agent, is to become the Mayor of Your Zip Code … a wonderful way to start becoming hyper-local. From there, why not build a hyper-local community blog? I started one for the Greenhaven neighborhood of Colorado Springs over a year ago and I have become more than the “mayor” … I have risen to dictator, er, I mean near-president status. I am the go-to for ALL things even remotely related to real estate in Greenhaven. And it only takes a few hours a month (yes, a month) to keep up with it.

Seth goes into other great ideas on how to be a great hyper-local, permission-based Plan B Agent, and his post is a Must Read.

So I ask you: Are you a Plan B Agent?
If so…

  • Are you SURE you have what it takes to seize this awesome opportunity to be a SUPERSTAR in today’s real estate market?
  • How are you focusing your efforts on becoming Hyper-Local?
  • What are you doing RIGHT NOW to dominate your hyper-local market?
  • Is this all in your business plan?
  • Are you REALLY in it for the long haul?

If you answered “no” or “nothing” or “not sure” to ANY of those questions, I am afraid you ARE a Plan A agent, which is just fine. There are probably bigger and better things for you out there. And not everyone can be a SUPERSTAR Real Estate Agent.

If you answered “yes” … or even better, “YES!!!” then we are all in it together. With the competition going down, we can really help each other attain Superstar status. The community of Plan B Agents (us) can not only continue doing what we have been doing, here in the blogosphere, but now we can, and NEED TO, skyrocket all these things that we are reading about into each other’s lives and businesses. We are in this together and can DO this together.

We can ALL be Superstars.

(Photos taken from Seth Godin’s presentation at our KW Convention.)

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Shailes Ghimire

    February 22, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Mariana,

    As much as this was for agents, it’s also for mortgage brokers as well. I read an industry expert say 50% of loan officers have left the business across the country. To think that there were that many order takers is amazing, but I would speculate the vast majority were. Now, the 50% who are left should begin to see some demand for their skills and ability. Afterall a home loan is the single most important financial decision of a persons life and to think it has been made into a commodity to the extent that it has is mind boggling to think.

  2. Andy Kaufman

    February 22, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I like a lot of what Seth’s message is, I’m not totally on board with the ‘hyper-local’ part of it. Whenever I hear ‘hyper-local’, I substitute ‘hyper-niche’. I have little interest in being the mayor of a zip code, I’d rather be the benevolent ruler of the REO/bank owned foreclosure space in the East Bay.

  3. Mariana

    February 22, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Shailesh – Yes. It is time to go out and be a Superstar Lender!

    Andy – I am right there with you. Although I DO have a successful hyper-local geographic niche, I also have a hugely successful demographic niche.

    I see what he is saying as expanding further than geographic boundaries. Seth is not an agent, and can only offer ideas on what he SEES of real estate as a non-agent. Like if I were to offer advice on marketing for beauticians, my idea-base would be limited to “hair and nails” but I am sure there are countless “niches” that reach further than the physical activities of a beautician, that a beautician could be a superstar in. (great, now agentgenius will start ranking for “beautician marketing” …LOL!

  4. Daniel Rothamel

    February 22, 2008 at 11:09 am

    As Matthew Santos and Lupe Fiasco pointed out–

    If you are what you say you are. . .

  5. Mariana

    February 22, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Daniel – I love that song. Would that make you a Superstar Zebra?

  6. Ines

    February 22, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Mariana – I read Seth’s post last night and KNEW you would come up with an incredible post about it…..and I wasn’t wrong.
    It’s an opportunity for us to shine, and as mean as it may sound, the clean-up process has begun and the best agents remain.

    To add to the “hyper-local” discussion – because of how local real estate is, “hyper-local” can mean very different things for different markets – I work 5 different zip-codes…..my stuff is still local as Andy’s REO niche in the East Bay. – we have to be smart and pick our market/niche….and most of us here have done that.

  7. Benn Rosales

    February 22, 2008 at 11:18 am

    You are all Superstars in my book.

  8. Mariana

    February 22, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Ines – Thank you. I write about this knowing that most of the readers are already on board with what I have to say, like you. But I have to write it anyway. If just ONE person reads it and ejects themself out of mediocrity – by either quitting or becoming a superstar, then I ahve been successful.

    “Only talented people fret about mediocrity.” – SG The Dip

    Benn- Thank you. My book, too.

  9. Missy Caulk

    February 22, 2008 at 11:31 am

    My husband just was released from the hospital yesterday, scrolling across the computer where they watch the heart monitors was, Our heath care is REMARKABLE. I thought of Seth’s comments from the book, someone had to have read it.
    It is for any industry in this day and age.

  10. Mariana

    February 22, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Missy – Is he alright?
    I agree. What he says is applicable to anyone in any service or sales related industry.

  11. Bob Wilson

    February 22, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    I believe the head of a Realtor association in Michigan or Minnesota last summer or early fall said that many agents should quit.

    My problem with Seth’s hyper-local advice is that by itself, it’s a self limiting strategy. It aims too low. If you go hyper anything, then I would tend to echo Andy’s niche approach.

  12. Mariana

    February 22, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Bob- What I think we are missing is that Seth is speaking from a consumers-standpoint with limited knowledge of the true intricasies of our lovely business. And even with that, he DID call it “micro-specialization” which can be liberally applied ot whichever niche you choose.

    We need to take what he says and apply it how we and where we know it can work. I think that using geographic hyper-niching can be uber-successful if we can string several hyper-local niches together, or if we, like Andy mentioned, spread beyond geography and into other demographics and specializations.

  13. Bob Wilson

    February 22, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    I’m not missing it, I just don’t agree with the micro marketing advice unless it’s is part of a broader online strategy.

  14. Benjamin Bach

    February 23, 2008 at 4:29 am

    ASK – What are you doing RIGHT NOW to donate to your hyper-local market?

    Giving starts the receiving process!

    Awesome post Marana

  15. Mariana

    February 23, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Bob- I agree. What SG says is not the be-all-end-all, but a great facet to our businesses.

    Benjamin- That is a great question!

  16. Jonathan Dalton

    February 23, 2008 at 11:52 am

    I’m with Andy in the concept of hyper-niche vs. hyper-local. I’ve been writing with an eye toward Canada, have developed a full marketing strategy there and it’s slowly paying off.

  17. real estate Vancouver

    February 23, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Okay..lets be honest. There are agents and Agents. One part being built on easy money, speculations and unfair play, second part being built on confidence, long term relations and fair game. Could you distinguish them? Sometimes. Could you mark them? Not really. Would you cope against them? Hardly. You could state some mission, or philosophy (like we in ReMax Vancouver have done) but that could be pretended by anybody with no real effect. So what is the point – there are many types of people and it definitely plays no role, if they are real estate agents, insurance agents or mortgage agents or bus drivers. It’s natural. so I don’t think Seth has said something “revolutionary”. It is just exactly what many poeple think about agents…

  18. Mariana

    February 24, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Jonathan – Congratulations!

  19. Mariana

    February 24, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Jay- Honestly, what he has said can be applied to almost ANY service or sales-based industry. He was sopeaking from his recent book The Dip, which is appliacble to anyone, The point being that this is a perfect time ot either QUIT or up your game.

  20. Benjamin Bach

    February 24, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Hey Jonathan… let’s talk.. I am the Wealth Building Guy of the Tech Triangle in Canada 🙂

    BenjaminBach.com

  21. real estate Vancouver

    February 24, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Mariana – yes, you are right, but what will be the real impact? Do you think they will quit? My opinion is, that usually everybody tries to continue, until the fall to absolute bottom. The point of -perfect time- is, that everybody does miss it (and now I am not talking only about bussiness).

  22. Missy Caulk

    February 24, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Mariana, my 2 cents are, that Seth is only saying you have to figure out a way to be Remarkable for our industry that the days of traditional marketing are obsolete, they all vie for the customers attention and you have to have alternative approaches to grab the consumer.
    In my area, agents are getting out that haven’t wanted to learn new things and embrace new challenges.
    Commercials come on and I flip channels, and usually follow the news and something else I am watching, back and forth.
    I think all Seth is saying is we can’t market to the masses anymore but to our niche, farm, or location. Some would call that hyper-local or niche. I think they are the same thing, don’t you? or am I confused?

  23. Bob Wilson

    February 24, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Missy, I believe SG is saying that, but there are many mega agents whose success proves otherwise.

  24. Mariana

    February 24, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Missy – I believe that the term “niche” and “local” ARE one in the same, depending on who you talk to.

  25. Mariana

    February 24, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Bob- There are mega agents that are very successful and are not following SG’s advice. In my town, those agents are thriving from their own book of business and personal referrals, not from new business. They built that book of business with tools and techniques that are not working as well anymore, but since they already have their “book” it doesn’t matter, now, how they got it.

    For someone looking to build their book of business in this day and age, a re-focusing of marketing is necessary, IMHO. What SG offers is an insight to a way that we can market.

  26. Mariana

    February 24, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Jay- I do not elieve that there is “a” perfect time to quit, as that “perfect time” will vary from person to person, situation to situation. Some people WILL wait until they hit the absolute bottom … but who is to say when that really is?

    It’s like saying, “Why are my keys ALWAYS in the last place I look?” Because you stop looking after you find them, of course they are in the last place. The same applies to quitting: A person will when they cannot handle it any more. To one person that time will be after one failed contract, while another person it will be after no closings in 6 months.

    Each person’s threshhold for failure, stamina through rough times and definition of “bottom” is different.

    What this article is addressing is the fact that a lot of non-committed people became agents when times were easy and the new, shifting market is giving a lot of these agents the perfect opportunity to quit. And for those of us who are not going to quit, we need to shake up the marketing tree and approach things differently. SG is offering one way to do this.

  27. Bob Nelson

    March 5, 2008 at 12:38 am

    I was there when he said that and man did he have the agents nervous. Truth is that there is no way the number of agents wont drop like a rock. I bet that by the end of this year the NAR rosters will be 50% of what they are today. The challenge I have is learning about what I need to know now for this crazy market. I have only sold in the sellers market from over the last few years. Anyway, there is a great post about Seth and Realtors on http://www.timandjulieharris.com.

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