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Gary V – I disagree! Vaynerchuk’s advice could hurt agents

Inman Connect NYC

This article was originally published on January 15, 2009 as author Brandie Young’s debut post that stirred things up right off the bat… I missed RE Connect in NYC this year – but kept up via Twitter and various live streams. All the excitement about the dynamic presentation given by Gary V piqued my curiosity.

I was floored when I watched the video on Facebook – and not in a good way. His advice to real estate agents incited a very lively discussion between me and my friend, Ginny Cain – a panelist at RE Connect – around the responsibilities of “internet famous” folks. (In fact, she’s posted the video and written about it here)

They are superstars

They’re Internet Famous. They have thousands of followers on Twitter, friends on Facebook, listeners on Blipfm. Everyone wants to know them, connect with them. We follow their Tweets and read their blogs. They are Social Media master black belt ninjas, and we all want to emulate their success in this arena.

The problem? If we were to follow their advice – and they got it wrong – it could potentially cause harm in our business. One strategy does not fit all industries! Sorry Gary V – IMHO you got it wrong!

We’ve entered an era where 78% of people trust the recommendations of other consumers and just 14% trust advertisements1. That’s not surprising.

We all like the comfort a referral brings knowing someone else took the risk of trying a new service provider with good results. (Aren’t a good deal of your new clients referrals?)

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Gary V’s advice could harm agents’ business

The difference being these days we are taking advice from someone we may not actually know in real life (although we feel we do, having followed their Tweets and read their blogs). As Ginny stated, “Selling real estate is not selling wine”. Her contention was with Gary V’s recommendations that real estate agents spend 50% of their time on Social Media activities, stop “thinking local” and cut advertising altogether.

Those three pieces of advice could prove harmful to an agents’ business. If you are spending 50% of your time in front a computer, you can not be out and about in your community and forging those “real world” relationships that will ultimately get you business.

No flyers, signs or ads? Huh?

That said, if you embark on a Social Media journey – which is a great idea – you will initially spend more time getting things set up. But allocate your time wisely. And be warned, it’s addictive!

If you adjust your thinking to a more global perspective, are you truly going to get more clients? Unless, of course, you want to target relocation business. And cutting advertising all together? Seriously? How will anyone find you in your crowded, noisy marketplace if you aren’t out there? Better yet, how would your potential listing client react if you told them your marketing plan was to blog and Twitter about their house – and that’s it. No ads, flyers, signs, online listings, etc.

There is a saying: Fish where the fish are.

Your fish are not shopping exclusively for homes on Twitter, Facebook or Google. Key word: exclusively. They check Trulia, Zillow, and other sites. In addition, I’ll bet there are many smaller markets where the local newspaper still yields the best results. If you’re not represented where your clients shop, how can they find you?

You should leverage social media

“Stealth” is not a good business strategy for real estate agents. That said, I do believe you should leverage social media to grow your business. I like the program Pat Kitano has built to train real estate agents on tactics they can deploy utilizing Social Media. It’s put together specifically for an agents’ needs.

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Please be mindful of the advice given by Internet Superstars. Hear their ideas and advice and absolutely take advantage of those great tidbits that can help you grow your business. Just consider their area of expertise. If it’s not real estate, listen with an open mind. While they are passionate about their own use of Social Media to succeed, a lack of real estate knowledge could cause them to (unknowingly) offer bad advice. Don’t get so caught up in the enthusiasm that you fail to really consider if this advice will work for you.

You might be thinking: But, it’s worked for Gary V (and a slew of others). True. But, I bet if Gary opened a retail wine shop, he wouldn’t move it to an obscure, out of the way location and take down the sign. If he did, how would anyone find him?

(I have a feeling this – my first post on AG – will “Bring Thunder to My World”…)

1. Nielsen “trust in advertising” report, October 2007
Photo courtesy Adrants from Revision3’s Internet Superstars at ad:tech San Francisco

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Written By

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.



  1. Jay Thompson

    January 15, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Brandie –

    Welcome to Agent Genius!

    I’m a big GaryVee fan. I was at his keynote address at Inman.

    Maybe I interpreted some of what he said incorrectly, maybe others did. I don’t know.

    I think a LOT of what Gary says CAN (and should) be applied to real estate. Personal branding is huge in this business, and using social media tools is one way to get that branding accomplished. This industry *needs* ‘transparency’ (or to quote Rob Hahn, more accurately ‘authenticity’) and that is a significant portion, IMO, of what Gary is trying to say.

    Gary had 30 minutes at Inman. That message, and all its nuances, can’t really be effectively delivered in 30 minutes. People should listen to his other messages at various conferences and at (not

    I don’t think Gary said “cut advertising completely”. Let’s face it, print is a dying medium. A lot of homes are sold without being advertised in a newspaper or in Homes & Land. If we’re all honest, agents don’t place homes in those kinds of media to sell the home. They do it to sell themselves and to get buyers for other properties.

    Yes, clearly not everything that applies in the wine industry can be applied to the real estate vertical. But a whole lot of it can. I think if people listen to the likes of GaryVee and then apply their underlying message to real estate, they can get a lot out of that. Applied literally, not-so-much.

    Great first post here!

  2. NicoleFord

    January 15, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Brandie – great article. I wholeheartedly agree. A similar discussion has been going on over at BloodhoundBlog over RE 1.0 vs. 2.0. While 2.0 may be the future, 1.0 is helping us to pay the bills right now.

  3. Chris

    January 15, 2009 at 10:37 am

    I agree with you Brandie, even though I think that Gary’s message is also partially correct as well. Agent’s should use the tools that buyers and sellers are using (Twitter, Facebook, etc), but they can’t focus on those alone.
    I also agree with you that an agent that sits at a computer 50% of their time isn’t going to move a lot of listings. Real estate is a business where you have to sell yourself first, and therefore, you have to be a visible part of the community, not just an online community.

  4. Mark Eckenrode

    January 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    welcome to AG, brandei.

    i agree and disagree with this. on one hand, i think much of the commotion about holding on to 1.0 tactics exists because, well, that’s the way it’s always been done. and even with that, not all 1.0 tactics work for everyone either.

    and, as pointed out, 1.0 tactics aren’t necessarily the most “trusted” anymore.

    the challenge with 2.0 specific marketing is that it’s still pretty damn young and there’s not a lot of info out there yet on the systems and processes of harnessing 2.0 for business.

    what it comes down to is individual business strategy.

    “50% of time in front of the computer”: hey, if that’s where you get your business, why wouldn’t you be there?

  5. Erion Shehaj

    January 15, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    I saw the keynote on Jay’s blog and I think you’re oversimplifying his points a little. Gary speaks more in terms of overall strategy than specific tasks you should do tomorrow. His idea of cutting advertising has more to do with the idea of building your personal brand through grassroots tactics like blogging, social media marketing rather than focusing on advertising in mediums that might or might not be here tomorrow. I thought he got it wrong when he talked about agents going national/global rather than focusing on a “little pocket of Indiana”. While a noble idea for 98% of businesses, I simply don’t think it would apply to real estate very well except in some rare cases (i.e national real estate investment brokerages similar to what @bawldguy is doing).

    I find that agents often have an “all of the above” advertising strategy that is not necessarily ROI driven. “I advertise in Homes and Land magazine because some people might be looking there”. “I gotta be on shopping carts – someone might be looking for a house right after they finishing their weekly shopping”. The problem with that strategy imho is that it disregards opportunity cost. Could you get a client or two by placing an ad in the local paper? Of course (at least for a little while longer :-)). But what could you do with that money if you use it elsewhere? What if you save it and build a blog to generate clients instead? Wouldn’t that make your business run leaner and meaner?

    I personally think Gary is absolutely brilliant and to fully appreciate him, one must zoom out a little and look at his suggestions from a Bird’s Eye perspective.

    Great job on the first post btw – You sparked quite a discussion.

  6. realestatecris

    January 15, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Brandie! Great first post. You make strong, passionate arguments – the best kind in my opinion.

    As with everything in life, you must strike a balance. Print news is a dying medium, this is why the LA Times discontinued it’s Real Estate section.

    While there are demographics to be reached through print, we cannot discount the numbers when it comes to where the people are.

    A recent study sponsored by Intel reported that 65% of adults felt they “could not live without Internet access.” stats show that over 80% of home buyers use the internet as their primary research tool and that number is two years old!!!

    I’m not a man of extremes. Yes, there is still some merit to local print advertising, other than that you need to establish a presence online because that’s where your potential buyers are.

    Looking forward to more posts!

  7. Brandie Young

    January 15, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Jay – thanks for the warm welcome – and your comment.

    For the record – I’m a big Gary V fan as well. I think he’s demonstrated out-of-box thinking for personal branding and product sales that could one day be a course curriculum.

    I absolutely agree with you: so much of what Gary says CAN (and should) be applied to real estate with regard to personal branding, authenticity, etc.

    Gary is a phenomenon and we can all learn quite a bit from him. That said, IMHO, his expertise is not selling real estate. But rather a commoditized product (and of course himself as an expert on that product as well as personal branding).

    To your point not everything that applies in the wine industry can be applied to the real estate vertical. That’s my point – and I hope people listened to his message with a critical ear.

    Nicole – thank you. I’m glad it’s a topic for discussion. I love to see agents and others associated with the industry engage in meaningful conversation!

    Chris – thanks for the comment! To your point, I think Gary’s message is very correct – in the context of building personal brand. My issue was in applying tactics that may not translate to an agent’s business.

    Mark – thanks for the warm welcome. I appreciate that. I agree that the real estate industry may have a tendency to hold on to what’s worked in the past. IMO now, more than ever, agents should be innovative in not only building their personal brand but also repairing the image/brand of the industry. Let’s face it – real estate has taken a beating the last 18 months or so. That said, if you are an agent, and you want real estate to remain your core business – to your point – each individual must have a strategy that achieves their objectives. And, if it can be done spending 50% of your time in front of the computer – go for it!

    Hi Erion (love that name) – I appreciate your reply and candor. Again, I want to state I’m a Gary V fan. I think he’s awesome. Seriously. Much of my issue was around someone with his influence giving what could be construed as “absolute” advice and using his comparisons of ad ROI as empirical data for agents. I agree with you that agents may not always have an absolute handle on the best strategy to generate ROI. I think one of the biggest challenges is it’s SO local that one size will not fit all. So, it’s important to test, measure and learn – repeat what works and change what doesn’t. But, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Although some of the tactics may be dated – if they work, and you know that for a fact, why not continue? Example, a few months ago an agent friend of mine who has a sign outside our local Safeway (her office is in the same strip mall) had a client walk in her office after seeing it. Long story short she bought a $1.2M home. I’m thinking the sign has paid for itself. Now, does that happen all the time. No. But had my friend decided that ALL 1.0 type efforts don’t work, her 2008 COE’s would have been $1.2M lighter…

  8. Barry Cunningham

    January 15, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Brandie says …” If we were to”….”If you are ”

    Jay Thompson says…”I think…I don’t think ”

    Nicole Ford says…”may be”

    Chris says … “even though I think”

    My point being…so much analysis is based upon conjecture. Gary V DID IT!!!

    In the Internet Marketing world split testing is biblical. You test and test and test some more. You keep testing over and over and over.

    Instead of wasting an effort surmising…try it yourself..DO IT..DO SOMETHING and test..over and over again.

    Video, social media, blogging, adwords, twitter,…the time spent in front of the computer needs to be spent testing what works over and over…then there won’t nearly as many “what if’s or I think” type comments…they will be hard data to support.

    Gary V didn’t get where he is because he was afraid to step out and test and take chances.

  9. Ken Brand

    January 15, 2009 at 8:55 pm


    Any way you slice, dice and Ginsu knife it, if you’re not talking to people one-on-one, in person or on the phone, you’re not connecting at levels that will lead to big business.

    Social media tools and toys, help market, position, promote, brand, reveal and move you to personal contact, conversation, connection, discovery, service/help and getting hired or referred.

    Gotta do it all, but most of all, people have to hear the sound of your voice and the sparkle in your eyes.

    My four cents.

    Looking forward to hearing more from you:-)

  10. Missy Caulk

    January 15, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Hi Brandie, Welcome to Agent Genius. I agree with your comments that as Realtors we must be careful to not take every word from the social media stars as always accurate.

    Each market is different, what works in one may not work in another. I may not agree a certain thing will work in my area, but respect the agent that is does work for.

  11. Jay Thompson

    January 15, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Sometimes I get scared when I agree with Barry 😉

    “Instead of wasting an effort surmising…try it yourself..DO IT..DO SOMETHING and test..over and over again.”

    I’m doing something new. Rolled it out tonight. I won’t link to it and clutter the comment thread. It’s not that hard to find.

    Will it work? Beats me. But I’ll never know if I don’t try….

  12. Barry Cunningham

    January 15, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Jay hope it works and if it doesn’t I’m sure you’ll find out what will!

    Don’t be scared…we agree more than you’s just the delivery…I’m going to go check out what you did!

  13. Brandie Young

    January 16, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Realestatecris (Cris) – Thanks! Love the stats – I’m a numbers girl when it comes to proving ROI – you rock.

    Barry – I’m glad you commented. I LOVE your “just do it” attitude and couldn’t agree more!! And, yes, Gary V got to where he is because he is dynamic, a risk taker and innovative. We should all have the same passion about our job. That said, Gary V doesn’t sell a service, he sells a product (and himself). Huge difference. Arguably, he is a MASTER at personal branding on a broad scale. Agents do need personal branding, but do they need that brand to extend 2,000 miles away if what they want to do is sell and list homes in their market? Maybe. Maybe not. The proof is in the pudding and time (and data) will tell.

    Ken – Hi. Love your “to the point” summation and couldn’t agree more. At the end of the day, it all comes down to that personal interaction that still seems to be required in the real estate biz.

    Missy – Thanks for the welcome. Great attitude. I think we are all here to learn from one another and look forward to hearing your thoughts again.

    Jay (again) can’t wait to hear what you did that’s new and exciting and look forward to the results. Good luck!

  14. Barry Cunningham

    January 16, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Hey brandie…not sure if you know our history here..or elsewhere…but we have a brand of what somepeople would say as being a bit tough on real estate agents.

    We get calls and emails and visits from prospects from across the Country. In fact we were entertaining a gentleman and his wife who flew in from Dallas to specifically meet us and look at some property with the agents on our staff. (million dollar properties I might add)

    This is becoming quite the norm. We get buyers from England, Spain, South America, Canada, Belgium and even as far away as Miami (LOL)…all becasue of doing a lot of things just as gary V. does.

    While many are “waiting on data”…we’re seeing it happen on a daily basis.

    We are so seeded for terms REAL buyers are searching for and we write and say things that REAL buyers take notice of and the differentiation from the norm seperates us from the herd.

    The proof is most assuredly in the pudding and it would be wise for more agents to serve up more of their own before someone else in their market does.

    What’s the worst that could happen…Failure? So what..get back on the horse. I can’t tell you some of the lame marketing ideas I ahve tried. Have a whole hard drive full of promotions and such..some have worked and some have not…but each week we teak..tweak and tweak some more.

    The ones that work we ride until the wheels fall off but NEVER would I wait and see the results of someone else’s pudding recipe!

  15. Jim Gatos

    January 16, 2009 at 6:39 am

    I can tell you from my own personal experience; Homes & Land and the newsprints are a waste of money. The %’s are so low that I won’t even waste my time. I am totally focused on;

    1. Blogs
    2. Websites
    3. Facebook (works for me!)
    4. Other internet sources.
    5. Signs
    6. Personal Contacts.

    Only thing I’ll use the newspapers for is open houses. That’s all..

  16. Daniel Rothamel

    January 16, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Hey Brandie, great first post!

    The advice that Gary gives is like any other piece of advice– listen, consider, and act accordingly.

    For me, personally, I thought that the most valuable insight that Gary shared is how social media is changing every industry not because it is social, but because it allows individuals to create and broadcast their own media.

    Real estate professionals have marketing options that simply did not exist 5 years ago. Any professional would be foolish to not at least examine those possibilities. Some might work, some might not, but hey, you don’t know without trying.

    A very good piece of advice was given by one of the final panelists at Connect, when asked about government intervention, and whether the government should do more or less, he responded, “The government should do the right things.”

    The same is true for marketing, it’s not necessarily about more new media, or less print, its about doing the right things for your business.

  17. Brandie Young

    January 16, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Barry – Tough is good – bring it! I’m all for doing what works (of course). I also believe one needs to try new things to test, learn, revise and try again. My umbrella thought is to really consider the source of advice to ensure it could work for you before you do anything drastic. As I mentioned above, my friend’s sign outside the grocery made her money. Why throw that away b/c it’s not 2.0? I couldn’t agree more – the proof is in the pudding. I do think with the differences in various micro markets, there is not a single strategy that suits all…

    Jim – thanks for commenting! I need to restate: I’m not hardcore advocating the sole use of “traditional” marketing and advertising.

    I hope I clearly stated one needs to “Fish where the fish are”. That probably means a mix of online, offline, etc. The important part of that is knowing where your fish are. i.e. in my local market the age (and home price) skews a bit higher – so they aren’t necessarily on FB or Twitter. That doesn’t mean they are not viable clients… but they can’t find you if you are not visible where they look when interested in buying a home.

    Daniel – thanks, you’re sweet to say. I am so excited to have started such a conversation! Great point – agents do have more options than ever for marketing. That’s great – and I imagine can also be overwhelming. I absolutely agree – you have to try to see what works. You rock. Great thoughts!

  18. Barry Cunningham

    January 16, 2009 at 12:17 pm’re a breath of fresh air. Like it that you like to tango and do so with intelligence and substance. Think you might be a keeper.

    If they let me, you and I will have some pretty good discussions.

    You know I think I read somewhere on a blog an opinion that supports what I say. It said in part…

    “Test and learn. But most important – learn, or you may perish.”

    The writer on that blog penned words oh so true and to those who don’t heed it, potentially prophetically painful.

    She’s a wise and astute writer and disciple of real marketing principles.

    Do you know her?

  19. BawldGuy

    January 16, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Though I and most if not all of the commenters make extensive use of 2.0, the vast majority of income produced by real estate agents come from the 1.0 world. Of course, that could change soon, but I’ve been hearing that screeching chorus without seeing much pudding for too long.

    The fish are everywhere, and 2.0 blended with 1.0 certainly contributes its fair share of the income pie. Still, go to any 10 random markets — and the top 20 producing RE agents will almost always be deriving most if not all their success from their 1.0 efforts.

    Our firm is firmly ensconced in 2.0, but each year our bottom line pie chart shows that what worked in 1957 still slaughters what works in 2009 in 2.0. Until 2.0 becomes more than merely a wonderfully effective catalyst (which most certainly it is), I don’t suspect these empirical facts will change much.

  20. Rob Hahn

    January 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Brandie –

    As I might have mentioned on Twitter… great first post. 🙂 And of course, I agree with your assessment.

    I dig what Barry’s saying, but… that’s the real danger right there, innit? Because one guy managed to build a personal brand with the often manically-devoted wine-enthusiast market (which is globalized, passionate, and commoditized), realtors who work in an industry that is directly opposite (local, anti-passionate, and uncommoditizable) should follow his example?

    That’s what I warn against. It’s great that Gary V succeeded. There are lessons to be learned, as there are lessons from every story of success and failure, but letting buzzwords like “social media” and “personal branding” blind you to the realities of YOUR industry is perilous.

    To use just one example, WineLibrary.TV is awesome. It really is. NJRealEstate.TV is awful. It really is (or would be if someone actually tried it). Think about why.


  21. Brandie Young

    January 16, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    BawldGuy – thanks for the comment, and the sage wisdom. You hit the nail on the head with “The fish are everywhere, and 2.0 blended with 1.0 certainly contributes its fair share of the income pie.” It would be interesting to get a survey (perhaps up here on AG) to understand how agents track and calculate ROI and share those findings… what do you think.

    Rob – Thanks! That’s what my friend Ginny was saying in her post (link in 1st para of article) “Wine is not like real estate”. You defined that succinctly and beautifully.

  22. teresa boardman

    January 16, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Welcome. I guess I have to say that what Gary is saying will work for some. I know that it does but I know it won’t work for all. I send more time networking online than off. It has helped me meet more people that I could face to face and reconnect with people I already know. I don’t advertise any more. I do use signs and flyers for my listings.

  23. Brandie Young

    January 16, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Barry – awww, thanks. Yes, I’m no shrinking violet – that said, I am excited to hear all thoughts/opinions and love your comments.

    Yes, I think I’ve read that blog post – and do know of the author. I believe it’s said she is not only wise, but stunning and funny!!!

    Teresa – thanks for the welcome. And, for sharing your successes. I know you are often asked to speak on your experience, and like others that have posted their comments here, you are highly regarded for your use of 2.0 tools. You rock.

  24. Erion Shehaj

    January 16, 2009 at 5:11 pm


    I would be careful with the sweet Beta Version of Barry that’s being presented here.

    Just a thought 🙂

  25. Barry Cunningham

    January 16, 2009 at 5:27 pm


    brandie has nothing to fear. She is a marketing person. we speak the same language and I respect and appreciate her intellect and ability to respond with a worthwhile and quite relevant and refreshing outlook on things.

    No one needs to fear. Fear is not becoming.

    However those who can expect to be called out are those those who need to be called out for the useless drivel that they offer up.

    But as I am a guest here…my arrows are queitly resting in their quiver.

  26. Erion Shehaj

    January 16, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Know what I mean? 🙂

    Don’t get riled up Barry – this is not that kind of party. I actually enjoy pointing out the pointless. But I can’t deny you start a pretty good debate every once in a while.

    Now back to Gary V

  27. Brandie Young

    January 16, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Barry & Erion – healthy discussion is a good thing! Personally, I love being introduced to another person’s perspective. We don’t always need to agree,and it’s nice to engage in intelligent conversation. Have a wonderful weekend!

  28. BawldGuy

    January 16, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    As soon as a new client comes into the fold their origin as a prospect is recorded. If we can verify reasonably well that two or more sources were responsible we make notes. As you might suspect this can degenerate into some comical Columbo impressions at times.

    I can see the potential for great difficulty in reliably tracing the trail a client may have taken to get to an agent.

  29. Bob

    January 16, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Brandie – You have my vote. Big difference selling a service vs a product.

    Thing is, I see Barry more as Bawldguy than Gary V – more 1.0 than 2.0. 2.0 may bring in buyers from across the pond, but its old fashioned style work that gets him the deals in the first place.

    Glad to see another who likes to mix it up and challenge the staus quo.

  30. Barry Cunningham

    January 16, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Bob..I have to say…never looked at it quite that way. Yes, it took months of tedious development in place to have our operation basically running on autopilot.

    I guess you can say we rolled up the sleeves and opened the nogging and allowed good ole ingenutiy and hard work to afford us the opportunity of implementation.

    However where we differ from Baldguy is now that we have automated and spent the time making sure said automation works…now we can sit back and never have to endure the 1.0 world anymore.

    So does that make us a hybrid?

  31. Brandie Young

    January 17, 2009 at 9:41 am

    BawldGuy – yes, measuring effectiveness is difficult when a new client has been “touched” several times by your efforts. I imagine it’s frustrating when and you can’t put your finger on that tipping point that triggered the initial contact. That comes down to understanding your clients (what they read, online habits, where they go, who they believe, etc.) so you can find more like them. That combined with a good old fashioned gut check. I bet by now you’ve honed some pretty strong instincts!

    Bob – thank you, and thanks for taking the time to comment! Yep, I’ve never been one to shy from making an unpopular point. My intent is never to derail, but to offer a perspective that may not follow the herd. It’s smart to try new things, but don’t abandon what works, right? Just add 2.0 tools into the mix. Cheers!

  32. James

    January 17, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Brandie, I think that you missed the point of the message. People are search for homes online. NAR estimates the over 85% of all transactions start online, with customers search for months before contacting an agent. Just look at where agents are spending their ad dollars. Based on the marketing activities that I see most agents using, a lot of agents spend 85% of their marketing dollars chasing that 15% of the “off-line” market. Maybe Facebook and twitter are not the right venues, and spending 50% of their time online is not appropriate for most agents, but the idea is to get agents thinking Internet as an effective marketing medium.

  33. Brandie Young

    January 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Hi James, thanks for the note. Actually, you just made my point for me!! I was not disputing leveraging the internet… quite the opposite. I said leverage social media (in fact, it’s in big letters) for personal brand building activates, networking activities, etc. I was disputing his “zero spend” recommendation. Spend can be online, offline, whatever you know works, thus, the “fish where the fish are” quote. Yes, yes, yes, 85% of homebuyers begin their search online – but probably not on social media sites. So, if you are not spending money there, they can not find you. See – you and I are on the same page.

  34. Bob

    January 17, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    So does that make us a hybrid?

    No. It makes you a model of efficiency and profitability. 50% of your time on twitter is not an auto-pilotable model. Stop tweeting and you are last hour’s news.

    I like the fact that Brandie uses the word “leverage“, because really all that matters is getting the job done (or sale made) in the most efficient matter possible that returns the highest yield.

    Technology has given us amazing tools, but sometimes it is the simple stuff that is the most effective. A great example was the attempted theft of the 200+ carat Millenium Star diamond. Debeers put the world’s most valuable diamond on display in London’s Millenium Dome in a specially built case that was designed to withstand the force of a 60 ton ram.

    They got into the Dome by crashing through the walls in a bulldozer, then used some basic physics and shot the impregnable glass with a nail gun to weaken hit, then smashed it open with a sledgehammer. It took less than 30 seconds using 1.0 tools.

    With selling, there are any number of tools that will get the job done. Even with social media, there are different tools available, and as Brandie points out, products are different than services. However even if we were talking blenders instead of wine or homes, there are other SM tools that may work better than tools like twitter. Ever see a “Will It Blend” Youtube video?

    When George Wright was hired to do PR for Blendtec, he had no marketing budget. One day he discovered that the testing lab tested the blenders by shoving wood 2x2s into the blenders. He took $50, a blender and a rake and created the first “Will It Blend” video. His low tech viral media campaign increased sales by 700%. While it is certainly brilliant, he can leverage that medium to sell his product all over the world as does Barry. The difference though, even with Barry, is that first Barry had to build the service infrasture as well as have the product. That’s not quite the same as drop shipping wine.

  35. Seth Siegler

    January 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Great points of view here.

    One thing that Gary breezed over in his talk at Connect that does have a lot to do with his continuing success is:

    He mentioned that he would not sell a bottle of wine unless it was either the least expensive or tied for the least expensive on the internet. If someone was selling the same bottle of cabernet for less money then his store was, he’d adjust the price.

    That talk was my favorite part of connect and I picked up a LOT from it. That was an interesting nugget though… Gary built the snowball using all sorts of cool 1.0 and 2.0 methods but he’s keeping it rolling and growing by using 2.0 ideas and 0.0 pricing strategy. Interesting stuff…

  36. Barry Cunningham

    January 18, 2009 at 9:05 am

    @ Bob…nice analogy. BTW…if I spend more than 10 minutes per day on Twitter..shoot me!

    I loathe twitter and in fact have basically unfollowed almost all in the real estate world. I only seek to follow or be followed by those in the investment niche and internet marketing arena.

    It drives me crazy with all the non-sensical drivel I have seen. Lot like an activerain chatroom….

    I think too many people think they have something valid to say when they don’t. On the other hand, there are some real info deliverers out there.

    In any event…10-15 minutes per day and that’s it. Too much money to be had actually DOING business to be playing on twitter.

    All this about Gary V is kind of amusing to me actually. About as amusing as the whole 1.0 v. 2.0 argument.

    Either way, only a small segment of the realtor population does either. Light years behind the rest of the business world…light years.

    I am not flamethrowing, just reality. As we have begun launching various online storefronts and online businesses to compliment our real estate endeavors it is simply AMAZING to find out all that the 2.0 world affords us.

    We NEVER have these conversations outside of real estate. Interesting in what some say is a bad economy that online businesses are thriving, without any or little need for 1.0 ideology.

    Yet in this space, we read about how there is even a reason to hold on to the good old days.

    It’s why I have been very quiet in real estate blogosphere lately. Tired of trying to pull a mule to the water’s edge.

    Already crossed the river, I see what’s on the other side, and am not going to waste my breath preaching the virtues of technological advancement any longer.

    Not worth it…way too much money to be made!!

    I do often wonder when I occassionaly venture over to AR and other spots just what so many are doing?

    I commented here becasue Brandie is a marketer and myself being from the marketing world, I believe we speak the same language…one that seems to sound foreign to many…many..people in real estate.

    Present company excluded…well some of the present company excluded.

    Hey bob…on a side note you’ll love this…saw a post on AR wherein someone was so happy they were number 1 on Google for some obscure term like Stubenville Real Estate.

    After I got done laughing I was thinking whether I would be mean and write a post and knock her off…but I must be getting old.

    Just felt sorry for her and others like her and then realized just how sad it was that so many just have no clue.

    If one thinks it is an accomplishment to be #1 for Stubenville Real Estate, then having a discussion about the merits of Gary V’s speech is WAYYYYYYYYY over the head of the general population.

    Present company excluded…well some of the present company excluded.

  37. James

    January 18, 2009 at 11:27 am


    These days leaving social media out of “Internet Marketing” is like advertising a home without putting a sign in the front yard of your listing. Can it work yes, but you have to work that much harder to sell your house. Participation in social media sites is the number one way to raise your ranking in the search engines and is the preferred method of finding information about homes for sale in your area and almost any area. Social media is a way for agents to communicate with potential customers in a cost-effective manner. Just look at his examples at the end, billboard ad (which in So Cal cost 10K+ a week) a few hundred orders, mailing (lets assume a few thousand), a few more orders, his Twitter post 1800 orders within 24 hours (Cost him the time that he has already built into those relationships). I think for most agents it is not practical or recommended to go pure social media, not because it does not work, but because they do not understand how to use it properly. But go where the people are these days that is online to communicate with and educate them about real estate in your area. Social media is the number one way I market listings and communicate with our clients. Our Social media efforts are responsible for 97% of our new clients in the past six months. Without social media and web 2.0 technologies I would not be getting the hundreds of leads a year that we are getting.

    To quote Jay Thompson of the

    “Personal branding is it. “The obnoxiously bad ROI of traditional marketing”. Creating additional revenue streams. How the hell does this not apply to real estate?
    This IS real estate.
    Oh well, it’s their loss. Sadly, it’s also their clients loss. Selfishly, it’s my gain.”


  38. Brandie Young

    January 18, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Bob – thanks for chiming in here. LOVE your analogy but, then again it is about diamonds… I agree, it’s the mix and some creativity that makes one successful

    Seth – thanks for taking the time to comment. You raise an interesting point – Gary commoditized his product. As agents, can you really do that? Pricing strategy is of course a big part of selling a home, but is it a viable strategy to sell it cheaper than any other home … Rob Hahn said it far more eloquently than I – Gary V is selling a product into a marketplace that is globalized, passionate, and commoditized. Product sales vs. service sales…

    James – I couldn’t agree more. SM is, or should be, part of an overall marketing mix. It sounds like you’re leveraging that with great success. Congrats!

  39. John Wake

    January 19, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    V’s 50% idea would only work in real estate in a team situation where the 50% guy is the “face” of the team but he doesn’t show properties or, perhaps, take listings.

    All the showings and listings would be done by other team members.

    That would be more like V’s business where he does the marketing but he doesn’t fulfill and ship orders.

    For real estate, the question is, “Can the 50% guy generate enough business to support the entire team?” My guess is that the answer is, “No”. Social media seems too labor intensive to be successful on that scale.

    V’s video ideas could work in real estate, I sure, but that really isn’t social media, is it?

  40. Barry Cunningham

    January 19, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    @ John Wake…you wrote..”“Can the 50% guy generate enough business to support the entire team?”

    Finally…a year later..someone at least has seen the promised land. OMG!!! But to answer your question as to if there is enough business… YES!!!!!!!

    Not sure if you have seen the statistics but inventory levels are at an all time high, most real estate agents don’t or won’t do any marketing, don’t know how to cultivate legions of buyers and worse yet won’t spend the time AND money to learn how.

    You have described my business model EXACTLY. I do all the marketing, I drive SERIOUS traffic via opt-ins and registrations to our various points of entry, and each day I see loads of buyer regs coming in ASKING to be show property. So what do I do? I’m not interested in doing grunt work…I have found 25 HUNGRY almost starving agents and if they are real nice and do EXACTLY what I tell them, I shove them ready , willing and able buyer manna under the door for them to feed upon. Oh yeah…we take in EXCESS of 50%..WAY in excess!

    If an agent doesn’t like it..then fine..go away. I run one ad, and have a bevy of agents to choose from.

    It’s actually REALLY easy. Been telling people for a year but like I said..ain’t gonna keep dragging the old gray mule to the water line.

    Man it’s so easy it’s not funny but it seems too many agents find reasons NOT to do something than actually doing it.

    As I said above, instead of actually implementing some of what Gary V said (which incidentally isn’t groundbreaking by any means which I am sure Brandie can attest to)..agents for the most part question it and wonder and have opinions…DO IT! DO SOMETHING! See for yourself.

    Funny I was watching one of Gary’s videos he had posted wherein someone asked how to monetize their log. He answered with a Harvard thesis level implementation…what was this earth shattering business quaking idea…PICK UP THE PHONE…man this stuff is so very easy…

  41. Linsey Planeta

    January 20, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Welcome to AG Brandie. You’ve launched an impressive online discussion – what a way to start!

    I lean toward the Gary philosophy, but regardless of the various opinions about what he’s saying, agents are talking about it. Now many of the AG folks that comment here are already active in social media and online branding – however I think that much of the audience that may not be as vocal, and some of those in the Inman audience, may be much more reticent to apply some of his methods. The folks still sending postcards to a farm extolling their ‘Just Sold’ success may have an opportunity to make a shift in thinking here. And in my opinion, it’s time.

    Some of the best blog posts incite amazing debates and discussion. Sometimes the real value lies in the discussion, even more so than the post itself. His talk at Inman may be an example of the same thing.

  42. Brandie Young

    January 20, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Hi John – thanks for chiming in here. Interesting question and smart way to measure efforts. The only point I don’t agree with is video – it is social media, as it’s used as a mass means of 2 way communication (think: YouTube or UStream)

    Barry, Barry, Barry – I’m going to go out on a limb and guess no one accuses you of being short on words or opinions! That’s fantastic.

    Hi Linsey – thanks for the welcome! I agree, sometimes the post is just a catalyst for thought provoking discussion – and there’s been a lot of that here!

  43. Lisa Sanderson

    January 20, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Welcome to the group, Brandie! You sure know how to get people talkin’ 🙂 I heard Gary’s preso at Inman and I loooved it. He’s an exhilarating speaker. My take-away from that had nothing to do with what you shouldn’t be doing and everything to do with finding your strengths and working it. Diversifying. Taking a chance or two and questioning established routine. That *is* the message of the day.

  44. Brandie Young

    January 20, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Lisa – thanks for taking the time to comment here. I love that people are discussing ideas and such! You bring up a good point I haven’t addressed: it’s different live. The energy from the audience and all. I have no doubt he’s awesome in person (I mean, look how he is on video). I like your perspective, on your take away what you should be doing. And, yes, trying new things is important. We can all learn new things!

  45. Karen Goodman

    January 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I’m a big fan of Gary V too. Having watched just about every video on his site in the last week, I agree with Jay’s original point that you need to watch more to really understand his perspective.

    I think that the amount of time spent on social media, and who you try to reach out to, depends on your goal. If you want to follow Gary’s advice to diversify your income instead of just relying on home sales, then building your internet presence and blog is critical.

    In one of his videos he talked about how someone with a day job could do what he did. He talked about working your day job, then spending 2-3 hrs a night on social media. That’s what I’m trying to do. I spend most of the day working on my clients and listings, and then spend my evenings and part of my weekends surfing blogs and playing on Twitter. I’m also really focusing much of my social media efforts on locals. I follow anyone on Twitter that is local that I can, attend Meetup events and am helping to organize a Bar Camp for next month.

    I believe what he says when he says that you need to work 17 hours a day if you really want it to happen. I’m working my butt off now and plan to reap the rewards later.

  46. Brandie Young

    January 20, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Karen, thanks for the great feedback! From the sounds of your work ethic, I have no doubt this work will pay off for you. (unsolicited advice: measure it.) (Shameless plug – on Thursday I will write a post with a strategy how to do that).

    I’m a Gary V fan as well. How could anyone not be? I listen to his advice on wine. I think there’s much to be learned from that dynamo regarding SM and personal branding and in some cases how to extend beyond your core business/current career.

    That said … I am going to stand firm that it’s apples and oranges here. Gary V built a fantastic personal brand beginning within an audience that is very passionate about a product that is global and highly commoditized. An agent has the complete opposite in that it’s (typically) local, not so passionate and not commoditize-able.

    Again …. I admire what Gary V has done for himself.

    My warning is to really consider your tactics and make certain your expectations are aligned with the realities of your marketplace.

    Finally, hard work is an agents life!! My dad is a retired broker. He worked his tail off for years – and was quite successful despite the tools we have today.

    Go get ‘em. I’m rooting for you!!

  47. Chris Smith

    June 5, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Here is the issue with his message and real estate. Realtors have been building personal brand for years, but doing it in a way that was all about them(my listings, ares I serve, about me, etc) and not about helping the consumer find information quickly. Why do you think all of the consumers visit national sites and not Realtor sites when they want information on homes for sale and values? What I think most agents should take away from GV is that most of them aren’t actually passionate about real estate and their community. Being a Realtor is their job and not their passion. I would take his message and build marketing and branding around my true passions, i.e. boating, yoga, golf, wine, etc.., don’t the people who will share that common interest with you also buy homes? You will enjoy maintaining FB pages, twitter accounts and blogs on said topics and will see ROI as well! Win-win

    • Brandie Young

      June 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

      Hi Chris,
      Good points. In rough economic times the old way of positioning service providers has become ineffective and no longer resonates with the marketplace. To your point, “Me” messages are an ineffective way to form relationships with clients.

      Agents need to place themselves in the context of the buyers’/sellers’ issue or problem. The most effective positioning articulates what the agent does in terms of the problem they solve…a problem your target client deeply cares about. Then they become the provocative, informed source of information and solutions about this problem.

      I’m not sure your passion branding strategy resonates for me. For Gary V, yes. His passion is wine, he sells wine (a low priced, commoditized simple purchase transaction). If an agent brands him/herself around a love of yoga, isn’t that more “Me” messages? That sounds more like a tactic to expand one’s social circle – which, in theory, should result in business.

  48. Sean Dawes

    June 6, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Times are changing and the real estate business is shifting.

    Social media can work. You do not need to be out and about. An average realtor wastes so much time “marketing” their listings in old outdated ways. 10 years out, I cannot say there will be realtors in the way we see it.

    There will be no need. Comps will be easier and the whole business can go to a by hour system. It makes more sense.

    Gary is saying adapt with the times. As he often states “if that means I swallow this pill and wala I can now control things with my brain instead of doing them…then Im gonna do it.” Early adopters in any niche that will gain traction will gain market share of that niche and hold dominance over others.

    I have sold homes strictly online, never meet the seller or buyer and collected my check. It can be done.


    • Brandie Young

      June 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      Hi @SeanDawes
      You have some pretty strong opinions! Love that.

      Interesting statement you made about “early adapters”. I’d love to see that quantified for agents.

      I wouldn’t disregard what you call “outdated ways” of marketing. I know of agents that still work it the “old fashioned” way, closing more business year over year and are earning 7 figures – now. Are they leaving money on the table? Perhaps. But they are happy with the income.

      • David Crandall

        June 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm

        You are absolutely correct that there are agents that still work the “old fashioned” way and earn a huge living. However, you will have to admit that the overwhelming majority who do things that way do NOT earn 7 figures. Many of the successful agents have had years of building their business that way when there was no other option. I’ve seen too many agents start now and try the same with minimal success.

        The “outdated ways” are difficult if someone is new to the real estate world; they are expensive, hard to learn how to effectively do; and very broad in their target. Conversely, someone who is able to start with online media can try out a number of things for free while they are building their business. Yes, they will be spending a lot of time online, but when you are starting out, you have a lot of time.

        This isn’t an either/or situation. The “outdated ways” and the new “social media” can be incorporated together. I will say, for years I threw away anything that came in the mail from a real estate agent even when I needed one. So even before social media was big, the outdated ways were outdated.

        Just my $.02. 🙂

  49. Sean Dawes

    June 6, 2010 at 3:52 pm


    I am not saying that agents still using old ways won’t make money. But are they really making money from print advertising or whatever other outdated means? Or are they making the money from a sphere they have built and a consistent referral base from past clients.

    I tell agents, use bitly links on your print ads to test this concept. See how much it really is driving to your listings. Because at the end of the day I don’t think the $700 full page ad every month in those Real Estate magazines is making it happen as it use to years ago.


  50. Melissa Zavala

    June 8, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    You do make a good point. After all, he may know a lot about Pinot Noir, but not much about local chateaus.


    July 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    hi brandie!

    full disclosure: i have no idea who gary v is, …..but nonetheless i find this this web 1.0 v 2.0 debate rather reductionist. we have to give clients more credit. they have a brain, there is a thought process involved when choosing representation. i dont’ think clients make a snap decision based on a realtors internet presence if at all. its just another layer of cred for an agent to mention, should that be significant deciding factor for a client.

    and doesn’t it really just boil down to who your clients are? i have gen x/y clients who spend their lives on lines, and it is (for some reason beyond me) important to them that I have thousands of FB fans , TW followers, a snazzy website, and webcasts. whereas my baby boomer clients really couldn’t care less. all they care about is that I coddle their college bound daughter when shopping for her new condo! (giggle)

    happy july 4th!!

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