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Business Marketing

It’s the Premise, Stupid.

This grin comes over my face every time I hear the “worn and torn” arguments against  internet marketing. It is possible that your follow up stinks, like your favorite Lead Reseller likes to say.  It could  be that your leads are weak, Glengarry style. Perhaps it is because you require registration in your IDX (which equals murder, by the way). All that could very well be true. But it’s not the reason why internet marketing is not working for you. The truth is you might have never had a chance to begin with…

It’s the premise, stupid.

Internet marketing works for a lot of people – many of them in real estate. Stratospheric return on investment rates driven by rows upon rows of skinned cats generated at relatively minuscule costs. Internet marketing is spinning wheels in the mud that get nowhere for a lot of people, too.  Ever wonder why that is? Is it because the first group are smarter, geekier, more forward thinking visionaries while the second are tech-challenged Jurassic Park residents? Not in the slightest. What the first group understand that the second one doesn’t is this:

Prospects generated by your marketing are as good as

the premise that was used to get their information.

Think about that for a second. Once you grasp that concept, you can look at marketing through a brand new lens.  Now you see why leads generated by that “Enter your name, win a free iPod” banner ad are bored 12 year olds? Do you understand now that offering a free CMA will get you many names but not very many Sellers? Is it clear now why that sugarfrosted “Why Rent, when you can own for $150/mo” sign makes the phone ring off the hook with suspects that have less than a popsicle’s chance in hell to get approved? It’s the premise.

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Four tips to convert more prospects into clients

Now that your thinking is along the correct wavelength, how can you translate it into more Washington mini-portraits and less frustration.

Ask for MORE information, not less

I see countless cases of “just enter your name and email” contact forms on websites. From personal experience, that’s a huge mistake especially in our field. If your goal was to build a fat list of names and email addresses, that’s the way to do it. But take your list to your local banking institution and ask them to convert it into cash and get back to me. Serious prospects have no problem filling out contact forms so ask appropriately. In our forms, we started asking for phone numbers, timeframe for purchase and if they’re already working with someone, upfront. It will help you focus your effort on the prospects that you actually have a chance at converting into clients.

Give browsers room to breathe

You know that feeling you get when you step into a store just to look, only to have a pushy salesman unfold a whole script on ya? That’s how a lot of prospects feel when you bombard them with questions, emails, newsletters immediately after they filled out a form for more information. The solution is: Give your prospects a chance to say that they wish to be left alone for the moment. It will save you many-a-hangup.

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Tailor your follow up to your premise

If your strategy is to offer a free whitepaper in exchange for an email address, so you can then utilize an email campaign to convert them,  you must realize that results might take a while to surface. So take a consistent but long term approach and make sure you see it through the whole way. If instead you are looking to generate prospects of a property that’s a good value and available for a short time (i.e. foreclosure), you must establish contact right away so you will need a phone number. Likewise, if your prospect clearly indicates they’re not ready to move for another 3-6 months, realize that you will not convince them to rearrange their life to fit your pipeline needs. Adapt your approach to the premise.

Sharp Call for Action

The flavor of your marketing message does not matter as much as the substance of it. If your call to action is anything other than the prospect asking to be contacted and provided more information, the results won’t be as stellar. That’s the reason why a someone registering in your IDX (so they can move forward) are less likely to convert (at first) than the prospect that requests information for a specific property they found using your IDX. How you structure your call to action has a lot to do with the prospect’s willingness to provide the information you need to contact them.


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Written By

Houston Real Estate Rainmaker and Uberproud Father/Husband (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not skinning cats or changing diapers you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I blog about marketing, social media and real estate. I might not always be in agreement, but you can rest assured I'll be honest. Oh, and I can cook a mean breakfast...



  1. Ed Kohler

    September 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Great post, Erion. It’s interesting how many people say “we need more leads” when they’re not first creating a quality experience that is capable of generating the types of qualified leads they’re really interested in. For example, agents working under the premise that providing property photos online will keep the phone from ringing are likely steering people away from their listings and generating “leads” of people who are not nearly as qualified as someone who’s thoroughly reviewed a property online before contacting an agent.

  2. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    September 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I like he form. Not too much. Enough to see if they really want to take the next step or, as you say, just browsing. My personal challenge seems to come with the number of visitors. Who knows? I may be going about it all wrong but my guess is that you still need the numbers even if you have the right premise.

  3. Jonathan Dalton

    September 17, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    One item missing from my form that I need to add is the timeframe … was there once upon a time.

    Beyond that … it’s still a numbers game. More leads in the front end equals more conversions on the back end. That assumes they’re real, convertible leads.

    Have a love/hate relationship with the folks that say they have an agent. Added a field asking for the agent’s name just for the folks who may be saying yes for the hell of it but at the end of the day probably is best to realize they just don’t want to be bothered and focus instead on those who want to buy.

  4. Daria Kelly Uhlig

    September 18, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Excellent points. Statistically, having more leads in general may result in more qualified leads over time, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to higher profits. It’s not only a numbers game. It’s also one of productivity. We have to factor in time lost chasing bad leads that could’ve been devoted to more productive activities.

  5. Ken Brand

    September 18, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I concur Rainman. Your stuff makes me pause and think, which is good and important. My main take away – “Before I run off quarter-cocked, I should sit and think-hard, “What’s my premise”, “What’s my goal”, “Who am I speaking too.”

    Wise words.

  6. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 18, 2009 at 9:07 am


    Like the post. Well thought out and full of good information, I think I learned something. I completely agree with the theory here and have never targeted anything other than well, targeted traffic for my site. (..allow myself to introduce myself….A. Powers)

    I like your form, asking for a tick more information. I once read a statistic that the typical internet home shopper is 6-9 months away from doing anything, if ever, and I’ve seen this pan out myself over the last few years. So a lot of success has to do with what one does with the leads after getting them.

    Your article was great so I won’t debate this one with you:

    “Perhaps it is because you require registration in your IDX (which equals murder, by the way).”

    I will just say that the ONLY way I would ever NOT require registration is if my site traffic was SO HIGH that I wanted to use registration as a screen.

    Rob in Atlanta

  7. Missy Caulk

    September 18, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Asking the time frame is good. I will tell you that many people say a year out and when you call are ready now and thankful for the call.

  8. Bob

    September 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    “you require registration in your IDX (which equals murder, by the way).”

    What proof do you have to back up this statement? If you are writing on AG for the sake of helping people, then stating an opinion as fact, with little facts to back it up, is irresponsible. If you are wrong, which I think you are, then this statement is even worse.

    Come on Erion – prove it!
    Give me something solid. Give me solid data. Give me numbers and time frames. Give me user behavior. Give me something more than an agent’s opinion.

    Show me yours and I’ll show you real data.

  9. Bob

    September 20, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    “In our forms, we started asking for phone numbers, timeframe for purchase and if they’re already working with someone, upfront. It will help you focus your effort on the prospects that you actually have a chance at converting into clients.”

    Tell me why this doesn’t apply to IDX as well?

  10. Erion Shehaj

    September 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm


    I was being sarcastic RE: IDX registration. Probably should have qualified it with a smilie or something. I am a BIG believer in requiring IDX registration.

  11. bob

    September 21, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Thanks for clarifying.

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