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Home Is Where Someone Thinks It is

No Place Like Home

There is an unalterable reason that discount real estate companies are having a much tougher road to hoe these days than the traditional companies they were going to replace: the fact that they are discount companies.  That’s correct, they can’t escape the fact that they positioned themselves as discount companies.  Their problem isn’t that some other discount real estate company charges even less – their problem is they are stuck being a discount company in a buyer’s market.  That is a recipe for failure.

If getting a lower fee was what the public currently actually wanted right now it would be a boom time for discount companies, yet the exact opposite is the reality.  The discount companies, both national and local (that haven’t completely gone out of business) are selling much much less than they were.  You say, “But everyone else is too” and (with the exception of REO agents) you would be correct.  But “everyone else” seems to be selling about half as much as they were during the big seller boom. The discount companies are not up that high – not even close.  Looks more like 10 – 15% of what they were doing before.  One of the top local companies in Phoenix that was at the 170 million plus range is now at the 22 million range.  One of the top national companies that used to have 14 offices here is now down to 9 and the total combined volume of those 9 offices is barely more than half of what I’m currently doing.

Why?  Marketing.  Not “the market”, MARKETING.  The marketing they did when they convinced everyone they would do it for less.  They drove that fact home and it stuck.  Their brand represents, “less cost”.  And it is never going to represent anything but, “less cost”.  Right now, less cost isn’t the “go button”, effectiveness would be more like it.  But can’t they add to their marketing, “we’re effective”?  Sure.  And watch how effective it won’t be for them to do that.  They are positioned as lower cost.  They went out of their way to position themselves that way and they “succeeded”.

In marketing it makes very little difference “how you are”, it is more a matter of how “people think you are”.  No one (but a fool, or an employee of theirs) would argue that McDonalds were the very best and most delicious hamburgers on earth.  But no one can dispute their phenomenal marketing prowess.  McDonalds does not simply sell more hamburgers than anyone, McDonalds sells more hamburgers than everyone.  That’s right, their total sales, are greater than all of their competitors combined.  That isn’t due to “fantastic hamburgers” – it is due to fantastic marketing.

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But even big, giant, successful companies make huge mistakes in marketing.  Here is one that is currently happening:  Domino’s Pizza is taking on Subway in the sandwich arena.  Subway is number one in sandwiches.  Will Domino’s get some great mileage out of this ad campaign?  Yes.  Will they sell a lot of “Domino’s sandwiches” as a direct result?  Again yes.  Will what they are doing tend to ultimately destroy their brand in a manner they have not even considered?  Again, yes.  But any “good” will be in the short run. In the long run, no good can come of itClick here to see the ad I am talking about.

What prompted me to write this post about marketing was an email I received today about a print magazine Pragmatic Marketing sends me.  I didn’t want to just say (that would have been too simple!) the following: They are changing to an online version and while I was at their site arranging for a free subscription (which you can get too) I saw that all of their past issues were downloadable right now.  Thought I would pass that along to my friends.

Written By

Russell has been an Associate Broker with John Hall & Associates since 1978 and ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the U.S. Most recently The Wall Street Journal recognized the Top 200 Agents in America, awarding Russell # 25 for number of units sold. Russell has been featured in many books such as, "The Billion Dollar Agent" by Steve Kantor and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller and has often been a featured speaker for national conventions and routinely speaks at various state and local association conventions. Visit him also at and



  1. Graham

    January 27, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Thanks for the mention of our magazine. We have always tried to make it available through multiple channels, to give our readers the choice that is most convenient for them. This includes reading it on the website, downloading in PDF, viewing it on a Kindle or even good old paper.

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