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Running on the Marketing Hamster Wheel

Yesterday I spent an hour-plus talking to two agents in my office about what they could do to try and attract business. Our broker (rightly) persists that listings are the key – you need the listings to generate buyers. Having had a couple of dozen listings this year and listened to my phone not ringing off the hook with ready, willing and able buyers, I’m not as convinced.

The old notion of cornering the market, except in the most hyper-local of circumstances, is fading away. There are exceptions … Russell Shaw remains the Valley’s two-ton gorilla, augmented by a consistent television ad campaign few of us can afford to watch much less initiate. But the Internet as a whole, and IDX in particular, allows enterprising agents to capitalize on anyone’s listings in an effort to attract buyers.

IDX isn’t sufficient, of course. These two agents have a really pretty website designed by Superlative. Superlative sites are terrible from an SEO standpoint and so their website sits virtually untouched. (That they’ve added no content of their own doesn’t help.)

Merely being on the web isn’t enough if no one knows you’re on the web. Yet many agents don’t take the extra step of making sure their presence is known. Further, they spend a lot of time, energy and most of all money on quaint marketing ideas that have virtually no real sticking power.

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(Quick intermission … I’m meandering. I know it. I also drank a bottle of Merlot last night and am enjoying the morning-after-glass-of-water redux.)

Much is made of the need for a Web 2.0-type site versus a basic real estate sales site but that’s not necessarily true. My site for Westbrook Village, an active adult community in Peoria, Arizona, has been a gold mine the last few months. And why? Because it has the area’s only IDX listings feed for the Village with no registration required.

Very basic, very effective.

This isn’t to say life on the web is perfect. I’m only now recovering from a year-long beat down from Yahoo! for daring to have reciprocal links on my site. Three months ago I took off the links and Yahoo! loves me again (page one for Phoenix Arizona Real Estate.) You have to be able to adapt.

Much of that adaptation, in my humble opinion, comes online. It’s simply the most cost-efficient form of marketing available to those willing to invest the time. And time is almost more important than technical knowledge.

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Tech expertise isn’t necessary. Blogging isn’t necessary.

Desire to succeed is, as is a rudimentary understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

It’s far better to spend little and fail online than spend thousands failing on magnets and fliers and open houses and newspaper ads and magazine ads …

(Okay, the merlot is wearing off.)

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Written By

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.



  1. Benn Rosales

    November 14, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    Bravo… Did I say bravo? Because I really meant BRAVO!

  2. Nicole Mills

    November 14, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Great post, Jonathan!

    I’ve only been in my market area for the past 2.5 years. When I moved here, I quickly realized that I was going to have to alter my way of finding business, and that meant having a website. On the advise of an agent I worked with, I went with a Superlative site. Tried my best to take out all the canned information, and worked diligently on my SEO. Tons of reading, experimenting and threw in a little prayer for good measure. After a year my homepage ranked 2 out of 10 with exciting, right?

    Well, I’ve recently switched to a Point2 site, and am much, much happier. You can actually do enough things in the back end to make a difference in your SEO efforts (although my site is still only 1/10 with Google, but I’m still working on that). I can’t afford yet to have a custom site built for myself (and maintained), so for now, Point2 will do…but what’s most important is that it’s given me a web presence, and that’s where I get probably 85% of my business.

    Unlike most agents in my market agea, I’m not a listing hound. For the past 2.5 years, I’ve marketed myself as predominately a Buyer’s agent, and so far, it’s working for me. I do take listings (when they fall in to my lap), but I don’t take them just to have them as a means of finding buyers. If I’m offered a listing and I feel the Seller is truly in a position to sell (price, condition, etc. are all in line), then I’ll take it. If not, I won’t. For me, it’s just not worth it. I don’t like having to badger sellers for price reductions. I don’t like having to run newspaper ads (while I’m spending $$$ per month on my web efforts) to appease a Seller’s idea of what effective marketing is. I don’t like having to take change of season pics of my listings, as my Sellers stare out from their kitchen, shaking their heads. And I especially don’t like feeling like a fool..which is how I feel when I take an over-priced that I spent valuable time and effort trying to get. Instead, I give great service to the clients I do have, which is mainly buyers..and when they’re ready to be sellers..well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!

    Geez, look at me ramble…you’d think I drank a bottle of Merlot recently, too! 😉

    Ok, to sum up…(if I can remember the point I thought I was going to make!) I appreciate that I’ve come across a post that validates what I’m doing, and how I’m doing it. I know I may not be considered successful by many of my fellow Realtors, but what I’m doing works for me, and that’s what is important. I’m diligently plugging away at increasing my web presence…as much as my budget, knowledge base, and time will allow, so I suspect that with every passing year, business will be growing and growing (Dear Lord, hear my prayer!). 🙂

  3. Ryan Hukill

    November 14, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Hello Jonathon. Great post and dead on. I believe success in our business comes from a broad range of efforts, not just one. Our internet presence is a must as the business changes and time invested in that is well worth it, especially for future success, but that doesn’t mean we can give up on what has worked in the past either. It’s a mixed bag of tricks we must employ.

    SEO is important, but so many of us get caught up in that obsession and forget that good consumer-desired content and offering user-friendly benefits will draw the people in and keep them there.

    The cost-effectiveness of internet marketing is what I love and I enjoy working with clients that are also tech-savvy, so that’s an added benefit.

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    November 14, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Nicole – Point-2-Agent seems to work much better. I can’t stand Superlative sites. Just me.

    Ryan – excellent points. Content’s king. Always has been. Always will be.

  5. James Davis

    March 30, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Good Evening Jonathan,

    Nice post!

    Thanks for some concrete ideas that actually work in the market place!

    PS. Just curious! How can I post my pic with my comments? Do I need to sign up with AG? Thanks for your input!

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