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The Window


Three dollars/character

A Houston Chronicle salesperson cold called me yesterday to check if I wanted to place an ad in their real estate classifieds and it brought back memories of staying on hold, waiting to place my $500/week three liner with them five years ago. Suppress that chuckle. In 2004, one of those babies would make the phone ring off the hook and put deals on the pipeline. So I went back for more – just like everyone else.

Missing the revolution

Newspapers were effective because they owned the eyeballs through and through. Not just for real estate, either. It didn’t matter if you were looking for a dog, a job, a mansion or a pair of pliers, you had no other choice but to hit the classifieds. Due to this “monopoly”, newspapers had a cashcow of a business model: They made money from the readers (who bought the content) as well as marketers placing classified ads and big ticket “banner” page ads (who bought a shot at the readers). No wonder Rupert Murdoch once called classified revenues “rivers of gold”.  That was until Google and Craigslist simultaneously pulled the rug from underneath and turned those rivers into the Mojave. Google took away the eyeballs and Craigslist made it silly to pay for classifieds. These days, your local newspaper’s classified section (if it still exists) looks like Mary Kate Olsen on a liquid diet.

The Internet revolution is going to be like all the other revolutions we have seen in history.

It’s going to be over before a lot of us even know it started

– Adolpho Suarez

People always gripe about missing the revolution. “If only someone had told me that  people would use Google to find everything, I would have …”

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The window

house-hunting-twitterLet this be that moment when someone tells you about a window we have never had before. The large-scale embrace of social media by the masses is giving marketers an unprecented, real time, honest look into people’s daily lives and all the thoughts, events and needs within them.  And to think that this is just the beginning. What used to require top of mind awareness, now requires a mere Twitter or FriendFeed search. Individuals are using social media to organize revolutions, get corporations to listen, or scream for help. The window comes with a killer zoom, too. You can target your vision to see within 5 miles of a zipcode, in an entire metroplex or the whole world. Then, Engage. Help. Offer Value. And get as much business as you want.

But be careful as the window works both ways. The consumer now has a window into what you’re about as well. And if you’re about spamcasting and throwing your crap to the wall to see what sticks, you will be exposed for such and suffer the consequences.

This is not about a single company (Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook or what have you) but about a seismic change in the way our world works. This is the new West. And someone told you so.

Photo Credit: Grant MacDonald

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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. Ian Greenleigh

    July 2, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I used to sell ads to government offices, and as late as last year, many of them were bound by law and code to ONLY advertise job openings in their local newspapers. They have little incentive to change this policy. It seems like the same mentality pervades *some* RE professionals/brokerages regarding twitter, text ads, etc. They haven’t used these means and they don’t intend to, because it’s not yet the norm. The major difference is that RE professionals DO have a major incentive to change…it’s profit!

  2. Ken Brand

    July 2, 2009 at 4:23 pm


    Amen. Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows…but know we know it never stops and if you take the time to hop on, you’ll zoom ahead.

    These times are the most interesting.

    Nice post.

  3. Erion Shehaj

    July 2, 2009 at 11:51 pm


    Not only do they avoid new strategies because they’re not the norm. They avoid them even after the norm stops working.


    Interesting times, indeed. And happy to be a part of them.

  4. Steve Beam

    July 3, 2009 at 7:42 am

    It amazes me how few RE agents even know about the “new age”. My office still collects $45 a month from us to advertise in a local paper here. When I wake up in the morning and watch the people in my neighborhood get their “free paper” with our ad in it they take it from the driveway to the garage trash can without ever opening it. Money well spent. Print ads are dead.

  5. Todd Waller

    July 3, 2009 at 8:10 am

    The continuing use of print by real estate agents reminds me of a story:

    Scientists, in an attempt to understand group behavior in chimps, placed 10 chimps in a cage with a ladder in the middle of the cage. Hanging just above the top of the ladder was a bunch of bananas.

    Anytime one of the ten chimps attempted to ascend the ladder to grasp at the bananas, the scientists turned on a hose of cold water and sprayed down the whole group of chimps.

    After a time, no chimp would even go near the ladder.

    The scientists then decided to remove one original chimp and replace it with one that did not go through the water hose experience.

    New chimp looks both ways, and begins to ascend the ladder to the bananas…

    The nine original chimps, seeing this behavior, and know what’s coming, beat seven kinds of stuff out of the new chimp before he gets too far up the ladder.

    This process repeats every time a new chimp is introduced to the cage.

    The scientists proceed to replace each original chimp with an “unconditioned” chimp and every time, the new comer gets seven kinds of stuffing beat out of him for attempting to grasp the banana.

    The moral of the story: we do things this way because this is the way it’s ‘always’ been done.

    Now go out there and be a scientist! Make up your own tests, track the results, and weed out the practices that DON’T work or can’t be analytically tracked…

    Go ahead, reach for the bananas!



  6. Erion Shehaj

    July 4, 2009 at 5:05 am


    I got my lab coat on 🙂

  7. Marie Kratsios

    August 6, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Yes, but today Rupert Murdoch announced that his online media will no longer be free. He may be starting a new model for online advertising. Will be interesting to see how this develops.

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