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Business Marketing

Three Marketing Principles that Changed the Real Estate Business



Five years ago, fresh from a change in brokerage scenery, we were faced with a daunting question: Do we join an established firm and leverage their systems, branding and marketing, or do we set up our own little stand? The decision came down to picking adventure over a perceived sense of security, flexibility over rigidity and most importantly freedom over structure in our marketing. How did it work out? In these past sixty months we’ve had our share of successes and failures, surprises and disasters, protruded chests and sore butts. But in this amazing ride, we’ve learned three marketing principles that have forever changed the way we do business.


Our giddy excitement, rambunctious energy and creative juices were furiously flowing downstream the first weeks of setting up our own little shop. Watch out Houston Realtors, we’re coming for your market share with this great marketing campaign we put together in a weekend. The way it seemed, we would rule the world by that Friday. But to our (and yours) surprise, that didn’t happen. In our business, you can’t rush patience. Certain things need to run their natural course and you need to let them. The fact is, you cannot learn 20 years of experience in 20 days regardless of how stoked you are about the prospect of it. You cannot become the foremost expert of a neighborhood five days after you first heard about it, no matter how much you read or drive around. And finally you cannot dominate your market with your first marketing campaign. You can put yourself on a purposeful pace to these goals and allow yourself sufficient time to reach them. The alternative is jumping from project to project en route to getting burned out.


Take a trip down the real estate peninsula at Barnes and Noble in any given day and you will find some real estate newbie sifting through a tall stack of books looking for the secret recipe. The Silver Bullet to slay the mighty dragon standing between the warrior and the rich valley of overflowing commissions. I was that guy once. And then, I read “Good to Great” by Jim Collins (if you haven’t read it, you are missing out). In it, he examines a number of companies in a study to determine what caused good companies to make the leap to the Great level. Among other mind blowing findings, Collins reveals that none of the great companies attributed their leap to a single hit product, or marketing campaign or rockstar executive. In real estate, there are no silver bullets. Stop trying to hit that 500 yard homer. The truth is, your business will come from a collection of quality hits: x deals from your blog, x deals from referrals, x deals from direct mail, x deals from your IDX and so forth. Fight the temptation to believe that this new IDX or that proven SEO, or the other cutting edge CRM software is gonna be the goose that lays the golden egg for you.  Focus on what works, measure your results and try to improve them. Make it more efficient and have it do more with less.


We were by no means pioneers of Blogging and Social Media but they have been $Good to us. In May 2007, I started walking in the Active Rain (ok, maybe crawling) and by the end of the year we had made tens of thousands of Washingtons directly from blogging leads. Same story with Facebook and Twitter, albeit the smaller (and different) ROI. Earlier this year, I started doing video market reports and videoblogging on my local blog with some surprisingly encouraging results. But I always have to remember (and my wife won’t let me forget) that at the end of the day, these are and must be treated as tools. If  your blog has become the favorite moping hangout for you and your Realtor friends, UHAUL yourself to a better audience. If you spend your days making snowmen out of your Facebook friends or poking your fellow men … (do I need to finish that sentence?)

Those were three marketing principles that have changed our business so far. I’d love to hear about the ones that have changed yours in the comments.

Photo Credits: 365bunnies , Photos8 , Emily Barney

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...

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  1. Nelia

    July 9, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Great post Erion, its true, we do everything we can “old” and “new” to keep ourselves up to date in this business. We keep looking and analizing the markets, learning from other peoples and always always keeping our ears open. As always good job.

  2. Lani Rosales

    July 9, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    @erionhouston it’s amazing how similarly you and @bennrosales think. Here are a few things I’ve learned from watching Benn:

    1. Like you said, they’re just tools. Benn taught me a long time ago to be a reader and a studier of tools.

    2. Watching Benn, I see that he’s never satisfied which means he’s always manicuring his company and his marketing efforts and never settles, especially for a “solution in a box.”

    3. Benn has always focused on what he’s good at and about 8 years ago told me that it’s dangerous to be all things to all people because you end up being a hack.

  3. Ken Brand

    July 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    @ErionHouston – My Man, this freaking post is dripping with rich golden honey and is as real and relevant as oxygen. Well done, well said. I guess my quest for Silver Bullets is a bust. Thanks for diatomic molecule. I’m reminded of this quote, “I don’t need drugs…I am a drug.”

  4. Genuine Chirs Johnson

    July 9, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    @erionhouston this is a kickass post. There is, however, a silver bullet. it’s called hustle. When you hustle, like nobody else, you get what nobody else gets. Not pseudo work, real work. Not getting ready to work, real ass kicking.

  5. Erion Shehaj

    July 9, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    @NeliaHouston I love it when I get unbiased comments 😉

    @LaniAR Even the resemblance of a comparison with Benn is flattering and I’m humbled by it. “Never Settle” and “Focus on what you’re good at” are top notch principles to live by.

    @KenBrand You know I wanna be like you when I grow up, right? 🙂

  6. Ben Goheen

    July 10, 2009 at 12:07 am

    @ErionHouston – for awhile, every time I’d redesign my website, add a cool new widget or switch IDX providers I would think to myself “this is it! Now we’ll get a ton of traffic and make a fortune.” Not quite how it works – slow and steady (blog posts) wins the race.

  7. Susie Blackmon

    July 10, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Slow, steady and deliberate, with a deaf ear extended to the ‘cubicle’ naysayers. Follow your passion (even (especially?) if it is not RE, per se).

  8. Missy Caulk

    July 10, 2009 at 8:55 am

    All three are great principals, there is no silver bullet, hard work, patience.

  9. Benn Rosales

    July 10, 2009 at 10:56 am

    @erionhouston it’s really affirming when I read people that I identify with, people that ask why. Since I was a kid, it makes no difference how many case studies or numbers you have, I have to touch it, examine it, try it, live it, in order to verify it- I take nothing at face value, I can do it myself and better, I’m passionate about the next level, and my way. Beautiful article for the soul, Erion.

  10. Erion Shehaj

    July 12, 2009 at 9:53 am

    @genuinechris Hustle is magic but by no means a simple, corner-cutting silver bullet most marketers make their “systems” to be.

    @bengoheen I have those same exact feelings when adopting new technology (IDX being the latest) but always have to check myself before I wreck myself

    @bennrosales Keep Going, Sir…

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Business Marketing

How a Facebook boycott ended up benefitting Snapchat and Pinterest

(MARKETING) Businesses are pulling ad spends from Facebook following “Stop Hate for Profit” social media campaign, and Snapchat and Pinterest are profiting from it.



Phone in hand open to social media, coffee held in other hand.

In June, the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign demanded social media companies be held accountable for hate speech on their platforms and prioritize people over profit. As part of the campaign, advertisers were called to boycott Facebook in July. More than 1,000 businesses, nonprofits, and other consumers supported the movement.

But, did this movement actually do any damage to Facebook, and who, if any, benefited from their missing revenue profits?

According to The Information, “what was likely crumbs falling from the table for Facebook appears to have been a feast for its smaller rivals, Snap and Pinterest.” They reported that data from Mediaocean, an ad-tech firm, showed Snap reaped the biggest benefit of the 2 social media platforms during the ad pause. Snapchat’s app saw advertisers spending more than double from July through September compared to the same time last year. And, although not as drastic, Pinterest also saw an increase of 40% in ad sales.

As a result, Facebook said its year-over-year ad revenue growth was only up 10 percent during the first 3 weeks of July. But, the company expects its ad revenue to continue that growth rate in Q3. And, some people think that Facebook is benefitting from the boycott. Claudia Page, senior vice president, product and operations at Vivendi-owned video platform Dailymotion said, “All the boycott did was open the marketplace so SMBs could spend more heavily. It freed-up inventory.”

Even CNBC reported that Wedbush analysts said in a note that Facebook will see “minimal financial impact from the boycotts.” They said about $100 million of “near term revenue is at risk.” And for Facebook, this represents less than 1% of the growth in Q3. However, despite what analysts say, there is still a chance for both Snapchat and Pinterest to hold their ground.

Yesterday, Snap reported their surprising Q3 results. Compared to the prior year, Snap’s revenue increased to $679 million, up 52% from 2019. Its net loss decreased from $227 million to $200 million compared to last year. Daily active users increased 18% year-over-year to 249 million. Also, Snap’s stock price soared more than 22% in after-hours trading. Take that Facebook!

In a prepared statement, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.” As in, hint, hint, Facebook’s summer boycott did positively affect their amazing Q3 results.

So, Snapchat and Pinterest have benefited from the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Snapchat’s results show promising optimism that maybe Pinterest might fare as well. But, of course, Facebook doesn’t think they will benefit much longer. Back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees, “[his] guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

Facebook isn’t worried, but I guess we will see soon enough. Pinterest is set to report its Q3 results on October 28th and Facebook on the 29th.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.



Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.



Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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