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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

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.



headphones listen podcasts

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace,, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…



family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.



side hustle paperwork and technology

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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