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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.

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Photo Credits: 365bunnies , Photos8 , Emily Barney

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. 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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