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.