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What a Cute Shirt! Will it Be a Collector’s Item?


As I was breaking my two-week-old rule of not working past 9 p.m. (something I can’t even blame on daylight savings time, since the clocks in Arizona don’t move) I ran across a post from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on start-ups.

Here’s item number 10 from his list of rules for a start-up:

10. NEVER EVER EVER buy swag. A sure sign of failure for a startup is when someone sends me logo polo shirts. If your people are at shows and in public, its ok to buy for your own folks, but if you really think someone is going to wear your polo you sent them in public, you are mistaken and have no idea how to spend your money

When I switched from Century 21 to RE/MAX at the beginning of January, I was following in the footsteps of a co-worker who had moved the week prior. I’d give the full litany of Century 21 logo merchandise he owned but I’m not sure I saw it all. Here’s a partial:

  • Phone number on back window of car
  • License plate rim
  • Jacket with both Century 21 logo and his website on the sleeve
  • Multiple polo shirts
  • Business cards
  • Magnet calendars
  • An actual Gold Jacket

His first several days were spent re-ordering everything he’d had before, this time with the RE/MAX balloon in place of the Century 21 logo.

Not so with me. I spent about two hours changing logos on all my websites and adjusting as many of the web profiles as I could remember. I ordered new business cards. I decided not to order my own for sale signs, at least for now, and stick with the name riders I already had with Tobey and my picture and the website. I did not buy any open house signs.

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TANGENT: Speaking of which we’d like to congratulate this weekend’s big winner, Sarah Cooper, for writing an actual offer for actual buyers at an actual open house in Hurricane, West Virginia. (Sounds like the announcement of who won Powerball, don’t it? Especially the part about it being someone in West Virginia? Lottery odds are better. Please sit open houses responsibly. Thank you, thank you. Try the veal.)

FOOTNOTE TO TANGENT: Universal reaction from agents on Twitter after Sarah had announced what she did … WHAT?!?!?

Where the hell was I …  oh yeah. Swag.

Some folks I know went into this business and started spending cash left and right with no discernible return. Fortunately, I’ve never had this luxury. So I’ve been judicious in what I have spent, preferring to focus my dollars on marketing my sellers’ homes.

I realize I’m losing possible business by not wearing a name tag (or even owning one with a balloon on it, for that matter.) I realize I’m not going to receive calls from people driving down the road who get the urge to sell, who aren’t pissed that I just cut them off and who don’t call one of the other eight agents on the same road.

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It’s a risk I’m willing to take, at least until I’m convinced the ROI justifies the change.

Mark Cuban agrees with me. So I’ve got that going for me.

Written By

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.



  1. Benjamin Bach

    March 10, 2008 at 4:50 am

    Repeat after me… it’s the Realtor, not the Brokerage that people do business with. Every single time. (unless its a silly relo thing)

    Add me to the list (with Mark Cuban) of people agreeing with you. Brand Dalton. Or Tobey. Or DaltonsAZHomes. But not remax (or c21, or Keller Williams or ERA).

    Unless your firm wants to pay your marketing budget, dont put their logo on more things than you have to

  2. Rob Aubrey

    March 10, 2008 at 6:38 am

    I do not brand the company I brand myself. When I switched brokers over 4 years agao, the material switch was fairly easy. My business cards look the same, my branding and the compay along the bottom in text. Unless the company is paying, their logo doesn’t appear.

    “Real Estate is a local business run by local agents and their centers of influence”
    Gary Keller

  3. Jim

    March 10, 2008 at 7:53 am

    I brand my company only as much as the law requires. I’m running my own business independent of the brokerage.

  4. Jim

    March 10, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Oh, and I do offer my own swag.. 🙂

  5. Toby & Saide

    March 10, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Jim – I just ordered one of everything.

    Here is the issue, at least in Ohio, the real estate laws are written to protect who? The consumer? A little. The agent? Right, we aren’t even considered worthy of handling a contract. The broker? Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner!

    So what does that mean? While I may want to market Toby as the agent of choice, every piece of marketing must also contain what? My brokerage – in the same size font as my name. So I do “car placards” and if I were to change, that has to be changed.

    I agree 100 percent with Benjamin. People are buying and selling real estate from me not Disbennett Real Estate or whatever other company is holding my license and taking their cut of my cash. But to protect the public it is very hard to not at least do a little bit of cross-branding with your company.

  6. Jonathan Dalton

    March 10, 2008 at 9:37 am

    One of the interesting things I discovered when I made the switch is the number of people who didn’t notice for a couple of weeks. They just looked at the site one day and realized there was a different logo there all of a sudden.

  7. Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    March 10, 2008 at 10:04 am

    I don’t do name tags. Personally, I think of them like cattle-brands.

    When we worked for a brokerage, we hated every minute of having to advertise the brokerage brand. Now that we have our own brokerage, the individual brands and the brokerage brand are one and the same. That is one of the benefits to working the way we do.

    I do have to disagree with Mark just a little bit. His assessment is only accurate given the nature of the particular start-up, the people to whom the swag is sent, and the reason for sending it. Me sending a t-shirt to Mark Cuban might not make a whole lot of sense. Me sending t-shirts to past clients after a successful transaction, on the other hand. . .

  8. Benn Rosales

    March 10, 2008 at 10:34 am

    A Vote for Jonathan is like voting for terrorists. They’ll be dancing in the streets if J wins.

  9. Jonathan Dalton

    March 10, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Rooting for Agent Genius is like rooting for the New York Yankees. Corporate, monolithic, arrogant …

  10. Jim

    March 10, 2008 at 10:39 am

    But voting for Jim Duncan/ is like spreading sunshine, flowers and bundles of money to all your friends. Trust me. Vote for me and see. 🙂

  11. Benn Rosales

    March 10, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Voting for Agent Genius is a vote for family values- we won’t be blogging at 3am!

  12. Sarah Cooper

    March 10, 2008 at 11:24 am

    LOL!! Now if only the offer will be accepted!!! :D!

  13. Jonathan Dalton

    March 10, 2008 at 11:32 am

    I really wanted to sell the whole lottery thing with some added quotes … “I was heading home and I don’t normally do an open house but I decided what the heck …”

  14. Jonathan Dalton

    March 10, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Vote for Dalton’s Arizona Homes – I’m asleep at 3 a.m. as any well-respected person should be!

  15. Jay Thompson

    March 10, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    What really matters in this whole Blog Brawl is voting for the proper entity in “Zone 2”.

    That would be Phoenix Real Estate Guy. Who has ever heard of my competitor, some blog called “Rain City Guide”??

  16. Jonathan Dalton

    March 10, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Another elitist collection of talent! Fight the Man! Vote for Jay and me!

  17. Mariana

    March 10, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I am offering free coffee if I win.

  18. Kelley Koehler

    March 10, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Hold on a second there Jay – proper zone 2 voting includes as well. /eyeballs phoenixreguy…

  19. Linda Davis

    March 10, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Jonathan – As your press agent I almost agree with you gut go for the name badge – I really do get business from it. Ok, it’s a sentimental thing with me – I got my very very first listing in 1977 because of wearing my name badge in a toy store on the Submarine Base in Groton CT. OH WAIT – silly me. How archaic!!! Buyers and sellers don’t look at name badges anymore because they are looking at their IPhones instead. Crap, I’m old.

  20. Jay Thompson

    March 10, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    I got out of a traffic ticket once thanks to sign magnets on my car. That’s a pretty good ROI….

    Just a week or so ago I got into a conversation with a guy at a gas station because of the URL on my tire cover. He’s now got a business card and is on auto-listings.

    And I’ve finally found something not on eBay — a C21 Gold Jacket….

    @Kelley – how crass of me not to mention MTB in Zone 2!

  21. Ines

    March 10, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I just came to say that I thought I had it bad going against The “T” herself at the brawl – then I saw Mariana against The Zebra but when I saw you against Agent Genius…..we……I spit my coffee and ruined a perfectly good page of my calendar.

  22. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    March 10, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    @Ines uhhh, it sounds like AG contributors kind of have the Brawl on lock…. i’m just sayin’….

  23. Ines

    March 11, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Lani – I think you got that one right!

  24. Garden Gates

    June 7, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Ines – Yeah! Lani pretty much hit the nail on the head.

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