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The National Association of Realtors’ Floundering Media Efforts

Times are changing

throwing moneyIn the old days we didn’t question much of anything. This is how much it costs for X homes magazine, this is how much it costs for a direct mail piece and NAR can spend our dues however they like. We were silent, Mt. Olympus issued their edicts and we all went along.

The world we live in today is a different place. Money is tight and it’s our job to look critically at how our resources are allocated be it on a marketing piece for our own businesses or how our national organization represents us.

To that end I believe NAR should totally overhaul it’s psychology on how and where they spend our dollars to promote. I’m still a fan of them marketing our industry. I will always be an advocate of that, but it’s time for modesty and consumer’s interests first rather than making it all about us. There are examples of the latter going on today, right under our eyes and it’s time for change.

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Written By

Realtor, Speaker, former Indianapolis radio personality. Least prettiest person ever on HGTV. Crashed in a helicopter and a Cessna 182. Seven lives left. Blessed by an amazing family!



  1. Ken Montville

    January 3, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Greg, you and I are on the same exact page with this issue. The NAR is totally disconnected from reality when it comes to their marketing campaign. I suppose this comes from listening to too many “Mad Men” who convince the NAR leadership that they need “brand awareness” (who cares if Realtors are sponsoring Ocean’s 13? who cares if Coke does?).

    The NAR does n-o-t-h-i-n-g to help it’s members with this ineffective fluff.

    We really need a grassroots campaign to let the NAR know that they need to promote the experience, expertise and professionalism of full service Realtors (not the $24.95 Internet “showing agent” type). Of course, consumers are going to recognize self-serving ads that “now is the time to buy”.

    No wonder Zillow is eating our lunch.

  2. Jim Gatos

    January 3, 2010 at 8:32 am

    I totally agree… The only real value I find today with the Realtors is the Code of Ethics.. I pretty much don’t bother with anything else and of course don’t bother to recommend anyone to go to not with their “model”…

  3. Ken Brand

    January 3, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Good Point. The struggle to communicate and market to savvy consumers is especially daunting for an old school guard who’s experience and perspective trail todays realities.

    It’s so powerful to share both the pro’s and cons. The “America, now is the time to buy.” message reminds me of the car salesperson who sez, “You know, this car is such a good deal I was thinking of buying it myself!”. Uggg…

    How about a message that reminds everyone about the Homebuying Credit and a reminder that real estate is hyper local, check with your trusted Realtor Professional to understand market conditions and opportunities in your city and neighborhood.

    It’s not that hard. What a sad waste of money.

    Ken M. has a good point. The difference between the entrepreneur mind set of Trullia/Zillow and NAR is like the difference between a Hattori Hanzo and a butter knife.

    If it’s to be it’s up to me! ~ Dr. Schuller

  4. Joe Loomer

    January 3, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Spot on, Greg – and I sit here thinking they must have outsourced this – gotten some media firms to compete, and this is what won? I’d rather see the Delta airlines girl tell me there’s no smoking allowed.

    Perhaps something more robust about what NAR actually DOES for Buyers and Sellers – or a snippet of its philanthropic ventures – a “we’re in this with you” approach instead of the gobbledygook we’re now getting for our dues.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  5. Fred Romano

    January 3, 2010 at 10:27 am

    So Greg, do you really think is going to change it’s fee structure? Have you heard anything on this?

  6. Greg Cooper

    January 3, 2010 at 10:38 am

    There are SO MANY things NAR could be doing to promote itself and it’s membership that are being utterly ignored. When I was driving and heard the NAR radio spot, it was the last commercial in a set and the rock station I had on went immediatly from that commercial to a short station ID into Green Day’s ‘Do You Know Your Enemy.’ More than a little ironic given NAR’s postioning on a number of issues. They don’t even seem to understand that despite being the ‘mother ship’ they too can be marginalized. Not all at once…but bit by bit just slowly eroded until they’re no longer relevant. Ken M, you have nailed the issue of why NAR no longer has the luxury of being average or worse. Because the Zillows of the world ARE eating our lunch. Ken B I could not agree more on the car dealer comparison. Would the NADA urge people that ‘now is a great time to buy a car?’ Joe I think it’s a spectacular idea to show Realtors in philanthropic ventures in our community. The NFL does an incredible job with that…..and it almost humanizes multi million dollar athletes. Surely that would do wonders for us as well.

  7. Greg Cooper

    January 3, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Fred….just a little bit of sarcasm on my part. I was pointing toward that major OOPS last summer when the naked female appeared in the right tool bar.

  8. Matt Stigliano

    January 3, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Greg – NAR’s campaigns are often a source of contention with me and I love the idea that your clients wanted to know if NAR would tell them when not to buy. I sent you a link on Twitter to a post I wrote about exactly this kind of thinking. Every time is a great time to buy according to NAR and the various campaigns.

    I wonder if the movie tie in and your thoughts about the tax credit being used as the plug would have any legal ramifications – I think it would have to be carefully worded. It’s not NAR’s tax credit, but the governments. Would the government mind NAR spending money on the advertising? Probably not, but I wonder about how it would have to be phrased (ie, the tax credit isn’t sponsoring the movie, NAR is). I’m being a little picky here (based on what you said in the video), but it’s just one of those thoughts that occurred to me when I heard it.

    I’m not sure where I sit with NAR advertising and how they could improve and focus it. I definitely think there’s room for improvement, I’m just not sure what direction I would go.

    PS How many other agents out there do you think there are that record videos with gold records behind them? We should form a club.

  9. Benn Rosales

    January 3, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I’d noticed an ‘all real estate is local, contact your local realtor’ message in messaging during 2008-2009 and was listening for it in the recent national campaign but was distracted by scary clown uncle sam character.

    I do think NAR has taken quite a few steps to limit it’s claims on the market where advertising is concerned, if the FTC can get KFC, they can also get NAR too.

    I also noticed houselogic get a mention this week too.

  10. Greg Cooper

    January 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm


    Appreciate the comments and the link! I was simply throwing out potential examples of how the sposorship could have been better used. They could have said contact your local RE professional to find out if you qualify for thousands in HB credit, etc. I promise there’s a far better way than what they did….which was about the most inefficient possible tag they could have used. There are plenty of NAR attorneys who could have run this by the FTC people before they got too far in the weeds.

    Benn….that’s a first I’ve heard on HL. It’s a really nice tool….but until now I’ve zero in the public realm. I’m not down on them for that at this point…..they’ll blast that out as the time is right.

  11. Russell Shaw

    January 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Greg, LOVE the quality of your videos and your delivery!

    The real value in almost all marketing is establishing your “position” in the minds of your public – your unique benefit. That message must be short, easy to remember and always consistent.

    I have to disagree on the idea of NAR using the 8k tax credit as the “brought to you by” tagline. That credit is going away, in just a few months. The name NAR isn’t going away (at least in our lifetimes). Please understand, I am NOT suggesting that what was done was great marketing. 🙂

  12. Kristin LaVanway

    January 3, 2010 at 1:19 pm


    Really enjoying your vids! Good content and great style.

    From the point-of-view of a Realtor in the trenches, I don’t think any marketing the NAR does will help my bottom line. I would rather see the money spent on tools that help my job become easier and more relevant. I think it is a hard for any massively large organization to see things from the individual’s perspective so it would be quite a leap.

  13. Greg Cooper

    January 3, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Russell….Kristin…anyone else I missed….thank you for the kind words.

    Had another thought on how those mentions could be written.

    ‘Brought to you by America’s Realtors. Call your trusted real estate professional today to find out if you qualify for thousands of dollars in home buyer’s credits.’

    …and so on and so on.

  14. John Hunter

    January 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I must admit NAR has lost so much credibility over the years they have little left. I think you are right. It is silly for them to be saying now is a great time to buy- given your record NAR, noone with any sense would pay any attention to your prediction. Now advertising about the value of buying your own home… are sensible. I guess NAR is just run by people with the same extremely short term mentality that leads to so many bubbles but they really need to replace there marketing strategy with one that builds trust instead of one that is just extremely short sighted and self serving.

  15. Ken Montville

    January 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    You know, Greg, I was just thinking about your reference to the NAR sponsorship of Ocean’s 13. Isn’t that a movie about a bunch of con men out to rob a Las Vegas casino? Con men? Gambling? Dr. Freud would have a field day.

  16. Greg Cooper

    January 3, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Ken hits it out of the park today friends. That is CLASSIC Ken….holy crap, NAR sponsors a movie about con men and theivery! That is the perfect exclamaion point on this discussion!!!

  17. Thomas Johnson

    January 3, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    The RPR is floundering as well it seems.

  18. Russell Shaw

    January 3, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    ‘Brought to you by America’s Realtors. Call your trusted real estate professional today to find out if you qualify for thousands of dollars in home buyer’s credits.’

    Nice. Now THAT is something I hope someone in NAR’s marketing and media placement department sees!!!

  19. J Philip Faranda

    January 4, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I’m with you on the first point. The PR campaign is ineffective. I’m less hung up on the Oceans 13 thing. Overall, with the enormous cash that flows into the NAR coffers from the membership, they need to steward those funds carefully and thoughtfully, and certainly better than they do now.

  20. Greg Cooper

    January 4, 2010 at 7:03 am

    I’m glad it works for you Russell but I can’t imagine NAR would ever use such a slogan because it doesn’t mention NAR. They are hell bent on taking credit for everything they do regardless of whether or not it’s good for the consumer.

  21. Susie Blackmon

    January 4, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Time for NAR to stop treating the public like they are stupid… among other things.

  22. Matt Stigliano

    January 4, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Ken’s comment is hilarious…and sad. All at the same time.

    I don’t know if I see the point in NAR sponsoring movies – if I went to see Ocean’s Thirteen and got a NAR ad with it, I can’t imagine I’d say “Honey, let’s got get us a house!” I see their attempt at broad appeal, but I’m not sure it’s the right place for them.

    Greg – I realize you were just “speaking off the cuff” there and trying to say that there’s got to be a better way. I like your suggestion of “America’s Realtors®” – I wonder if there is a name association with NAR and a consumer’s local agent (in the consumer’s mind). I know many people who don’t know the difference between a Realtor® and a real estate agent, so how do we expect a consumer to know that we (the NAR member population) are one and the same, especially when they see so many who don’t have faith or trust in their own Association.

    I really think NAR could benefit from turning inward, making its own membership more pro-NAR and then work their way outwards to the public. I think they’re trying this, but it just hasn’t happened yet and years of anger and mistrust have built up between the membership and NAR (who in turn often gets blamed for opening the chasm between the public and the membership).

  23. Gregory

    January 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Sorry, Greg. I am one of those that dislikes the NAR, it’s chief economist, the tax credit and any other lobbying done in Washington DC. The only reason I and most agents belong to this trade organization is because the Broker of Record and/or local Board requires it to gain access to the Multiple Listing System.
    As a matter of fact, only about 20% of the REALTORS took part in the push to get the tax credit approved in Washington by forwarding the propaganda letter that we were asked to forward to our respective law makers. And, only about 2.5% of home buyers will benefit from the credit based on purchase and income of the buyers. Besides that there is no way to even associate the tax credit to the reason someone bought a home. To a few it was just icing on the cake. They were going to buy the house anyway.

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