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Business Marketing



Back Then

I started real estate shortly before the business model changed from agent centric to client centric. Old school marketing was taught at my first brokerage and I had no reason to doubt it worked.   In the five years previous to becoming an agent, there was one REALTOR responsible for 90% of the sales in my neighborhood.

I literally bought into sending thousands of postcards, delivering flags in the front yard on holidays, pumpkins in the fall, magnetic calendars, note pads and of course, the Forget-Me-Not flower seeds delivered door to door with a smile and a business card, hoping that when those little seeds began to produce flowers, surely they would remember me.

Back then, everyone needed a logo design and branding to guarantee success. And…….there were plenty of companies just waiting to help you conquer your market with a perfectly designed logo, including letterhead, envelopes, web site, etc., for a price.

Most agents were just beginning to get their own website and domain names were easy to get. Try finding a great domain name today!  

Information was safely guarded and agents were the gateway to the information.

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Fast Foward

Fast forward, only six years, to a client centric business model where information flows freely; everyone has a website and a potential client can find us anywhere online. Clients rarely, if ever, walk in the front door of a brokerage looking for an agent. Today, we do business from our laptop in the local Starbucks.

We manage our own branding fairly well (without the high cost, I might add) and our marketing, but very few neighborhoods have a dominate agent doing business there.

It was actually easier to send thousands of postcards than it is to maintain a web presence. With blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks to manage, we are wired 24/7.  I am willing to bet most of us are never away from our email for more than eight hours at a time. That’s only so we can sleep 😉


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Planting Seeds

Much has changed, yet some things remain the same. Old School required a personal touch; today we need to have both. We can’t exclude the personal touch at the expense of technology. I don’t know many agents who send postcards as a regular part of their marketing; I haven’t seen a pumpkin delivered to my door in years or flags on Memorial Day. I don’t have extra note pads from agents lying around or a calendar on my fridge.

The one old school marketing tool we should still be using is the Forget-Me-Not seeds.

Of course, the seeds are new and improved, producing referrals from clients who love us. These are the seeds we plant throughout every transaction and interaction we have with our clients. It consists of the little and “not so little” things we do everyday to ensure our clients never forget us. Not because we force our marketing on them, but, simply, we are remarkable and unforgettable.

What Forget-Me-Not seeds do you plant? What makes you stand out? What makes you great?

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Written By

Paula is team leader for The "Home to Indy" Team in Indianapolis . She is passionate about education and client care and believes an empowered client is better prepared to make good decisions for themselves. You'll find her online at Agent Genius,Twitter and sharing her insights about her local real estate market at Home To Indy.



  1. Mack in Atlanta

    July 22, 2008 at 8:12 am

    What do you mean away from my email for more than 8 hours? I get email notifications to my TREO every 15 minutes. I’m on vacation right now in Daytona Beach, Florida and my TREO is with me by the pool, my laptop is in the condo and I am still connected to the world. BTW I had a gentleman contact me last night about listing six investment properties for him. Yes you can still do business in the real estate world while catching up on some R and R.

  2. Paula Henry

    July 22, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Mack – Then there are those of us do not need to sleep 🙂 I know the feeling – I am always on, except – I am still working on my beauty sleep; then the emails must wait for me.

    Gotta love vacations – I am most busy when I plan a vacation – good luck with those listings!

  3. Mack in Atlanta

    July 22, 2008 at 8:35 am

    It seems as though this year was even worse with the several weeks before vacation. Things just got very crazy. Now if I had to work on beauty sleep there is no way anything would ever get done. Not enough hours in my day for beauty sleep.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    July 22, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Paula – Thanks for this post. I am being barraged by other agents, brokers, and various companies soliciting my business…all reminding me of these “tried and true” methods of yesteryear. Its post like these that make me want to forge a “new” path (not new to most of you, but certainly new for me and new for San Antonio – I don’t see much of this going on around here).

  5. Bill Lublin

    July 22, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Paula; I’m so old school I remember when it was broker- centric. But as always your post hits on the most important part we need to remember – that without touching the people the tools don’t matter

  6. Jason Sandquist

    July 22, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Just like @Matt, when I got in I almost went broke with all the mailings. They were suppose to work right? I stay ‘connected’ with a variety of social media sites and I am in front of the computer most of time anyways and all it takes is a hello.

    I was reading somewhere the other day, coulda been here or somwhere else, wish I could remember to give cred, but anyways it was about how most consumers a referral might not work for them in a few years. They want to do their own research and find someone that fits them. Gone, good-bye. I know a lot of agents that solely live and die by the referral.

  7. Artur | Phoenix Real Estate

    July 22, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Funny thing is, 2 days ago I happened to meet an agent at a house he listed, one of several dozen, and his business card had no cell phone, no website, no email. He’s been in business since the early 80’s and is as old school as you can get, including visually but he’s got plenty of business. From what I see very few agents are getting their business from online sources.

  8. Dan Connolly

    July 22, 2008 at 9:18 am

    @Matt You know the old truism, if your business is slow and you want to make it jump into high gear, schedule a vacation!

  9. Dan Connolly

    July 22, 2008 at 9:19 am

    typo! I meant @Mack! An edit feature would be nice here (wish list)

  10. Norm Fisher

    July 22, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Paula, it is amazing how much things have changed in such a short time.

    I think the best way to stand out as “remarkable and unforgettable” is to treat each client as remarkable and unforgettable.

  11. Gites

    July 22, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I agree “marketing” has changed completely. Our business now receives 90% of enquiries by email and 10% by telephone. Just goes to show that people prefer to communicate by email. PS we have no front office but have a big web presence.

  12. Matt Stigliano

    July 22, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Norm – I think your “remarkable and unforgettable” quote should be a mantra used in real estate. I like it much better than “buyers are liars” (which I was appalled to hear when someone in a class said it – doesn’t matter if its true or not, cause I’m sure it goes both ways – but to think of your clients and potential clients in terms like that is disgusting if you ask me).

  13. Dylan Darling

    July 22, 2008 at 11:08 am

    “@Matt You know the old truism, if your business is slow and you want to make it jump into high gear, schedule a vacation!”

    I couln’t agree more. When I get slow my wife pleads for a vacation and it never fails. I just got back from Mexico and what do you know- 2 rattified deals while I was gone.

    But you can’t count on vacation. Today’s successful agent has to find balance. Web, mailings, marketing, cold calls, and any other consumer contact have to be done in a professional manner, but with a personal touch.

  14. Norm Fisher

    July 22, 2008 at 11:40 am

    @ Matt. For sure. It’s impossible to develop a meaningful connection with anyone if we expect the worst of them from the outset. Most people, when treated with respect are eager to do the same.

  15. Glenn fm Naples

    July 22, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Paula – you brought back fond memories of when I first started in real estate and did the postcard mailings and went to all the seminars by the “gurus”. It was not hard to realize the potential of the Internet for real estate, just some agents did not catch on.

    I especially liked your mention that in today’s real estate market people just don’t stop into a brokerage – the bricks versus click theory was out there at least 5 years ago.

    I did like the Forget Me Not seed packages.

    Real estate will always be a high touch service if one wants to successful.

  16. Jeremy Hart

    July 22, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    @ Artur | Phoenix Real Estate – “From what I see very few agents are getting their business from online sources.” I know there are several agents that visit here at AG that see a LOT of business from online sources. The agent you referenced, who’s been in business since the early 80’s, has seen a lot of trends come and go. Some worked, some didn’t, but it’s probably safe to say that he sees the majority of his business from repeat and referral clients at this point, wouldn’t you guess? To use Paula’s analogy of the seeds, the seeds he planted a long time ago laid the foundation for his continued success today.

  17. Ruthmarie Hicks

    July 22, 2008 at 10:43 pm


    Most agents in my area are frozen in that mind-set. Blogging and GOOD web sites are hard to come by. I mention the “internet” and their eyes glaze over. They need to get moving or they are going to be left behind.
    LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!!:-)

  18. Paula Henry

    July 23, 2008 at 5:18 am

    Mack – I’ve heard the same thing from many agents in the last few weeks; am glad I didn’t plan vacation. Beauty sleep is overated anyway 🙂

    Matt – Forging your own path is what makes a unique you!

    Bill – I didn’t know about broker centric.It’s always about the human touch.

  19. Paula Henry

    July 23, 2008 at 5:21 am

    Who or what is puurple???

  20. Paula Henry

    July 23, 2008 at 5:49 am

    Jason – I, too did all the mailings; thousands more than I would like to think about. I’m not going to say they don’t work, I know they do for some people; usually those who have been doing it for a long time. In the past postcards were all about the agent. If you would design a card today, it better have a WIIFM for the client or it’s wasted money.

    Referrals are still a good source of business for many. You still need both! Gen Y will probably not use Aunt Edna’s referral, if the agent can not use email to send documents, SMS or any other tool which makes the process easier for them.

  21. Paula Henry

    July 23, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Artur – I know agents likes this also, I see it alot in small towns here in the Midwest. It is not the norm, though. Honestly – I dislike working with agents who have no email address. It is painful!

    I know many agents who make a great income from their web presence – of course, you have to have a great web presence. Those who adapted early are way ahead!

    Dan – Vacation works for business. I was totally bummed I couldn’t go to SF this week – on the other hand, I will write almost a mllion in sales this week (from online clients).

    Finding balance is key – sometimes I am on this computer way too much 🙂

  22. Paula Henry

    July 23, 2008 at 6:38 am

    Norm – The key to success and I agree with Matt.

    Matt – Maybe Norm has coined a new definition of client care. Buyers are Liars is a horrible phrase – buyers are usually just not sure what they really want or what they can afford. With professional guidance (that’s us) they can generally narrow down what they need and want in a home.

    Dylan – It’s definitely a balancing act – I can attract web leads all day – but the professional, personal contact will make them clients.

  23. Paula Henry

    July 23, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Glenn- Yea – the good old days 🙂 Funny, though, they weren’t so long ago. I remember my first brokerage was by the local grocery store and people did stop in for a book, to list their home or talk to an agent.

    Jeremy – Excellent point!

    Ruthmarie – I was speaking with an agent yesterday who told me she doesn’t want to learn how to market on the interent. She will be left behind. I have people ask me all the time how I do what i do. I am willing to share and teach; most do not want to learn.

    Thank you for the wonderful compliment!

  24. Jennifer Hart

    July 23, 2008 at 11:21 am

    I still mail postcards and sometimes walk my neighborhood with trinkets such as pumpkins and winter door knob decorations. But, I’ve added a new “gift” this year and I had more people calling me to thank me. This year I gave to clients, close neighbors and friends a “green” bag with a note asking to please use canvas bags instead of plastic and paper at grocery stores or any other stores.

    Even with all the door to door gifts, the majority of my clients do come from my website.

  25. Paula Henry

    July 23, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Jennifer – Love the green bag idea! Sounds like you have incorporated the personal touch and technology wonderfully 🙂

  26. Glenn fm Naples

    July 25, 2008 at 5:49 am

    Paula – one has to wonder what things will be like in a few more years.

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