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Marketing Is DEAD! – Especially In Real Estate

Marketing Is Dead

Rest In Peace

I was reading an article the other day, titled “Marketing Is Dead”. It wasn’t emailed to me, it wasn’t in a newsletter, door hanger, postcard or flyer in fact – it wasn’t even in print. I found it – on Twitter. At first when I saw the title I chuckled to myself and thought “OK, what idiot said that!? Of COURSE marketing is not dead!” . After all, I am in marketing – and if you are in real estate sales – you are as well.

I started reading the article just waiting to poke holes in what the author – Bill Lee – said.

1st paragraph:

“Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm”

I thought “ha ha, this dude is smoking something! What an IDIOT!”

2nd paragraph:

First, buyers are no longer paying much attention. Several studies have confirmed that in the “buyer’s decision journey,” traditional marketing communications just aren’t relevant. Buyers are checking out product and service information in their own way, often through the Internet, and often from sources outside the firm such as word-of-mouth or customer reviews.

Oh crap. This guy might be on to something. I had just bought something on Amazon – after reading the consumer reviews OF COURSE! I kept reading.

4th paragraph

Third, in today’s increasingly social media-infused environment, traditional marketing and sales not only doesn’t work so well, it doesn’t make sense. Think about it: an organization hires people — employees, agencies, consultants, partners — who don’t come from the buyer’s world and whose interests aren’t necessarily aligned with his, and expects them to persuade the buyer to spend his hard-earned money on something. Huh? When you try to extend traditional marketing logic into the world of social media, it simply doesn’t work. Just ask Facebook, which finds itself mired in an ongoing debate about whether marketing on Facebook is effective.

The kicker:

“traditional marketing isn’t really working anywhere”

Consumer Behavior

I saw this in my own behavior. I knew it was certainly true in the world of real estate sales. Consumers don’t want to be SOLD to anymore. Sold – on TV, Radio, Postcards, Flyers, Billboards, Bus Stop Ads, Yellow Pages, Print real estate books, Cold Calls, Banner Ads, Branded Coffee Mugs, Pens, Pads, sports schedules, magnetized calendars, wrapped Hummers and on and on and on. I had LONG ago tuned that “stuff” out. I knew from my own experience that I was not looking in my mailbox, TV, Radio when I had a need. I was, as Bill Lee pointed out – turning to the Internet. So is your ideal client .

Bill’s assertion “Marketing Is Dead”, may not apply to all industries but I believe it certainly does to real estate. One of the reasons: The product. One of the 4 p’s in the marketing bible. PRODUCT, PLACE, PRICE, PROMOTION. The product, regardless of what anyone has told you – is not you {at least not initially}, it’s the home. It’s the knowledge you possess. This is what consumers are looking for when they, like 98% of consumers,  turn to the Internet. Yet most real estate agents marketing, really ADVERTISING, IS ALL ABOUT THEM. “Top Producer, Presidents Circle, Top 10% REALTORS etc”. Think about it as if you were buying a car. Are you looking for the car or the salesperson to sell it to you? I bet you are researching the car: colors, MPG, style, trim, models, interior, # of airbags, towing capacity, safety features, price, dealer incentives  etc. Even IF you stumbled upon a sales person while researching the car, you would likely be turned off by the salesperson talking about how AWESOME he THINKS he/she is.

A problem

Many real estate agents are not marketing on the internet, not effectively anyway – most have template, flash based real estate websites with the same canned content as 100’s or even 1000’s of other real estate agents {in their area} and  a glamour shot {arms crossed, leaning on a SOLD sign} that was never meant to be found online. Most real estate agents are still marketing to consumers in ways they clearly do not respond well to. Add to that the demographic of age: the average homebuyer is 26, average REALTOR® – FIFTY SEVEN. HOUSTON: We Have A Problem.

Traditional Real Estate Marketing

Before the Internet was mainstream in the real estate space, all a real estate agent needed to be an effective marketer was money. Money to create postcards, flyers, yellow page ads, sports schedules, sponsored grocery carts etc. The numbers were there. I knew REALTORS® that could tell me: “If I send a 5,000 piece mailer, it will result in 10 listings”. That was before. Now direct mail campaigns are often cost prohibitive and offer little return for most agents that don’t understand WHO their ideal client is and what problems they face. One reason: Consumer behavior has shifted to the Internet.

To make matters worse, consumers often can not tell where one real estate agent or brokerage ends and another begins. Many of them all said they were the BEST. Many of them said they sold more homes that their competition, many of them offered a FREE CMA, many of them allowed consumers to “search the MLS like a REALTOR®!”. These “vanilla” or canned messages lent themselves to the commoditization of the REALTOR®. “If they are all the same, if they can all allow me to search the MLS, why not choose the first one I find?”

New Marketing

New marketing in the real estate space relies on real estate agents providing value. Not necessarily “Why you should choose me” {that’s selling} but, creating content a consumer would look for when they have a need. Content is: blog posts, videos, charts, graphs, screencasts, downloadable PDF’s, Market charts, Pod Casts, IDX and more. Not: best agent in Phoenix, #1 team in Maricopa County, Best real estate brokerage – consumers could care less about that. No, I’m talking about value: How to avoid foreclosure, buying a home at trustee sale, how to sell your home, neighborhood profiles, 5 things NOT to do when buying a short sale, Foreclosure timeline in Arizona, Homes For Sale and so on. Content that is geared towards making a consumer SMARTER or making their lives – EASIER. Content that offers HELP. Homes for sale. Content they are looking for – right now.


Your real estate marketing needs to change in response to a shift in consumer behavior. Your ideal client is looking on the Internet for you even though – they don’t know you exist. Many don’t even care WHO they work with. You can grow your real estate business by helping them find yon online, by creating the content they are looking for. If you are a real estate agent in Phoenix, Grand Canyon Title can help. We will teach you HOW to get found online. Our series of real estate marketing classes focus on the HOW TO. Because we do it as well. WordPress, Content Creation, Video, Basics Of SEO, PPC, Screencast, Indexable IDX, Twitter, facebook, Pinterest and how to tie them all together to drive traffic {consumers} to your website.

So, I AM RELIEVED. If marketing is dead, I don’t have to worry about it. Whew! But – what about you???

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Hi I'm Stephen Garner, I'm just a guy in the title industry {in Phoenix} trying to change how real estate agents market themselves and their services. To that end, I teach my clients HOW TO leverage sales technologies like WordPress, Content, Video, Camtasia, Final Cut X, iMovie and indexable IDX solutions to convey value and help your ideal client find you online when they are most interested in learning about you and your services. I work for escrows. Hire me!

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  • Erik Praskins

    Great article