Real Estate Marketing is Changing Fast and Furious


The rules of real estate marketing are changing. The changes are fast and furious. And most Realtors are sitting on their hands. I hate to say it, because I have a lot of love for real estate pros and how hard you work, but it’s true. By my estimate, there are two main reasons this is happening:

  • Unawareness
  • Fear

Unawareness of Social Media

Many real estate professionals feel that social media marketing is a buzz word. It’s 100% fair to be cautious of change. I know I am! Wasting time on a new trendy marketing play is definitely something to be careful about. We have neither time nor money to waste, correct? A lot of Realtors simply aren’t aware that social media is rapidly being referred to as “media”.

It’s not just a new way of reaching out to customers. It’s THE way to reach out to customers. Why? Because consumers simply aren’t listening to anything else.

This is why direct mail doesn’t work any more. It’s why print advertising costs more and more every year while the return on investment continues to decline. While there are a number of blogs about social media these days, I still feel compelled to cover this content, because there is such a massive need for the message to get out.

My experience is that real estate people are very hard working and earnest in their approach to help people. If this is you, you need to start a blog and start working it hard. It’s going to be your business salvation, a life raft if you will. But it will be so much more than that also. It’s going to serve as your main communication tool in the years to come.

Why? Because people don’t want to be sold. This isn’t new of course, but now they have options. That IS new. And when people can choose, guess which way they’re going to go. They want to work with people they know and trust. And blogging is the simplest, quickest, most cost effective and most powerful way to build trust with a large number of people over time.

The Cycle of New Tools

Remember when cell phones and email were not necessary? They were nice, but they weren’t commonplace, were they? Then they became trendy. Then…they became mandatory. Now, what kind of Realtor could you be without a cell phone and email? The entire industry has evolved into essentially requiring these tools. This is the curve new tools follow. They start off as unnecessary, then they become trendy, then they become mandatory. Blogging is trendy now. In a few years, it will be as mandatory as a cell phone. Don’t get me wrong, there ARE Realtors without cell phones. But would YOU work with them? What do you think?

Can you conduct business without a cell phone? Of course. But your efficiency and ability to be accessible to your clients is severely impaired. Try using that as your tag line and see how far it gets you. “Your Severely Impaired, Inaccessible Realtor for Life.” Somehow I don’t think it’s gonna fly 😉

Addressing Fear and Getting Started

It’s very understandable to avoid change and to save yourself from the headache of having to learn new tools. It’s a pain. It costs money. But again, cell phones definitely fit that description, don’t they? See where I’m going with this?

The most efficient thing you can do is start reading some blogs right now. Get familiar with the format. Leave comments. Get comfortable reading and interacting with blogs. Before you know it, you’ll find that this develops your “blogging voice”. By doing this simple activity for a little bit each day, you will be prospecting, building up contacts and getting your name out there a bit. You don’t even need a blog of your own to do this. All you need is to block off some time and start doing it.

After you’ve done this for a short while, you’ll see there’s really nothing at all to be afraid of. The blogosphere, you see, is just a bunch of people talking to each other. It’s just a different platform. Underneath it all, it’s very simple stuff we’re doing here. Human interaction at it’s finest. It’s just more leveraged and scalable. As business people, we like leverage and scalability, right? 😉

The Evolution of Real Estate Marketing

Michael Martine wrote an awesome post on this subject very recently. He talked about the importance of embracing blogging for your real estate practice and gave some specific, smart advice on how to do it. I recommend checking it out.

As real estate professionals, we’re not unfamiliar with big change. Our industry has seen drastic change over the last decade. And now that we have email, websites, online searchable MLS databases and cell phones, we have all the problems solved, and progress can now finally come to a halt, correct?

Progress Continues

Of course not! Progress continues. The world keeps spinning, and new tools keep coming. Better tools. More powerful. We can choose to sit on our hands at any point, but more and more it’s easier to be left behind.

I’ve written before about how all this social media business is optional. Let me put it into perspective. Do you have a strong network that you can continue to grow and develop without the use of these new tools? Be honest. Some of you do. A few of you. However, if you’re new to the business or if you want to grow in any meaningful way, you’re going to have to grow your network and start engaging your market on a personal level over the long term. That’s what people want, and we need to connect with them and provide for their needs. That’s what being in business means! Blogging is simply the most leveraged, cost effective and powerful way to do it right now.

If direct mail, bus benches and magazine ads worked, I wouldn’t be writing this. I’m not a “social media advocate”. I’m a “do-what-works” advocate.

How do you feel about this?

About Author

Christian creates dangerous internet strategies at


  1. An excellent read. I’ve gotten to witness this tectonic shift twice before, in publishing and later in music marketing, and it’s been very interesting watching Real Estate showing signs of the same transformation.

    Your closer is key: “I’m not a “social media advocate”. I’m a “do-what-works” advocate. “

    Publishing and music had that in common: a 2-5 year period where everyone goes crazy over tools and gets high on the sheer novelty of it all…we need to stay focused on metrics and results. Especially the “results” part.

  2. Christian Russell on

    Fantastic Otto, yes I’ve been involved in music as well (on a small level), and you’re dead right…the new tools I’m talking about affect all industries. It’s obviously not a tidal wave, hitting every industry simultaneously, but everyone will be affected.

    It’s not a matter of going crazy and feeling like you have to do EVERYTHING…your point is perfect…it’s a matter of getting results. Continuing to pound money into marketing methods that get a worse return each year that passes, to me, is ridiculous.

  3. I see both sides of social media marketing. The one side, if it is worth the time and investment, could be huge for potential social media entreprenuers who would rather write articles to attract potential customers.

    The other side is the coldness of less interaction between seller and buyer. I, for example, don’t like to buy unless I get to at hear or see the seller or vendor. I may be biased or the exception in jumping on the social media bandwagon for whatever reason. I’ve hardly ever purchased something online if I didn’t have a relationship or experience with the seller. So the question is how many blog articles do you need to write before you make a connection with the public? 10? 100? 1,000?

    What I am trying to say is people who have good interpersonal skills to function in the public can use social media as an enhancement to their success. These professional will hit their sales goals with or without social media. In contrast, people with little to no people skills will use social media as alternative to avoid the public and the growth associated with self-development.

    In summary, social media may be the panacea for people who do not want to learn traditional sales techniques. Nothing beats the lifelong skills gained by interacting with real people on the phone or in person.

  4. Christian Russell on

    Rick – awesome thoughts; i really appreciate you share your ideas on this. I agree 100% that those of us with sales skills will be able to always make a living. Knowing how to work with people on a personal level is key…in business, in life.

    I don’t agree that social media is impersonal. I find that an interesting viewpoint. The benefit of engaging your audience via a blog and such is because it IS personal. If you’re using your blog to solely market yourself and create sales messages, then yes you’re going to have serious issues. But that’s not what blogging is for. It’s for engaging your market in a personal way.

    Real estate is a perfect example of how social media works and the value it has for business. Realtors won’t survive unless they know how to work with others in person, correct? But what happens when a new client who has never worked with you before is deciding what agent to work with? What are the chances they’ll google you? And what are they going to find? Well, if you have a blog and an active community, it will be clear that you deliver value to people consistently. You cannot fake social proof. If you don’t have a community, that also will be very clear by doing a few simple searches. So what’s the consumer going to do? What are the chances they will go with a Realtor they feel really delivers?

    No matter what level of interpersonal skill you have have, nothing beats social proof. And social proof is the most powerful asset you can have when it comes to your bottom line. That’s the irreplaceable value of social media. I do agree that a lot of social media marketers use Facebook and their blog to actually HIDE from their audience. Of course, that’s not going to work.

  5. Excellent post. As the Dir. for PR and SM for C21, I am constantly looking for ways in which we can enhance the performance of our System members. As a brand we are involved in several major Web 2.0 initiatives that we believe will be game changers in the months and years ahead. With approximately 50% of all homebuyers in Gen X and Y in 2009, the real estate professional who can cogently market via social media / mobile channels is going to be well-positioned for success. Keep up the great writing.

    Best Regards,

    Matt Gentile

    • Christian Russell on

      Thanks Matt. I just presented at a C21 group recently, and it was a lot of fun 🙂 Eric Seymour was the principle. Great guy! With people like you at the helm, hopefully the message will “trickle down” to more individual agents. If there’s anything I can to do help, I’m at your service.

  6. Change is hard for most people. However, as more people hear and see more results from social media marketing, more real estate professionals will start to dabble more and more. I just love the fact that social media, if done correctly, can totally take away the cold call concept. It’s so much easier dealing with a warm market.

    • Christian Russell on

      I started off cold calling in sales. That’s my background, and I can testify to the massive difference working with “warm” leads makes. Wow. You’re totally right. Does it take time to build something substantive? You bet. It takes time and work. And it’s completely, 100% worth it.

      You’re right, getting established professionals to learn new tools before they actually become mandatory is a difficult sell. The younger, newer agents I talk with often already have a blog up and running and just want pointers on getting better results. Agents in the business for 30 years often have a different reaction 😉

  7. Great article, you really hit-the-nail-on-the-head when it comes to the benefits and potential of Real Estate social network marketing. I find that typically people either think its a waste of time, or they think it will become the single most important thing they do, but I think you’ve correctly shown that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    As a sales manager, I found that many of my agents couldn’t get over the technology “hump” to social networking (different sites, interfaces, lingo etc.) So I set out to build a new solution, which is launching next month . . .


  8. Great article. What I am finding is that many Realtors I speak with think that social media and blogging is just a fad. In spite of the statistics about homw many people are now a Facebook and Twitter, they just are not interested. I feel that this is really unfortunate because many have built a very good business. The other comment I get is “I dont want to know about it, I’ll just hire someone to do it for me.” Again, I believe that they are missing the point. Staying connected and “In the Conversation” keeps you in the game and up to date with what people are interested in hearing about.

    • Christian Russell on

      I agree Bob. The idea it’s a fad is understandable, which is why I work to communicate the cycle I described in this post. It starts off as a fad. Then it becomes trendy. Then it becomes mandatory. I honestly think social media marketing gets written off only by people who haven’t spent much time thinking about it. It’s a logistical issue more than anything else. If they understood the power they could harness, they’d dive in and not look back. At the front end, they’re just looking at a blog as a big liability and a time sink.

      I also have gotten many calls from people who want me to “do social media” for them. It’s an interesting scenario to have to address, telling someone I can’t do it for them. In 5 years we won’t be having this conversation…in 5 years, things are going to get really, really fun!

  9. Richard Recuset on

    I go by the axiom, “I believe nothing that I hear and half of what I see.” On that note, I’m hearing a lot, but I’m not seeing much. For starters, can you or will you disclose your productivity level for the last 2 yrs (Just kidding, not necessary), most everyone was a heroe 2004-2006. Leaders lead by example, not by their communications skills. Well, ok, not entirely true, i.e. Bill Clinton, Obama. Moving on…. you see, your last statement [I’m not a “social media advocate”. I’m a “do-what-works” advocate. ] prompted me to this writing.

    If the only thing you’re doing is writing on a blog, I find it hard to beleive that you are doing a whole lot of real estate sales. I don’t think it’s right for those that are starting off on this endeavor (real estate sales & marketing) to think that all they need to do is start a blog and consequently reap rewards beyond imagination. The only people or goups I see pushing this medium more than necessary are the ones with some self interest/agenda-follow the money….

    I actually agree it is important to start a blog, I just started another- I changed markets. I have never made a dime out of them, but people are talking-that’s hard to quantify. If anything, it also creates an awareness that a realtor should have, or work on improving their communication skills if they truly want to thrive, not just survive. Case in point, look no further than MLS property descriptions.

    Bottom line, at this time and age, for best results; pressing the flesh is still #1 , and we’re not at the point where all we need is a blog. Post cards and letters are still effective; however, defenetely not newspaper ads- a collosole waiste of money and time. Oh, and look who’s going to be different when everyone is relying on a blog……the post card and letter writer…..we’re back to communication skills…..

    • Christian Russell on

      Great comment Richard. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree…blogging is NOT a quick fix. that said, I’ve done well over 90% of my business online for the last three years. I’m a full time internet marketer. Additionally, I am happy to share other stories of productivity with you if you’re so-inclined. Bottom line, internet marketing works. It really, really does. It’s not an overnight thing, but then…what is?

      You’re right about the difficulty to quantify. This is a classic difficulty with blogging. Here’s what I know…my blog and my other sites are my ONLY marketing tools. I do NO print advertising. I do NO TV or radio. I do NO direct mail.

      You make a great point that “pressing the flesh” is what actually sells property. truth be told, it’s what sells anything if we’re being honest. Blogging is a tool of engagement. It bridges the gap between marketing and sales. It leverages your time, which is essential more and more. Will it do the job all by itself? Never. You have to be there to close the sale. You still have to be an awesome Realtor. Actually, if you’re NOT an awesome Realtor, you’re blog is going to suck anyway 🙂

      But if you are awesome, a blog will leverage your name, your brand, your reach, your ability to engage and communicate with a large number of people. If these things are not necessary, then you can skip blogging. Of course, when a tool of massive leverage comes along and is accessible to every one of your competitors, it’s a fools game to ignore it. It doesn’t sound like you’re ignoring it though. It sounds like you’re trying it out and trying to make it work. That means you rock…even if you’re not seeing the results you want quite yet…trust me, the results are coming; I bet you’re gonna like them!

  10. Great use of the cell phone as anaology! It reminded me of my old white Motorola handheld that was the size of a brick. Just like Don Johnson on Miami Vice!

    Every industry goes through change and sometimes that change leads to the death of the industry. Fortunately for some, it leads to rebirth and rejuvenation, which is what I feel we’re experiencing in real estate industry.

    One can choose to deny or embrace social media. For those real estate agents that deny, I wonder what they’ll have to say about it in 12 short months?

    • Christian Russell on

      I agree Brian. Many in real estate will not be here in 12 months. The reasons why will vary, but the fact is that the industry is changing. What clients want is changing. What they expect is changing. They’re just not cool with brick phones anymore 🙂

      I’ve been doing this since the late 90’s…sales training. In my experience, it’s not the market so much as business fundamentals. bottom line, some people just don’t want to work. Some people do. From what I’ve seen, hard work prevails. Every single time. Will firing up a blog revamp your career overnight? No, it won’t. It’s just a tool. And tools take time to learn and master. But if anyone tells you you cannot build a better house with power tools vs hand tools, I’m sorry…they’re just ignorant, or they own stock in a hand tool company 🙂

      That’s all a blog is…it’s a power tool.

  11. I don’t social media is a bad thing. I just don’t see any strong fundamentals that make it a viable investment in time and money. What I learned as a young VP at a Fortune 500 company before I started my own business is nothing strong is built without some type of sweat equity. Look at the most successful companies….all of them sacrificed to achieve greatness. Now if you look at the top social media engines, most are not profitable. Unless they start charging fees, most people will continue to post entries to a black hole of unintelligible demographics. If I had to pay for Twitter, I would deactivate my account immediately. The only things that social media has done for me is connect me to other people with common interest. Plus, there are certain sectors of the economy that stand to better than others. Entertainment (adult, parties, celebrity info) attracts people anyway, regardless of the type media outlet. The point I want to finally make is that if people spent a tenth of the time improving people skills as they do with social media, these folks would super successful.

    As a veteran salesman, I would gladly invest in social media if I thought it was profitable. Trust me, I would. I simply don’t see any value that social media brings to the table other than showing pretty faces on pages. There are literally millions of social media experts in the domain world. Who, excluding corporate identities, are making money at this yet?

    Back in the mid 1990’s, the experts were proclaiming that the Internet would close most brick-n-mortar stores. Didn’t happen. People still exhibit shopping behavior that continues to confound e-commerce companies trying to get them to shop more online. Only books and music product categories have risen to fame and fortune.

    Plus, some people have horrible writing skills. Now, I do believe that people should have a web presence to connect with potential consumers. In other words, I see social media as a commodity instead of being a premium “must have”. So should people improve their writing skills before embracing social media as a viable marketing option?

    I’m just saying…

    • Christian Russell on

      Rick – I LOVE your comment; thanks! You express very well here what so many other agents and business owners I’ve spoken with have had to say. You said something in particular which I think is beautiful…”The only things that social media has done for me is connect me to other people with common interest.” If you don’t see the massive, immeasurable value of that, then I just don’t know how to help!

      I know many who are making money online. In real estate and other industries as well. I’m happy to furnish a list if you like! The failure rate is high. That’s true, but as a veteran salesperson, you already know that the failure rate in ALL businesses is high. The fact that most people fail in business is not evidence that no one should start a business. It’s evidence that you should only ever start a GOOD business. And so it goes with blogging. I definitely recommend only ever starting a good blog. The bad ones always fail 🙂

      I think you and I are much more on the same page than you might think. I would never argue that blogging or social media marketing of any kind should be thought to replace actual sales and interpersonal skills. New media is simply a way to augment these skills and expand your reach. As a business owner, if you have no need of leveraging your time and engaging with more people, than social media can be skipped, but if listening and communicating with your community is essential, than social media is simply the best way to do it.

      Without actual communication skill, social media marketing efforts will fall flat every time. We’re on the same page, no?

    • Christian Russell on

      Thanks Mary. Do you track analytics? I get a lot of traffic from social networking. My blog is what actually converts with regards to business though. Social networking is pretty much, well, social 🙂

  12. For blogging to be successful it has to have SEO or it really doesn’t do much.
    Same with twitter….SEO works.
    I also think that the whole internet thing is generational….what buyers and sellers do you want to attract…you have to be where they are. Older clients..are still not tech savvy and still read the newspaper…but how many are buying homes…they are selling them though!

    • Christian Russell on

      There are definitely different approaches. Blogging can be a powerful component to an seo strategy for sure. I pay very little attention to seo though but still consider blogging a huge component to my marketing. To me the social aspect of blogging far outweighs the seo benefits. However, Google throws me a good bit of traffic and I’ll take it 🙂

      You make a great point about reaching different types of clients through media appropriate to them! Being in touch with who you want to reach and why is a crucial first step to any marketing plan.

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