Pete Sheinbaum: Candy Man

The CEO of explains how viral marketing and tailored content generated 2.4 million subscriptions.

May 1, 2007

Your newsletters and Web sites, both the national version and the 13 city-specific editions, are all about buzz. What did you do to create buzz for DailyCandy?

SHEINBAUM: We’ve always thought viral marketing was the most powerful form of marketing. If someone you know forwards an e-mail to you from DailyCandy and says, “Hey, DailyCandy wrote about this cool restaurant; you should check it out,” it’s a stamp of approval on our product. We had 70 names in our first mailing list in 2000. By the end of the first week, it was up to 700 names, and by the end of the year, it had grown to 35,000—all through word of mouth. People found us because their friends told them about us.

How did you determine what kind of content you needed?

SHEINBAUM: When Dany Levy started DailyCandy seven years ago, she was basically writing for herself: Where would I want to eat? Where would I want to shop? Where would I want to get my shoes fixed? Where would I want to go for a spa treatment? Those are the kinds of topics we know young women in urban settings are interested in. Likewise, a real estate professional needs to ask, Whom am I trying to talk to? What do they want to read about?

We also write all our own stuff, and have since day one, so we knew that the content would have our voice, which is irreverent in tone. A tone is important because it helps people identify with our brand. We’ve grown because of the voice we created for our audience.

What’s the key to effective local content?

SHEINBAUM: The key is to provide great local resources. So if real estate professionals are looking to provide information for clients and prospects or target a specific demographic, they might try to provide a feel for their city. What’s the city like? What can I do there? What should I know about the school districts? For those who have bought a house, the practitioner can provide information to continue the relationship. What’s good that should be checked out? Here’s a terrific store or restaurant or place to take your kids.

How do you know whether you’re successful?

SHEINBAUM: Because we’re growing subscriptions in [significant numbers]. It’s important for real estate pros to define online success in a way that’s most logical for them—and to track Web stats.

You don’t use a lot of photos or video at your Web sites. Why?

SHEINBAUM: We’ve been focused on our e-mail newsletters, and you can’t put in e-mail the sort of rich media you can use on a Web site. Maybe you can include a link to a video or something like that. We’re looking to enhance the site and invest some money in things like video.

Actually, some of the best executions of rich media on the Web are those by real estate professionals. The 360-degree panoramic videos and virtual tours of homes are terrific.

What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when creating an online presence?

SHEINBAUM: Focus on customers and what they want from you. A lot of people start chasing the next best technology that’s available, even though nobody’s actually using it. Learn how people want to experience your product or service; then provide them with the tools to keep them engaged.

Read more about Sheinbaum at

Chuck Paustian is a former REALTOR® Magazine senior editor.