Marketing Listings: DIY or IOU?

You’re the marketing specialist, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring in outside expertise.

January 11, 2013

You've got a great new listing. Congratulations! But you know it’s not enough to post it on the MLS and cross your fingers that it’ll generate buyer interest. You need to get the word out through a marketing plan that will impress your clients and get the property sold. And whether it’s mailing out listing flyers, using social media, or creating a video tour, you need to decide whether to do it yourself or go to an outside vendor for help.

How do you decide between outsourced and DIY marketing? "It depends on what you’re good at," says Daniel Webster Johnson, broker-associate with ­Resort Brokers Real Estate in Breckenridge, Colo.  "Use your strengths."

Johnson is all about doing what he’s best at—­networking, writing, and Internet marketing. He outsources other marketing tasks, such as photography, video, and staging, which he used to handle with the occasional help of a full-time assistant. Last spring, he realized he no longer needed full-time help. Without it, he still made 2012 his most pro­ductive year since the beginning of the downturn.

Finding the Right Professionals

Fueling Johnson’s success is his skill at building ­vendor relationships. He hosts monthly gatherings called "People We Trust," with other real estate professionals, mortgage brokers, contractors, and local business owners. The idea is to get to know one another’s trusted associates and to generate mutual business.

For example, Johnson hires Whitney Young with Neu Designs, an interior design and staging company in Breckenridge, Colo., to prepare a detailed staging report for each of his listings. She's also a member of Johnson’s referral group. For $250, she spends about an hour collecting information and ­jotting down ideas at the property and then writes up her recommendations. Johnson covers her fee. From there, it’s up to the sellers to choose whether they want to purchase her services.

An In-House & Outsourced Mix

Toronto-based Sage Real Estate outsources photography, videography, and staging, but the brokerage handles all the other marketing elements for its 85 agents, such as print, online, and e-mail marketing campaigns, iPad buyer presentations, and brand development. Brad Sage, vice president of operations, says having the combination of a dedicated, in-house marketing department and outside vendors provides the Sage team with a unified brand in the marketplace as well as the ability to stay on top of the latest and greatest real estate industry trends.

For photos, Sage pays vendors from $100 to $140 per listing, while outsourced videography for virtual tours can range from $500 for a standard shoot, up to $2,500 for a property lifestyle movie.

"It is important for agents to be involved in developing an integrated marketing plan," says Evan Sage, vice president of sales at Sage Real Estate, "then surround themselves with professionals who can help them execute that campaign."

For example, Heather Rovet, a Sage agent, found herself with a hard sell: a $1.5 million, one-bedroom, semifinished luxury property. She needed a way to communicate the lifestyle the property would afford a potential buyer. So the Sage marketing department hired an outside videographer to direct and produce a polished property video highlighting the high-tech lifestyle of a single professional. The video drew more than 10,000 views on YouTube and was critical to selling the property.

Putting Your Skills to Work

Evan Sage says blogging and social media are two functions salespeople should handle themselves. It's a matter of being authentic. "It's their knowledge they're leveraging to fuel the campaign," he says, "so when they meet individuals they’ve gotten to know online, [those potential clients] aren’t surprised."

There's also a place for putting your own passions to use. Johnson’s love of writing prompted him to start his own quarterly magazine. Johnson also writes a real estate column in his local newspaper and uses it in marketing presentations and ­brochures.

Whether you're a do-it-yourselfer or a delegator, aim for a marketing approach that you can stick to for every listing. Consistency is crucial, says Brad Sage, so that clients know if they choose you over the competition, they'll be guaranteed a specified range of marketing services at any price point.

Erica Christoffer
Product Manager

Erica Christoffer is the product manager for REALTOR® Magazine, driving growth and helping make data-driven decisions for the editorial products and programs that fall under the publication's umbrella. Erica also co-manages the magazine's 30 Under 30 program. During her tenure as an editor, she wrote and edited hundreds of articles for the magazine and launched the Broker to Broker section. Connect with Erica via email: