Dear Zuess,

I have a really good listing lead.  It’s a nice property in a demand area where I’ve been farming for nearly a year.  I would love to get this listing but the seller wants the full works in terms of marketing and he wants me to pay for it all.  He wants staging, customized website, social media, newspaper ads, 1000’s of flyers, lifestyle video and a significant direct mail campaign.  The only thing he’s left out is TV and Radio!  I want the listing but I don’t want to blow my entire marketing budget on one property.  What should I do?


Hi Mardi,

Is this guy in advertising?  He’s pretty bang on with what the ideal marketing program would be to expose a property to the most number of people!  If we want to be paid as full service brokers, we do need to offer full service, and an extensive and powerful marketing campaign is a significant part of that.

The problem arises if we are trying to do it as a one off – it’s just too darn expensive.  If you have no marketing infrastructure in place, the cost could exceed $6000.  Unless this property is priced over the half million dollar mark and is a guaranteed sale, it likely isn’t worth the risk.

When an agent has already built a marketing system, it is less expensive and much easier to execute.  A savvy listing agent will have all of these tools in place working both for them and for their clients on an ongoing basis.  When these marketing vehicles are used to promote both the agent and the clients’ property – they both win.

If you want this listing (and since it’s in your farm area, you do) then consider using this property to build your marketing scaffolding.  It will be hard work and it will cost you some money but in the end you’ll have a great system, a great listing and likely a commission to pay the bill.

If you want to know more, read on for marketing advice and a few recommended suppliers:

Staging:  Staging is important for a successful outcome.  If you can develop a great relationship with a stager you like and trust, you can usually work out an arrangement where you pay for the consultation ($200-$400) and the client either does the work or hires the stager and pays them directly.  This is a win/win outcome for you, the stager and the client.   While this consulting fee is a bit low, many stagers will accept this as they get a consistent string of high quality clients from you.

Video:  It’s all the rage and I finally accept that it is necessary.  I had my head in the sand on this one.  I can read really fast so the idea of sitting through minutes of video didn’t appeal to me but as video quality is improving, I am really appreciating the emotional experience that a great video delivers.  I’ve made my first professional video – and yes, it’s expensive to do it right.  Nature of Real Estate Video   See the Video  I hope you enjoy it!  Creating a high quality video for your listings will help you sell them faster and it will help earn you the listing in the first place.  No longer is a string of still photographs put to music enough.

The best I’ve seen is Mark Wilson’s Cottingham Video Great Real Estate Lifestyle Video .  I spoke with Mark and a lifestyle video of this quality will cost you between $3500 and $8000.  That’s a lot of money but if it promotes the property and the agent it can definitely be well worth it.  The emotional pull in this story is incredible.  Mark also offers a video he calls “Property Zone” in the $350-$500 range that still manages to get the feeling of the home across to potential buyers.  Mark is expanding across the country.  Check out his Website Property Films .  Silverhouse is another good choice in the Toronto area.

Customized Website:  This is easy and cheap and makes your social media marketing easier and more effective.  You can pay as little as $10 a month or $50 per website if you can set it up yourself and for another $100 they’ll help you make it look great. If you have a number of individual property websites linking to your main business website you’ll see traffic and ratings improve significantly.  Agentmarketing  is one of the biggest.  I spoke with them earlier today and they aim “to make everything a ‘one stop shop’ marketing system at a low cost for the agents”.  There is a Canadian Company,  Unique Home Sites that is worth looking into as well.

Social Media Strategy:  You either have or ought to have one and your listings should just slide into that strategy.  If you are building a strategy from scratch for one property, it’s going to be far too much work and/or too expensive.  Need a strategy?  The internet is full of people claiming to be brilliant at this.  It’s a very cluttered space.  Get a referral from an agent you trust, or here are a couple of women that I really like here in Whistler:  Both know their stuff really well!

Stefanie Hostetter with The Social Host . Stef will set up the strategy for $200-$800 and if you want her to manage it, a monthly nut of $200-$600 and you are good to go.

Heather Clifford with Keep is Simple Social Media. Heather will set up Facebook, twitter and linked in for $250.  If you want instructions for content or have her create content this is above that cost.

Newspaper Ad: Some demographics still read the newspaper!  It can be pretty expensive so be smart and while you promote the property, be sure that you are being seen by your people at the same time.  If you are not sure if your people read the paper, ask them.  It’s an excellent reason to be in touch.

Flyers: Since you are farming anyway – this is a great opportunity to impress your farm area with some unique and effective marketing on a specific property.  Make it good and follow up with a phone call asking what they thought of it.  Chances are you will find your next listing and make the costs seems trivial.

Direct Mail: Direct mail is working again, at least that’s the news I am getting from agents who are using it.  It’s time consuming and can be costly but if they read it then hey – it makes sense.  Whatever you send out – make it grab their attention. While the piece is designed to advertise a specific property, if you can get it to grab their heart strings they will remember you and want you to represent them too.  Again, if you follow up with a phone call to get feedback, you are likely to get another great listing.

Just a few tidbits that are working for some of the top agents in the industry.  Good luck!


Dr. Zuess