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Donald Trump is in Real Estate. You're in Marketing.

Our friend Landon from MoonRay is back with his latest Tomato offering. 

Donald Trump is in Real Estate.  You're in Marketing.
By Landon Ray

TrumpIt’s a fundamental mistake of so many businesses, and professional service providers are the most guilty. We think we’re in the real estate business. We think we’re in the accounting business, or the lawyering business.

It’s true that, as service providers, we have checks written to us in exchange for specific services, so it’s understandable to think we’re in the business of providing the service.

When someone at a party asks what we do, we naturally say “I’m in real estate” or whatever it is that we do.

So when we look at growing our businesses, we look at what we do for the levers.  And that’s the mistake.

You’re not in Real Estate.  You’re in Marketing.

When you really get that this is the reality of your business (and everyone else’s too), a whole new world of possibility opens up. Here’s some of the first things to notice:

1. You’re reading the wrong books. Since you’re in marketing, you should be learning marketing – the fundamentals of how to create interest in your services. Most service pros consider marketing to be the no-fun thing you have to do on the side. When you move marketing to the center of your business, the view changes dramatically.

2. Realize that what you do – the tasks specific to providing the service – should be viewed as marketing itself. From the very first interaction a prospect has with your business, whether it’s an online ad or a phone call or whatever else, you’re creating an experience. That experience is a core marketing function. Is the experience you provide worth talking about? How do you make them feel?

3. 95% of the people in your industry don’t know marketing. Yet, everyone seems to do the same stuff, following the leaders who don’t know where they’re headed. Do you have an ad with the words integrity, trust, experience, service, or knowledge? Have you noticed that everyone else does too, and that everyone’s complaining that their ads don’t work? The first step to breakthrough success is to clear your mind of ‘how it’s always been done’ in your industry, and to look at the problem of marketing with fresh eyes.

Ask yourself these questions: How do I choose a service provider (or anything else)? How do I know who to trust? What makes me feel confident that I’m making a good decision? What makes me tell my friends about my experience?

When you realize that you’re in marketing, the whole world becomes your classroom.

Do you notice how the hotel offered you a rewards program? That’s marketing. Do you think that’s effective?  If so, how do you use that idea?

The other day, at the airport parking lot (The Parking Spot, Los Angeles) I was surprised and delighted by the fridge of free water bottles placed next to the machine where I feed my ticket as I pulled out. Amazing! How does that make me feel? How can I apply that lesson?

When you’re a lifelong student of marketing, and take action on ideas you will begin to see opportunity everywhere you look. Because, as you’ll quickly see, almost everyone stinks at marketing.

But not the Donald, because the truth is that he’s in marketing too.  And he obviously knows it.


Landon Ray is CEO of MoonRay, which provides Authentic Marketing Campaigns to Realtors and automated delivery of your message via web, print, mail and e-mail. 


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AMEN! I thought about doing a post like this about a month ago, but didn't really have a platform for it. My resume says Marketing and Sales Professional - not real estate professional. It only takes one time to step back and look at where your money is going to realize you spend it on marketing....not on real estate. Great post. I have a book that I read about once a month (well, reference..not read). It's from the Guerrilla Marketing series, and it's called Guerrilla marketing for free. Has great ideas to help branding and marketing, and they're all free!i recommend spending the $15 to get the book.

Great thought. And don't be caught dead without your marketing materials either.


Great post!

Good juice. Now, for the thought process and implementation.

Well said. And yes, only a small sliver of realtors know much about marketing in the 21st century.


I think this whole attitude of marketing, first, last, and foremost is the primary reason people dislike real estate agents. Of course, there is a place for marketing in any business. But geez, when marketing becomes more important to you as a service provider than, say, competence, you are simply serving yourself and not your clients. I sure hope you have an endless supply of potential clients, because they won't be returning....


I think your view of what marketing is might be smaller than mine. Perhaps your distaste for marketing is because in your mind marketing is the same thing as 'sales'.

To me, marketing is a larger project that includes everything from how you attract clients initially to how you choreograph their experience during a transaction. The experience that the client walks away with - "That was great!" or "I got burned!" or something in-between - is the most powerful part of your marketing system. There's nothing better than a thrilled client, and nothing worse than a bitter one.

Frankly, I think 'competence' is greatly over-valued by service providers in all industries. It's tempting to think that because you've acquired a level of competence in your field that business should then come. In fact, competence is just the ticket to enter the stadium. The real game happens on the field.

Is a lawyer guaranteed to be successful because they've gotten a license and are 'competent'? Even if you graduated at the top of your class, there's far more to creating a valuable and profitable service than competence... and I'll argue that most of success comes from successful orchestration of the various disciplines of marketing.

As a professional marketer, I certainly understand your incentive to define “marketing” in the broadest possible terms. FWIW, I agree that marketing as an important discipline in any business. But I loath the level of self-promotion that many real estate agents employ. I cannot tell you how many agents I have encountered who are wonderful at self-promotion and yet totally incompetent.

Is our difference of opinion only semantics? I don’t think so. It is your attitude towards the concept of competence that I find most revealing. Sadly, this attitude is widely shared in the real estate community. I would say more about this, but frankly, I think your response speaks for itself....


Certainly I'm not suggesting that competence is not important! It's obviously a critical part of creating a successful, lasting, referral-based business.

What I mean when I say that 'competence is over-valued by service providers' is that very often professionals believe that success comes from competence (or even brilliance!) at plying their craft. It simply does not. Competence is just the ticket. If you don't have it, you can't play (or not for long).

Your distaste for 'self-promotion' is something that we all share, particularly when done heavy-handedly or at the expense of doing the best job possible. My, admittedly broad, definition of marketing has to do with the complete experience that we cause, from start to finish, for the consumer; it's not about plastering our face on everything we touch.

Blatant self-promotion causes an experience that most of us find distasteful. Leaving water bottles at the checkout stand in a parking garage (which has nothing to do with competence at parking cars OR self-promotion!) is genius marketing and will cause me to come back, tell my friends, and even blog about it.

Of course you're right that it's in my interest to define marketing as broadly as possible, but only because broadening that definition helps me to see where and how I can create a better experience for my clients.

The point of my post was to encourage all of us to broaden our view of the marketing function. Not because I sell water bottles. But because when we expand our view of what marketing is, we realize there's much more to it than ads, flyers, and postcards... and that realization makes a difference.

Great post, couldn't be more right about marketing.

You are right. Marketing is the key. It is difficult to come up with new and creative ways to get out into the market place. Blogging is a good start, but my brain is still working to come up with some amazing ideas.

As someone now in property management and formally a financial planner I certainly agree that the role of marketing is primary. After all, if you have no one to talk to it doesnt matter how competent you are. You are working in the dark.
That said, marketing should not be the end all in the game of service and sales. Once you have a client you must have competency and honestly and an ability to listen.
My experience keeps pointing me to the fact that more than anything, people simply want someone to on their behalf in a fair and even handed way...otherwise its all just posturing and people are sick of that.

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