As real estate agents, we’re consistently training to hone our sales skills. But with shifts in marketing and media generation, it’s fair to ask if marketing skills might be just as—if not more—important. 

If you were only going to choose one skill area to develop this year, in an uncertain market, when things are going to be dramatically different from the last two years, which one are you gonna push the chips into—marketing and media generation or sales skills?

Right now, we have the advantage of understanding where we are and that we’re going into a market where there will be fewer transactions. 

So, how will we give ourselves enough at-bats to close deals?

It was the worst time to get into real estate

When I got into real estate sales in 2012—which, for me, in Connecticut, was the lowest point of the market—it was the worst time to get into real estate, according to everybody. 

Everybody was getting out of real estate, especially the part-timers.

And now, we’re in a similar situation. The people who had it easy the last couple of years are out looking for jobs because it’s not as easy right now in terms of how many transactions there are to go around. 

What we’re dealing with now is similar to what happened in 2012. There were absolutely no deals happening. I got in during that time frame. 

And here’s what I learned: it’s the best time to build something special. 

From 2012 to today, my team in Connecticut has grown to over 50 agents, with over $250 million closed in transactions this year. 

What we can accomplish in a decade is incredible. 

Wherever you are in your business, you have the best opportunity in 2023 that you’ve ever had to go all-in on your business’s marketing and media generation.

The number one lead generator

Sales skills are very important to real estate agents. And, no doubt, they always will be. 

But think about the last two years. Think about the number one lead generator in the last two years. It was Zillow.

If you were on one of these mega teams, and maybe you were brand new, you could still do 25, 35, or 40 deals even if you didn’t have the sales skills of those who’ve been in the business since 2008.

Zillow gave you the at-bats that nobody else had. Zillow gave you more opportunities because it’s a marketing machine that generates these leads. And because you had more at-bats, you could close more deals.

And don’t get me wrong—sales skills are critical in this business. I believe in role-playing. My team does it every single day. I’m not trying to steer you away from building your sales skills and knowledge. 

But if I’m going to go all-in and spend 80% of my time on something, it boils down to this: 

How do I become the Zillow of my community? How do I start generating lead over lead and opportunity over opportunity—where I have the biggest database and the most at-bats in my market?” 

That’s how you beat the 35-year vet if you’re somebody who just started in the last two years. It’s what I did in 2012 when everybody was getting out. 

The only deals were being done by 35-year agents, and in 2012, they were still listing everything in the newspaper. They were making sure they were on the front page of the real estate section. That was their pitch. That’s how they stood out in front of everybody. 

And in 2012, I decided to generate more opportunities by getting myself out there—by getting on YouTube and Facebook early.

I was putting out community-driven information that I cared about. It was information on the market that I knew, if I got it in front of the right person, was going to hit.

And I’m thinking of a YouTube channel right now that doesn’t even exist anymore, but it brought me my first new development. 

How one YouTube video led to a developer deal

The sisters of a developer saw the YouTube video, which probably had 12 views, and they shared it with their brother over email. He called me and said, “I just want to pick your brain…I gotta sell these last nine lots.” 

It turns out, he had a 76-lot division, and 67 of those lots had sold early. But for the last year, the last nine lots sat on the market without offers. And that’s where the developer makes their money—at the end. 

So, he wanted to pick my brain. 

I got an opportunity to sit down in his spec home and talk with him face to face. And yeah, absolutely, that’s where your sales skills are going to become ultra-important. But it’s also where your authenticity is going to come out. 

Because he was captured by the video, I really wanted to talk about how we were going to sell those last nine homes. 

Here’s what I told him: I’ll get more buyers to come through these properties and come to open houses by producing this level of content—by creating weekly content for your deal. 

I made the confident promise, and started producing content for him over and over and over again. And, of course, we sold those last nine lots. And, of course, it led me to other development deals. 

How that deal led to others

The next time I met with a developer, I shared the story I just told you and backed it up with examples of content and proof of sales. 

That’s so much more valuable than doing a TikTok dance and getting a million views. I want to be able to name-drop deals that I’ve done in the past to be able to convert on that next deal. 

And that’s where becoming a marketing machine and a lead generation machine through your media content becomes important. So when you go to the next deal, you have another piece of your portfolio to talk about. 

Media teams for single agents

Even single agents should be thinking, “How am I going to build a media team around me?” 

If you’re editing the video, like I did in the beginning—even if you’re great at it—you need to stop. It is such a time suck. 

Video editing is going to take you so many hours. And if you really care about the end product, it will take you even longer because you want it to be perfect.

You need to outsource video editing, video production, and writing immediately. I stopped writing listing descriptions at least three or four years before I fully stepped out of production. Now, with AI like ChatGPT, it’s even easier to outsource writing.

Because even if a listing description or a script takes you 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes you’re not on the phone with a client. That’s 10 minutes you’re not replying to a DM that could be a referral. 

If you’re 24 hours late responding to a referral, most likely, they’ll go find somebody else. 

By building a media team around you, you free up more time to spend on income-producing activities.

Focus on income-producing activities

These are the actions you need to be taking to make money: 

  • You need to be on appointments
  • You need to be signing listing contracts
  • You need to be signing buyers
  • You need to be reacting to the leads that are coming in
  • You need enough leads coming in

You don’t have time to worry about the transaction department, or video editing, or writing. So, start to think about this like a media company. It’s a big move that I made five or six years ago in building my team.

Back then, I wasn’t buying Zillow leads like everybody else. I wasn’t in on the gold rush of buying zip codes. I’m doing the premier agent stuff now, because we have such a big team and they switched over to the referral game.

But when it was “Let’s go spend $100K on zip codes and own this,” I was investing in building the media team. I was doing it all backwards. 

So, when I got to the point where I wanted to dip into Zillow…

  • I already had the writer in place
  • I already had the graphic designer
  • I already had the video producer
  • I already had the editor

And I would encourage you all to think about doing just that in your business. 

Make the decision to go all in in a way where you really invest in that infrastructure so that you’re known at the most ridiculous level in your community.