7 must-read books to elevate your real estate marketing

Learn how four top-producing agents turn to reading to help close sales — and which books to dive into next

No matter where you are in your career, the right book can fundamentally change the way you approach your business. This is especially true when it comes to marketing, where new ideas are crucial for success.

We asked top-producing Sotheby’s International Realty agents about the books they’ve turned to for inspiration — because when it comes to reading, a good recommendation can ensure you invest your time in the right place. Whether you’re looking to create strategies for business operations or social media, these are the books to add to your marketing reading list.

To make your messaging pop: All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World by Seth Godin

Annie Holdreith, Associate Real Estate Broker, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty

Thanks to social media, reaching potential buyers and sellers has never been so easy. Yet a crowded landscape means your message really needs to stand out. That’s where Seth Godin’s All Marketers Are Liars comes in, says Annie Holdreith, Associate Real Estate Broker with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in New York. “Godin makes the case that all successful marketers are authentic storytellers,” she says. “People want good stories in order to believe they need or want something. The experience of what it’s like to live in a house is the story we need to tell for buyers to connect with a property.”

To grow your business: The E-Myth by Michael Gerber

Jack Cotton, Real Estate Author and Coach, Sotheby’s International Realty — Osterville Brokerage

The E-Myth was transformative for my business,” says Jack Cotton, Real Estate Author and Coach with Sotheby’s International Realty — Osterville Brokerage in Massachusetts. “In my 45 years of experience, I’ve noticed that most people in real estate are in a practice, vocation, hobby, or even a job. Most do not treat it as a business.” Through Michael Gerber’s simple reframing of how to see and approach work, agents can implement the structures necessary for making their real estate undertakings flourish.

To keep his learnings at hand, Cotton has an organized note-taking strategy. “My procedure is to read a business book on my phone where it’s easy to highlight important passages,” he says. “I then go back and dictate the highlights, have them transcribed, and proof and file them by the year the book was read. I have a complete library of my own ‘CliffsNotes.’”

To cover the basics: The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller

Deena Schencker, Senior Vice President of Sales, Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of real estate achievement, Deena Schencker, Senior Vice President of Sales with Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty in Chicago, recommends revisiting the classics.

“Gary Keller is renowned in real estate both as an author and the co-founder of Keller Williams Realty,” she says. “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent is considered by many to be the benchmark for books on how to succeed in real estate. Shift is his newer follow-up best-seller, and I would consider both a great starting point for Real Estate 101 today.

“I find that books by thought leaders are sometimes the best use of time, since their wisdom applies far beyond the real estate industry,” Schencker continues. “Some of the key foundational books are Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Zig Ziglar’s See You at the Top.

To build better client relationships: Ninja Selling: Subtle Skills. Big Results. by Larry Kendall

Recommended by both Holdreith and Schencker, Ninja Selling turns selling on its head by focusing instead on building customer relationships. “After reading this book, I had a shift in my paradigm which translated into a less conventional approach to a traditional real estate business,” Schencker says. “I shifted from being a transaction-based agent to a relationship-based professional.”

While the book presents principles that are invaluable to your approach to business, you’ll also learn the value of personal mastery by building on strengths and identifying areas for growth. “One of the ‘aha’ moments in the book was that it made me realize I had a better and more thought-out process for working with sellers, and I needed to raise the bar on my process for working with buyers,” Holdreith says.

To optimize social media: Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

Kelly Fernandes, REALTORⓇ-Associate, Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty

The social media landscape is constantly changing, yet success still hinges on one important factor: authenticity. That timeless trait, along with actionable advice for effectively utilizing every major platform today, is explored in-depth in Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crushing It!. “His books inspired me to take social media marketing seriously and I am so glad I did,” says Kelly Fernandes, REALTORⓇ-Associate with Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty in New Jersey. “By leveraging his ideas, I’ve been able to score more listings and connect with my audience authentically. This year he inspired me to start my own podcast, which has become another platform for me to connect with my consumer in a unique way.”

Use books as a bridge

Keeping your finger on the latest trends through reading comes with an added perk: you have a new way to engage with clients. “Many of my clients are big readers, and a deeper connection can come from a shared love of reading,” says Holdreith.

Fernandes agrees. “I recently went on a listing appointment where I walked into the homeowner’s office and The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer was on my client’s desk,” she says. “Coincidentally, I was also rereading it. We immediately began talking about the book, and when I came back for my next appointment, I brought my sellers a different book I thought they might enjoy. Not only did I score a listing that day, but I also cultivated a relationship that went beyond real estate.”

Schencker employes a similar strategy for connecting. “When I meet a client and they discuss a topic related to a book I have read, I send them the book or the kindle version of what they are interested in learning.”

Regardless of the topic, books allow agents to establish common ground with clients. “When I visit the home of a client I always make careful note of what is on their bookshelf,” says Cotton. “Taking a mental picture of these book covers allows me to know what my clients are reading and therefore, what I need to be reading.”

Diving back into your reading practice may do more than augment your marketing strategies: it could earn you a sale.


About Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty was founded in 1976 as a real estate service for discerning clients of Sotheby’s auction house. Today, the company’s global footprint spans 990 offices located in 72 countries and territories worldwide, including 43 company-owned brokerage offices in key metropolitan and resort markets. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a franchise system. The franchise system is comprised of an affiliate network, where each office is independently owned and operated. Sotheby’s International Realty supports its affiliates and agents with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates and agents also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit www.sothebysrealty.com.

The affiliate network is operated by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, and the company owned brokerages are operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC and Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., both fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.