September is Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. That means we’re talking to the chief marketing officers at major brokerages about how the pandemic is changing their jobs and what it means for agents. We’re publishing a suite of tactical Inman Handbooks for marketing on digital portals. And we’re looking at what pages of the traditional marketing playbook still work. Join us all month long.

Pulse is a recurring column where we ask for readers’ takes on varying topics in a weekly survey and report back with our findings.

Last week, we asked you, our readers, to share some of the worst marketing and branding blunders you’ve ever had the fortune of coming across. We also asked you to share your takeaways from it — and perhaps even let us in on some of the ways you would’ve untangled those snafus.

Because, in reality, mistakes and cringeworthy moments do happen in everyone’s career. Sometimes — scratch that, most of the time — we learn to grow despite our failures, and perhaps even because of them. 

All to say, we hope you use the following examples of misguided strategies as learning opportunities on how things can take the wrong turn and why. So, here’s a shortlist of our readers’ most noteworthy marketing mistakes. 

  • Bringing properties to market at the wrong time of year. Often, this is because the agent wants a listing at any cost. And the cost is to the seller when the property can’t sell out of season. Agents then push for multiple price reductions as the listing ages on the market out of season. Unless the homeowner has to sell, an ethical agent needs to advise the owner to wait for the right time.
  • Poor grammar on listing advertisements. Even before becoming an agent, my takeaway was that the agent is of less-than-average intelligence. Using all capital letters, trite phrases or minimal descriptions all communicate to clients that you are too dim to be relied on.
  • Not measuring your ROI. Hope is not a strategy. For a decade, I advertised in a local magazine. I did not receive one lead, but my ego liked to look at the ad. I did get numerous calls asking for personal loans! Watch Bob Newhart’s Youtube video called “Stop it!”
  • Waiting too long to put on the market.
  • I’m not a Realtor or in that real estate business segment. I’m a builder — owner of Home Builders Direct Inc. operating in North Carolina and Illinois. These are the main problem areas I see regularly. The first problem: sales people without an understanding of their company’s “standards of practice and policies.” The second: management and sales agents without a clear definition for their or the construction industry’s words, terms and common practices. The third: Articulating “assumed” facts. My takeaway is that the real estate industry is not addressing antiquity — the issue that most buyers assume agents know industry-specific language. This lack of industry language understanding is the source of lost sales, unnecessary corrective expense, diminished confidence in the industry by the buying public. The solution to the aforementioned is written policies, including a terms and definition glossary, and field training. Sales agents with a generous understanding of “all”  participants can win advantage.
  • The most simple and the most often seen [mistake]: lousy and not enough photography.
  • It’s easy to talk about other people’s mistakes — I want to hear what mistakes you’ve made. I’ll start: After picking up a listing leading with my marketing prowess, I blasted my new listing to my entire database but put the address in another town. […] Though I ended up making an amazing recovery! I immediately filmed a video at the listing (where I happened to be), owned up to our “clerical error” and gave an impromptu tour of the house. It got more opens than the original email!
  • I’ve done the wrong address thing! I got three listings in one weekend. I got the photos all messed up. Uploaded a ton of beautiful professional photos — to the wrong listings. I nearly got physically ill. I caught it quickly, though. Took a few days for the portals to catch up. And now I have a story to tell.
  • I think the worst mistake I’ve made — and it was my first listing — was to fail to take the fact that the place was a bi-level into consideration when setting a listing price.
  • Agents being the “hero” and not the “guide” of their marketing. (I’ve been guilty of this in the past.)
  • Being too focused on the features and what we are all about versus the benefit to the target audience.
  • The worst marketing mistake I see, and I see it over and over again, is whipping out one’s phone to snap the listing photos.

What did we miss? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Editor’s note: These responses were given anonymously and, therefore, are not attributed to anyone specifically. Responses were also edited for grammar and clarity. Inman doesn’t endorse any specific method and regulations may vary from state to state. 

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