Tired of the same old marketing gimmicks? Here are a few new ways to get your brand out there in 2022, from custom coasters and tennis balls to t-shirts and billboards.

Are you tired of paying too much for internet leads, sending out the same old “Just Listed” and “Just Sold” cards, or trying to get noticed in the sea of noise on the social media and YouTube? If you’re ready to push your branding in ways virtually no other agent is using, Greg McDaniel’s favorite marketing tips from 2021 are a great place to start.

At Real Estate Connect, Dani Vanderboegh, Senior Editor at Inman News, challenged McDaniel, an agent with eXp, to come up with his most creative marketing ideas for 2022. His list is currently at 60 and growing.

Here are ten of his most unique ideas, most of which he has used with great success in his own business.

1. Custom coasters

McDaniel was having a drink with his mortgage broker when the bar manager started yelling at the staff because, “There are no coasters and they’re going to ruin my bar!” He decided to go to the bar manager and asked if she would like some free coasters — the answer was “Yes.”

Over the course of the next year, McDaniel and his mortgage broker partner delivered over 50,000 coasters. The campaign resulted in tremendous brand recognition in the area plus several listing leads. When kids started drawing squiggles on their faces, they decided to hold a contest for who had the best one. All the decorated coasters ended up on the wall.

The funniest listing lead McDaniel received was a man who called McDaniel’s team to come list his house. When McDaniel’s team manager asked how he heard about them, he said:

I’ve been putting my beer on his face for the last six months. 

2. Become a walking billboard

No matter where McDaniel goes, he wears a baseball cap, a t-shirt or other apparel that shows he is in real estate. His top three lead converters have been his “Zillow Killer” hat (from his friend James Rembert) and two t-shirts, one that says, “I’ve got curb appeal,” and the other that says, “#Realtor.”

McDaniel picks up clients almost everywhere he goes, especially at the supermarket. The Zillow Killer hat almost always results in the question, “What’s that?” McDaniel uses it to get their contact information because most are interested in buying or selling.

His two t-shirts typically result in people asking, “Are you in real estate?” His standard response is to smile and ask, “What gave it away?” That makes them laugh. Again, the people who stop him are usually ready to list or sell.

3. Custom branded tennis balls left at local dog parks

McDaniel recently rescued a dog, and now spends a lot of time at the local dog park. Since people love to connect over their dogs, the dog park has turned out to be a great place to get business leads.

McDaniel noticed that whenever there was a lone tennis ball, the dogs will pick it up and start playing with it. His idea was to buy 1,000 tennis balls, have them custom branded with his contact information (about 3-5 cents each). Next, he would drop 20 of them off at every dog park so all the dogs can play with them.

The feedback he has been extremely positive. As one other dog owner explained:

My dog loves that. We took two of them home the other day.

4. YouTube ads at next to no cost

Facebook ads have become very expensive. McDaniel’s strategy is to use YouTube ads instead. A primary reason is that you only pay for the ad if someone either clicks on it or watches the entire video. McDaniel describes these ads as being like a “living business card that never goes away.”

The secret to using this approach is to pay for placement in front of local businesses or popular channels that have a lot of traffic. Even if the viewer clicks to “skip ad,” they have still seen the first part of your ad with your contact information. Best of all, it cost you nothing.

5. Private-labeled water bottles

McDaniel purchased a pallet of water bottles (about 1,500) and then had them labeled with a water-resistant label with his team’s brand. He noticed that his clients (even the very wealthy ones) were hanging on to the bottles, refilling them and keeping them in their cars.

His next idea was to donate the bottles of water to a local organization that is holding a 4th of July parade, car show or any other event where people are buying refreshments. The organization can charge $1.00-$2.00 per bottle.

Best of all, you have an army of volunteers you’ve never met handing out your private-labeled bottle of water.

6. “Skin” your computer

Laptop skins are an inexpensive way to advertise your business no matter where you go. The one Greg created for his podcast several years ago only cost $23.00 and is still on his old laptop.

You can create your own design that has a call-to-action. For example:

Ready to buy, but need help with the down payment? Ask me about down payment assistance programs.

Ready to buy your next home but need to sell first? I can show you how.

The great thing about this approach is that if you’re at a coffee shop, restaurant, at the dog park, or anywhere else where you can view listings on your device, people will walk up to you and ask if you’re in real estate. Many of them will be ready to list or sell.

7. Landscaping trucks and trailers

Many subdivisions have landscaping crews. Their trucks and trailers are all over town, often in very high-end areas. McDaniel recommends paying them $50 to $100 per month say for 10 trailers or trucks to carry your 5-foot by 5-foot signs.

You could also put these on service vehicle trucks, plumbers, cleaners, etc. since these people are in multiple neighborhoods and will also be seen out on the road.

8. Advertise in the storefronts of vacant commercial buildings

Many landlords are struggling to make ends meet. Search for vacant storefronts in areas where there is high foot traffic such as a mall or historic downtown area. Find out how much the owner will charge put a poster or banner for your services in their window(s).

Be sure to include your complete contact information and use a compelling call-to-action. Examples include:

We help renters become homeowners.

Buy before you sell your current home.

9. A new twist on billboards

As he was driving from San Francisco to Las Vegas for Real Estate Connect, McDaniel noticed that a number of businesses had posted billboards on farm and vacant land adjacent to the highway. Here’s how to use this approach:

  • Check with the city or county to see how this type of signage is regulated. Apply for the appropriate permits or authorization if necessary.
  • Speak with different property owners on both sides of the road and explain you want to lease X square feet on their property facing a specific direction.
  • Have a clear call-to-action like one of the ones above. One campaign that worked especially well for McDaniel on both signs and in print was “Selling a home? Contact us just in case.”

10. Have your business cards do double duty

If you’re like most agents, the back of your business card is blank. McDaniel says, “You’re losing 50 percent of your value of the card.”

Instead, he recommends going to a local business or restaurant and approaching the owner about doing a “buy one-get-one-free campaign.”

Explain that you will put the information about their business on the back of your business card. Then, any time you give out a card, whether it’s at an open house, listing appointment, etc., have the person you gave the card to flip the card over. Here’s what to say:

Thanks for so much for time, here’s my card. By the way, flip it over. Next time, you and your family are hungry for some good pizza here in town, go down to Bob’s Pizza and show him this business card to buy one and get one free.

If you liked today’s ideas, look for Greg McDaniel’s new podcast on Inman News. His new show will feature interviews with top agents and innovators as well as more in-depth dives into the types of topics we covered today.

Good luck Greg — can’t wait to see your new show when it launches!

Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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