When times get tough, turn to free grassroots marketing and relationship-building to help you weather the challenges, Chicago broker Julie Busby writes.

In these times, double down — on your skills, on your knowledge, on you. Join us Aug. 8-10 at Inman Connect Las Vegas to lean into the shift and learn from the best. Get your ticket now for the best price.

As they say, “When times get tough, the tough turn to grassroots marketing.” OK, maybe they don’t say that, but we do at Busby Group.

The 2023 market’s theme so far, for us in Chicago, is volatility. We have experienced many highs and lows since January, though it is possible that we are in the midst of a plateau now. 

My response to a volatile market is always the same: Stable and consistent marketing, focusing on those who have to move, not just those who want to move. This year, our marketing has leaned heavily toward grassroots, inexpensive or free, and we have seen some of our best results. Here is an overview of what worked best for us.

Build agent relationships

In a volatile market, relationships with other agents are more important than ever. Call, email or text agents in your area to share listings you have coming, share what your current buyers are looking for plus brainstorm ideas based on the new marketplace. 

Host an event just for agents — we usually host at a listing and brainstorm market ideas. It’s a win-win. Plus, expand your broker network nationwide.  This way you have more opportunities to refer back and forth and share ideas. We have put together several transactions this year through our deep relationships.

Leveraging existing events

My team and I are always looking for creative ways to market our brand and listings and stay in touch with our sphere, especially in a shifting marketplace. Leveraging existing community events is a great way to do all of the above, plus it is more cost-effective than a standalone event — and you reach more people.

Some examples of events we have had success with in the past include

  • sponsoring food at an expecting parent class
  • featuring listings in community garden walks
  • providing entertainment to get more attendees at a local event
  • sponsoring a table with a craft at local farmer’s markets

These are all gatherings of people with growing families, and we invite our clients for further reach.

At a recent expecting parents class that we sponsored at a local business, 50 new-to-us couples attended and also created an ongoing relationship with the business. Another win-win. 

Develop relationships with local businesses

In a fluctuating market, it’s important to focus on local and have deep roots in the community. We like to be aligned with local businesses, so we work with them in a few ways, including giving away something from a featured local business at an open house and marketing them, as well as partnering with local businesses like a free yoga class in the park, with coffee afterward.  Local businesses will have local employees with deep roots. 

It is always surprising how much marketing can be free if you think strategically. The key is persistence and follow-up, as with almost anything in real estate — and in life.

Julie Busby is the founder and president of Busby Group, and in the top 1 percent of Chicagoland brokers. Follow her on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription