Something I like to focus on when coming up with marketing game plans for real estate agents both seasoned and new alike is digital strategy. Often I broach the subject only to be met with an anxious client; from the outside, the digital landscape seems a resource that requires an entirely new education, which scares off agents whose days already seem too multifaceted to achieve the type of productivity they desire. When this happens, I reassure them with a basic tenet of marketing:

“Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.”

This observation from advertising maven David Ogilvy presents an idea that’s become more important as advertising has become more engrained in our daily lives. The quote, which precedes the rise of the Internet, is especially relevant to this form of media — a place where a thousand messages can vie for your attention at once without a single one commanding it. But the premise still dictates the success of any marketing effort, digital or not. When David Ogilvy speaks, you listen. His marketing tips are gold.

The problem for agents looking to shift their advertising resources online becomes a question of where to begin the process. Does the process begin by hiring an SEO specialist to move your name up the search rankings of targeted keywords? Some have spent thousands of dollars for an enhanced profile targeting their market ZIP code on prominent listing sites. Others allocate resources towards a new Google Adwords or Facebook ad budget. The myriad channels that agents have at their disposal is enough to lose focus on their goals for online marketing, which can lead to overspending, mismanagement or a sense of constant distraction.

This happens when agents haven’t devised an online strategy, but simply fall into one when a convincing salesperson comes calling. There are a plethora of marketing companies looking for a slice of the brokerage pie — they will convince you to invest in their Web marketing enterprise without mentioning the necessity of creativity or differentiation. They’ll describe the tools you’ll have at your disposal, or the number of visitors you have the potential to reach, but they won’t acknowledge the driving engine behind the traffic — the big idea.

A big idea will earn itself the publicity you desire without extra cost through social sharing and blogging. The more engaging your content is to your demographic, the more visibility you earn through word of mouth (the online word of mouth, of increased effectiveness). This concept, called earned media, is the revitalization of creativity as the chief instrument of marketing strategy.

This is not to say that you should ignore the salespeople calling with new products, the latest developments in syndication technology or your search engine rankings for your preferred keywords. But ground your efforts in a big idea, and you’ll see the results pay dividends on each front.

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