4 real estate marketing strategies we should have left in the 90s

the 90s

The early 90s was when everything began to change

On 6 August 1991, the World Wide Web went live to the world. There was no fanfare in the global media. In fact, most people around the world didn’t even know what the Internet was. Little did we know then, what we know now. We knew not how impactful the Internet would be on how we live and more importantly, how we work.

Hello? The 90s are calling. Are we reaching…?

But in some ways, how we work is still stuck in the 90s. I recently wrote about open houses and how they were once the first chance to look at a place for both agents and consumers and how now they are still around only because of momentum, custom and lack of imagination. In short, open houses have become marketing vehicles for real estate agents, not vehicles to sell houses.

4 real estate marketing strategies we should have left in the 90s

Time and tide

Although  the Internet went live more than a generation ago, things do not change overnight. Momentum, habit, “baked-in” and established practices stand in the way of change.

What’s interesting is that in many ways Realtors are often early adopters of new technology and idea. (I think it is because we are like small retailers and business owners. We are the last bastion of free enterprise on an individual level. For example, when Blackberry was just getting started, I’m sure more Realtors had Blackberrys than office workers, dentists, and school teachers. When digital printing became cheaper, Realtors rushed in and flooded the market with postcards and feature sheets. You get the idea.)

However, the real estate industry at the brokerage level has not changed nearly as much or as fast. Brokers and managers, sales trainers and administrators were less keen to change. As a result, many Realtor business practices have not caught up with the times.

Print advertising

Be it in the newspapers and magazines or through postcards and feature sheets, print media has lost its excellent return on investment. Not only are fewer people looking at these advertisements, but it’s also nearly impossible to successfully target potential clients via printed ads.

Spam calls and scam calls

Telemarketing once ruled the world with absolutely fabulous ROI. Now, I have pretty much given up answering my telephone. For two reasons:

  1. I get a lot of spam calls and I get a lot of scam calls. I’m not really interested in buying your new widget, exhibiting at your trade show or advertising in your golf magazine. Also, Canadian Revenue Agency knows very well how to reach me by mail or email so I do not believe they have issued a warrant for my immediate arrest no matter how many time you call.
  2. Someone with a problem wants to make their problem mine. Thanks for sharing. Leave a message and I will call you back when I’m not in the middle of something more important.


The doorbell is a great example of an outdated technology. If my neighbour wants to borrow my lawnmower, he texts me. If my daughter’s friends are coming over, they text her from the street or sidewalk and say “we’re here”.

By contrast, when the doorbell rings, we know in our heart of hearts that it is a stranger, a stranger who wants to interrupt us with something on their agenda, not ours.

Selly-sells on social media and email

Spam is spam. Sending generic messages to everyone in your database, pushing out social media content all the time about your open houses, your recent sales, your brokerage events…is really really irritating. These are communication platforms, not marketing platforms. So stop spamming me with your fake news. Go read a book by Seth Godin, or something.

Call to action

I’m not just writing down what everyone is thinking. I embrace change. Change is good. Change happens for a reason and that reason is to make everyone’s life a little better. If you want to work with me, I will make your life better. I promise. But don’t call. Email.

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