Let me start by saying, I am not a realtor, nor do I aspire to be one. I am a marketer who has found much success helping others market and watch their business grow and profits increase.

I speak with entrepreneurs every day. We brainstorm and I offer an out-of-the-box approach to marketing that will help them get their business noticed.

Meeting with real estate agents who are looking for marketing advice, I often provide ideas that I am convinced will set them apart from other realtors in the industry.

Do We Need New Tactics?

Taking a birds-eye-view look at the real estate industry and the methods realtors use to market the homes they sell, I see antiquated marketing techniques that need improvement.

Most career real estate agents who have been in the game for a good length of time will tell you to advertise, advertise, advertise, BUT what does that mean? Advertising methods have changed drastically in the last decade. Some will tell you that you need to be on billboards or bus stops. Others will mention that you need to be in local real estate listing magazines. Some will even say that a monthly paper newsletter is the way to go.

Though these ideas have worked in the past, they work very little nowadays, especially when you are starting out. Marketing is always evolving.

Marketing Basics: Relationship Trumps All

The most effective way to grow a real estate business has been, and will always be, building relationships. It’s all about getting in peoples’ faces every day, being helpful and delivering value in the relationship. If you are not personable and prefer to avoid interacting with people, you may want to reconsider your profession as a realtor.

“The consumer is not a moron; she is your wife.” – David Ogilvy

People want to deal with a real person, someone who they feel actually cares and isn’t trying to sell them something.

Common Marketing Pitfalls in Real Estate

Before I delve into the out-of-the-box marketing ideas, here are a few things I need to get off my chest:

  1. STOP confusing people

    If you use headshot photos of yourself in your marketing, please do us all a favour and update the image every year or two. A photoshoot costs a couple hundred bucks. Once in a while, I come across a realtor using a photo that was taken 15-20 years ago, I kid you not! I can just imagine the realtor showing up to a meeting and the client wondering why the realtor sent someone in their place!

  2. STOP taking your own photos

    I used to own a home building company that built homes on spec. Whenever construction was complete, we cleaned it and had a professional photographer come in and take stunning, high-resolution marketing photos. If you just said, “My smartphone takes good pictures”, you are the one I am talking to. A professional photographer will use the proper camera equipment and wide angle lenses, along with knowledge of lighting and angles, to deliver fashion-magazine-quality photos. If you live in the Saskatoon area and do not have a real estate photographer, I can hook you up.

  3. STOP wasting money

    The effectiveness of traditional advertising has greatly decreased in the past decade as the internet has become the tool of choice for buyers looking for real estate. Spending money on billboards, bus stops and the like, will not get you the return it used to. It’s time to turn to online targeted marketing.
    Check if this is allowed within your real estate association first.

  4. STOP faking it

    If you subscribe to a service that provides canned paper newsletters, or canned email messages that are sent out on your behalf, please reconsider. I am a firm believer in automation, but it must be done right. Most people see through the generic-sounding, regurgitated messages. People want to hear from YOU, in your voice, in your personality.

Out-of-the-Box Marketing Ideas for Real Estate Agents

Now for the ideas that will set you apart from other realtors. This list features risky marketing ideas and anyone considering implementation should proceed with caution and develop a well-thought-out plan.

  1. Video Blurbs

    Video has become HUGE on Facebook and online in general. It is currently getting 10x more engagement than any other method. People are not looking for perfection, they are looking for reality. Facebook Live rolled out to everyone a few months back, and though it is working great for many, I recommend a recorded video, at least until you become confident with “off-the-cuff” video. Shoot videos that are spontaneous and engaging. Doing video is easy once you get over your fear. Best of all, it’s FREE! [quote cite=’Jim Metcalf’ align=’right’]If you’re a good marketing person, you have to be a little crazy.[/quote]

    Example: Open House Video Tour

    Doing an open house? If you can, go to the home and shoot a quick 30-second video like this from the front yard:

    “Hey, friends! We’re having an open house at 123 Notta Street in Cityville on Saturday from 2-4. This home is perfect for a family of four or five and features three bedrooms, two baths and HUGE backyard for the kids and a deck for summer grilling with friends. Maybe your not in the market, that’s ok. If you know someone that is, please click share or tag a friend in the comments. Find directions in the comments. Hope to see you there!

    After the video is done to your satisfaction, post it a few days before the open house to your Facebook business page. If the video is posted too far in advance, people will forget. Boost the post in your local area with Facebook ads, ending the ads when the open house begins.

    [Want to learn more? Download our 20 Tips on Facebook Marketing eBook]

  2. FREE Listing

    Want to grow your email list with the right audience? Give away a free listing! Run a contest in which you offer a free listing to one lucky winner. The user simply enters with their name, contact information and email address. There should be some stipulations like, they cannot be in a current contract with another realtor, they must live in your service area and obviously, own a home. Check if your real estate association allows it, first. This is one of the best ways to grow an email list. [Don’t know what to do with an email list? Contact me.]

  3. Drop your commissions

    I would love to see a realtor try this. If you are able to sell the home in the first 45 days, full commissions apply. If the home sells between 45-90 days, drop the commissions a percentage point. Between 90-135 days? Drop the percentage again. Continue the pattern for the remaining time. If you are both the seller’s and buyer’s agent, you can reduce the percentage without issue. If you split commissions, you will only be able to offer a discount on selling commissions.

    Example: If you need to split the commission percentage and your cut is 3-2-1, you may drop them to 3-2, then 3-1, then 3, then 2… you get the point. (3-2-1 Commission works like this: 3% on first $100,000, 2% on second $100,000, and 1% on balance)

  4. Waive your commissions

    What?? Yes, you read that right. Set up a to-do list that the seller must agree to complete. This list may be customized depending on the home. If it is a new home, perhaps they would have to agree to stage the home. If it is an older home, perhaps they have to paint it, repair certain things, improve curb appeal, take down personal photos and memorabilia, or do a deep clean. In both scenarios, the homeowner must agree to the price you recommend (dependant on your detailed market research and third-party appraisal).

    After completing the list, IF the house does not sell within the first xx days, waive your commissions. You may want to increase your commissions slightly in this scenario. Someone who wants a quick sale will be willing to pay a little more if you are able to sell it in xx days.

Developing your marketing strategy

Of course, these ideas may need tweaking to fit what you are looking to accomplish as they are from an outsider looking in. I am not a realtor and don’t know every angle when developing a marketing plan for your local real estate market. I do not know your business, BUT if you would like to brainstorm these ideas further, send me a message and we can chat.

With any marketing plan, it MUST become your brand! If you are willing to commit to a specific idea, let that be your brand. Be known as the real estate agent that ________________.

Best of luck. There are many, many other ideas out there. I hope that I was able to inspire you to rethink your marketing strategies. Have a different idea, angle or question? Comment below.

In this now generation, marketing has an expiry date. Things change so rapidly and so should your advertisements. ~ Ryan Boutin
In this now generation, marketing has an expiry date. Things change so rapidly and so should your advertisements. ~ Ryan Boutin
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The Author

Ryan Boutin

Ryan Boutin

Entrepreneur and Marketer, Ryan is driven by a passion to help people grow their business. As CEO of Zeal Media Inc, a web development and marketing firm located in Saskatoon, Canada, Ryan's mission is simple; Implement custom strategies to launch small businesses to drastic growth. With a vision to reach more people, InspireCast was born.


  1. Asif Shahzad
    July 9, 2016 at 10:58 am — Reply

    Hahah..that’s so true..

  2. July 11, 2016 at 8:42 am — Reply

    Enjoyed reading this, I’m not a realtor either, but it gave me some ideas for my business. Thanks Ryan for the inspiration. Now to put the ideas to work.

    • July 11, 2016 at 8:43 am — Reply

      Thanks Elise! Glad you enjoyed it. If you know of any realtors that could benefit, please share it with them. 🙂

  3. Corrado Mallia
    July 12, 2016 at 11:51 am — Reply

    That’s so bad

  4. Bev Delarue
    July 13, 2016 at 7:06 pm — Reply

    Lol I love it !!

  5. July 25, 2016 at 6:49 pm — Reply

    You have great ideas. I especially like finding and using your voice. Also, determining what you’re good at or what you’d like to be known for. Many Realtors receive referrals and new business from past clients. Staying top of mind becomes important and can drive your business. As vital as the internet is, showing compassion for a client who is most likely experiencing a major life event builds trust. It can be an emotional time and you’re helping people navigate their largest investment. I will try videos. I’ll start with open houses. Thank you.

    • July 25, 2016 at 6:52 pm — Reply

      You’re welcome. Relationship is most definitely the best way to grow a busy. Couple that with some marketing ideas and you have a winning combination! Cheers!

  6. annmarie sawyer
    April 2, 2019 at 9:54 am — Reply

    Why would realtors be encouraged to drop or waive our commissions? Would any other professional be encouraged to say my time and effort is not valuable and worthy of payment? Ridiculous!

    • May 30, 2019 at 8:16 pm — Reply

      I understand Annemarie. This is marketing. It’s the same reason that authors give away free books.

      I am in the marketing and graphic design field and would be upset is someone came to me asking to do the work for free, but that’s not what I am insinuating. This is only done on the part of the realtor and if they choose to do so. It’s simply a marketing angle worth trying.

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