Best Real Estate Marketing: No Gimmicks, Please

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Last week because of a glitch in my email auto-responder, I accidentally sent an email to over 10,000 agents congratulating them for signing up for one of my training programs (even though they had not actually signed up for it). My inbox was flooded with confused, annoyed, and even angry agents. I was horrified.

The next morning I immediately sent out an apology email with the subject line: “Oops…wrong email.” Again I received dozens and dozens of emails, mostly from agents thanking me for clearing up the confusion. But what amazed me was the number of agents telling me that they had thought my email was a marketing gimmick!

I was totally surprised by that. If you know me at all, you know that I am totally opposed to B.S. of any kind in sales and marketing, and most marketing gimmicks are totally B.S. in my opinion. So this was a cool aha moment for me.

Here’s what I learned: marketing gimmicks work…at least to get attention. But once they get your attention, do they cause you to want what’s being marketed? It captures attention, but it doesn’t necessarily create attraction. Here’s the big IF…if the marketing gimmick makes them feel tricked, you lose, because they are actually repelled by the B.S.

The best marketing strategies are ones that capture attention in ways that are creative, but not deceptive. No one likes Bait-n-Switch (BS) tactics. People love to be surprised, intrigued, even shocked, just ask long as you don’t make them like they were deceived. You can get “yes” without the B.S.


Hi there. It’s Kevin Ward with YesMasters Real Estate Success Training, helping you get more yes’s and more successes in your business and in your life. Today I want to talk to you about something that happened to me this week that was hilarious but also a little bit embarrassing.

To give you a little bit of background, last week I launched one of my new training programs called the FX Extreme Online Program. “F” and “X” stands “For-Sale-By-Owners” and “Expireds.” For real estate agents, that simply means it’s a training program for how to list and sell For-Sale-By-Owners and Expired listings and how to do it successfully. I’ve been doing a training camp for that for the last two years and have an online program, but we’re launching a new program.

I was doing a live webcast that was on how to reach and convert for-sale-by-owners and expired listings, then I offered them a special offer to sign up for my FX Extreme Online Training course. They get a bunch of emails to do that and those that actually sign up and register for the online course, obviously, they’re going to get other additional emails, including a congratulations for registering and confirming here’s your online access and all that kind of stuff. What happened was I made a mistake in the auto responders and ended up sending the congratulations email to over 10,000 real estate agents that are, basically, on my list. Which means they’ve come to my stuff, or they’ve subscribed for my videos or they’ve registered for a webinar or whatever.

Literally, over 10,000 emails, by accident, went out that should not have gone out that said “Congratulations, your registration is confirmed. Welcome to FX Extreme online. Basically, it’s congratulating them for spending money. We immediately … This happened on Tuesday evening, Monday evening. Happened on Monday afternoon and I didn’t catch it until late Monday night. My inbox was blowing up with people going “I didn’t register for anything. I can’t believe this happened.” You get all kinds of responses. Some were saying “Apparently, I accidentally got this email by mistake because I didn’t register for anything.” There were other people going like “What, I don’t think I registered for this.” There were others that go “What is going on here? If you charge me or you did anything without my permission, I’m going to report you for fraud and bank fraud and credit card fraud or whatever.”

I had everything from either totally confused to people freaking out, to people that were threatening lawsuits and fraud charges and all kinds of stuff. I’m sitting there and went, “Oh my goodness. What did I do”? Well, it’s late, late Monday night when I see this. Early Tuesday morning, I get up and I send out to all these people, well over 10,000, an email saying “Oops, wrong email,” apologizing for the mistake. That’s what I did. Then, when I sent out that second email, oops, wrong email, my inbox blew up again. This is just right behind me, I’ve actually got it open here. I don’t know if you can see here, but, literally, this is just a sampling of all the oops, wrong emails, that I sent out that people responded to. You’ve got every kind of response now. “Oh, I figured it was some mistake. Make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Somebody going “Why did this happen?” Most of it was, “No problem, I figured it was some mistake like that.”

Here’s what was hilarious. What was hilarious to me was how many emails I got, probably a dozen replies which is probably 10% of the replies, maybe more than that, that said “Great marketing gimmick,” or “I thought it was a marketing gimmick of some sort.” Literally saying, “That’s a good strategy. You got attention,” and so forth. When that happened, I was just like in shock. I was surprised at how many people thought that when I sent out this congratulations email, even though you hadn’t done anything, that they thought it was a trick. That they thought it was a marketing gimmick to get them to open the email and then they’re going “I registered for something. I didn’t know that.” I don’t know what they thought the gimmick was, but they thought it was some kind of brilliant, strategic marketing move on my part to get them, I’m sure, to spend money.

It wasn’t. I was totally embarrassed and now, I’m looking at these emails and I’m going “Oh my goodness. Is that what our world has come to”? That when you make a mistake, people think it’s a gimmick, that it’s actually a marketing gimmick. I assure everybody it was not a marketing gimmick. It was funny to me when that happened. It made me think about do marketing gimmicks work? When you talk about an effective marketing strategy, one of the keys to make great marketing strategy, is it must first get people’s attention. They talk about attention, interest, something and then they buy or whatever. The first step is you’ve got to get their attention. The immediate thing I realize is if this had been a marketing gimmick, if attention was my goal, I got it. It worked great

Here’s the first lesson I learned about marketing gimmicks. They work. They work at getting attention but the second thing I thought was they get attention but do they attract people to you? Do they make people want to work with you? Do they make people want to sign up with you or want to have a relationship with you, a business relationship with you or give you money? As I was thinking about it, I was like “Okay, if marketing gimmicks get attention, when people get on the other side of the gimmick, what happens”? I realized, I went from own experience and from watching others, I’m watching the responses of the people, the emails, because we got probably, I don’t know, a couple of hundred emails, either on the initial mistake email or on the apology email that went out, is that marketing gimmicks create attention, but they don’t create attraction. Which means that they will get people to notice, but do they actually make people want to work with you?

The question is, should you use a marketing gimmick? If what you’re looking for is primarily attention and get a few sales, then marketing gimmicks work. Here’s how I know they work. I actually had at least two of the emails said what is the link for the product? What is the link for the program? They had, literally, missed all of the emails inviting them to come to the webcast and register for the free training and the paid training. They  had missed all of those but when they got this thing, it got their attention. They’re like, “Well, what is the link and I’ll check it out”? I’m like, well mark, if it were a gimmick, it actually worked. Yes, they work but, for the most part, what they work is to get attention, they don’t make attraction.

While I may have had the opportunity to make a couple of sales out of it, here’s what I also know. There were many, many other people that were annoyed, irritated, confused and maybe even angry that they got this email. They were either afraid they got tricked, they were afraid they got charged incorrectly. It probably would burn more bridges than it would build. Does that make sense? If you’re looking to turn turn a trick, if you’re just looking to get one sale … I just want to sell you something and I don’t care if you like me or not, then gimmick marketing works. If you’re looking to build leverage, if you’re looking for a long term relationship, if you’re looking to build client loyalty, if you’re looking at a client’s lifetime value instead of just a one-night stand, marketing gimmicks are a losing game.

It’s like focusing on the short game rather than the long game. It’s like focusing on the immediate gratification rather than the long term, sustainable relationship where a client will use you and refer people to you over and over again. For me, the litmus test of good marketing is, is it compelling when they look … Whenever somebody were to look behind the curtain of your marketing, would it be compelling, which means pull them to you or would it be repelling? If they could look behind the curtain, if they could look under the hood of what your motivation is, of what your messaging is, what’s behind it, what would be their response?

I’ll give you an example of something of an email that I got a few weeks ago. I remember it because it really stood out to me. The email, the subject line basically said, I have a listing referral for you. If you’re a real estate agent and you get an email with a subject line that says “I have a listing referral for you,” what do you think? You’re like “Wow, somebody is sending me a listing referral.” It was somebody’s name and I’m like “Cool, I’ve got a listing referral.”

You click the email and you open it up. Once you open the email up, then the message in the email says “How would you like to have the opportunity to get listing referrals from agents all over the country. We would like to invite you to join this exclusive real estate agent referral network, where you can network with real estate agents all over the country and you can give and receive referrals to and from each other. You can potentially get listing referrals from other agents in this nationwide network and it only costs you $269 to join our referral network,” or whatever. I don’t remember the amount because the amount was irrelevant. What I remember was how I felt when I had gone from looking at an email subject line that says “I have a listing referral for you,” which makes me go like, if I’m an agent, if I’m a real estate agent, “Aah, I got a listing referral.” Then opening it up and going “No, I got a sales pitch.

Immediately, when I realized what was happening, when I realized what the actual email was, my immediate reaction was “You jerk! You tricked me into opening this email expecting one thing and got another.” That my friends is what I have been fighting for years, what I call B.S. Marketing. B.S., bad sales. B.S., bait and switch. You trick people with marketing gimmicks, do you get attention? Yes. Are some people going to look at it and you got them to open it and they’re going to open it and say “Yeah, I want to be a part of this network.” They’re going to sign up.

Does it work? Yes, marketing gimmicks work but unless you’re just looking for the one night stand, if you’re looking to build a long-term value based relationship with clients or customers, do it based on value and honesty and integrity, not bait and switch tactics. The reason people still use bait and switch tactics is because, yes they work, but my contention is that they only work for the short game. They only work for getting you one deal and then you’re not going to get that person’s loyalty.

You start a relationship with me by tricking me, even if I hang around for a little while, over time the real you behind the gimmicks is going to come out. If you front yourself with gimmicks, what my belief is that behind the scene is probably a lot of gimmicks in you as well. I don’t want to build my business or build relationships based on gimmicks. I want to build it based on authenticity and commitment to your clients’ or your customers’ best interests and adding true value for them. When you do that, no matter what, you always win. I believe that you can learn how to get “yes” without the B.S. That you can develop the compelling message that will cause people to pay attention, to listen to you. More importantly, is that once they give you their attention, they don’t regret the gift that they gave you and they’re happy to have that relationship with you. Whatever you do, shoot straight with people. Be honest with them. Build a relationship of value. When you do that, you can always expect yes.

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