The Question That Messed Up My Old Marketing Strategy!

Real Estate Broker Owner with Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate


houndsThe room was pregnant with anticipation. The animation amongst this group of successful real estate agents was palpable.  A question had been tossed on the docket by the speaker. 

It hung suspended in the air... provoking a response. "So, how many names do each of you have in your database?"  For a group of over-achievers, this was like throwing bloody red meat to a hound dog. 

One gentleman raised up his hand and confessed to 2,500 entries. There was an audible gasp. The bar was raised high...a challenge to conquer.  Another individual threw out an even larger number.  I was out of my league and knew it.  My list of 300 was certainly not going to be newsworthy in this crowd.

What happened next took me by surprise. The speaker proceeded to place Mr. 2,500 Leads on center stage. The spontaneous interview began with a question about WHO those 2,000+ individuals were?  Were they people who received bulk mailings?  How did they come to be a part of the database?  Had they ever been asked IF they wanted to be a part of the database?  As the questioning continued, it exposed the underlying fallacy which had infected virtually all of us.  We were simply collecting names...not building strong underlying relationships.

His next statement rocked my world...which admittedly in this crowd was already pretty small.  He said, "You probably only need about 75-100 people on your database list to have an effective marketing sphere of influence!  If you take the time to truly get to know those people and learn how to serve them, you will benefit far more than sending tons of useless mailings to people who don't know you and don't care about you.  In light of what had just transpired...this was a WOW moment for me. 

We were urged to scrutinize our databases of names that we had collected over the years. The barren reality was that many of us had people we were mailing letters to whom we didn't know. The challenge required a type of radical surgery; paring down the number of names to just 100 by asking ourselves some simple questions. 

Could we put a face with a name? Did we know what our clients goals were...their hopes & dreams?  How about simple stuff like the number of kids they had or their birthday?  Many of us couldn't recollect their Anniversary with us...the Closing date of the home.

That day, I  understood an important thing. You see, it's not so much about WHO you know as it is WHAT you SHARE in common with WHO YOU KNOW that brings vibrant prosperity into relationships.  A truly satisfying business is the by-product, not the end result of connecting with people.  Unfortunately, the mistake that the agents at the seminar had made in striving to create a burgeoning portfolio list of names for a database rather than striving to really know their clients is still being repeated today.

In the next segment, we will continue to explore this important issue for the online marketing community.  Many of us are left wondering WHERE the leads are going from all the hits/clicks our STAT counters tell us we are getting on our websites.  The nagging question haunts many participants within the blogosphere...if I'm talking to people, why aren't they talking back? Have we inadvertently traded our mass mailings for websites in a vacuum? 

to be continued...

Picture provided courtesy of AMAgills photostream on

Copyright 2008  Audu Real Estate All Rights Reserved


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The Bartley Group SouthEast MN Real Estate
Coldwell Banker Home Connection

A number of years ago we went to a Brian Buffini training seminar and learned a very important thing about database management.  DELETE PEOPLE.  We don't need names, we need people.


April 27, 2008 07:27 AM
Ann Cummings
Portsmouth NH Homes - Service With a Smile!
RE/MAX By The Bay - NH and Maine

Hi Lola - I had this same epiphany some time ago.  I took the "100 Days to Greatness" course that Brian Buffini teaches, and he's a huge advocate of paring down those databases to about 100 or so, constantly tweeking it over time, but making that 100 your SOI.  People you really do know, past clients and customers, people you do business with, etc.  That 100 or so should be people who would do business with you and who would refer others to you - I've been working on just this for a little bit now, as I'm one of those that has thousands in my database.  Not an easy thing to do, to go through a list that big, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing I'll end up with a great new database that will really work for me.


April 27, 2008 08:53 AM
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International
Lola - great thoughts! While I think the small number is great for those you "work" - we have a large database (want to remember all we've had contacts with, good and bad) but we classify clients, vendors, etc by letters. So, in effect, our A list of clients is that 75-100 clients that you're describing as the core.
April 27, 2008 09:27 AM
Fran Gatti
Realtor, CDPE, RDCPro - Crescent City CA Real Esta
RE/MAX Coastal Redwoods


Great point your presenter brought up.  I go through my list occasionally and send an email asking the client if they would like me to continue emailing them information on our market.  If I don't hear back, I remove them from my list because more than likely they have blocked my email anyway.  Many times I get an email back where the client or prospect tells me how much they enjoy my market reports or other emails and to keep the info coming.  I cherish those responses.  They stay on my list!

April 28, 2008 10:54 PM
Karen Rice
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

Lola, I'm just going to say now, that I really appreciate your blogs - this one is excellent as well.  Simply having a name is nothing.  Having a name and a rapport/relationship - that's what counts.


April 29, 2008 07:40 AM

Lola Audu

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Grand Rapids, Michigan real estate information including houses for sale, rent and home buyer/seller tips. Also includes wisdom and insights from Lola Audu, CRS Associate Broker.

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