Break Out of the Marketing Rut

By Rob Wicker

It’s easy to get in a rut, especially when you work in an industry that is as pervasive and all-consuming as real estate. As an example, go to agent websites and it seems like every agent is writing pretty much the same thing. A lot of the print ads, brochures and flyers used in real estate are also predictable both in their copy and their graphic design. One way to break out of the rut is to open your curiosity up to ideas from other industries. (Curiosity may have killed the cat, but while he was alive, he was quite the interesting feline.)

An easy way to do this is to read all of your direct mail. Most people immediately dispatch unsolicited mail to the trash bin. Remember, however, that a lot of thought and testing goes into direct mail. How come that piece of mail was sent to you? What is the message? Does it compel you to take action? Why?

Another easy thing to do is visit a major bookstore like Barnes & Noble or Borders. Browse through the magazine section. Get as far away from real estate as possible…cars, fashion, sports, finance. What are the advertisers trying to accomplish? Are they successful? Why?

One idea generator that I subscribe to is Response magazine. This periodical targets the Direct Response industry—a group of people devoted to generating leads. The current issue features a story about Anna’s Linens. Home furnishings may not sound exciting but Alain Gladstone, the founder of Anna’s Linens, is making a lot of money because he found the right combination of television and print advertising to deliver a ton of leads to Anna’s Linens. If you read Response, something you’ll note is a dedication to tracking lead sources. You can order a free subscription to Response. Simply go to and sign up.

Finally, ask friends who work in other businesses to bring you good promotional materials or ideas that are used by their company. They may also see compelling marketing ideas from vendors that sell to them. Another benefit of investigating other industries is you’ll get mulch for any social networking that you do: blog topics, comments for Facebook, links to Tweet.

One good marketing idea gleaned from another industry can help make 2010 a great year for you. As the famous French filmmaker Jon-Luc Goddard said, “It’s not where you take things from, it’s where you take things to.”


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