Question for Top Producers...if you're willing

Services for Real Estate Pros with Real Estate Client Prep

This question was inspired by Barbara Todaro's blog last week about agent's needing to spend money to make money...

Barbara estimates she spends about 30% of her annual income on marketing her business to keep the phone ringing.

That got me wondering:

What do other top producers spend/reinvest, on average, to market themselves and their business?

I thought it would be really enlightening for all of us to hear (and learn from) what others do...will you share your experience?

And if you are willing to share, what have you found works best? Direct mail? Lead gen services? Social media?

Thanks in advance if you're willing to share.




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Comments (15)

Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

It's relative isn't it? If an agent makes $50,000 per year and they invest $15,000 on marketing they're likely eating under a freeway. I think 30% is excessive. It tells me the referral base isn't as strong as it should be. I know a lot of huge producers that spend nowhere near 30% and they're killing it.

Apr 16, 2013 10:12 PM
Carol Zingone
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS
I know there were quite a few top agents spending buckets of money at the height of the market; many of them are either gone, or not spending that much. I agree with Greg: I don't think you "need" to spend an exorbitant amount, your service should generate referrals.
Apr 16, 2013 10:18 PM
Caroline Fitzgerald -
Real Estate Client Prep - Richmond, VA

Yes, it is all relative, Greg. This is meant to be a get a conversation started and some thoughts going on what works for whom, where and possibly why.

Apr 16, 2013 10:23 PM
Caroline Fitzgerald -
Real Estate Client Prep - Richmond, VA

Carol - Thank you for your input. I agree it's not a "need" in all cases but the bottom line is you do need to spend some...

Apr 16, 2013 10:25 PM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Caroline.... I have a very strong referral base.... but I also do direct mail's expensive..... my income is ALL referral fees and I make a good profit after spending 30%.... the people I'm feeding are top producers in New England....I feed more than one agent..... their income amounts to hundreds of thousands each, not just a couple!!  most agents don't spend what they should be spending because they are not making enough money and are not secure enough with their ability to produce.... what is your definition of a top producer??  top in a small in a in many states or top in the country??  it's all relative.... making $200k today is not a top's making a living!!!

Apr 18, 2013 07:08 AM
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

Caroline: I know a top producer from the haydays who advertised absolutely everywhere. She was the #1 listing agent in a small community, so ended up making quite a bit for her. But she also had to spend it to stay there. Then the market crashed. She tried to keep the advertising going for awhile, but is now much more careful. She still gets most of the high-end listings, BUT THEY DON'T SELL, or rarely. So what's the answer? Outspend others in advertising? Buy leads? Stay on the Internet and social media and Activerain? The latter is the one for me. I am not a "top producer" in my are. For now, that's fine with me. The one who is the "top producer", does mostly REOs and does no advertising beyond the Internet (that I can see). 

Apr 18, 2013 11:17 AM
Caroline Fitzgerald -
Real Estate Client Prep - Richmond, VA

Barbara - You certainly have a well-established system that not only works for you, but also for the agents you feed! Those are amazing numbers in a town of just 30,000 people. I think it is true for many entrepreneurs, agents or not, that it can be scary to spend to grow when you feel like you need to make some first...but it must be done! I think you're right, it's a lack of confidence. As far as what I mean by top producer, I just wanted to hear from people who consider themselves successful, whatever that means to them as an individual. I wish more people had chimed i

Hella - I'm sure there are many stories like that, unfortunately, but just from your brief description, it sounds like there may be more going there than advertising dollars spent. I think everyone has to pick the marketing method that works for them, and that they are comfortable with...but at the end of the day, money must be spent, regardless of the method.

Is anyone willing to talk about what they do and how they decide(d) that's what they need/want to do?

Apr 18, 2013 11:40 AM
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

I think that is an interesting topic. I think that we calculate based on each sale. For example, for every listing we have a custom and practice of doing certain kinds of mailings. We send out certain mailers to the sphere and utilize email and social media and have many online memberships as a result. It's hard to put a percentage on it.

Apr 18, 2013 12:31 PM
MaryKay Shumway
The Kellstrom Ray Agency, Inc. (Est. 1948) - Sister Bay, WI
Door County Wisconsin's Real Estate Expert

I think its a combination of things, but you have to spend money to stay before the public eye.  I went out of the real estate guide which never provides any sales but appeases my listing clients and I had friends ask me if I was still in the business!  I do some first class mail, a lot of work on my website to keep it interesting, send out a once a week e-blast, and I appreciate referrals very much.  But it's no "one thing" that I can put my finger's a little bit of everything when it comes to real estate marketing.

Apr 20, 2013 01:21 AM
Bryan Robertson
Los Altos, CA

I tend to spend no more than 10% of GCI on marketing and focus that on services and advertising instead of direct mail and other costly campaigns. 

Apr 20, 2013 04:13 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

I know one "Top Producer" in the area.  He went on the radio and probably spent a lot of money with the vanity of paying to hear himself talk.  

Apr 20, 2013 04:20 AM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Bryan.... 10% of your income is equivalent to 60% of most high earning agent's income!!!!  you deal with the rich and famous.... every home is millions!!!

caroline....I don't mean to hijack your blog!!! so sorry but I had to respond.

Apr 20, 2013 04:33 AM
Caroline Fitzgerald -
Real Estate Client Prep - Richmond, VA

MaryKay - Thanks for sharing what works for you. I personally think weekly e-blasts with valuable content is a big one! So few agents do anything other than pitch your weekly e-blast, you're subtley "pitching" while actually giving them valuable information!

Bryan - Thanks for chiming in with what works for you! That's awesome that 10% works well for you, especially since you are dealing with luxury homes.

Carla - So what he said on the radio was all vanity, no content? If so, that's too bad. I think it is SO important to market with one's hand down (giving something) rather than hand out (taking/asking for something).

Barbara - That's not hijacking, that's getting and keeping the conversation going! Thank you for that!


Apr 20, 2013 05:12 AM
Tom Branch
RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs - Plano, TX
Broker, CDPE, SFR, ACRE, Plano TX Ambassador

We spent 11.9 percent of gross commissions in 2011 and 13.7 percent in 2012 on Advertising and Promotion of our business.

70 percent of our business is referrals and the rest comes from the Internet.


Apr 20, 2013 07:26 AM
Caroline Fitzgerald -
Real Estate Client Prep - Richmond, VA

Tom - Thanks for sharing your numbers and source percentages. Love your wrapped Smart car!

Apr 20, 2013 10:36 PM

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