I recently listened to Seth Godin’s podcast “Startup School” on iTunes and reflected on my last few years running a real estate business. Not too long ago, I made a commitment to open a brokerage in which I ended up testing many different strategies and advertising mediums to drum up business along the way (most of which required much more time, money and creative capital than what was ultimately accomplished implementing them in the first place).

What I realized listening to Godin was that I might have initiated and committed to a very deliberate strategy or “long game” rather than play with so many tactics focused on short term gains. The real estate agent has a very natural fit as an “integral member of the community” which once realized, is the kind of role that allows them to become a trusted cornerstone of local commerce. Instead, we often focus on short term sales opportunities over this kind of long term sustainable growth (especially online).

Is there room for a multi-channel business development strategy that includes short term sales tactics? Of course there is. But the long game is the most overlooked (and perhaps the most challenging) for agents to get right. It might also be that it might require a hefty savings account or supplemental income for a few years. But maybe it just takes a long term vision and commitment to operating a real estate sales business.

Either way, I enjoyed Godin’s take on it whether totally realistic or not. Here is a sound-byte from episode 12, The Dip, in which he outlines what he would do if he were to open a real estate office from 13:03-14:24. When you get a chance listen to the whole series. His comments are transcribed below:

“If I was going to open a real estate office, I would spend the first three years not doing what I see the real estate people around here doing: which is balloons, those little folding metal signs that they put on street corners, making sure they have the right kind of mercedes to drive the person to the house.

What I would be spending my time doing, is making sure that every community organization had its meetings in my offices – because I’d have a big enough meeting room that they could meet there as often as they wanted, I’d figure out how to get on the school board, I’d figure out how to be the assistant coach of the football team, I’d figure out how to be this integral member of the community and not worry so much about whether or not i was selling a house, tomorrow…because there’s a trust shortage, there isn’t a people who know how to fill out forms shortage…

because there’s a trust shortage, there isn’t a people who know how to fill out forms shortage…

and that, what we know from the National Association of Realtors is that more than 70% of the people who list a house pick the realtor who calls them back first. And so, the goal is, how do you get called first? Not, how do you prove that your yield, on a percentage basis, is better than everybody else’s yield and that if you get enough listings you’re going to make money.

So this is multi-year process of owning a tiny market as opposed to running from one cool opportunity to the other, hoping you’ll be done. It’s about signing up for the whole process.”