“I write only about aspects of digital marketing I know from my own experience. That is why this site contains little information about social media or apps.”
Hello, my name is Farmer. I started GentlemanWithBrains. This is the story of my company and what we do.
I’ve been fascinated about digital real estate marketing since 2005 — in the early days of Hanan Levin, Teresa Boardman, Jay Thompson and Dustin Luther. Many see me as old if you count in real estate dog years.
My chief purpose in this site is to share my experiences and meet new people in the industry; not to sell you a product. 95% of my daily bread comes from my own digital real estate projects. Although I am not the one to turn down a nice opportunity.
This is the only place in the site where I talk in first person singular, instead of “we”. I usually don’t like using the plural form when it is really about “I”. But this time the plural form is appropriate as I now work with a team of programmers, coders, writers and virtual assistants who sees our projects through.
I like to build stuff that advertises for itself — I try to avoid self pomp and let my work speak for itself. I personally loathe the concept of branding and image for people. But I have no choice. It works. I comfort myself in the fact that I’ve only worked with people and products that I believe in and use.
I am comfortable living in the shadows of my products — perhaps too comfortable; hence, you would hardly find my name in articles that I have co-written with real estate professionals. But I’ve also wanted to share my story for some time now. It has been a wonderful journey. If not for digital marketing I would be probably in a box somewhere doing marketing for a start-up. I’m wary of sexy ideas — trendy “new” labels with pundits inflating its importance.
This site is not for readers, who think they already know all there is to be known about digital real estate marketing. It is for young hopefuls — and veterans who are still in search of ways to improve their batting average at the cash register.
I write only about aspects of digital marketing I know from my own experience. That is why this site contains little information about social media or apps.
“Digital marketing is not for everyone. You do not have to keep up with the times. If you are already successful in what you do, and have zero interest about the internet, just put more time in what works for you. We don’t believe in scaring people into getting a website, or Twitter account, or Facebook.”
We do not regard digital real estate marketing as another expense, or some vague job in our to do list in order to keep with up with the times. It is an asset. The most important tool in bringing new clients.
Building a remarkable website takes time. Getting consistent leads from it takes even longer; that’s the reason why each of our services will have personal consulting attached to it, free of charge. We want to give you the best chance of success.
Our business is about cultivating long-term relationships. That’s the reason why we can only work with one client every month.
Digital marketing is not for everyone. You do not have to keep up with the times. If you are already successful in what you do, and have zero interest about the internet, just put more time in what works for you. We don’t believe in scaring people into getting a website, or Twitter account, or Facebook.”
Time is a scarce resource. But if you want to expand your business, tap into new markets, and have something valuable to share, we believe building your own effective real estate website is the best way to go. We don’t know of any business tool that comes close.
Your users should feel that you built the website just for them
A good rule of thumb we try to live by: if we have nothing good to share, we probably don’t deserve to put up a website. A website should function more than an online business card. The focus shouldn’t be on you or your company — spotlight’s on them. Your users should feel that you built the website just for them
We’ve never had anything like the internet and the endless opportunities it gives real estate professionals — not in the last one hundred years. Not ever.
We don’t know of a better way to expand a real estate business faster than effective digital real estate marketing.
95% of our time is spent working on our own projects. We did this by design back in 2007 in order to preserve independence of judgement when the time came to open our doors to new clients.
We can put all our efforts in what we think will be the best for our clients regardless of how it may affect us . Our advice is not influenced by our paycheck.
“We like people who are honest. Honest in argument, honest with clients, honest with suppliers, honest with the company — and above all, honest with consumers.”
Digital marketing did not come naturally for us. It was by fortunate accident that we started in online real estate marketing. In 2005, we were doing office marketing work for one of the top real estate agents in our city when he lost all his investments to the Housing Market Crash of 2006.
Before the Crash happened, he was sensing that something was already amiss, so he asked for advice from the top real estate brokers in the city on what they thought about the housing market. Not a single broker saw what was already, at that time, clear evidence of a housing crash. He followed the brokers’ advice.
After losing a significant amount of money, he asked us for a way to share his story on the internet. He wanted to share the lessons he learned along the way. Lessons he thought was vital in helping home owners, and would-be owners. He waved a red flag of warning and backed it up with hard facts.
The idea intrigued us and launched a digital marketing campaign. And the rest, as they say, was history.
“We pursue knowledge the way a pig pursues truffles.”
Have you ever wondered why there are only a handful of truly successful real estate websites in any given city? We have.
Even in larger cities like San Francisco, it’s astonishing to see the small number of websites that have remarkable content and smart marketing. Maybe the 80/20 rule? It’s much closer to 95/5 from what we’ve seen. Not surprisingly, the minority get the majority of the internet leads
There are different ways to be successful in digital real estate marketing:
- Up-to-date, witty, engaging, local content.
When I first started in 2007, my inspiration was a local real estate girl who wrote blog posts in the most charming, disarmingly-not-sales-oriented tone. She also made $10 million in sales in the worst real estate market of the last fifty years. Years after I honed my craft, I am still amazed of how she leveraged her personality and used it to attract people in a genuine way,
See: Diane Cohn
- User-friendly property search.
There are scores of real estate websites that acquire many leads simply because prospective home buyers like using their site’s property search.
See: San Francisco Condo Mania
- Beautiful web design.
This could be an effective way to get leads. If it has good enough content — you got a winner. A beautiful design gives the impression that you are the market leader in your area.
See: Big Sur Real Estate
- Skilled programming.
I’ve been seeing more and more effective real estate sites that have in-house, skilled programmers. Either they hired one, or the agent and/or agent’s spouse has a background in coding. This has a many advantages, the biggest one: it could be prohibitively expensive to write custom codes for your website.
See: Zephyr SF
- The Professional.
They would take all of the above and put a strong brand image on top of it. These are the market leaders and make a living in building remarkable real estate sites. They simply know how to tie it all together. They have been doing it for a long time.
See: Hawaii Life & M Squared Realty
To put it simply — our process can be divided in two parts: remarkable local content and effective marketing of the content.
When we build a website, we don’t want you to tell us how you find it creative. We want you to find it so interesting that you buy our product.
Our process in short form:
- Do your homework.
Study your local real estate market. Start with what you like about your area: market graphs, coffee shops, pictures, etc.,The more you know about your place, the more likely you are to come up with a big idea. But the most important thing is while studying your area you will begin to see what you are passionate about. It is very hard to succeed with digital marketing if you don’t care about the information you put out. But…
- Get a good domain
Getting a good domain name is like buying premium land. Land is valuable but the true value of a vacant land grows in proportion to what you build on it. After I put up a basic site with decent content and let it age for 6 months to a year, I start my plan of attack – keywords to target.
- Start with tried-and-true principles
Start with what works: Good domain name, easy to use property search, easy to navigate menu, dark font and light background, good logo, more words – less images, no flash designs,quick pay load, reliable host. Keep it simple. Start early. Said Winston Churchill, “Perfectionism is spelled P-A-R-A-L-Y-S-I-S.”
- Creativity and imagination
That being said–start with tried-and-true principles, creativity and imagination is what will make your site remarkable. If you act like yourself, are willing to be human, and feed into your character flaws, sometimes those are more citation worthy than what you’re good at.
Every great site is an extension of its owner. Try to mix personal experiences and feelings in relation to what you are writing. This is how readers begin trusting you when they hear your real voice. After you set up the basics, you can begin unleashing your creativity, but it should always be second priority over doing what’s best for your internet users.
- Incremental improvement
Let the domain age. Start building now then start being asking questions in search for more knowledge of your target users. Install analytics early. Once you have put into use core foundations that are known to work, have put local content that speak of who are you, then it’s time to look for ways to improve. This is when you start building links through citations.
- Go after long tail keywords
The term “long tail” simply means targeting less competitive niche markets (“Tahoe Short Sale Expert”) versus competitive broad keywords (“Tahoe Real Estate”).
The best way we know how to get quality leads is by creating valuable local content. Like this: Somersett Homes.
When you create a guide or FAQ’s of a specific area, you will get long tail keywords from users of search engines looking for information on the specific area.
- Think Lifestyle — and present it well
Focus on giving people a sneak preview of the area’s lifestyle. Be the best source of information about the area. List down or link our top lists like top restaurants, favorite neighborhoods. Companies like IDX Broker make it easy for users to search homes in niche communities (“Huntington Beach Foreclosures” or “South Vegas Homes under $200,000”)
This is where a good authoritative domain name (point #1 ) helps. Because you’re standing on prime land (assuming you also built quality links to it), it’s easier for search engines to trust your other content. It complements each other.
Online Buyer Statistics
Home Buyer Statistics. Actions taken as result of Internet home search--Walked through a home viewed online: 62%. Information sources used in home search: Internet: 90%. Source: 2012 National Association of REALTORS®. 20X more like to sell home by advertising online than in the newspaper. 48% of agents and associate brokers would like their broker to expand the of technology provided. At $13 billion, real estate is the highest category in online advertising.(Automotive is at #2, at $12 billion.) More than half of all real estate advertising was spent on online media.
Our Services & Fees
Lease: Starts at $300/month. Build and Sell: Starts at $8,000. Personal Consulting: Starts at $300/hour. (The Guarantee: If you’re not satisfied with the consultation. We don’t expect you to pay.)
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