It's 2009, brokers. Do you know where your marketing director is?

I met Roy yesterday for the first time. He is a mild-mannered kid from California.

And he single-handedly runs the marketing department for one of the most innovative brokerages we’ve run across.

Roy doesn’t spend his days paginating newspaper ads, writing About Me copy for agent websites or Tweeting about his lunch.

Roy writes the company’s Website copy. He designs landing pages. He experiments with new advertising platforms. He pores over Web analytics for the six Websites he oversees.

Roy manages all of his company’s social media initiatives too. The blog. The Twitter account. The small, windowless room in the building he converted into a film studio equipped with three cameras and a green screen.

I liked Roy a lot. Throughout the day I never once felt the dread I often do when realizing that the marketing checks the broker wants to write will never be cashed by his marketing department.

Roy is a model marketing person for the forward-looking real estate brokerage.

He is not a singular case. I have met and work with some really talented marketing people inside brokerage companies. But these folks are unusual. And that makes no sense.

So without wasting any more time embarrassing Roy, here are ten things I think brokers should look for in a marketing director:

    1. A sponge-like quality. Marketing is less about rattling off all the things you know than it is about listening – to customers, innovators inside and outside your industry, those who challenge your thinking. Marketing is about learning, especially in this time of rapid change


    1. Passion. Marketing is a vocation, but it’s also an art. Taking a notion, running it through the creative blender and producing something good is as much about feel as it is about discipline. Measurement matters, but if you don’t have fire you’ll be measuring vapors.


    1. Ignorance of real estate.  The less they know about real estate, or about what makes agents tick, the better. Part of the problem with real estate marketing has everything to do with marketers who were born inside the incestuous bubble of the real estate office. I know some of you will disagree with me here, but based on scores of close-in observations I believe this quite strongly.


    1. A capacity for internal and external focus. You need to get your message out there. But not necessarily in the manner in which you broadcast it internally. It is often said that there is a channel conflict in real estate brokerage – that the broker must serve the agent and consumer constituencies at the same time. The good marketer can do this ably, but, more importantly, does not even view this as a conflict in the first place.


    1. An understanding of branding. A good marketer channels your core values and pushes them out like rays of light from the sun. Everything they do must manifest clearly your brand’s truth.


    1. Flexibility. People fixated on accepted practices don’t make very good agents. They tend to make horrible marketing directors.


    1. Obsession. Trust that when Bill Bernbach, the greatest ad writer ever, wrote the “Think Small” Campaign for Volkswagen, the final copy did not emerge in two seconds. Your marketing person will obsess over their copy. Over their design. Over punctuation. They survey. And they stay up until three in the morning the day after the campaign launches wondering if they could have done a better job.


    1. A sense of humor. The glass they see is neither half full nor half empty. Theirs just needs more ice.


    1. Inventiveness. A Facebook fan page. A Blog. A Twitter account. A post card. A new signature file. Come on brokers, is that the best they can do? Try this: Ask your marketing person to imagine there is no social media. Ask them to come up with a new campaign that expresses the very thing about your company that makes it special. Message matters, not just media.


  1. Writing skill.  Hiring a marketing director who doesn’t write well is like hiring a plumber with no fingers. Put anyone you interview for your marketing department through a rigorous writing test. In an age when you’re going to need to make media rather than buy it, this is a skill you need to have in your organization.

This is just a start. And the profile will vary depending on your needs. But you take my point: You need a Roy.