No more checkbox

Boilerplate “Commitment to service and results” and all that. Black-and-white photo.


Fuzzy jpeg of Sunday newspaper double truck and supersized tower ad the salesperson threw in for free.


Luxury logo of some sort, with photo of what might be Shanghai.


Pricing strategy graph from back when Linda ran marketing.


“Syndication” graphic. Because syndication.


Photos of kids to show giving back matters.


The instant an agent sits down to speak with a person about selling their home is our industry’s defining moment. Without an agent winning a listing, there is no buyer’s agent. There is no mortgage origination. There is no title policy.

It all begins here.

What’s weird, though, is that the tool agents use in these all-important meetings – the Listing Presentation – is usually really lame.

Hacked together, reheated, degraded, tired.

Recently, we’ve been asking agents and brokers to show us their listing presentations. Good agents, good companies.

The presentations rarely serve them well. They all look the same. Very few look nice.

Why is this?

My mentor in business, Brad Inman, used to bemoan “checkbox marketing” – the practice of deluding yourself that you’ve achieved results, or have something covered, simply by completing tasks. He was always pushing, and it frequently drove me nuts. I was young. He was right.

I think listing presentations have become checkbox affairs – something every brokerage has to have, does have, and doesn’t think hard enough about.

You could say it doesn’t matter. That the homes get sold despite the ugly, formulaic PDFs and PowerPoints.

You’d be right.

But when something mostly sucks, it’s a good time to try to do better. That’s how you win.

And, sooner or later, the chickens come home to roost.

Let me give you an example:

For the past dozen years, millions of times in millions of living rooms, real estate professionals have explained to homeowners, in person, with supporting visuals, how a home is marketed.

Here’s how most of them have done this:


I think most people seek easy answers. I do. “Syndication” is an easy answer to a dauntingly complex question:

How does an agent, specifically this agent sitting on my couch, market and promote my home when everyone has all the information anyway?”

Enter syndication. Your home, everywhere. With maybe a report on how much traffic it gets.

Check. Whew, glad we got that one taken care of.

This is the story real estate has told consumers about marketing. Trouble is it’s embarrassingly tired.

And also dangerous. It undervalues the much more complex and nuanced work that good agents perform to take a property to market properly. The long-term, aggregate effect is to erode the real estate agent and broker value proposition.

Our storytelling has regressed to a dumb mean.

And this is just one slide/page/screen in the typical listing presentation.

I suggest here that a good project for 2017 might be to tear your listing presentation apart and start over. It will, at a minimum, help you think deeply about what you do, how you do it, and why someone across a kitchen table from you might care.

It’s time for a new story. A new tool to help good agents explain themselves to Mr., Mrs. and Ms. America. So more good agents with good brokerage companies win more of the listings.

We’ve started this with a few firms and it’s illuminating.

Oh, and I think Zillow will come out with a killer listing presentation template for their Premier Agents in 2017. I’m willing to take bets on that. Do you want to wait to be irritated when that happens, or do you want to get to work now… beyond the checkbox.