The hard facts about online leads


This has been swirling in my mind for some time now so I had to dig in for you. I ran the numbers for how many Realtors there are, how many active listings there are and what the buyer pool looks like. The facts are staggering. All this talk about online lead generation, this bright shiny object that just delivers business like it’s pizza. The numbers tell the real truth about it all. Watch!

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  1. Is there anyone else out there who has never telephone canvassed or door-knocked (so dangerous for women in particular). Or never paid for SEO (but never did their own, not knowing how; just let the robots do their thing), or never paid to buy leads of any various kinds such as at FB? Or multiple Google systems?…

    Just curious. For more than 35 years (even after 1997, being one of the first to have a corporate domain name), I continually relied only on marketing by handing out an abundance of business cards that had save-worthy information on, among other paper/print materials, and engaging in introductory lightweight one on one conversations where doable. I always wore my corporate logo script gold “Carolyne” ID pin so wherever I went my name followed me.

    In 1991 I had had a jeweller trace my hand-written logo from my business card, making it into a gold pin that parked nicely on a lapel or on a suit jacket front shoulder. Under my logo I attached my very old 1980s Chamber of Commerce “City of Brampton” tiny gold pin. Once again everywhere I went the City went with me. Even Air Canada home-based Brampton stews on international flights noticed when I travelled. “Oh, you’re that Brampton real estate girl.” A useful conversation starter. A quiet form of introduction.

    And at a convention centre general meeting Chair David Higgins of old RLP Oakville said a personal hello noting that on a recent flight in the pocket of the seat in front of him there was a full page promo story about my marketing success. He was pleased that for years I had been part of RLP, promoting the company along with my own personalized territorial area and wished me continued success.

    If I was driving in my farm areas the evening before trash collection next morning pick up and people were putting out their bins I would sometimes stop and introduce myself. Neighbours talk? That girl was scouting the area last night, seeing if there were any new signs. If there was a listing nearby I would ask if they would like a paper copy of the MLS listing as I just happened to have one handy to keep them aware of current goings on. And of course give out a business card.

    For feature sheet hand-outs at listings, I made the sheets look a little different by rolling each sheet into a tube shape and tied it with a ribbon string matching my corporate colours as a subtle reminder (subliminal advertising). That’s probably how I became “that girl.” As in let’s call that girl. I had the owner stand the rolls in a large vase on a front door table or even place on a kitchen counter in a take-one basket. Sellers loved it and would-be buyers took them home to review.

    People who couldn’t remember my name remembered my colours. Teal and rose. Colours are perceived differently by people and some saw my teal as green. Some colleagues criticized as being “too-girly, too feminine” but that didn’t matter. Visitors took a rolled tied with ribbon feature sheet home. My marketing annoyed some agents because their clients saved my personalized promo pieces.

    And maybe months passed and later when lookers were ready to list or buy, guess who they called. They had saved several marketing pieces: generous scratch pads, bookmarks, business cards, feature sheets sometimes with a recipe attached in the ribbon-tied roll; custom collapsible tent calendars at year-end. They saw my tents at their doctor offices reception counters, at dentists and at the senior’s homes relatives’ rooms when they visited. Even on the counter at the post office. Like a new puppy I left my mark everywhere I went.

    These tactile tangible marketing pieces all cost money and time-prep but nothing like the big dollars money agents spend on buying useless high-power leads that aren’t. Most important: it brought real live business, sincere clients and customers who chose to make contact for a reason. They needed help and they knew where to get it.

    Every marketing piece after 1997 web world arrived had my dot com domain on it. And always on my coroplast For Sale signs, both sides; first a peel and stick on strip; and printed on new sign boards. People didn’t have to look hard to find me; then sometimes for two or three “years” they read my updated consumer-education articles on my domain site, that worked as SEO for the robots keeping me always on the first page search engine finds, often in number one placement; cost me absolutely nothing.

    If it turned out that the timing wasn’t exactly what the buyer or seller had hoped for, based on a detailed CMA, best opportunity to be able to stay in touch periodically until the time was right. They walked right into my office; “Is Carolyne here? I need her to list my house.” Or they called: “Can you make time to list my house this week?”
    And the sellers became my subsequent buyers unless they moved out of town or out of Canada as a Relo.

    When buyers and sellers need you they will call YOU. Cold calling and door-knocking are right up there with buying lotto tickets win ratios. The luck of the draw. Often the rejection or no one home must be exhausting.

    And the buy-it pay real money for selling leads methods might even fall into the category of practicing real estate without a licence in some areas (regarding paying the lead generator a referral fee) for those seller or buyer leads that go to many agents (because money can only be paid to licenced / registered agents), leads not just to you provided by the lead generators whose pockets you are filling, hoping the sure-fire solid leads you bought actually will agree to work with you if you do manage to set an appointment; no guarantee the lead must work with you.

    Set aside a portion of each commission cheque to spend at your local print shop. A better ROI most likely. Support your local businesses. You can instruct to send to specific postal codes.

    While dinner is cooking or you are waiting to pick up children from sports events, use that time to roll and ribbon-tie your feature sheets maybe.

    Familiarize yourself with specific areas and watch your phone ring requesting you to help the consumer buy or sell. When an ad call or sign call happens and the subject property isn’t a match-up, find a way to turn that caller into a client for some other property.

    Doing the things I did might take a while to fall into place initially but it surely will be an almost guarantee ROI on your investment. I always called it building business for the future. And how lucky I was that my sold signs had babies and multiplied like rabbits. Often within three weeks of putting up a sold sign someone else in the area decided to move. And became another buyer / seller. That’s how the Tell-20 system also helps it happen.

    After a few successful years I no longer typically held open houses, but when I did, I often held them early in the morning between 7-9 AM when the manufacturing crew was heading home from the night shift. Sold many properties doing that even if not the subject property. You need to express sincere appreciation for the opportunity to meet those (often tired) visitors.

    An example: it was 8:45 am. “How long will you be here at the open house?” 9 AM.
    “Can you stay here until I can go get my wife?” Of course I did. And they bought that house. And they had one to sell. Just one of many such situations. A nearby listing was expiring but of course I didn’t know. Saw the success of my breakfast hour open house. That seller called me to list. That one early morning open house set off a whole bunch of chain reactions netting several unrelated transactions.

    Buying leads seems to be tossing money to the wind and we never hear stats that speak to how successful cold-calling and door-knocking is. Not saying folks should do what I did, just that it worked for me.

    Carolyne L 🍁

  2. David reveals some very interesting numbers. As usual, the only people making money via offering Realtors short-cuts to listings, buyers, etc….are the people selling those short-cuts, aka dreams, aka fantasies. These types of purchased faux-short-cuts-for-dollars are aimed at the gamblers in life, of which there are legions in real estate sales. True believers—with hunches—exist everywhere, it seems.

    Like David suggests: Get your ass in gear, go out there and work for it—earn it. Anyone can try to buy success. There are no free lunches, sometimes even if you pay for them, because in this case there’s no meat in them thar sandwiches. Oxymoronic? Yes. But true? Yes.


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