What The Heck Is “MARKETING?”


5 minute read

May 23, 2008

I’ve heard people say on occasion, “This house will sell itself!”

While there is the occasional gem of a property that needs no explanation, no added attention, and minimal effort on the purchase and sale, I find that too many people are just assuming a given property will sell, and sell fast!

Sales and Marketing go hand-and-hand.  You just can’t have one without the other…


As I sit at the kitchen counter in my condominium eating a jar of pickles (yeah, I think I could eat the whole thing), I’m quite dissapointed with the lack of crunch in these Bicks “Premium Baby Dills.”  The last jar was far crunchier, and I hate biting into a soggy pickle…..doesn’t everybody?

I’m reminded of the commercial for Vlasic pickles where the little girl bites into the pickle and the crunch is so loud it startles a room full of people.  I’ve been very loyal to Bicks pickles over the years, but I’ve decided next time around to try Vlasic.



The marketing campaign worked, and even though it took a while, I’m finally going to purchase some Vlasic pickles.

Can you imagine a product or service that is not marketed?  Where there is no advertising campaign, but the seller of the product or service fully expects to find a buyer?

This had started to happen in a few instances in our Toronto real estate market over the last couple years, but even where it has worked before, it won’t moving forward.

In certain areas of the city where the real estate was so hot and the neighborhoods so sought after, agents used to jokingly say, “Put the FOR-SALE sign on the lawn, set up a lawn chair, and accept offers!”  While this may have seemed the case, there was advertising and marketing going on behind the scenes.

Staging and Cleaning the house is all part of the marketing process, as is the public open house, the newspaper and magazine ads, the flyers and newsletters, the company and agent websites, among many other things.

A trendy neighborhood might sell a buyer on the area, but a house simply wont sell itself.

I have been working out at The Delisle Club lately since The Dunfield is still under construction.  Last week, I overheard a man in the change room talking about the impending sale of his condo and the process involved.  He was complaining that “the market is dead” and that “it’s getting tougher and tougher to sell.”  I listened to him bitch and moan about “fickle buyers” and the “crummy economy,” and then I finally spoke up and asked “Where’s your condo?”  He told me it was at 81 Navy Wharf, and explained that it was a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom.

I knew how this story would start and finish even before I did any investigating.  But I did anyways…

I went home and searched for listings on Navy Wharf, and even I was astounded at the results: eight listings at 3 Navy Wharf, four listings at 10 Navy Wharf, and another fourlistings at 81 Navy Wharf.  In total there were sixteen units at Navy Wharf that had 2-bedrooms and 2-bathrooms.

But I took the search further, and looked at the sellers’ names on the MLS listings.  I had introduced myself to this man in the change room (spare me the obvious jokes, please!) and learned his name was “Thomas.”  Luckily, only one of the sixteen listings belonged to a Thomas, and I found his condo.

I pulled up the listing, and just as I expected, there were ZERO photos of the unit on MLS!  Ha!

You can post up to nine photos on MLS, as I have explained many, many times before, but his listing agent just put up a stock photo of the front of 81 Navy Wharf, and left it at that.

Is this considered good “marketing?”

Here we have sixteen similar units available for sale, and this unit doesn’t even have any photos! If I’m a buyer, I’m skipping past this listing when I browse on the public-MLS website.  If I’m a Realtor, I might skip by it as well for fear of showing my buyer some mystery unit that may or may not be suitable.

I scrolled down to the information portion, and there was nothing detailed in the “Open House Dates” portion, which means that the listing agent didn’t think it was important to open the doors to the potential buyer pool of 2,000,000 people who live within 20 KM of the property.


What’s “two-million” anyways?  Is that supposed to impress me?

It only takes ONE buyer.  Right?

Finally, I scrolled down to the description of the unit itself: “Remarks for Clients: Luxury Toronto Condominium Near Skydome.  Pool, Sauna, Concierge, Tennis, Baskets, Internet.”

First, you’ll notice that under “Remarks For Clients,” this agent actually wrote “Remarks For Clients” so that it said this TWICE!  After being on the market for 35 days, don’t you think somebody would catch this mistake?

Second, what are “baskets?”  Is that “basketball?”  Because I know of many people that would value an indoor basketball court at their condo, but not so many that would value empty fruit baskets…

Finally, what defines a “luxury Toronto condominium?”  If this is a generic, run-of-the-mill, overpriced, 40-storey tower with ten other condos just like it within a two block radius, then this is, indeed, a “luxury condo.”

My point?

This is the worst marketing job of a condominium I have seen….well….in probably a week.  Sad, but true.

This condominium unit for sale, with sixteen others just like it, has displayed no photos, has not had an open house, and has gramatical and errors in what crummy and minimal information there is.

I think about Thomas at my gym, and how he was blaming the market, buyers, and the economy.  You can blame Thomas, his agent, or both, for this terrible marketing campaign to sell his condo.

Our market is hot, but it isn’t so hot that you can just throw a listing on MLS and expect people to line up to pay for it.  It’s just not that simple.

What if our market does turn south?  What will all these lazy agents and know-nothing sellers do?  I’m worried that the lack of effort on their parts will actually help push the market down!

Is it the money they are afraid of?  Is it the $250 for a Saturday advertisement in the Globe & Mailreal estate section?  Is it the $200 to $2000 in flyers they might send to the building, area, or neighborhood that would help promote the property and make neighbors aware, while gaining exposure for themselves and their own careers?  Or are they just so busy watching The Hills marathon that they can’t run an open house Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 2:00-4:00PM?

I wonder if these agents bother calling other agents who have showed the property.  Spend an hour, two, or ten talking with the other professionals in your industry about the property you are trying to successfully market and sell!  When I show a property, and I don’tget a call from the listing agent, I’m disappointed in them!

No property sells itself.  I work hard to promote my listings within my industry and to the millions of potential buyers in the G.T.A.  That’s called “m-a-r-k-e-t-i-n-g,” and that is how you sell real estate.

Would Coke or Pepsi be as successful as they are if they never made people aware that their product existed?

How can somebody list a property on MLS and not include photos!?!?

The graphic at the top of the screen is something we see in a first-year university Marketing textbook: Product, Price, Place, Promotion.  How the hell can you expect to sell real estate without promoting your product?

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

Find Out More About David Read More Posts

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1 Comment

  1. Curly

    at 8:15 am

    This must apply to people in the dating game as well — do you just put yourself out there and wait, or do you try to market yourself!

Pick5 is a weekly series comparing and analyzing five residential properties based on price, style, location, and neighbourhood.

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