The literal definition of marketing is about finding a market and then creating something to sell within it. The marketing mix is about the “4 P’s” of price, promotion, product, and placement. With the exception of promotion, these factors are difficult for a sales representative to control. Unless an agent is, say, involved in new construction from the design process forward, what most sales representatives are doing is actually called promotion.

Promotion is the process of setting up sales channels and sharing information through them to sell property. To accomplish this, sales people use a promotional mix to communicate with potential clients. The promotional mix is more focused than marketing, which is about holistic product development. The scope of promotion includes non-personal advertising, direct marketing, interactive media, sales promotion, public relations, and personal selling.

Advertising is cost-effective, and for that reason, it is pervasive in our culture. It requires research and knowledge of the audience to be effective because there are few feedback mechanisms for mass media. If a promoter wants feedback, sending people to a specific webpage can give some idea of response; however, traffic statistics won’t indicate whether a campaign is working. When the product is real property, without a “buy now” button to track sales, the conversion rate becomes opaque to the promoter. This is the #1 concern for agents who advertise.

Advertising a personal brand allows agents to differentiate themselves, especially if there is a lot of competition. Using an example of bottled water, companies create lifestyle associations to differentiate their brand by linking it to purity and health. Artisanal water may emphasize personal style or the novelty of the source, such as mineral springs or ‘ancient ice’.

It’s interesting that brand promotion often takes on a life of its own when it strikes a chord, regardless of reality. Who can forget the Mac vs. PC commercials that introduced the Mac as a friendlier computer? It’s a great example of using social and generational differences to increase sales.

A sales agent with social purpose can connect with potential clients in new ways. For example, an animal lover who advertises her support for a local shelter will attract people with similar interests. Or, an agent who promotes herself as accessible and flexible will attract clients that want to try a new approach to their next real estate transaction.

The type of promotion that sales representatives do could be called local retail advertising. The objective is to compel a potential client to consider your service first. This type of advertising tends to focus on themes such as service promises, accessibility, flexibility, and unique listings.

This could mean expanding a website and other promotional materials to include niche properties, concierge service, and enticements that buyers want. For example, imagine a bus bench campaign that invited people to receive a free box of chocolates. The business would be inundated with calls requesting their free treat. The ideal result of retail advertising is immediate action by the consumer.