Educating Real Estate Agents About Marketing Photography

November 6th, 2011

Recently Lawrence Gray of Orlando/Oviedo, FL sent me a draft of a brochure that he was designing that he plans to use to target the agents that are using the discount run-n-gunner photographers.

Lawrence describes the intent of his marketing brochure as follows:

To Educate Realtors of what to look for in Real Estate Photography. It is amazing, you take a portrait and they will nit pick everything, plus let’s not forget weddings and Bridezilla. Yet Real Estate Photography that they paid for, you invariably hear “This is great!” As customers enthustiacly show me prior “pro” shoots, I have to bite my tongue. What really brought it home was when a Realtor who now uses me exclusively asked me to take 3 shots (I took a couple more) after a disaster from a circlepix photographer that the homeowner actually tried to correct in Photoshop despite her limited skills. (That was a fun shoot as I coached her on Photoshop and earned some referral business from the major international corporation where she is an engineer.) Actually, the bad/good photo example is from that shoot and I tried to recreate what the circlepix photographer submitted. Obviously, I couldn’t use his due to copyright issues.

Rather than being blunt, buried in the brochure is the subtle question “Paying for and receiving the above”. Educate and create “Realtorzilla” demanding exemplary photography and think about the impact it would have on the discount run-n-gunner that does zero/minimal post.

Lawrence targets his marketing by using data that indicates which agents are using Circlepix or Obeo. I have to admit this is a pretty gutsy marketing approach.  I agree educating agents about what good photography looks like is a good approach as long as you are careful not to spend too much time and effort on the agents that are not likely to “get it” like the bottom 90% of agents.

The bottom line to this is that the data on who to target is out there are not all that difficult to assemble. Just go through the broker’s sites in your area and see who’s listing the properties in the price range you want to target and who’s using a professional and who isn’t and you can see who to target in your marketing.

Thanks Lawrence for your marketing example!


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14 Responses to “Educating Real Estate Agents About Marketing Photography”

  • I recently also did the same thing to attempt to garner the attention of our local Realtor market. The Realtor who originally asked me if I would shoot real estate is one of the few who believes in having quality photographs of his property. It’s been a tough road since I began Jun 2010 and haven’t really attempted marketing to other agents or brokers since starting. Now I’m looking to expand my work while still trying to match the only other option in town which is a company that loves to shoot 360 panos and poorly composed standard shots using minimum wage workers.

    The brochure I created has the upscale look and feel that most Realtors wish their materials could have, which has helped me gain a few. I have even been told that when presenting their listing packages, several Realtors have made it a point to bring along my brochure and have gained the listing at a higher commission rate because they reiterate that they use a professional.

    I’ve got some major changes to make to the brochure, but the first iteration can be seen here:

  • He has the right idea and the physical brochure is a good way to go about it, but the design and layout is making my eyes hurt. Do some design research or take some classes, or if neither of those appeal, hire a professional to make a nice clean brochure for a couple hundred bucks. There is simply way too much information and clashing going on for that brochure to be effective. Here is one that I recently made that is intended to do the same thing – target new clients via print media, that they can bring along to potential clients and say ‘we use this guy, so you should use us’ etc etc.


    Boom. Simple. Hits you over the head, straight to the point, it’s effective, and the copy is kept to a minimum and is easy to read with no clutter. I don’t claim to be some design guru but I do know enough to know that simple, clean and effective brochures that are easy to read will win over agents more than something that is a bit confusing and lacks a real cohesion.

  • I am going to have to agree with Mike on this one. Simplifying this add will go a long way. Just a few quality, larger images go much farther than so many. I would also cut down on the number of fonts used. It looks like there are at least 4, try to make it one or two. It will help with consistency throughout the piece.

  • Wow, thanks Larry. It was a shock when I opened the page and saw my name. Always looking for a marketing idea, I had heard from the start to be very careful, and generally discouraged, using clients for testimonials. The theory being that they need to be extreemly strong clients as they are likely to be recruited by the competition. That is when I turned it around using a variation of that to identify the target audience. Who is already paying for “professional photography” and is getting a product far below the standard I can and do deliver? It seemed so obvious, then came the task to educate them on what to look for.

    Mike and Drew. Excellent points. I do have some full page and half-page fliers that I use and are much cleaner with one or two photos and text. While the are on good, but cheaper, paper, I typically use those as handouts in either seminars or ono-on-one. In addition to this being my first tri-fold, the exterior panels were relatively simple, with two photos each, folded around to where you don’t see the others. The interior gave me problems. The initial draft had four to match the four main points – Exterior, Interior, Amenities, and Tours. It just didn’t seem right for the target audience where I wanted to show that a single picture was not a fluke. That is when I went with the “in you face” multiple example collage look. Overall, I do agree that the clean look is preferable, just didn’t like the way the drafts looked in this case. In terms of fonts, there are actually 2 with the Brush Script limited to just the front panel. The others look different due to some all caps, certain selective bold lettering and 2 pt sizes between headlines and body.

    I guess the other good news…I weaned myself away from MS Publisher, however, this was my first atempt with Illustrator. When I took it to the printer for the first run, they loved it.

  • You guys have some great marketing ideas. I have been shooting real estate for 5 years full time, I have tried a few different marketing techniques, I have found the following documents get the best result for me.
    I believe the best images to capture buyers attention is bright and vibrant photographs, you can see my website for examples:
    Floor plans are also a great marketing tool.

  • Hello everybody!

    I’m doing some kind of leaflet myself and I’m listing all kind of arguments why to use professional for real estate photography. I’m not sure, but I think I once saw some kind of research that showed straight benefit when using professional photos in real estate marketing. Or was it just photos vs. no photos… Now I’m not sure anymore. But if someone has link to anything above, please post it here. This is something that we all already know as a matter of course, but there’s always someone, that you have to proof everything. =)

    BR / Pedro

  • @Pedro & all- There are two classic studies that show the benefit of professional photos:

    1- This was the Redfin study that was widely reported in the media.

    2-A PFRE reader did an important study that I posted about here:

  • A couple of observations I have seen in my limited 5 months experience.
    1. Most of the agents are reluctant to invest in pro photos. So I moved up the ‘food-chain’. I found a principal in one of the local firms who is creative and dynamic in his marketing. He understands the difference good photos can make in marketing properties. I offered to do two homes for no charge to show what I can do. They were both beautiful $500k homes that photographed well. He was sold and since have shot 7 more properties for him. And he is currently splitting the fee with agents who will upgrade their photos. I am providing very responsive service to him and his people. Clearly, this is a relationship sale as photos are pretty much a commodity. He appreciates the quality and professionalism of my work and services. Look for creative marketing in a local firm. Someone who is an owner, not just an office manager who is measured on controlling monthly costs and reporting to HQ. I have photographed over $10 million so far. It is slowly growing, and other agents are starting to call.

    2. I tried to use a brochure as well, with some success. To me, just a few images – your best images – can show potential clients the quality of your work. That is what I am selling. I had limited success with trying to sell the Redfin study to a reluctant agent – in their eyes, there a million reasons why it is not relevant. I felt I was swimming upstream. As I moved up, the $150 fee was not an issue. Lower-tier agents seem to have a $50 mentality and I’m not interested at that price. Sell your value proposition – quality, bright images, well composed, at a fair price. use a brochure to reinforce the positives YOU are selling…don’t expect it to sell you. And be realistic in your efforts to educate agents. Some just don’t want to see it our way!

    My experience has been in a miserable local economy, no competition to speak of, Except for the AWACs! (Agent With A Camera)

  • Hi everyone. I have to agree that the minimalist approach is best as well. Below are some links that show my brochure which just came back from print last week. They’re 8.5″ x 14″ folded in the middle.

    P.S. I have to admit that I stole the “Stand Out” tagline from Mike Kelley.

  • Thank you Barry for sharing your great looking leaflets. I tried to find that REALTOR’s study which you wrote about your brochure with no luck. Do you–or anyone–have more information or link about this study?

    BR / Pedro

  • @Pedro- see this article:

    in the 21st paragraph it says:

    “Buyers use a wide variety of resources in searching for a home: 90 percent use the Internet, 87 percent rely on real estate agents, 59 percent yard signs, 46 percent attend open houses and 40 percent look at print or newspaper ads. Although buyers also use other resources, they generally start the search process online and then contact an agent.”

  • @Larry

    I was referring to this paragraph in Barrys leaflet: “A recent REALTOR study shows that homebuyers rated pictures as the most important factor when considering a home purchase!”.

    BR / Pedro

  • Interesting thread, I have only just discovered this site, being based in the UK myself.

    I am just in the process of stepping my marketing up a notch and would like share with you guys a great site I came across. My graphic design skills are pretty poor but, I realize that professional is best this site has been fantastic for me. if you want your marketing material to have that professional feel for whatever you wish to pay.

    Might be worth posting your services on there. No, I don’t work for them.

  • @Ian- Thanks for the link. Looks like a good resource.

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