The Pros and Cons of Team Marketing

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Is bigger always better? Greg dissects the phenomenon of “team marketing” and provides real-world examples of how leading agents handle their team of associates.

October 2003, By Greg Herder

Team marketing is the hot new fad in real estate marketing. The question is, “Is it the right thing for you?”

Let’s start by defining “team marketing.” Not having a clear understanding of what we are talking about has confused a lot of agents. For the purposes of this article, I will define “team marketing” as an agent with a number of assistants who decides to promote that group of people as a team. So instead of promoting Sally Smith, they promote the Smith Team.

It is very important to differentiate team marketing from agents who have formed a partnership to work together as a team. In my area, there is a team of two outstanding agents who promote themselves as Terry and Traci. They work together and have both of their names in their marketing, but they are not promoting a team concept.

Is “Team Marketing” Really the Solution?

There are two primary reasons why agents decide to promote themselves as a team. The first reason is that they have started to delegate some of their servicing activities to assistants, but then start to hear or feel some frustration from their clients, who feel they are being passed off to an assistant and are somewhat disappointed. So an agent thinks, “Well, if I promote my team instead of just me, it will make my clients feel better when they are working with my team members.”

Unfortunately, this is not the case. A client’s feelings of getting passed on to an underling do not magically go away by promoting yourself as a team. In fact, top agents like Phil Herman and Allan Domb, who delegate key elements of service to team members, have found that the key to client satisfaction in working with assistants is in the expectations that you set at the listing presentation, and in how you train your assistants to talk and interact with clients, not in whether you promote yourself as a team.

Not a Substitute for a Positive Culture

The second major reason that agents decide to promote themselves as a team is because of pressure from their team to be included in the agent’s marketing. This usually happens because they are feeling like the clients do not like working with them or because they are feeling a need to be recognized for their contribution. The problem is that marketing your team will not solve either of these problems for long. It might make an assistant feel appreciated for a month after your marketing hits, but I guarantee it’s not going to last. As an agent, you have to build a culture in which your assistants feel valued and appreciated, and then reinforce that over and over again. That is what leadership and management is all about.

Where’s the Emotion?

The real problem with marketing yourself as a team is that it is much harder to create a personality for a team than an individual. Most consumers feel that teams are inherently less efficient, less accountable and in the end will probably cost them more to work with. Another problem with promoting a team is that a team structure, members, and functions are always changing so you can never create marketing materials that will build your long-term image effectively.

In the end, I believe that team marketing is a passing fad in real estate that does not provide any real value to the agents who try it and actually ends up costing them more than they will ever know.