We had just come through a remarkable period. The market had peaked in 2005. Those Callaways sold over $250 million worth of real estate in that one year alone—more than 500 homes—and we did it one client at a time.
We asked each other what was missing at this conference of industry leaders. We had rubbed shoulders with the best of the best, yet we came away with questions instead of answers.
We continued talking about marketing, but there were countless examples of agents who outspent us. There were agents who couldn’t make enough money to pay for their advertising habit. They put their names and their faces everywhere. Whatever they earned they plowed back into marketing in hopes that someday they would make a profit. They feared if they stopped advertising, their businesses would be thrown into tailspins. These agents chased the business, and, although JoAnn and I didn’t know it then, they would suffer huge losses when the market later turned downward. It was a lesson we had learned years before. You cannot buy business. The price all too often and all too quickly exceeds the return. Yes, we advertised regularly, but we always kept our marketing expenditures to a percentage of our business volume.
Our ads were beautiful, sincere, and clever, but we didn’t have the market cornered on cute. There were plenty of agents with imagination, and the ones without creative genes could copy others. Nobody owns ideas unless he or she spends money to protect them. ...