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RISMEDIA, October 21, 2010—One of the biggest challenges for a real estate professional is to find prospects to work with. We market ourselves in many different ways looking for leads all the time. A lead could be a free tip from a friend that someone is looking to buy or sell, or a lead can be paid where someone (perhaps a lead generation website) acquires a consumer’s information and offers the referral for a fee.

One of the most important aspects of a listing is leveraging it to generate quality leads; in fact, the listing could be the biggest leverage to obtaining leads. We are not specifically looking for leads to sell the listing we are marketing itself (although that would be nice and is what the seller thinks we are doing with the marketing of their home), but we also want to generate leads that will lead to sales (or listings) of other properties.

Toward that direction, we do everything possible to get the word out and market ourselves. We put up yard signs with phone numbers, hoping a passer-by will call requesting information. We print flyers and send “just listed” cards to our sphere of influence and/or to the neighbors of the listed property. We utilize virtual tours and marketing systems of many different types—all for the same purpose—to generate leads.

As we know, many of the “fee-for-lead” generation companies (some of which are real estate portals) are using our own listing content and marketing it to the public. These companies present their site and display the listing information in such ways as to entice the consumer into giving them their information and then these companies offer these leads to those who will pay for them. To me, if someone wants to pay for this type of lead, it is up to them; I understand the model and why agents use (and pay for) them.

We—and the portals—know that the listing is a great way to market to generate leads.

What we have done (and proven) is that virtual tours of the properties are probably the best way to increase the chances to obtain a lead. We proved this finding by running a controlled test study.

In summary, to accomplish this task, we took our study to the top brokerages for one of the top five franchises in the country. We created a virtual tour for each of their listings. While creating the tour, we also applied our custom lead generation tools and then syndicated the tours to the real estate portals. In addition, we converted the different types of tours into videos (including our lead generation tool) and syndicated them to the different video portals.

The results were outstanding: an increase in the leads by more than 307%, and each subsequent month resulted in the same statistics.

Why? We know why—the window into the listing is the image (virtual tour). What we have to do is figure out how to create the environment in which the customer will want to give us their information.

There are many ways to accomplish this goal, in fact; there is really no one secret sauce—just the methods of application that change the chances of success.

To discuss this topic and others simply send me an e-mail.

Mike Barnett is CIO at and can be reached at