The Fishbowl Real Estate Marketing Technique--a Desperate Fail

June 18, 2023

How Desperate Agents Try Desperate Measures to Market Real Estate



By Gary Hubbell, ALC

United Country Colorado Brokers


Accredited Land Consultant


Big Real Estate Brokerages Don’t Necessarily Have Big Marketing Platforms


Not long ago, we got a call from a homeowner who was terribly frustrated with the performance—or lack thereof—of his real estate agent in selling their home. We actually hear this quite a bit. It’s not the first time we’ve heard of a client’s frustrations. The couple had voiced their dissatisfaction with the agent’s marketing methods, so the agent dusted off a tried-and-true technique: the fishbowl method of real estate marketing. “Huh?” you’re saying. This agent was affiliated with a very well-known luxury real estate brand, but that doesn’t mean they’re good at marketing. They’re not.


The Tried-and-True Fishbowl Real Estate Marketing Method


No, it’s true! It works wonders! Here’s how it goes—the agent schedules an open house and then sends a blast email to all the other brokers in the MLS to come to the open house, with a promise of a drawing for a $200 gift card. You see, the agents who come should be enticed with the offer of a $200 gift card, and when they drop their business cards into the fishbowl for the drawing, they actually might just have a buyer who will want to buy the house, and it will be worth all the trouble of driving up to the house, touring it, and eating hors d’oeuvres at the agent’s expense.


Agents with No Marketing Go To Other Agents’ Open Houses


No. Non. Nein, danke. This strategy is simple desperation. This is what an agent does when they’re simply out of ideas; they have no marketing strategy other than putting the house in the MLS, posting a sign, and running a couple of newspaper ads. And the fishbowl, of course. Well, I will tell you that I disabled the feed for other desperate agents to send me entreaties to come to their open houses as well. With that option toggled on, I get 5-10 invitations a day from other agents with no marketing power. It’s simply overwhelming. I’m too busy making deals with real buyers.


The MLS is Simply a Data Feed—It Doesn’t Describe Your Property’s Unique Attributes


Once a listing is entered into the MLS, it goes out through a data feed to several real estate sites like realitor dot dom (joke), Zillow, and a few others. This feed is completely data-driven—number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and the address. There is no feature to distinguish whether you have unique features about the property, such as trophy mule deer hunting, short-term rental income, boundary to National Forest lands, or a trout stream. Anyone looking for those unique features will not find it. A search for the address will turn up lots of results, but who is looking for the address? Only a few people. Through those platforms, a search for “Colorado mountain log home for sale,” for example, will turn up no results. And no matter how big and grand the franchise name, NO ONE has the kind of search results like United Country.


We Have Powerful Real Estate Search Engine Results—We Sell the “What”, not the “Where”


We sell the “what”, not the “where”. If you and I would sit down at the computer with a list of 20 search terms for property like yours, such as “Colorado hunting property for sale”, “Colorado vineyard for sale”, “Colorado ski home for sale”, “mountain recreation land for sale,” etc., I could walk through it with you and show you probably 17 or 18 United Country results on the first page of Google out of those 20 terms. Now THAT’S marketing for you. How do we do this? Well, United Country has over 3,500 stand-alone websites that we can use to cross-link to each other for top search engine results. Trust me, if the listing copy is written correctly, you won’t be able to swing a dead cat on the internet without finding your property for WHAT IT IS.


Our Real Estate Marketing Platforms Are Highly Effective


When you combine that with stellar photography, cinematic video, and custom mapping, it makes a powerful online presentation, and over 97% of real estate searches start on the internet. Once we present a property OUR WAY, if the phone doesn’t ring and there are no showings, then it has to be price. We promise you one thing—we don’t put out a fishbowl and we don’t hand out gift cards to other agents. If another agent brings a buyer to our property, it’s because the buyer has seen our marketing and contacted their agent. It’s as simple as that.