The 5 Biggest Real Estate Marketing Lessons of 2020

The 5 Biggest Real Estate Marketing Lessons of 2020

The understatement of the century: that this year has been unlike any other.

Wildfires. Racial injustices. Political dramas. Civil unrest. Oh, and that global pandemic that has radically changed our lives for the past nine months.

2020 hasn’t been kind to many. But it’s often the toughest times that teach us the greatest lessons.

Will this year be one of those times? It’s too soon to tell. But we can confidently say that 2020 has been an eye-opening, game-changing year for marketing. A year we can all learn a lot from.

As you reflect on the last 12 months and start prepping for the next 12, keep these in mind — the five biggest real estate marketing lessons of 2020.


Lesson #1: Prepare to Be Unprepared

It may sound contradictory, but this lesson is perhaps the most universal. All industries and sectors, not just real estate, got a crash course this year.

Prepare to be unprepared. Or, in other words:


  • Accept that change is inevitable
  • Anticipate that things may need to be drastically altered with little to no warning
  • Be willing to be flexible


Have a beautiful, detailed social media calendar? Be ready to delete all previously scheduled real estate Instagram Stories at a moment’s notice.

Wrote a really smart, insightful real estate eBook? Know you might have to shelve it for a month — or a year.

Established a list of marketing goals and targets? Accept that they may become unachievable due to external forces (and that’s okay).

Flexibility, a willingness to abandon previously laid-plans and the ability to switch things up on a dime were key to surviving 2020. And these attributes will continue to be essential marketing lessons for 2021, and beyond.


Lesson #2: Don’t Rush

Good marketing is mindful and reflective of what’s going on in the world. No marketer — real estate agents included — want to be caught looking unaware or ignorant.

That’s a good thing. But it also means that marketers often rush into TikTok videos and Instagram Reels and blog posts and newsletters that they hope will prove that they’re savvy and aware.

And while those efforts are well-intentioned, they often end up backfiring. Why? Because they were rushed. And rushing is the best way to make a mistake.

Think about all the cringiest marketing content you saw this year.

Like celebrities singing “Imagine” to show solidarity with the global COVID-19 fight.

Or when the blank black squares posted to Instagram actually drowned out the Black voices that the posters thought they were amplifying.

Or a credit card company putting Harriet Tubman’s likeness on one of its cards.

None meant harm. But they all received blowback because they felt insincere, or tone-deaf, or poorly planned.

The lesson here: pause before you act. Take a beat to learn and to listen before you decide how to respond. Wait to see what others are doing, and how their efforts are being received.


Lesson #3: Listening Is Just as Important as Speaking

Marketing is typically thought of as something active, and action-based.

When you’re marketing, you’re the one doing the talking. Your audience is doing the listening.

But one of the secrets to marketing success — especially on social media — is to do the listening for a change.

Listening is how you figure out what your audience wants (and just as importantly, what they don’t want), so you can be the one that gives it to them. 

When things feel uncertain or in flux, like they have for the bulk of 2020, actively listening to and observing your audience is how you determine your path forward. Otherwise, you run the risk of navel-gazing, or existing within a vacuum.

So how do you listen?

By observing what other content your audience is engaging with. By paying attention to what they’re posting, sharing and retweeting. And by asking them what they want.

The question and poll sticker features in Instagram Stories are powerful (and easy) ways to do this. Ask your Instagram followers to choose between possible topics for your next real estate YouTube video. Or ask them what’s on their mind when it comes to real estate in 2021.


Lesson #4: Be Human

Not one person was untouched by the pandemic this year. It affected everyone, worldwide, in some way, shape or form. In that sense, it united us.

Keeping it real was the name of the game this year; any marketing content that tried to ignore current events and the human impact felt inauthentic and inappropriate.

Brands, influencers and yes, real estate agents, who let their humanity shine in their marketing efforts were the ones who resonated in 2020. They connected with their audiences in a real, powerful way because they were relatable.

For real estate agents marketing their business, relatability is essential. Not just this year, but every year. You’re a real person working with real people; your audience wants to see your personality, your life, your humanity.

Don’t be afraid to open up in your Instagram Stories. Share snippets of your life on your real estate Facebook page. Connect with your followers as a fellow human, someone from their community, and not just as someone who is ultimately trying to sell them a service.


Lesson #5: Experimentation Is Key

No one has it all figured out. Even the most experienced, most successful marketers and real estate agents are learning (and unlearning) all the time.

Because things these days change so rapidly. Every day brings a new trend, a new tool, new tech, new rules. Everyone has to figure it out as they go.

Look at this past year. No one could have known the best way to tweet during a lockdown, or how to partake in discussions about Black Lives Matter in a way that felt meaningful, or how to promote an open house in a time where no one was venturing outside their homes.

Everyone figured it out by doing. By experimenting. By trying things out and taking note of what worked, what didn’t, and making future decisions based on that information.

Let this year be your reminder for next year: don’t be afraid to try things out. Don’t be afraid to fail.

Be prepared to throw it all out the window. Don’t rush to act. Listen as much as you speak. Be human above all. And always keep experimenting.


What was the biggest business lesson you learned this year?



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