It’s Marketing and Branding Month here at Inman. As we enter a competitive spring selling season, let’s examine which tried-and-true tactics and cutting-edge innovations are getting deals done in today’s market. We’ll also be recognizing the industry’s marketing and branding leaders with Inman’s Marketing All-Star Awards.

In 2023, there were 1.6 million Realtors and only 4.1 million transactions as compared to 5 million sales in 2022 and over 6 million in 2021. Given that interest and inflation rates are not showing signs of easing soon, what easy-to-use strategies get proven results in today’s tough market? Curaytor co-founder and CEO Jimmy Mackin has the answers you need to succeed.

Curaytor is a marketing and strategy company that works with 600 of the top teams in the country that sold approximately $25 billion last year. As CEO, Mackin has a unique opportunity to see what everyone is doing in their markets, synthesize that information, and develop strategies, software and services to help Curaytor customers get better results. 

“Right now, a lot of agents are feeling a little bit flat-footed because they have been chasing a lot of business,” Mackin said, “but if you lead with value, you can attract clients as opposed to chasing them.”

How today’s market is both similar to and different from the Great Recession 

During the Great Recession, we had a global financial crisis coupled with the subprime crisis where many people were underwater (i.e., owed more than their home was worth). Because of stricter lending standards and the recent run-up in prices, that’s very different from today. 

Where today’s market is like the Great Recession is that it’s hypercompetitive. 

As former RE/MAX CEO Nick Bailey said, “Agents today are going from burnt out to broke.” Mackin attributes this to a hypercompetitive environment.  

Curaytor’s end-of-2023 survey results

At the end of 2023, Curaytor surveyed its clients and found that over 90 percent of them were optimistic about 2024 as they looked forward to interest rate cuts in 2024. Currently, the rates are not expected to drop until May or June at the earliest. 

“Many agents are stuck on their back foot where they are waiting for the market to come in and save them,” Mackin said. “My philosophy is that if you’re waiting for interest rates or inflation to go down, you’re already dead in this market.” 

Take advantage of the 5 D’s that drive home sales

Mackin urges agents to take responsibility for their own success by focusing on the “Five Ds,” milestone life events that drive real estate deals no matter what the market does. 

Rev Real Estate School went even further and identified “9 D’s” that drive sales and that can help you determine where you should be prospecting. (Asterisks indicate the traditional “5 D’s.”)

  1. Diamonds (marriage)*
  2. Diapers (changes in family size)*
  3. Degrees (graduating from college, medical school, law school, etc.)*
  4. Downsizing (seniors selling after their kids move out)*
  5. Death*
  6. Dumpsters (owners are renovating) 
  7. Difficulties (job loss, financial difficulties, medical bills, etc.)
  8. Desk: (job changes, promotions, transfers, longer commute) 
  9. Dogs: (a new dog causes people to think about a yard and being close to parks)

How to locate and capitalize on marketable moments

Mackin says in today’s market you must become customer-obsessed, get in the habit of doing revenue-generating activities daily, and take advantage of what he calls “marketable moments.”

Here are the steps to follow: 

  • Begin with your contact database of clients, sphere and social media contacts. Your goal is to send out at least one detailed CMA to one of those people daily. 
  • Don’t settle for sending out a regular CMA like most agents do. Mackin agreed with me that you should offer an “Equity Report,” or what I like to call an Equity Checkup. This consists of your regular CMA along with a detailed property report from
  • In terms of who to send this to, look for past clients, members of your sphere, or those who live in the area where you farm and have had a major jump in their equity over the past five or more years. Mackin called this situation a “marketable moment.” 

Assume that a past client’s home has increased in value by $250,000 during the past five years. Here’s an example of a script that Mackin suggests that you use on social media:

I just did a professional value report (Equity Checkup) for one of my clients, and they were shocked at the result since they gained $250,000 in equity in the past five years. 

Since it’s been a while since you’ve had a professional home value report completed for your property, send me a DM (direct message) or comment below. I would be happy to prepare one for you today.

This approach usually generates responses from people who want to know about their home’s value. 

Take advantage of Instagram ‘cheat’ codes

“One of the cheat codes for Instagram is using Instagram polls,” Mackin said. To put this strategy to work in your business, use the same approach described above along with the following script: 

I just did an Equity Report for my clients, and they gained $250,000 in equity over the past five years. Would you like a report for your home?

When someone responds to the poll, “I can slide right into their DMs (direct messages) and have a conversation with them to get their address and then prepare a report for their property,” Mackin said.

Circle prospecting around a new listing

Here’s a slightly different version of the scripts above that you can use when you’re circle prospecting around a new listing. Mackin recommends that you pull down 100 names of property owners near your new listing who have owned their home for at least seven years and contact them by mail using the following message. 

I just completed an equity report for one of your neighbors. They gained $250,000 in equity in the last five years. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a professional check how much equity you have, give me a call or text me. Here’s my number: [###-###-####].

At that point, print out 100 of these letters and mail them to all 100 people. 

“This is what a hyper-personalized marketing campaign for those individuals looks like,” Mackin said. “But don’t stop there. Extend this idea to your Facebook profile, Instagram profile and your farm to maximize the value from this one very simple strategy.” 

The biggest listing attraction experiment in real estate history

In Q4 of 2023, Mackin and Tom Ferry did a program called “$100,000 in 100 days.” Some 2,400 agents agreed to participate and execute on their ideas. The results from their experiment were a major success.  

  • The agents participating in the program took 18,000 listings and generated $7.5 billion in business during Q4 of 2023.  
  • Agents were coached to start doing marketing campaigns that create conversations as in the examples above. 
  • Optimizing your strategy around conversations that focus on the “D’s” means you will be talking to people who must move and will be less concerned about inventory, inflation or interest rates. 
  • The big takeaway from this study was that 11 real estate-related conversations equals one customer.  

The ZMA strategy

Mackin said their research uncovered another strategy that generated 1,000 listings for the 2,400 agents in their study. Their “ZMA strategy is a lightweight version” of the CMA strategy outlined above.

Here’s how it works: 

  • Go to your database, and look up the address of one of your clients.
  • Go to your phone, and pull up the Zestimate for that property on Zillow. 
  • Take a screenshot of the Zestimate.

To start a conversation with your client, text them and say: 

I was on Zillow earlier today looking at your property. I decided to check out your Zestimate. They estimate that your property is worth [value of the Zestimate].  I have my opinion but would love to hear your thoughts. 

Because of the new FCC Rules that limit contact without written consent as well as the hot trend of AI voice calling that impersonates another person, it has become harder for brands and companies to reach consumers without their consent.

“We need to inject more fun and creativity into having these conversations with our customers, Mackin said. “I know I sound old school on this, but if you focus on delivering value to consumers, not tricking and trapping them, you will attract people rather than having to chase them.”

The vicious cycle

Whether you’re a new agent or a 40-year veteran, there’s one pattern that consistently produces major swings in production and undermines your agent success. When agents are new or need more leads to fill their pipeline, most spend more time on lead generation. The trouble is that when they get busy, they cut back on their lead generation activity, which leads to a decline in their production. 

To avoid the vicious circle of large swings in your production, Mackin recommends that you consistently apply the CMA and ZMA approaches above and have at least one conversation daily with someone about their property’s value. 

Let them see you sweat 

Mackin believes that the biggest marketing and messaging mistake that we make in real estate is telling everybody that it’s easy. The result is the perception among consumers that agents are overpaid. 

“We have the worst PR people on the planet in real estate because we have a lot of people who are working really hard, and they get lumped in with those who are sitting around doing nothing. If we can’t solve this ourselves, we can’t expect anyone else to,” Mackin said. 

“If you think all agents are the same, it means that you’ve never worked with a great one.” 

Instead of posting the picture of the happy family in front of the house and saying they’re new homeowners, you need to slow down and describe what it took to close the deal. Mackin provided the following example about what to say: 

I’ve been working with these clients for eight months. We’ve toured 21 properties, we’ve been in seven bidding wars, we had two deals fall through, and we finally got them the house of their dreams.

“I think agents do themselves a huge disservice by not showing the sweat,” Mackin said. “On the sell side, talk about the money you’ve invested into the property, talk about the process you follow, prepare the consumer for what it’s like negotiating with buyers, talk about the inspections and the staging and the marketing. Show the work you’re doing, not just the results you achieve.”

“Every agent should make the practice of getting Google reviews, sharing a success story video online, and producing a case study outlining what you did to get the property sold,” Mackin said. “This should be SOP (standard operating procedure) for every agent.” 

Mackin also advises that you take the institutional knowledge that you have in your head and share that with your clients and your consumer base. Demonstrate your expertise because today’s consumer doesn’t want to work with an amateur — today, it’s pros only.

Mackin’s final piece of advice

Mackin’s final piece of advice comes from JD Rockefeller, “Action solves everything.” 

“Stop waiting on interest rates and inflation to come down. Get in motion, start having more conversations, and you will book more appointments and get more customers,” Mackin said.

“Get off the sidelines, get in the game, and have that mindset that action solves everything.” 

Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUP and, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,500 published articles. Learn about her new and experienced agent sales training programs at plus her latest initiative to help women build wealth and secure their financial independence at 

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