What is a Marketing Session?

“What is a marketing session and why should I attend one?” I have heard this question many times, asked by agents who do not see the benefits of attending. In fact, many agents approach a meeting with the attitude that the session is “time away from their business” … “People only bring old listings that can’t sell in the multiple listing” … “Agents are trying to exchange two dogs for one cat” … “I attended a meeting and never did any business.” I have heard these comments many times by brokers who are not aware of the benefits in this unique method of marketing real estate.

A marketing session is, first of all, a networking opportunity where brokers get together for the common goal of solving their – or their client’s – investment goals, or to locate opportunities or product for their user clients. It is a brainstorming session where everyone benefits from the free-flow of ideas and solutions to problems. When you attend a meeting, you are expected to share your thoughts and ideas as the meeting progresses. You don’t benefit by just waiting impatiently until your turn to present a property and then leaving.

The expectation of many first-timers at a meeting is that they will present a property, tell the audience what they want, and then wait for other agents to write them an offer. When this does not happen, they decide the meeting was a waste of time or, worse yet, that marketing sessions in general are not worth attending.

Moderators are the key to a successful meeting. They see that the early hours of an all-day session, or the early days of the multi-day meeting, are spent introducing various methods of bringing out the inventory of the group and gathering information, especially with regard to the level of the owner’s motivation. Of course offers are written at this stage, but more will develop as the meeting progresses and the moderator works with various formulas and methods to help the participants put together transactions they may not see on their own, or ideas that do not surface when the property is first presented.

As an example, let us say that our new member has just listed a piece of development ground valued at $250,000. The client said he would only accept cash and/or good notes (paper). Our inexperienced broker decides to try the market session to sell his new listing and during the presentation, makes it very clear that his client only wants cash and paper. He therefore discourages the broker in the room who has a “newly completed office building, valued at $1,000,000 with a $750,000 construction loan” from writing an offer. He doesn’t have what the presenter said he wanted! Later in the meeting, the broker with the listing on the newly developed office building makes a presentation and says that his client wants “good development ground or cash.” Again, nothing may happen, even though the broker is in the room with the development ground. He doesn’t want the office building and can’t see the deal. At this point, a good moderator may see the potential transaction developing and begin to question the two brokers, encouraging each to write a proposal to the other. This is where experience begins to pay off!

Let’s move to later in the meeting. The moderator has been asking the brokers in the meeting, “Who has cash and who has paper?” A list begins to develop that can be used throughout the session as the catalyst to piece together transactions. Another agent stands and says her client has a well-secured note and trust deed in the amount of $250,000 and the client would like to use this as a down payment to acquire an improved real estate investment. The agent says that her client has a strong financial statement and does not want anything too old.

The pieces are now in place to complete the transaction. The level of expertise of the moderator and the participants at the meeting will determine whether the transaction is successfully started, or if the three brokers leave the meeting saying, “Nothing ever happens at a market session!” The experienced moderator will encourage the brokers to write the following offers: (1) $250,000 in paper offered as a down payment on the new $1,000,000 office building, subject to obtaining a new $750,000 loan to take out the construction loan; (2) Office building offered the $250,000 note, subject to its receipt, for the development ground – and everyone is happy! The potential three-way transaction can now be completed.

The experienced moderator was looking for the “takers” for the various properties presented and the inexperienced participants were looking for people who had what they wanted. The most important people for putting transactions together are the takers. Find out who is willing to offer on what, regardless of what people say they want. That can be solved later.

Listen to the experienced brokers at the meeting. Listen to how they present their package. Listen to how they encourage ideas and offers. Watch how they put together transactions, piece by piece.

Go to education courses to learn how to counsel with your clients. Go to the CCIM courses to develop the technical skills. Go to the courses to learn the formulas to creatively put transactions together and … “Make things happen.”

The deals are there, you just need to learn how to find them. As any marketing network improves the expertise of its members through the courses it brings to the group, it will also improve the deal-making capabilities within the group and more transactions will occur between members. It is not the only method of marketing property, it is just another method, and good brokers should use all the options available to get the job done for their clients. I, for one, have done most of my business through the networks I have developed over the years in various marketing groups.

Try it … and give it a chance to work!

Kenneth M. Vidar, S.E.C., CCIM, has been attending and moderating marketing sessions across the United States and Canada for over 39 years. He is currently teaching his course “Creative Solutions” to marketing groups and CCIM Chapters across the country.

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