How We Started
My name is John Williams. I am a broker in St. Louis Missouri. I first got licensed in 1983 and sold real estate part-time while I worked as a computer programmer at McDonnell Douglas (now called Boeing). Back in 1983 I got “bit by the real estate bug” and decided to get my real estate license. At that time, the economy was coming out of a recession and interest rates were 13% or more. My original intent was to buy a house for myself. But I soon learned that I loved helping people buy and sell real estate. In May 1987 I went full-time helping buyers and sellers with their real estate needs. Since that time, my family has depended on my commission only income. In other words, if I did not sell, we did not eat! Was I motivated? You bet! And I still am today!
Early on, I quickly realized that most new agents failed within the first 5 years and I did not want to be one of them! So, I learned, don’t do what most agents do or you will get what they get! Looking back on my early years, I realized that because I worked full-time as a computer programmer, I missed a lot of the traditional training offered by my original brokerage. I definitely made some mistakes early on, but I really think this that helped me be creative in my marketing! To think outside the box.
I had to figure it out quick!
I became a guerrilla marketing expert. Early on I implemented a CRM (if you could call it that), tired a funky program call Howard and Friends and eventually switched over to using Top Producer. I became a great prospector and built a team. I used my MBA (with a concentration in marketing) to it’s fullest. I got real estate designations. GRI, CRS, CRB. I called on FSBOs. I called expired listings. I knocked on doors! I networked. I worked my butt off! I did everything I could do to get an edge on the competition! But I was always competing against bigger companies and their massive advertising spends, especially for newspapers, television, etc. That is until the Internet …
It all changed in 1998 for me!
At that time I had a personal website. My name .com which is what so many agents still do, if they can get their name. But in 1998 I got StLouisMLS.com and I used a SOAR MLS Site that allowed consumers to search for themselves listings and get emailed. I then paid (one of the few times I have done so) for a link on AOL Digital City. I also started buying St Louis GeoTargeted Dot Com domains. I learned to program basic websites at the time and started to surround my competition on the web! The consumer was migrating to the web and I was waiting for them. I realized that I could not beat them website to website. But what if I could surround them theoretically with multiple websites targeting home buyer and seller niches and maybe just maybe I could then beat them to the customer.
But newspapers were still king for real estate advertising.
And they special deals with the big brokers. For example it would cost me $135 to run a 5 line ad for an open house for a Friday – Sunday run that would cost my competition $30-$40. And to add insult to injury I found out if you were a for sale by owner you could run a similar ad for a 10 day special for less than $50. That right … TEN DAYS! That was 2 Sunday and 1 Friday real estate section ads and all the other days regular classifieds. In Missouri, we have to disclose an ad is our company so we were going to get charged the big advertising rate!
But wait…. What if I started an Internet marketing company and built a for sale by owner site where owners could have a web page with pictures (unheard of back then) and then promote their web page in the real estate section of the newspaper. And what if the For Sale By Owner had a link that said something like “See All the Homes For Sale In St Louis” and linked to StLouisMLS.com. What happened some days there were as many as 20 ads in the newspaper generating traffic to the FSBO site. That generated traffic to that site and many of the visitors ended up visiting (and signing up) on StLouisMLS.com.
But my competition was not happy with me
I think if your competition can’t keep up with you, instead of trying to get better themselves, they will try to tear you down. That is exactly what happened. I had people (who I respect) threaten me that they were going to tell everyone not to do business with me. I had to remind people about the Sherman AntiTrust Act and how it applies to real estate. (BTW at this point I was a state certified CE instructor and taught REALTOR Code of Ethics training at the local association.)
Just know this, haters gonna hate… Forget em and move on. Stay strong and people will respect you. Submit to their demands and they will walk all over you.
Hence AgentGold™ was born…
It didn’t happen overnight but I realized that there was something here and I better get ahead of the curve. I started researching and developing premium real estate, mortgage, and insurance, domains/websites. THIS TOOK YEARS TO BUILD THIS NETWORK!
In 2009, Dennis Norman, the smartest person I know in real estate, became my partner in our real estate brokerage and together we are the Guerrilla Brokers® and together we have coached real estate agents on how to use tools like AgentGold™ to grow their business.
Our Driving Beliefs Were and Are…
- We believe that real estate agents and brokers need more than 1 website to successfully market and promote themselves.
- We believe every real estate agent and broker must have an on-going lead generation system to keep bringing in new customers and clients.
- We believe that real estate agents and brokers can and must be in control of their own marketing.
- We believe that every new introduction to a real estate home buyer of seller could lead to thousands of dollars of income for the real estate agent and broker. You must understand the lifetime value of a customer.
- We believe that all real estate is local and that the local real estate professional needs to the ‘go-to” expert for buyers and sellers.
- We believe that “There are Riches in the Niches!”. Real estate agents and brokers need to define their specific areas of expertise and not try to be a Jack of all Trades. It’s better to be the big fish in a small pond rather than just another big fish in a big lake or ocean.
Today AgentGold™ is a network comprised of 100s of premium websites focused primarily on the real estate industry (but also includes mortgage and insurance industries). AgentGold™ works well with both online and offline marketing efforts.
Not convinced you need more websites for your business? Here's the why! Get this free report!
Learn more about premium clickable domains and how they can help your marketing. Download your FREE report here.