Sbardella owns upstate New York—or at least all the domain names relating to real estate in the 518 area code. His first day in real estate in 2004, he set up his www.518realty.com site; now he’s bought about 80 similar domain names (518homebuyers.com, 518homesellers.com, and so on), which are all redirected to his main site. This powerful marketing yields him an average of five leads a day and results in some 20 percent of his business. Combining this high-tech approach with referrals enabled Sbardella to close $10 million in sales last year.
A brand with bite: To add teeth to his marketing, Sbardella chose the image of a Doberman pinscher and taglines such as “Guarding your biggest investment” and “Hire the top dog to sell your home.” The dog’s image appears on Sbardella’s Web site alongside his photo. A year ago, he put the Doberman on a billboard, spending more than $12,000; people still mention the billboard, he says.
No more opens: Sbardella also turned to technology as an alternative to spending Saturdays sitting at open houses. “In my newspaper ads, I started calling the virtual tours on my site Virtual Open Houses. I also put riders on my yard signs that say, ‘Visit the Virtual Open House at www.518realty.com,’” he says. “It’s generated more hits, and now my weekends are free.”