Marketing and Selling Real Estate Utilizing the Chinese Zodiac


chinese zodiac Yesterday my friend Todd Carpenter wrote this on his Facebook wall:

I’m tired of reading "How to sell to Gen Y" posts. When is someone going to write about how to market to some other completely arbitrary group of people like they are all the same post? What about a post on how to market to people depending on how they fit into the Chinese Zodiac? Now THAT’s a post I want to read.

I thought this was a brilliant idea. After all, why limit my marketing skills to people born between 1982 and 1995? Let’s face it, there aren’t all that many 15 year olds buying homes. And the Chinese Zodiac covers EVERYONE – a much wider potential client base.

For those that aren’t aware, or who have never read the placemat at a Chinese restaurant, the Chinese zodiac consists of 12 animals and associates personality traits for a person depending on which animal corresponds to the year of their birth. For example, I was born in 1960, the Year of the Rat. Therefore, I’m a rat (according to the Chinese zodiac. And probably my ex-wife).

So for your reading pleasure, we present how to market to people based on their Chinese Zodiac sign (all traits come from

The Rat: “Rats are full of good advice but they will never share their troubles with others. They are honest individuals and they enjoy living for the moment. They’re also capable of surviving any situation.”

This is perfect for the aspiring real estate agent. After all, who doesn’t want a buyer that will never share their troubles? You want to live for the moment? Great, sign this contract RIGHT FREAKING NOW and buy this damn house. Who cares if it’s not exactly right, you can survive any situation. Deal with it.

The Ox: “Oxen are capable of trusting others and will listen to their opinions with an open mind. However, Oxen prefer making decisions that are based on their own research.”

Dear Mr / Ms Ox – Thank you for trusting me. You should. After all I’m a real estate agent, and who in their right mind doesn’t trust a real estate agent? Since you prefer making decisions based on your own research, I won’t even bother to really help you. Go to, figure out a house value, and we’ll fill in the blanks on an offer. Thanks for the commission check.

The Tiger: “Tigers love to be challenged and will accept any challenge if it means protecting a loved one or protecting their honor.”

Sweet! You want a challenge? Try being one of forty-three buyers interested in that $32K trashed-out bank owned condo. Come on you spineless bastard, offer over listing price or you’ll lose this challenge along with what little personal honor you had before we started this home buying adventure 23 months ago.

The Rabbit: “Rabbits prefer to avoid conflict. In confrontational situations, Rabbits approach calmly and with consideration for the other party.”

Avoid conflict? Consideration for the other party? What a load of crap. Forget working with rabbits.

The Dragon: “Dragons prefer to live by their own rules and are driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks.”

Tell your dragon that buying a former meth house is full of challenges and a high risk proposition. They won’t care. They’re driven and live by their own rules. Cha-ching! Might as well hit the “That was easy!” button and rack up the credit cards. Your future commission check is golden.

The Snake: “Snakes are very materialistic creatures, preferring to surround themselves with the finest that life has to offer. This is especially evident in the home, where luxurious furnishings and surroundings help Snakes seek the peace they need in order to thrive.”

Sounds like another pain in the ass client. Leave snakes to the luxury market real estate agents.

The Horse: “Horses are perhaps a bit too centered on themselves and have been known to throw tantrums when situations don’t go their way.”

Great. I have no idea how to deal with these kind of people. I mean seriously, who ever heard of a real estate client thinking only of themselves or throwing a tantrum? Refer horses to agents you don’t like.

The Goat: “Home and alone is where Goats feel most comfortable. Goats prefer the couch because there they can relax and explore their minds.”

Home and alone? Relaxing on the couch? Did a real estate agent write this description? This is another slam dunk. Look Mr. Goat, this home is perfect for you. You can put a couch in the great room, the master bedroom and even the garage. Pick a spot to relax and explore your mind. Enjoy yourself, I’ll be in the Bahamas fishing on your dime.

The Monkey: “The Monkey possesses such character traits as curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness.”

Avoid. Monkey buyers are the ones that open kitchen cabinets, look under the beds, flip light switches and flush toilets. And really, who wants a clever client?

The Rooster: “Roosters are extremely sociable and prefer being the center of attention, always bragging about themselves and their accomplishments.”

What you have here, is the perfect seller. Just nod your head politely and say, “I agree, your home IS far superior to every home on the street. Why it’s worth at least $30K more than your neighbors house! You scored a major accomplishment with those granite counter tops. Sign here.”

The Dog: “The Dog symbolizes character traits such as loyalty, compatibility and kindness. Ensuring others are happy is more important to the Dog than wealth, money or success.”

Score! This is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. All you need to do to secure the dog as a client is generate a few tears as you explain living on a commission, waking up every day unemployed, and having no health insurance. If you have children, all the better. Leverage the fact that you can’t give your kids what they need and you have no savings for their college.

The Pig: “Pigs seek peace and will do what is necessary to maintain it. This trait, while admirable, sometimes makes it easy for others to take advantage of Pigs.”

They sometimes makes it easy for others to take advantage of them. ‘Nuff said. Just do it. Don’t feel guilty. You’re a real estate agent for God’s sake.

So there you have it – how to market to EVERYONE

For the record, this article is not intended to demean, berate or make fun of the Chinese zodiac, anyone of Chinese descent, or any animal. What it’s intended to do is demean, berate and make fun of all these “marketing gurus” who pump out one article after another containing drivel about how to market to wide and basically random swaths of the population.

This makes no sense. Okfine, I’ll grant you that some people in some population segments have some similar traits. But seriously, lumping people into arbitrary groups (“experts” can’t even agree on what “Gen X” and “Gen Y” really mean!) and applying marketing techniques to that group is just nonsense. Here are a couple of nuggets I found via a 30 second foray into Google for “Marketing to Gen Y”:

  • Customer experience matters. Really? I’m a “baby boomer” and customer experience matters to me. To who doesn’t it matter?
  • Gen Y is free spending. My son, who falls squarely into what most call Gen Y, is the biggest tightwad I know. I can’t even get him to move out because he won’t pry open his wallet. I on the other hand, a mere 10 days away from turning fifty, like to spend money like it grows on the proverbial tree.
  • Deliver a great product at a great price. Well this is stunning advice. Why didn’t I think of this strategy? But it only applies to Gen Y???
  • If you want to be taken serious by Gen Y, you need to know they love music. Why? Because they all have iPods? So do I. Granted I had to get my daughter to show me how to steal music off the internet download something from iTunes, but come on. Gen Y loves music? Boomers do to. Heck, I still have eight-tracks, albums and a turntable. This was the most idiotic “marketing to Gen Y” advice I saw…

I can’t even look any further. It’s just stupid. Gen Y, Gen X, baby boomer, millennial, WHATEVER, they are all people. Unique individuals with unique needs, wants and desires. Lumping people into “generations” based on population shifts on a graph and applying wholesale marketing techniques to them makes about as much sense as me telling you to avoid people born in the Year of the Rabbit.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go target dogs and pigs.



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About the Author
Jay Thompson

I'm a real estate broker in Phoenix, Arizona and the publisher of the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog. I tend to drive too fast and scream at the University of Texas and Denver Broncos football teams. My two kids are smarter than most adults I know and my wife is simply amazing.

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