The King Kong Of Birmingham

UREM 8 Gusty Gulas | Marketing Mistakes


There are marketing mistakes that you can’t afford to make, whether it’s not tracking your leads or not being able to differentiate yourself from the competition. There are a lot of mistakes you can make in marketing, and this is why you should listen to this episode. Join Jason Williford as he talks to the President of The Gusty Gulas Group, Gusty Gulas about some marketing mistakes you need to avoid. Gusty and his team have been recognized both nationally and locally as Greater Birmingham Alabama’s #1 team in homes sold. Learn how to advertise correctly. Know your return on investments on leads. And, find out how being a parent can change your mindset on business. Start fixing those mistakes today!

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The King Kong Of Birmingham

Marketing Mistakes That #1 Birmingham Team Leader Gusty Gulas Can’t Afford To Make & You Can’t Either

I have a special guest on. He’s the Owner and Team Leader of the Gusty Gulas Group, AKA G3. He and his team are with eXp Realty. His team is recognized both nationally and locally as Greater Birmingham Alabama’s number team in home sold since 2012. He’s also Zillow and Google’s top-rated and most reviewed real estate team in his market.

They have sold over 3,100 homes, over $670 million in volume. His team averages 70 times more than an average real estate agent. He’s also highly recommended by several local record radio stations and former SEC football stars like Greg McElroy and Cole Cubelic. Without further ado, Mr. Gusty Gulas.

I’m doing great, Jason. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

I am excited to have you on. I have told you before that I adore Birmingham. I love the city. I have lived there, ran a company out of the area, enjoyed that area and the people that lived there.

We need to have you back soon. We have gone through a lot of revitalization over the years so there might be some things that you would not even recognize.

It has been years since I have been there. My favorite barbecue restaurant is Full Moon so there’s a quick plug for Full Moon Bar-B-Que in Birmingham, Alabama.

It’s pretty delicious but I need to introduce you to SAW’s BBQ. That is one of my favorites.

In real estate coaching, you want to break the numbers down and help agents go for what's realistic. Click To Tweet

I will go on a barbecue test tour of Birmingham, Alabama.

Only if I’m invited and we can have a rib eating contest.

I love ribs, too. I’m pretty great on the green egg. The green egg does the work but I managed the green egg. Could you tell us more about you?

I’m right here in Birmingham, Alabama. I’m married to Katie and we’ve got two kids, Trip and Max. I went to the University of Alabama Roll Tide. I graduated there. Ever since college, I have been in real estate related. I was in the mortgage business for a couple of years and then found my way into real estate. Luckily, I have been successful in the real estate world and built a team up. When people think of Birmingham, Alabama real estate, people think of our team, which is a beautiful thing for us as we continue to grow.

I live in Miami Beach. I have seen some of the biggest homes everywhere but I have seen some of the biggest homes that I have ever seen in my life in Birmingham, Alabama.

One of the top ten largest homes is in Birmingham and it was built by Mr. House. I call it the House House. It should have probably been like a bed and breakfast stately home over in the Shoal Creek area. A lot of times people recognize that because there was an $8 million or $9 million home and if you took that house and put it somewhere else, it would be a $100 million home.

That’s what this show is about. It’s about building a machine that works harder for you than you work for it. We all know that it does not start that way. It’s something that you are building and you are still building and should always be optimizing the machine. You did an amazing job in 2021. What did you end up with volume and transactions in 2021?

UREM 8 Gusty Gulas | Marketing Mistakes

Marketing Mistakes: When you bring in talent, you want to partner with really good people. You want to get them to wherever they want to go and make sure that their ideals align with the company.


This has been the first year that we closed over 500 homes. We ended the year at 566 homes for $152 million in volume. We have been stuck in the $400 million unit mark and so we were pretty pumped to get over $500 million. We are on our path to 1,000 homes.

What do you think was the game-changer that got you unstuck?

A lot of it has to do with we are consistently developing our agents and always trying to get them to the next level. We added more agents. That helps get over that threshold. Our support staff is the best in the business. We have some of the support staff that has been with us for many years. When you get into that consistency, we have got some amazing staff and leaders. Our systems and processes are good and even on top of that, we are always trying to get better. When we bring in talent, we want to partner with good people. We want to get them to wherever they want to go and make sure that their ideas align with ours. It’s a combination of everything.

Zig Ziglar helped enough people get to where they wanted to go in life. You are going to get to where you want to go.

Every agent is different. They want to meet certain unit or volume goals. I have got people on our team that wanted to close $5 million and $20 million. The way you coach and mentor them is different.

How did you coach that agent that’s looking to do $5 million versus $20 million?

We break the numbers down and dive into what it’s realistically going to take for them to do those numbers. Are they willing to put in the time, effort, consistency, and follow-up to be able to do those kinds of things? Oftentimes, most of them are not. That’s okay. We’ve got to meet them wherever they are at.

A lot of times people don't realize what they actually can do without being mentored a little bit. Click To Tweet

A lot of times, people don’t realize what they can do without being pushed or mentored a little bit. Oftentimes, we will be 3, 4 or 5 months into the year. We are seeing where their numbers are at and say, “If you put in a little bit more, you can hit $10 million this year. Would that be a little bit cooler than $8 million?”

That is what is amazing. It’s not just about the numbers had it and you know the deal. It’s not about, “I sold X amount of volume in real estate.” What’s amazing is when we change someone’s life, that not only affects them as a real estate agent but affects their family and friends. They can do more things for the community than they were, originally. One of the biggest things that I love is changing someone’s life. That’s why I do it. What makes you decide to build a team?

It came from an excess of leads. My first step was starting with a part-time assistant. I took off the things that I was not the greatest at which was paperwork and so we delegated that. That allowed me to sell more houses. Luckily, I was super thankful. It got to the point where I have more leads than I could handle but I grew up in an entrepreneurial business.

Both of my parents were entrepreneurs and I knew that we had to provide a great customer service experience. At that point, we had to bring on more talent. We brought on our first agent, which worked out well, and then from that point, we stairsteps. It’s not like we hired ten people right out of the gate. We hired one, a couple of more, stairstep and screw it that way. It came from a need of knowing I wanted to provide an excellent experience, and also enjoy coaching and mentoring other agents. I always think that if you are not growing, you are dying. Those are the main reasons.

To external clients being the home sellers, home buyers or investors but being preeminent to your internal clients as well. That’s awesome that you learned that from your parents. What work were they in?

My dad had seven different restaurants at the same time, which was quite a juggle. I grew up in the restaurant business. Luckily, I did not take that. My mom had an antique store and consignment shop. It was cool to grow up and learn from two of the best but they instilled in me early on that you’ve got to provide a great experience and customer service.

My grandfather was an entrepreneur as well. What comes back most to me is going back to values. A mental model that I have in my mind too is simply doing people right and doing the right thing. Am I doing things as my grandfather would do in business? I’m always checking myself. If you could go back in time being a brand new team leader and you started a team, what would you go back and tell yourself to do things differently?

UREM 8 Gusty Gulas | Marketing Mistakes

Marketing Mistakes: You don’t have to hire 10 people right out of the gate. You can hire one and just kind of stair-step. You can provide coaching and mentorship. Because if you’re not growing, you’re dying.


Buy houses. Invest more for sure. Looking at being a team leader and working with the agents, I would have created more systems and processes early on so that I would be able to use leverage even more.

I wanted to get into one of the chapters within the book, which are huge marketing mistakes that can cost agents a ton of money. There are 29 marketing mistakes that real estate agents make within this chapter and I want to get into marketing mistake number two, which is falling victim to doing what the rest of the herd is doing. How many agents are in your local market?

We are at 4,600 and growing.

I have seen an article in RealTrends. It said that the amount of real estate agents in the industry is at an all-time high.

When I was at NAR, we were at $1.57 million in the United States.

Those are realtors. Those are not real estate agents. I was wrong. The number in 2021 was over $1.4 million but that’s the part that I had wrong. I thought that was real estate agents total, not just realtors. I say, “Separate yourself from the herd. You are going to be a commodity within the industry.” What are some things that you do to not fall victim to being a traditional real estate agent?

You have got to be different so that people will recognize you. I’m pretty lucky. I have got a weird name. That’s easily recognizable, comparatively speaking. I consider myself a student of the industry and I will watch what people do all around the country. I would like to see what everybody is doing and doing what works. We have been early on to doing radio ads in our market. I have got my radio show and probably one of the most fun hours of the week that I have. What I love about that is it’s even built some good relationships.

You've got to be different so that people will recognize you. Click To Tweet

What are some things that you cover in your radio show?

We do a local business spotlight and that’s one of our segments. We can find out about new businesses. We have been able to have mayors, the city council, and the president of the housing authority. We have grown it into being not only a real estate show but being about Birmingham. We will talk about new restaurants coming out.

The first segment is about me and my co-host’s life, real estate, and the mortgage business. The second segment is about the local business spotlight. In the third segment, we talk about our open houses that are coming soon, new listings, buyers’ needs, and testimonials. The fourth segment depends on how we are going with the flow.

It almost goes back into whoever our guest is for the week. We are trying to do something different than everybody else in the market. We are trying to bring as much attention, not only to us as a brand but our clients. We want to get as many people on our website to get maximum exposure for our listings and get them the most money. That’s what separates us from the herd.

The number one principle to me in business is the Strategy of Preeminence. Chapter 4, the preeminent agent, being the number one most trusted expert in the marketplace. What you are doing on that radio show is you are educating the entire local market on great medium radio. It sets you up as the authoritative expert in the Birmingham area, the number one most trusted go-to agent in the market.

You also tie into 1 of the 217 predictable referral strategies that Jay Abraham and I have in Elite Agent Referral Mastery. One of those is expert interviews. You are building strategic alliances with local business owners. Not only are you being about Gusty but you are also being about those local business owners. Everybody that you are bringing on that show when they also are authoritative influencers within the market, they also know who their number one go-to agent is.

For example, the UAB health system is the biggest employer in the State of Alabama, so we have a big health tech emerging out of Birmingham. Our guests that are going to be on the next episode are building this health tech company. He gets into how he’s able to help patients and what he’s doing to generate funding. We are bringing a spotlight on that local business, which has the ability. Potentially, one day it could get acquired and a multi-hundred million dollar company. How cool would it be to say, “Early on, we had him on our radio show?”

It’s good forever. It’s the content library. It’s an asset. Your library would be video or audio, which I love video because when you capture the video content, you can repurpose that content any way that you want. It’s pretty much the king of content video. You can transcribe the video. Get into words. You can strip the audio out of it.

UREM 8 Gusty Gulas | Marketing Mistakes

Marketing Mistakes: Every agent is different. Every agent wants to meet certain unit or volume goals. The way you coach and mentor them has got to be completely different.


You can take a 60-second spot and run that as one of your radio spots. I wanted to see, get into marketing mistake, number sixteen, which are all lead sources are created equal. Do you even know how much approximately you have wasted in ineffective marketing through the years when you did not know what you did not know?

It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars.

You are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars that you can try back into this or that campaign not working but when you put opportunity cost and opportunity cost being, “How much is my average gross commission income worth per transaction?” Let’s say it’s $12,000. That’s when the number skyrockets of how much that marketing can lose.

It’s not only the front-end marketing, the lead generation piece of it. It’s also the conversion piece of it that if you don’t have those conversion mechanisms dialed in, you can lose a ton of marketing dollars and opportunity expenses. What do you have to say? Was there a point in your career that you may have thought that leads are leads and they are about equal? Was there a come to Jesus that happened within you, something that triggered, “I need to track and measure each one of these lead sources, know what’s working and what’s not working?”

If you read any marketing books or take any marketing classes, rule number one when you are doing advertising is you’ve got to try it for six months and if you are not willing to try it for six months, you don’t need to do it. It’s probably more like twelve months, depending on what it is. When we first started radio, I don’t think we had our first phone call until month four, and then I don’t think we had our first closing until month six.

It was a heck of an investment but we have been doing it for years and we are on four stations. What you’ve got to do is, if you are going to do it, you are going to have to commit a minimum of 6 to 12 months. You’ve got to look at what’s your true return on investment. There are some things that you can’t tell. Some are branding plays but for some of those, you can give an indirect return on investment from those things.

Nothing is created equal. There are going to be some things that work and maybe in two years they don’t work or the company finds out that it works and they want more bang for their buck and want more money and things change. At the end of the day, what we have done a good job of is building our brand. You’ve got to build your brand, and then get everything to whatever your command center is, whether it’s your website, part of your sphere marketing campaigns or anything like that. You’ve got to be willing to AB test it. Don’t be afraid to try different things but you have got to commit to at least 6 to 12 months.

Every decision you make, as a leader, affects a hundred people and their families. Click To Tweet

You did not say this but I could tell by what you were saying that you do track, report, and measure your lead sources. The way I describe it is if you are not doing that, it’s like flying an airplane and not having any instruments. There’s a point of time that you are going to fly the plane right into a mountain, especially if you have some heavy-duty to you, whatever that number, maybe marketing dollars going into campaigns. What are some suggestions that you would like to give, as far as tracking, reporting, and measuring lead campaigns?

You need to track. We listen to every phone call that comes in. We don’t have ISAs, so our leads go directly to our agents but we can listen to those conversations. We can grade them and coach our agents so that we can work towards an increase in conversion and return on investment. At the end of the day, you’ve got to track everything. We know how many closes are coming from different lead sources. We know how many leads we are sending to title to insurance and mortgage.

That’s one thing I have seen about you. You are on my social media. You are on Facebook. I see from time to time, not just your business but also you live a great life to yourself. If I’m reading you right and I think I am, it’s not just about business for Gusty. It’s about having a rounded life. It may not be a perfectly balanced life. I like to go back to Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life where there are 8 spokes within the wheel and 2 of those spokes are business and finances.

There are six more spokes. There’s love, family, and spirituality. How has building a team that hopefully, you don’t have to work 90 hours a week in your business? I’m probably sure you have done that in the past. Hopefully, you are not still doing that. How has your life changed since when you were an independent agent or when you were starting to build your team?

Kids changed everything. They are a huge blessing. Years ago, we had our oldest. My wife and I had a six-month game plan for me to take a step out of the business. It took a minute and so I had to learn how to handle baton off on listings, clients, and buyers.

Is it hard to do from the get-go?

It was super hard. I realized that I have got to be focused. My job can’t necessarily be about focusing on that 1 listing or 1 buyer because I have got 27 agents and 11 support staff. When you add those people up, they have got spouses and kids. For every decision I make, I have to think about 90 to 100 people.

You are disserving. We are at a different place now than we were years ago. A way to change your agent’s thinking is by trying to do everything and be everything, we are unintentionally disserving everyone. It’s because if we are focusing all that attention on the listing, we have these twenty agents out there that are not focusing.

UREM 8 Gusty Gulas | Marketing Mistakes

Marketing Mistakes: In advertising, you’ve got to really look at your return on investment. Sometimes you can get an indirect return on investment, nothing is created equal.


We can focus on mentoring them well.

It’s the same thing for the client.

We will come back and let me circle that loop. I’m usually home by 6:00 PM. I’m at home on the weekends and one of the big things I wanted to do was try to remove agent burnout, especially in a market like this where you’ve got to drop everything. We created years ago as we have on-call weekends. Our agents trade 1 weekend a showing for all of our team members to get 3 weekends off. In essence, we become showing agents and if one of the clients wants to make an offer, then the agent in charge will write the offer and handle everything. That gives people some time off to be with kids and family, do laundry, go on vacation and have a life.

It goes back to that white-glove experience. Not just for your agents but for the clients, too. You’ve got an agent that’s charged, ready to rock, and have some downtime. They have some family time, are happier, less stressed out and frustrated. I love what you did there. What’s your favorite part of doing what you do for your team, clients, and community? What makes it fun for you?

I like seeing others succeed. I feel like I have made it in the business, so it’s about bringing other people on. I feel like I have gone through the ego stage and have shed the ego. It’s about other people. When you are a parent, things do change. It’s about helping other people grow and others. A lot has changed by being a parent. I love coaching and mentoring people. I love celebrating everybody’s success. Even if they are not on my team, I still like celebrating others’ success. At the end of the day, there’s enough business to go around.

Life gives to the givers and takes from the takers.

Takers don’t work on our team. I will tell you that. You’ve got to be a team player and a giver. The ones that have tried to come on our team that it was all about them never worked out.

I’ve got two last questions. First question, in the interview process, how do you know immediately that someone is not going to be a fit for your team?

They don’t listen to an interview. In an interview, you need to talk about yourself but we try to ask tough questions where we want to learn about them. What we have found is if we can get to know somebody deep personally and we can help coach them on a personal level, then we can have them the best for their professional level.

I’m looking for people that are team players. Did they play in a team sport growing up? I will look at their language. Are they talking about I or are they talking about we? I try to test them during the process and see if they are truly realistic. Some people don’t interview well. I’m probably the person that likes to give more people an opportunity than they probably deserve. I’m looking for good people.

I’m trying to remember something. It was in a book or that may even be the title, “A humble, hungry and smart.” They don’t have to be a rocket scientist but have good common sense.

Celebrate other people's success because, at the end of the day, there's enough business to go around in life. Click To Tweet

I don’t want a rocket scientist for real estate.

In a sales environment, over-analytical is not good. It’s super-duper 1,000% logical not good either. What does the future for the Gusty Gulas Group look like?

We had a goal to close 1,000 homes since 2017. We are making a process and chipping away at that tree. One thousand homes are where we are geared for and who knows what’s going to happen after that? I’m working on making an impact on people’s lives. One of my long-term goals is to work on affordable housing and help with homelessness. Those are a couple of things that I’m working on but the team will continue to grow and if you are not growing, you are dying, so let’s stay in growth mode.

That’s one thing that changed for me when I was sick in the hospital, almost died in late 2020. My mission statement changed and it became simple that while I’m here on Earth, my mission is to positively impact ten million or more lives directly or indirectly. Theoretically speaking, if I said something to Gusty and Gusty went out and did not even mention my name, maybe they did not even know it resonated that it came directly from me, and he went out and impacted one million lives. I’ve got 1 million lives in my mission.

Can I challenge you on that? How do you quantify that?

That’s a hard number to track on that you and I both being trackers. I think about crazy stuff like that. How do I track and measure that? Be tough to track and measure but being on a big stage will help me get closer to tracking that. Agents on Fire TV show is going to be releasing the first episode. That’s a great platform.

I have Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank on there. Jay Abraham, Michael Bernoff and Ben Gay III. He was Napoleon Hill’s last protégé. His boat the closers sold over twelve million copies. Getting on more stages. Hopefully, the book impacts more lives. That’s one way to track that, by how many sales and people, which is hard to try. How many people ball it, and then how many people read it? I do appreciate you and I love what you are doing. For agents that are reading that may have referrals in the Birmingham market, how can they get in touch with you?

I tell people to follow me on social media, Instagram or Facebook and reach out to us through our website GustyGulasGroup.com. We will take great care of their referrals.

I sure do appreciate you being on and let’s get us some of that barbecue soon.

We’ve got to book that trip.

I told you, I would pay heftily for you to have some mail to Miami some of that Full Moon.

We will figure it out. I will make it happen. I’m going to make some phone calls.


Important Links


About Gusty Gulas

UREM 8 Gusty Gulas | Marketing Mistakes

Owner and Team Leader of the Gusty Gulas Group (aka “G3”) with EXP Realty.

His Team is recognized both nationally and locally as Greater Birmingham Alabama’s #1 Team in Homes Sold since 2012 as well as Zillow’s & Google’s top-rated and most reviewed real estate team in the market. They’ve Sold over 3,100 homes and over 670 Million in Volume!

His team averages 70 times more sales than the average real estate agent!

Gusty and his team are highly recommended by several local radio stations and former SEC football stars, Greg McElroy and Cole Cubelic.


Jason Williford

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