Un-marketing is the new marketing

CJ DiMaggio
3 min readApr 27, 2021


Lots of investors have made fortunes in real estate by just relying on their gut feeling about what was or wasn’t a good investment.

But we mere mortals have to be more careful than that. We can’t afford to waste time, and we can’t afford to lose money. We know we can be bullied and blustered into doing the wrong thing. We know that slick marketing can pull at our heartstrings. So instead of relying on horse sense or good luck, we do hard work.

We do due diligence. We read through boring annual reports and economic forecasts. We pore over volumes of government regulations. We schlep down to the local planning counter to chat with the staff about zoning and variances.

It’s not fair, because a lot of the time all we’re doing is trying to prove or disprove marketing claims made by people who often get paid a lot more than we do. We’re unmasking the property. Un-marketing it.

Like my recent project in Hawai’i.

My client had a vision for an environmentally-conscious mixed-use development that would give back to the community. He thought he had found the perfect site for it, so he asked me to check it out.

The real estate agent’s listing was all glossy marketing. Brochures full of photos of sweeping ocean views. Pre-approved for a 50-lot subdivision! All the water you need! Make your dream a reality! Hurry, this one won’t last!

As I waded in, it all started to unravel. There was no approval or pre-approval for any subdivision. At most, you could subdivide the property into five lots, not fifty. Re-zoning the property would take years. Its water supply would have to be run in a pipe through state-owned wetlands. Impossible. And as for “this one won’t last” — the property had been sitting on the market since 2012!

It was annoying because all that agent had to do was sit back in his comfy office and spout unfounded claims, and eventually his agency would get its $1 million commission.

For a fraction of that fee, I had to do the tedious work of dismantling his claims one by one, through careful research.

Even though the property wasn’t worth it, eventually his buyer would come. Someone with more money than sense who didn’t mind sitting on the property for decades. Or a Third World trafficker who needed to launder his ill-gotten gains.

Unlike my client, they wouldn’t care about the price, or whether or not they could build a profitable project, or whether they could give back to the community.

I felt bad for my client. I hated sharing the bad news with him. He had a real vision, and a real strategy, but he was competing with buyers who were suckers for marketing and who were just relying on “gut feeling.”

But that’s how good due diligence works. And good technical marketing, too.

Through hard work and painstaking research, you equip your customers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions. You strip away the marketing. You guide them to the truth.

This article first appeared on the Varamark Research blog at https://www.varamark.com/post/un-marketing