Haven't paid to be listed anywhere. Just recently listed with Wayne's site. (Sorry it took me so long! )
I've had over a half dozen referrals from FORUM MEMBERS!! (Thank you!) Two of those have turned into semi-regular clients.
It's hard to focus on marketing when you're so busy you don't have time for lunch, but if we wait for it to slow down, it's too late to do us any good! I've set aside a portion of each week to consider marketing and determine if we're doing enough, where to look, how to improve, do we want to expand, etc. For me, if I don't schedule something, I know I won't get to it.
When they first came out I signed on with one of the companies, don't recall exactly which one but the organizer was j.p. or p.j. Rij ???
In order to properly track the amount of work we received from this we changed the name of the company slightly (...Appraisal to ...Consulting). After 11 months and having received zero work my contact with jp. or pj received an offer of a refund for the unused portion of my year contract; 1/12th. I refused the $15 dollars or whatever it was and instead enjoy the opportunity to throw him under the bus whenever I get the chance.
Our residential business is 50% of our total and residential has risen in excess of 20% each year for past five years. January '03 "slow" month was up 12%. It's been my experience that if you can focus on quality work and shorter turn around times, the local guys will keep coming back even when the fly by night brokers fire you because your not flexible enough. The out of towners you may get from an appraisal directory are the most likely to not pay, pay slow, and not send you volumes of work. Save your money for the IRS.
I have found that my best marketing tool is a quarterly newsletter sent to the REALTORs, local lenders, attorney's, and press. My newsletter is designed as a "tool" for the agents. Here is the top five price categories of houses that are selling and here is a list of the bottom five market segments (calculated as a number of listings vs. solds annually). That way Ms. Real Estate agent can photo copy this and mail it to her 50 listings as a defense of why the home is slow moving. Or mail it to her farm as a listing prospect tool. I have received a lot of commercial and residential work from the Realtors from this continual (eight years now) newsletter. The news doesn't have to be good, just regular. The newsletter has received reprints and quotes from local and regional media which hasn't really increased any business, but it did impress my folks. "Little Johnny is on the front page again."
I've tried several freebie listings. The only one that I can actually track as receiving work from is Wayne's site. After I confirmed that it was worth while marketing, I paid for a premium listing in my area.
Others I have tried seem to just want to sell an ad, no service, no customer or user base, just selling air.