If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Benjamin Franklin coined this clever sentence more than 200 years ago, and it still makes plenty of sense — especially in the realm of commercial and residential real estate. Having a strategic marketing plan is more important than ever when you consider the increasingly complex mix of digital marketing options, as well as the fact that many regions are more than saturated with competent agents and brokers all vying for buyers and sellers.
It’s simply a fact that one of the biggest and most common mistakes real estate professionals make is not creating a marketing plan. Often, they are focused on day-to-day operational issues and don’t take the time to evaluate the big picture or develop strategies for long-term success. It’s this “can’t see the forest through the trees” approach that leads to tactical errors and costly decisions. The good news is that it’s not necessary to have an MBA from a top business school to develop a solid real estate marketing plan. Despite your doubts, you can do it!
Where to Begin
The first step in developing a functional real estate marketing plan is collecting, screening, and analyzing data about your market, potential clients, and competitors. This means developing a deep understanding of what’s selling and what’s not. It also requires looking at why buyers and sellers choose to work with your competitors. Through this process, you may find out that potential clients aren’t choosing you for a specific reason or even identify opportunities to set yourself apart that will compel them to choose you. Take the time to write down your strengths and weaknesses. The more you understand these, the better you can develop a clear mission with supporting goals and objectives.
Determine Your Marketing Mix
You likely know of at least a few real estate agents who are managing their marketing like it was 1985. While direct mail and newspaper ads are still proven and successful marketing channels to communicate with prospective, current, and former clients, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to use them as your only means of marketing. In fact, top producers know that traditional marketing methods like direct mail, print advertising, and networking work best when they’re strengthened with today’s digital marketing efforts, such as email, social media, and a fully functional website.
Consider your budget and what you uncovered in your market analysis. From there, you can tailor strategies that make sense. A balance between online and offline marketing can typically provide you with the greatest chance for growing your brand and staying top-of-mind with your target market. You may want to consider an automated marketing solution that can help save you time and money when it comes to creating the professional looking marketing tools you need.
You will also want to create a detailed marketing calendar that highlights when you will complete to-do items like writing blog posts, sending out newsletters, or creating brochures. Determine costs and how you can best allocate your budget to maximize reach and drive conversions.
Make the Commitment
Creating your plan is really the easy part. Where many real estate professionals fail is in implementation. Too often, plans get put on the back burner when results aren’t immediate. Then, it’s scrambling in hand-to-mouth survival mode. This very rarely works. By being committed to your plan, you have the best chance of achieving measurable results. Keep your marketing plan close at hand and refer back to it on an ongoing basis. It’s not just an exercise to put into a desk drawer. Think of it as a working guide to help you make the right choices based on your findings.
Evaluate and Continuously Improve
Marketing is an investment. Thus, it’s vital to carefully assess your return on every form of marketing that you leverage to determine its effectiveness in your overall strategy. It’s likely that you will make at least a few bad marketing decisions during your career. Everyone does. However, the key is being able to identify them early enough to be able to change course and do something different. This requires carefully evaluating results. From click-thru rates on email campaigns to the percentage of call-backs on a direct mail piece that is sent out, carefully track and evaluate results.
Marketing plans are dynamic. If an online ad doesn’t produce the return on investment you expected, choose another option. If there’s a promising community event that enables you to reach your target market in a new way, consider adding it to your marketing mix. Be flexible and adapt your plan based on your successes and failures.
Plan for Success
Only a fraction of real estate professionals actually take the necessary time to create a working marketing plan, and they have a distinct competitive advantage that results in more leads and repeat business. By putting in the effort to create and continuously manage a real estate marketing plan, you are planning for your success.