Developing Your Real Estate Marketing Plan
I love my dentist. So much so that I actually look forward to visiting him. Even if he has to do a root canal or fit a crown.
I know. This is an oxymoron: the words “joy” and “dentist” in the same sentence. But the guy is just so darn neat. And successful.
One time after he cleaned my teeth he stopped to chat for a few minutes. I always admired how he ran his business so I took the opportunity to ask him why he thought he was capable of running a great business for over 27 years.
His quick answer: love people. That was apparent. He followed up with this: you have to have a long term plan for success…and you have to work that plan. (As a side note, his marketing plan is so good, and he works it SO consistent I refer to him as “my militant dentist.”)
As Dirk Zeller once said, “One of the biggest hurdles to long term success in real estate is creating a vision for your business.” Too often we are just working day-to-day and moment-by-moment. But the most successful business owners, including my dentist, have a long-term marketing plan that describes what their business and life will look like 5 to 10 years from now. And they work the dog out of that plan.
Perhaps you’ve only been in the business for less than a year and are just wondering what you need to do to survive AND thrive. Maybe you’re considered a veteran but are feeling bored, stale, overworked or just want a new way of doing things. Or perhaps you just want an idea or two about marketing and business that will help you reach that tipping point your business needs to go to the next level.
Whatever the case is, consider the following ideas on how to put a marketing plan on paper. But before you do that, your first step, if you don’t have one already, is to create a simple business plan first.
1. Create a business mission statement. Know your core values, purposes and principles. These are guiding ideas that define your character, your business’ purpose. These are guiding principles that you never waiver from, that last the lifetime of your business, that help you make decisions. If you haven’t done so, creating a personal mission statement is not a bad idea either.
2. Understand profit. Of course you already know this if you’ve been in the business for any length of time, but a profitable business is your major challenge. But one thing you have to understand though is that a business that attracts and cares for clients will in the long run be profitable. Make people your primary target, like my dentist did, and not only will you be satisfied and fulfilled, but you’ll also become financially independent. However, you still need to have a fundamental understanding of profit.
Your P&L statement is your primary tool. This allows you to understand and control your expenses. By watching your expenses you can manage and grow your advertising as you make money, thus making more money.
Also, if your expenses aren’t making you money, ditch those expenses by all means.
But if the expense is making you money, ask yourself, “Does the net profit justify the expense?” If you have to spend $1,000 to make $1,001 dollars, you have to wonder if there isn’t a better way.
Also, take in consideration if an expense can save you time. For instance, spending a couple grand to create a video listing presentation that cuts the length of your appointments in half can be viewed as a good investment. (Now go use that half hour you just saved to prospect more. Or play with your children. See how that works?)
Once you’ve got these principles pinned down, go ahead and create that business plan. The Small Business Administration website makes it easy.
As you’ll see, part of writing that business plan involves writing a marketing plan. Because that is our specialty, we’re going to drill down on your marketing plan here.
1. Your Marketing Budget. Marketing budgets are usually based on either a percent of sales or an arbitrary amount. A better method is to set a marketing objective for the cost of prospecting for clients and listing a home. Then determine your strategies and tactics for reaching these objectives and add up the costs for execution. The result is your marketing budget.
For example, if you decide to build a website, invest in call capture technology and engage a coach to help you prospect for new clients, figure out how much that is going to cost. The result will be your marketing budget. Do the same for selling a home.
2. Your Communication Strategy. When thinking about how you are going to talk to the people you want to work with, think about this:
Who is my target audience? Am I going to specialize in buyers or just sellers? Relocation, luxury or resort homes? Am I going to tackle three zip codes, or just one?
Then, define the benefits you can bring to this target audience. Briefly explain the features that will help you deliver the benefits. And create a positioning statement.
Next, practice your basic selling line. Your elevator speech. The purpose here is to interpret your mission statement so that it makes sense to the individual in a short period of time. Don’t try to be cute. Be unique. And make sure the benefit you can deliver is clear and believable to the individual. Of course, test it out on different people.
One of things you want to determine when developing your marketing plan are the hot buttons for the prospect. What are the problems you can solve? What advantage do you have over other agents? These are the questions you have to answer to create a compelling unique selling proposition.
3. Formatting Your Ads. If your objective is to squeeze out the maximum number of prospects per dollar, run small ads. However, if your objective is to persuade people to work with you, the opposite is true.
Basically, the more space you use to persuade people to work with you, the higher chances that they will. In other words, if you are trying to persuade a prospect to do something, go with the larger ad.
Research indicates that ads with photographs obtain higher readership than those with artwork. And ads with photographs depicting a benefit to the reader scores the highest. The eye usually glances at the photo and if it finds it interesting, moves to the headline, etc.
4. Using direct marketing to produce leads. Sending out targeted mailers to generate leads is only one benefit of using direct mail. Direct mail will also help you build your data base, identify which mailers are working best and increase your personal touch with prospects. Your mailings should match your positioning statement. Don’t send out the typical junk mail when you are a quality act. And get this: nothing precipitates success faster than one-to-one relationships. So include 800 numbers on your mailers.
5. Using public relations for free ads. Press releases should be your biggest FREE promotional tool. It is free press when you can share valuable news with the local media. The media has to fill their pages and air time. Take advantage of this situation. I suggest you follow this 10-step method when writing a press release.
6. Using the Internet. Creating exposure and generating leads on the Internet is easier now than ever. Starting a blog is a cinch, as is having a website. Sending property reports via email or RSS feed are also things you should highly consider.
7. Following up with past clients. In real estate, frequent and consistent referrals is sort of the mother lode of selling real estate for two reasons: referrals are free and pre-warmed up to work with you.
That’s why sincere customer care, feedback research and repeated communication with past clients AFTER the transaction is imperative. Getting to a point where you are thriving in real estate simply on referrals is a very nice place to be. So make a point of striving for this goal to increase repeat and referral business.
One last reminder: you only want to send out things that are a benefit to your prospect. And anything that is a benefit can be observed. If it can be observed, it can be counted and if it can be counted, it can be measured.
So be sure you have a measureable objective for each parts of your marketing plan. Monitor these objectives and feed this information back into your plan to help you beat the economy and your competitors.
And don’t forget to work that plan like a dog.
Here’s to your success!
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