How have your real estate brand-building and marketing activities been tracking over the past few months? Do you have a dedicated marketing program in place? If not, there is still time to start. Here’s how.
The phrase “measure twice, cut once” can be applied to your business and marketing strategies just as easily as they apply to a plank of wood. Ahead of rushing into trying different marketing tactics to promote your real estate services, make sure you put time aside to outline your overarching business and marketing strategies and then create a solid marketing plan.
Your listings are not part of your brand strategy
Sure, it’s the easy (and no-investment) option to rely on vendor-paid advertising (VPA) or landlord-paid advertising (LPA) to promote yourself as a real estate professional, but you need a proper brand marketing strategy to build market share.
This is especially relevant in a changing market, where there are fewer good news stories, such as record sales, fast sale turnaround times or high numbers of people attending open homes or auctions. In market conditions where home sellers and buyers are more hesitant to move forward, you need a solid brand strategy demonstrating why you are the most knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent. With marketing tactics that keep you front of mind with your target market.
Step 1: Start with a business plan
When it comes to marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The best way to create an effective marketing plan is to start with a business planning session. Once you have your overarching business strategy set, you can develop a marketing strategy to help you achieve your desired results for the business.
By developing a detailed marketing strategy, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are highly targeted and effective. With a clear direction, you’ll avoid being overwhelmed by the numerous marketing and lead generation tools spruiked to you daily. Most importantly, you must promote your business to the community so that they know your brand and stellar reputation before asking people to give you their contact details.
- To start, write down your business goals and objectives. Make them S.M.A.R.T, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. How many home sales, leases, or managements do you want in 12 months? Does your market have peak periods and lower periods?
- Next, research your competition; What do other agents do well? Where do they fall short? How do you compare? Do you want to be seen in the same light as them, or do you have a different style of real estate business?
- What opportunities or threats are on the horizon? How can you mitigate or capitalise on them? Examples include; the cost of living, changes in consumer sentiment, interest rate hikes or reductions, lending and loan approvals, evolving age groups and demographics, housing supply, the standard of accommodation, migration patterns, etc.
- Review past marketing activities and consider what performed well or poorly. Failure will happen, as you can not control external factors, but it is essential to make sure you take the learnings and apply that knowledge and insight to future activities.
Step 2: Set your marketing budget
Setting a marketing budget is a critical component of running a successful business. Property professionals that take the time to plan and set aside funds for marketing are the ones that maintain a steady income stream. You can be something other than the market leader, and you only need to focus on generating enough business to achieve your revenue goals (covering your costs plus paying yourself and your staff healthy salaries).
Settling on a definitive figure for your marketing budget can be one of the trickier tasks. On the one hand, you want to spend enough to get the word out about your services. On the other hand, you want to ensure your money is spent wisely and avoid ending up in the red. So how do you strike the right balance?
A good rule of thumb is to allocate 10% of your gross commission income (GCI) to your marketing. You might assign more or less than this, depending on the life stage of your real estate business. If you are a start-up or an up-and-coming property agent may need to spend a bit more in the initial months or years to get your business off the ground. But once you’ve been in business for over 10 years, you could find your spending plateaux or reduces as your reputation grows and you receive referrals and repeat business.
You can read more in my article How much should real estate agents spend on marketing?
Step 3: Identify your target audience
When marketing your real estate business, it’s essential to know who your target audience or ideal clients are. Which could be as diverse as owner-occupiers to property developers to international migrants.
First, look at the demographics of the area you serve. If you focus on inner city suburbs or beachside suburbs, you might find a younger demographic with a higher percentage of renters and landlords, e.g. 50/50 renters to owner-occupiers. If you provide real estate services in suburban locations, it might be in reverse, with property owners in a higher age group of 40+ years and above and a split of 70% owner occupiers to 30% renters or less. It’s also important to understand the trends. Are these figures and owner types trending up or down?
One of the reasons the real estate industry can sustain so many professionals is that different agents appeal to different people! It takes all types! Your age, personality, gender, background, language skills, life experience, and real estate experience will determine whether you are the chosen agent.
Consider whether your style and approach appeal to downsizers transitioning from their family home to a retirement village? Or do you gel better with Gen Y’ers with young kids upsizing from apartments to houses? List out the demographics of your last ten clients – this can help clarify the type of clients you work best with.
Regardless of who you’re trying to reach, it’s key to understand what’s important to your ideal client. For example, downsizers might be attracted to an agent willing to help them organise tradespeople to get their home looking ship shape ahead of a sale, while a Gen Y landlord might prefer to use an agent they play a weekend sport with or whose kids go to their child’s school.
Knowing what matters to local property owners will help you create marketing campaigns with promotional messages that resonate. And even when they’re not ready to transact, you can stay relevant and top-of-mind by sharing content that appeals to their interests.
Step 4: Map out your marketing program
Once you know who you want to attract to your business, you need to consider why they would choose you, how you will get your messages in front of them, what your promotional messages will say, and when you will send them.
You will need up-to-date data on which marketing channels are the most effective with your target audience. For example, are you aware that Instagram is a 3rd of the size of Facebook and is mainly popular with people living in affluent areas? You’re unlikely to find many downsizers or baby boomers hanging out on Instagram, but you might discover tradespeople and fashion-conscious mothers with small children.
List all the channels you can use to reach your target audience and research the data to determine where most of them hang out? This includes both offline and online mediums and is easiest to understand if you have been running campaigns via these methods previously.
Once you know which marketing mediums and channels yield the greatest results, you can allocate your marketing budget accordingly. This is where you start to list the tactics you will use over 12 months and assign a dollar amount to each. This dollar amount should have a line item for production costs and another for advertising spending.
To achieve success, we need to apply the S.M.A.R.T. method again. It is crucial to ensure each marketing activity is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Identifying who will be responsible for the delivery of each activity is also essential. What creative skills are needed: brand designers, visual editors, wordsmiths, advertising experts or platform experts? Do you have people with a range of creative talents to support you? Will they work well together? And who will manage the overall project?
These elements of a marketing plan should be determined before you embark on the marketing execution. Following these guidelines will make you more likely to achieve your desired brand and marketing results.
Step 5: Make sure you have strong brand foundations
Before you launch any new marketing campaigns, ensure that what people find online looks professional and is up to date. Things to look at include the following;
- Are your agent profile pages complete and interesting?
- Is your profile picture current, or is it 5 or more years old? You don’t want to shock people when they meet you in person!
- Have you collected testimonials and reviews in recent months?
- Are your awards up to date? If your last award was 5 years ago, it could do more harm than good.
- If you’re an independent agency owner, is your brand modern, or does it need a refresh?
- Is your website fully functional? Can you publish articles, create service pages for SEO or downloadable content behind forms to capture a contact’s details?
- Is the contact data in your CRM up to date, with email, phone numbers and current property ownership insights?
A good exercise is to sit with a friend or colleague, ask them to Google you, and then talk aloud about what they find. You might be shocked by what they find.
In our Agent Profile Masterclass, Steve Carroll and I walk you through a list of 11 essential updates to your online presence and outline which platforms to focus on first and foremost. Purchase the Agent Profile Masterclass video recording to fast-track your learning.
By taking care of your brand fundamentals, you’ll set yourself up for success and will be able to maximise future marketing campaign results.
If you would like help with either your brand fundamentals or developing a marketing strategy and detailed marketing plan for your real estate business, you can organise a free 1-hour consultation with me. Go ahead, take a step in the right direction today!