Talent is cheap, but hard work is cheaper. We all know insanely talented agents who coast by on five deals a year and agents who close 40 but work 70 hours a week. So if you want to succeed without going crazy, you’re going to need talent and hard work.
While we can’t help you in the talent department, we can help make your talent work for you instead of vice versa. That’s why we put together this guide to creating a real estate marketing plan. We also created a handy template that you can download and work on to finish your marketing plan this week instead of when you have “free time.”
So put your phone away, turn off the TV, and get ready to work on the most important document of your career—a real estate marketing plan that will help you 10x GCI in 2020.
Why Do Agents Need a Real Estate Marketing Plan Anyway?
As a real estate marketer or any marketer for that matter, you only have one goal: to turn ideas into money. That’s it.
The problem of course is that almost all of your ideas are going to cost you something. Some might cost you time, some might cost you money, but nothing you do that has any chance in hell of turning into money is going to be free.
Oh, and the clock is ticking. Every day you wait is another zero day. Not only did you make no money, but you actually LOST money you should have made tomorrow.
Let’s say you had $10,000 and I locked you in a Las Vegas casino and gave you 72 hours to turn that $10,000 into $100,000?
Would you just waltz in there with no plan? Would you not bother to study poker, or blackjack, or figure out how much time to spend at each table? Which machines have the best odds?
How do you think you’d do? Not sure? Don’t know enough about gambling?
Here’s a hint:
Pretty dumb idea right?
Well, this is what you’re doing if you’re trying to make it as a real estate agent with no real estate marketing plan. By the way, someone is going to dominate your farm area next year. Do you think they’re going to have a marketing plan?
“Regardless of if you’re on your own or with a team, creating a marketing plan is crucial to success. I always tell agents to determine what their business goals are for the year (How much money do you want to make? How many deals do you need to do to hit that number?) and then they can begin to determine the marketing tactics that’ll get them there. The best techniques are ones that are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely—and they should be applied to any strategy that might help you hit your goal, whether that’s through digital advertising, social, networking, cold calling, re-engagement, or hundreds of other potential marketing avenues.”
Here’s another take from Jarod Salinas-Dick, Director of Marketing & Operations for The Martin Eiden Team, and fellow pale-blue blazer aficionado.
“A marketing plan needs to be an assumed part of your business. It needs to be strategic, thorough, and sustainable. Gone are the days when you could get away with a couple of mailers and business just flooded in. You need to have your hand in every pot to be competitive these days—yes, that means you have to get better at social media! It is not enough to focus only on current needs—you need to be proactive about the future. And the only way to do this is with a plan.”
What is a Real Estate Marketing Plan?
Similar to a real estate business plan, a real estate marketing plan allows agents and brokers to assess their current marketing strategies and performance, as well as develop KPI (key performance indicators) to quantify what exactly future success in marketing might look like.
When Is The Best Time to Start a Real Estate Marketing Plan?
Well, they say that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time to plant a tree is today. After all, we can’t promise the work you put in here will make you rich overnight. But we can promise that it’s going to take time, effort, and trial and error to get it right.
So if you’re committed enough to take the 10 minutes out of your busy day to read this article then you’re committed enough to start your marketing plan today. We’re giving you all the tools you’ll need and walking you through the process so you really don’t have any excuses.
So that means you need to commit, yes, right here and right now, to spend 15 minutes to finish this article and at least a half hour today or tomorrow to start working on your plan. You’ll also probably need another hour or so before the end of the week to finish and tweak your plan.
7 Steps to Creating a Marketing Plan That Can 10x GCI
Wait a minute … 10x GCI?! Just by taking an hour or two to make a serious real estate marketing plan? Well, yes. If you create a plan that’s SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) stick to it, regularly measure your progress, and get over your fear of change, then yes, you will 10x GCI. Maybe not overnight, maybe not next year, but trust us, you WILL do it.
How do we know? Simple. We created our own marketing plan and 10xed our revenue in a year, and almost all of the top producing agents and teams with billions in sales volume did too. So if you want to join us, here are the seven steps to creating a real estate marketing plan that can 10x your GCI:
1. Write Mission & Vision Statements for Your Business
The first step to creating an actionable real estate marketing plan is to write mission and vision statements that outline where you want to be in the future, and how you’ll get there. While this may seem like a fluffy, pie-in-the-sky exercise, it’s actually one of the most important things you can do for your business. Why? Psychological researchers have found a very strong correlation between actionable goal setting and success. Having realistic and articulated goals gives you something concrete to work toward.
Keep in mind that you need to take this exercise seriously in order for it to work, but the more you work on your marketing plan the more you might want to tweak your mission and vision statements. This is a key part of the process so don’t go crazy if you can’t come up with something you like. We’re going to revisit this section later.
Here’s a quick rundown of the difference between mission and vision statements as well as instructions on how to write both.
If part of your vision for your business is to dominate a specific farm area, you’re going to need to be seen as THE hyper-local expert in that neighborhood. One way to get there quicker is to use Parkbench to help you build lasting relationships with the core of any community: local business owners influencers.
Click below to visit Parkbench to see if your ZIP code is still available.
A vision statement outlines where you want your business to be in a specific timeframe. It also highlights your values as a business owner. Here’s a quick example of a vision statement for a real estate team:
“To become the No. 1 ranked luxury real estate team by volume in the 123456 ZIP code. We will end the year with XX transactions valued at least $XXX,XXX in order to have a higher sales volume than Team XXXXXXX.”
A mission statement on the other hand, briefly outlines your businesses purpose and reason for existing. Here’s an example of a possible mission statement for our fictional real estate team:
“The Jones/Smith team helps steer Manhattan buyers and homeowners through the stress and chaos that go-hand-in hand with real estate transactions.”
2. Develop Buyer & Seller Personas
The next step in building a great real estate business plan is to learn as much as you possibly can about your current and potential customers. Think about it, if your real estate marketing is to create ads and marketing materials your potential clients will relate to, don’t you think you need to know as much about them as possible?
Your buyer and seller personas should be broken up into two sections: demographics and psychographics. Here’s the difference.
Demographics are quantifiable facts about a community of people. Examples of demographic information includs median age, median income, or how many people buy vs rent their homes.
You can pull demographics from your Realtors Association, tax records, census data, etc. Just make sure your demographics are as detailed as possible. You never know what info might come in handy later when you’re trying to write ad copy.
Psychographics on the other hand are facts or educated assumptions about the way a community of people acts or feels. In other words, psychographics measures the “why” your clients might buy or sell, while demographics explain “who” they are. Psychographics might include attitudes about religion or politics, interests like sailing or baseball, and values like fairness or equality.
You can pull psychographic information from polls, voter registration data, state or city data, or just general truisms you might know about them. For example, if your farm area is largely rural and largely Republican, they will probably be more likely to support gun rights and be religious.
Now create individual buyers and seller personas using the data you’ve gathered. It can help to give your personas a name so you can reference them later. It’s much easier to ask a junior agent if “Annie” will like this ad rather than “our core target leads” or something like that.
3. Assess Your Previous Year’s Performance
Now that you have a rough goal and mission, and know everything you need to about your potential leads, take the time to assess last year’s performance.
Here’s marketing manager for Manhattan Luxury brokerage Warburg Realty Erica Langendorff on the importance of assessing your past performance:
“When looking at the year ahead, it’s important to take a moment to have a pulse check on the previous year: What worked? What could’ve been more successful? Nobody knows your business better than you so it’s important to start with you, stay focused, and don’t get ahead of yourself.”
So pull together all the data you can to try and turn your money, time, and effort spent into numbers you can use to change strategies and set new goals for the future. You’re going to want to get data like click-through rates for ads, closing ratios for leads from various sources, and how much you end up paying for leads from different marketing channels.
Quantify Results From Marketing Channels
For example, let’s say you got 30 leads from Instagram last year. Now figure out how many of them turned to appointments, how many went to your nurture list, and how many you actually closed. Next, figure out how much time and money you’ve spent on Instagram and try and come up with a rough cost per lead. Using this data, is Instagram a platform you think you should spend more time and money on?
Audit Your Branding & Marketing Materials
Next, gather together all of your branding collateral, your website, slogan, logo, headshot, and then gather all of your marketing material like ads, flyers, and listing presentations. How do they look? Do they all have coherent theme? Are they all targeting specific people in your buyer personas? Make a general assessment and write down areas you need to improve and what’s already working.
Conduct a SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity, and Threats. This is the framework you can use to analyze your own performance as well as the performance of your competitors. Use this real estate marketing plan template to get started.
4. Analyze Your Direct Competitors in Your Farm Area
The harsh reality of the business world is that there are only so many customers out there. That means in order for you to expand, you’re going to have to literally take customers from your competition. If you want to do this successfully, you’re going to have to do some snooping to find out what they’re doing wrong, and where you can swoop in and offer something better.
While some of the information you’re looking for here might be private, you might be surprised at how easy it is to gather information about your competitors these days. Here are a few easy ways to get valuable information about their business.
Facebook & Instagram Advertising
Believe it or not, a recent update to Facebook allows anyone to look at the ads that a business is running on their Facebook page. So, find the individual agents, teams, and brokerages fighting over your farm area and start snooping. Here’s how to see their ads:
Go to their Facebook business page and click on “See More” next to “Page transparency” on the bottom right of their homepage.
Next click on “Go to Ad Library” under the “Ads From This Page” tab.
Now you have access to all the ads your competitors are running. Take notes and screenshots of each ad and try to figure out who they’re targeting (does it match your buyer or seller persona?) what they look like, and what the copy sounds like. If they are running the same ad over and over again, chances are that’s because the ad works. If you notice all your competitors running similar ads, then you can either base your own ads on theirs, or figure out who they’re missing with these ads.
Website Domain Authority & Traffic
Another important element of marketing is your website. How are your competitors websites doing? Are they ranking on Google? Are they driving traffic? In order to find out, we’re going to use free versions of popular SEO tools.
First, head over to similarweb.com in order to get an estimate of their traffic. It will give you a breakdown between organic (Google search traffic, direct traffic) and paid traffic (traffic from social media and Google ads).
Next, let’s look up domain authority, a measure of how well a site can rank on Google from Moz.com. Sign up for a free account, then click on Mozpro, then Link Explorer, then enter your competitors website in the box.
Finally, we can get a sense of what keywords your competitors are ranking on Google for using Semrush.com. Head over to Semrush, create a free account, then click on domain overview, enter your competitor’s domain, then click on “view full report” under the “Top Organic Keywords” section.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you’re looking at: Pos. = position on Google search results page, (SERP) Volume = the number of people searching for that term every month, CPC= Cost per click from advertising for that term, and KD% = the difficulty (out of 100) of ranking on the first page of Google for those keywords.
You can use this information to try and compete with other agents for blog topics that can rank on Google, or potentially write e-books or other content that your leads might trade their contact information for online.
IRL Advertising & Marketing
You should also try and collect as much of the newspaper ads, magazine ads, bus stop ads, billboards etc., that you can and try to see if you can figure out if they’re getting an ROI.
5. Use The Data You Collected to Create a New Marketing Plan
Now comes the fun part. Compile all the data you’ve gathered and use it to create a marketing plan for next year. Here’s how to do it:
Double Down on What Worked
If you have advertising or marketing that has been working for you, then you should consider doubling down on the time and money you devote to it.
Make a Concrete Plan to Fix What Isn’t Working
For example, if your logo doesn’t quite hold up compared to your competitors, make a plan to hire a graphic designer from Fiverr to design a new one. Go through all the data you collected about your own business and compare it to your competitors. Make a plan to fix what doesn’t compete.
Develop KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
Now you need to come up with a way to measure your progress. The best way to do this is to come up with KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators that you can check in on once per financial quarter. For example, number of leads per agent is a good indicator of how your marketing is doing, so that would be something to check every quarter. Do the same with closing ratios, money spent, click-through rates, or anything else quantifiable that might help you measure progress.
Ask for Feedback & Incorporate That Feedback Into Your Plan
What your leads, clients, and sphere think of your new marketing plan is important. If you can, try and take the pulse of people who engage with your business to see what you might improve.
Tweak Mission & Vision Statements As Needed
At this point you should have a very good idea of how your new marketing efforts are working, so you might want to revisit your mission and vision statements to see if they still mesh with reality. If not, tweak them. That said, try not to tweak them too much. It’s hard to hit constantly shifting targets!
Over to You
Have a great real estate marketing plan or strategy that you want to share with our audience? Have a great tip to measure performance? Let us know in the comments.