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The Ultimate Guide to Developing a Real Estate Marketing Plan

When most agents make the plunge to start marketing their listings, they tend to rely overly on using marketing plan templates that are usually, for the most part, not well suited for their particular niche or business. And this is usually because marketing plans can only come as a result of having a marketing strategy.

Most real estate agents mistakenly assume they are both the same when in fact, they are entirely different.

Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy

Marketing Strategy: Your real estate marketing strategy is simply a detailed explanation of the goals and objectives of your marketing efforts. It takes into consideration your business goals and your target audience and lays out a road-map on how to market to them effectively.

Marketing Plan: A marketing plan, on the other hand, is a detailed plan on how you are going to achieve those goals and objectives outlined in the strategy. Without knowledge of what your marketing strategy is, creating your marketing plan would be a waste of time and resources.

Before embarking on creating either a marketing plan or strategy, you should first identify your main marketing goal, which is the reason you’re thinking about creating a marketing plan in the first place. Your goal could be to sell more houses, to build brand awareness for yourself as an agent or just simply to rank higher in search engines.

Once you’ve identified your marketing goal, then you can go ahead start creating your marketing strategy ad plan. Both of them actually work together. For example, if your ultimate marketing goal is to sell more houses; below is a simple analogy on how you can integrate both a marketing strategy and marketing plan into a concrete action plan:

Objective: To sell more houses

Marketing Strategy: Reach out to new prospects through content marketing.

Marketing Plan: Develop marketing communications and choose channel distributions to promote content to generate leads which will then be nurtured until they’re ready to buy.

Once you’ve outlined your marketing strategy, implementing this guide will make your marketing plan much more effective.


Pro Tip: Download Guide: A Real Estate Agent’s Guide to Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

Benefits of Having a Marketing Plan

Having a marketing plan is essential if you want to achieve your marketing goal(s). If you’re still contemplating whether or not to develop a marketing plan for your real estate marketing, then consider the benefits outlined below. This ought to nudge you in the right direction.

  • Having a marketing plan helps you have a clear vision of your entire campaign. Once you know where you are and where you want to be, you can focus your key strategies at enhancing your strengths and working on reducing your weaknesses.
  • Having a marketing plan gives you a clear focus on the most important aspects of your marketing strategy and reduces your chances of being distracted by using tactics that don’t align with your overall marketing goals.
  • Another benefit of having a marketing plan is accountability. You’re able to tie each planning step into your overall campaign and this leads you to achieve a greater success rate and provides you more metrics to help you measure what actually worked and what didn’t.
  • Finally, a marketing plan quickly helps you to identify key brand partnerships that will help you achieve your marketing goals faster. For example, if you’re trying to sell more houses for young families, you could consider cross-promotional articles with Day Care companies by guest blogging on their website talking about houses and safety for kids etc.

Once you’re ready to get started with creating your real estate marketing plan, then the following sections will guide you through the steps needed.

Define Marketing Goal(s)

The first step towards creating any effective real estate marketing plan is to define your number one goal. Although you’re most likely to have more than one goal, we suggest keeping it fewer than three in order to be able to focus all your efforts effectively.

If your marketing efforts are not focused, you won’t feel any coherence with all your activities and it will all seem disconnected. However, when you have a set number of goals that have been detailed and outlined, then it makes it easy for you to focus every marketing effort at achieving that goal.

Some goals you can consider as a real estate agent are:

  • Sell more houses/Get more listings
  • Build up an email list of prospective buyers/sellers
  • Build brand awareness by growing your social media audience etc.

Once you’ve determined the combination of goal(s) you want to pursue, you can now get started with preparing the outline for your marketing plan. The section below outlines an outline template that you can use to organize your thoughts and strategies.

Basic Outline of a Marketing Plan

Before you start writing your marketing plan, you need to know its components and how they work together, thereby complementing one another. Below is the basic outline of any marketing plan; even for a real estate
agent:

Situation Analysis:
This will normally include a market analysis (describes where you currently are in the market), a S.W.O.T analysis (strengths, weaknesses,opportunities and threats), and a competitive analysis. The market analysis section will include a market forecast, segmentation, customer’s information for better targeting and market needs analysis.

Marketing Strategy:

At the very least, this section will contain a mission statement, objectives, and focused strategy including market segment focus and product positioning. Your product, in this case, can either be your brand (if your goal includes brand awareness) or your listings, or a combination of both.

Sales Forecast:

This section is focused on calculating return on investment (ROI) for all your marketing efforts. This section should include enough detail to track sales every month and follow up on the entire plan versus the actual analysis. Normally a marketing plan will also include specific sales by product, by region or market segment, by channels, by manager responsibilities, and other elements but you can eliminate these details as they do not relate to your business model. This forecast alone is a bare minimum and should act as an approximate.

Expense Budget:

This section is designed to include enough detail to help you track your marketing expenses each month and also help you follow up on the entire plan versus the actual analysis. Normally this section will also include specific sales tactics – programs, management responsibilities, promotion, etc – and this should not be ignored as it is critical to guide your process towards success. The expense budget is also a bare minimum and should only act as an approximate.

Getting Started

Now that you’ve defined your goal(s) and you have a basic understanding of how to structure your marketing plan, it’s time for you to actually start writing your real estate marketing plan. The first step towards doing that is to start laying the groundwork for all your marketing activities.

To do that, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who exactly are you targeting and what do you need from them? This might sound obvious, but you should prepare a detailed analysis of the individuals or companies you want to sell or lease property to, and what you want from them once they get to your website
  • Who exactly are you targeting and what do you need from them? This might sound obvious, but you should prepare a detailed analysis of the individuals or companies you want to sell or lease property to, and what you want from them once they get to your website
  • What is your total budget (not an approximate) and how are you going to allocate that amount for different marketing activities?
  • Who are your competitors (other agents, agencies, and brokers) and how do they market themselves and their properties? What are their key offerings and how can you differentiate yourself from them in order to stand out?

Once you’ve gotten your answers down, you now have a clear picture of who you’re marketing to, how you’re going to differentiate yourself and what your marketing goals are. But before moving on to the next section, the following needs immediate attention:

  • By investing in high-quality professional photographs that can be used across all online and offline marketing efforts, you’re setting yourself up for lasting success. This is because a fundamental step towards introducing your property to potential customers is through strong, visual and picturesque imagery that brings the property to life and tells its unique story. This alone can easily set you apart from your competition.
  • You need to create an identity and brand for yourself the properties you wish to sell. You will be establishing a reputation for yourself by creating an original identity and logo that targets your niche market. Make sure you use fonts and colors that are memorable.
  • You identified your key differentiators earlier when getting started with creating your plan, now it is time to define those key messages in a compelling way that connects with your target audience. Figure out what makes each property stand out from competitors and craft out individual value proposition with a good copy will help set the foundation for your marketing communications and materials on all your properties.

Outline Your Marketing Mix

Gone are the days when real estate marketing was one of the most expensive methods of getting new leads, especially for solo agents. These days, especially with the advent of technology and the increasing changes of online user behavior – consumers now do their own research about their needs as opposed to being motivated by an advert.

The key to a successful real estate marketing campaign is to integrate both online and offline marketing strategies to help you achieve your number one goal. A simple definition of an integrated marketing campaign would be the consistent use of your brand messaging across both traditional (e.g. direct mail, cold calls) and digital (e.g. social media, email) marketing channels and use different promotional methods to reinforce each other.

The key word here is consistency. Your brand messaging must be consistent across all marketing communication channels. And the best way to achieve that is to focus on your goals. Below are both offline and online strategies you can use to achieve your marketing goals:

Offline Marketing

Print Marketing Materials – invest in high-quality print collateral such as a glossy brochure, flyers, and other marketing materials that tell prospective buyers the right story about your real estate property.

Invest in Quality Signage – Another way to truly stand out from the competition is by investing in display and window signage. If your budget allows it, a signage helps your brand reinforce its imagery and also showcases what the property has in a nutshell through banners and window graphics.

Broker Events – If your target audience includes those interested in commercial real estate, staging a networking event at the property will enable you to connect directly with them. Both prospective customers and brokers will be attracted to such an event, especially if its other properties are on showcase within the same environment.

Print Media – It is always a good strategy to build a relationship with both local and national newspaper reporters and editors. You can also network with industry specific magazines that your target audience consumes. These relationships will not only give you coverage, but you can leverage their online presence to reach more people.

Direct Mail – mail can still be an effective method of reaching a key segment of your target audiences such as brokers and baby boomers. You can also experiment with other segments such as Millennials as well. The key to success, however, is targeting your message specifically to your audience and also to invest in a direct mail piece that stands outs in terms of quality.

Pro Tip: Ensure that your printed materials are easily adapted for digital use. This will ensure your marketing is truly integrated.

Online Marketing

Website Development – This is the foundation of all your marketing activities. In order for your website to be successful, it must fulfill three criteria:

  • Your website must be mobile responsive. According to a 2015 Google report, 65% of smartphone users agree that when conducting a search on their smartphones, they look for the most relevant information regardless of the company providing the information. What this means is that a lot of people are on their mobile phones, researching for informational content which leads us to the next point.
  • Your website must be fully optimized for search engines. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very important if you want to rank higher than your competitors on search engines. According to a Mashable report in 2015, Google gets over a billion searches every month. Utilize this data to your advantage – leverage your website’s content for traffic generation and lead generation.
  • Your website must have regularly updated content such as blog posts, videos, ebooks and special reports (for lead generation) and infographics. All your content must use relevant keywords in order to rank higher in search engines to drive in organic traffic to your Blog.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to use calls to action to generate leads everywhere on your website.

Digital Brochures – Get a good designer to help you create attention-grabbing and creative digital brochures that can be sent via email to your prospects. These brochures are ideal for bridging the gap to a wider audience. Always make sure your brochures are available to download from your website too. These can be the same brochures you designed for your offline marketing activities.

Influencer Marketing – Remember those journalists and editors you networked with offline? You can now use those contacts for influencer marketing – leveraging people with a large audience to boost your marketing reach. Influencers can be journalists, industry influencers, analysts, and blogger. Conversely, you can contribute as a guest writer on other real estate blogs and external websites that a segment of your target audience is an audience, but make sure to include links that lead back to your website and specific blog posts or listings.

Email Marketing – Nearly everyone in the United States has an email address. As a matter of fact, email use worldwide will top 3 billion users by 2020 (The Radicati Group, 2016). Apart from that, email marketing has the highest ROI compared to other digital marketing channels. One of the reasons emails is so useful in converting customers is because of how personal an email is compared to Social Media. However, the key to a successful email marketing campaign is segmentation.

Social Media – Another great marketing channel that you can use to generate leads and drive traffic to your website is social media. Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can be used to:

  • Build awareness about your brand and your listings
  • Build a relationship with your audience that will establish trust
  • Build your social media fans and followers and establish yourself as a
    credible source of real estate information.

Pro Tip: Download Social Media Marketing EBook

Online Advertising – By using a performance-based advertising model such as cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns, you can get a good bang for your advertising buck. Platforms such as Google Adwords, LinkedIn, and Facebook all offer this pay per click model and this gives you a cost-effective way to deliver your marketing communications to a highly targeted online audience. One major advantage of this type of advertising is that it produces immediate and measurable results and it gives you more ability to control ROI.

Measuring Results

A very important section of your marketing plan is the Measurement section. This section deals with what metrics you would be measuring and how you plan on reporting these analytics. Most real estate agents neglect the reporting aspect because they feel they’re not reporting to anyone but themselves, but what they don’t realize is that these reports tell a story that will begin to make sense after your second or third marketing campaign.

Metrics

Determine what your key performance indicators will be. This will mostly be influenced by the goals you outlined at the beginning of your marketing plan. Below are four basic KPIs you may want to consider when choosing yours:

· Blog Views and Click-Through-Rates (On your Blog posts and content offers for your content marketing initiatives)

· Brand Impressions (for your Ad performance)

· Website Visits and Conversion rates (for online marketing campaigns)

· Leads generated (for overall success)

Reporting
Reporting the results of your overall marketing activities will help you to measure your campaigns’ success and make informed decisions as a result. Your second and third campaigns should always be influenced by the reporting of the previous campaigns as this will help you optimize your campaigns for better performance.

Google Analytics is still one of the best (and free) reporting tools you can use to keep track of all your marketing activities. Key features include:

  • Tracks website visits and average time spent on each page
  • Shows traffic source, for example, social media, paid adverts or organic search results
  • Enables you to set conversion goals for your campaigns which help you determine which of your KPIs has been achieved or not
  • It also offers dashboards and reporting statistics that you can download or share for future reference or team collaboration.

Conclusion

Writing a marketing plan is one of simplest steps you can take to help you increase the chances of your marketing strategy being successful. Keep in mind, however, that your marketing plan hinges on the quality of your digital marketing strategy.

Nothing can replace having a solid content marketing strategy in place. Not even the best-written marketing plan. And the foundation of a content strategy lies within the content, which could be blog posts, videos or eBooks.

By investing in top quality content, you can easily attract, engage and delight your customers in such a way that they will begin to refer more clients to you.

Over to you; share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.