7 Steps Toward an Effective Marketing Strategy

Real estate agents face huge competition, and a well-thought-out, properly executed marketing plan could mean the difference between success and struggle.
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In an industry as crowded as real estate, how does one stand out? Up-and-coming real estate agents will benefit greatly by launching a thorough marketing strategy. And established professionals can use this same tactic to maximize the time, energy, and money they invest in the promotion of their business. Here’s how.

Step 1: Define a Mission Statement

Think of this as the big-picture vision for your business. A mission is the overall purpose of your marketing campaign. This will be closely aligned to the mission of your company, and often they are one and the same. This is distinct from your goals, which will be smaller targets that are achieved in line with the overall mission of your marketing strategy.

Still, an effective mission statement must be backed up by measurable goals. Some examples might include having 300 social media followers, doubling one’s number of listings, or increasing referral rates by 10 percent. Once these goals are defined, tactics can be laid out to help you achieve them.

Step 2: Research a Target Demographic

Marketing to everyone is impossible. That’s why real estate agents need to focus—to decide where their efforts will be the most effective. Once you define your audience, strategizing becomes easier. For example, marketing to millennials is different than marketing to baby boomers.

Real estate professionals must take the time to research the typical behavior of their chosen demographic’s behaviors. Where do these people typically consume media? Do they watch television? Are they on social media? Do they read newspapers? Are they active in the local community? Are they renters or buyers? The answers to these questions may impact where you spend your ad dollars (Instagram for millennials and Facebook for boomers, say) or even the language you use to communicate your value (personal for millennials, more formal for boomers).

Step 3: Perform a SWOT Analysis

The acronym SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and represents an opportunity to analyze the position of your business in the industry. Does the market favor buyers or sellers? Is the state of the housing in your area stable, or do experts anticipate a shift in the coming months or years?

A SWOT analysis also encourages self-evaluation. What are your strong points? Where can you improve? If you’re a prolific writer, then blogging and social media postings would be the most effective use of your time. If you’re a persuasive public speaker, producing video content may serve you better.

Finally, a threat analysis must be performed, taking stock of local competition. Which agents and brokerages are the biggest and most effective in the area? Which audiences do they target? You can learn a great deal from the success of others.

The results of a SWOT analysis can then be broken down into actionable steps. You can pinpoint how to minimize your weaknesses and maximize your strengths, determine what your competition is doing right, and even discover ways to improve upon the strategy of the competition.

Step 4: Define Your Brand

Real estate marketing relies heavily on an agent’s personal brand. When deciding what your brand should look like, first refer back to your SWOT analysis. What kind of image are your competitors portraying? Then, figure out how you’re different from the competition. What key factors make you stand out?

Now you have a number of choices. What kind of headshot should appear on your listings—a reserved studio shot or a more environmental image? What font and colors evoke the feelings you want your logo to convey? Do you have a slogan? Should the language of your blog or social media content be casual or formal? Choosing a brand goes hand-in-hand with demographic research. Think about the audience. What would speak to them?

Establishing a brand is one of the most important actions a real estate agent can take. A brand sets the scene for their entire marketing strategy and must be consistent across all platforms.

Step 5: Research Media Sources

The next step in creating an effective marketing plan is to decide which media platforms would best serve your chosen demographic. If your demographic skews younger, then social media, mobile, and search ads should be the main focus. If you’re targeting senior citizens, traditional advertising such as billboards, newspaper ads, and television spots would be more effective.

Regardless of which medium they’re using to target prospects, all agents should have a social media presence. Focus on the platforms that appeal to the demographic you’re looking to attract, because it’s difficult to keep business pages on every social site updated regularly. If you have two or three profiles that are relevant to your target audience, your digital presence will be easier to maintain.

Step 6: Set a Budget

As with any marketing campaign, it’s important to identify a workable budget and stick to it. Being a real estate agent is not cheap. While you have to spend money to make money, it’s also important to be realistic about your return on investment.

Real estate agents should crunch the numbers for every marketing opportunity. How much do they initially have to invest? How many listings would they have to acquire and close to break even or make a profit? Is that number feasible? If not, then the marketing tool in question should probably be avoided.

Step 7: Analyze Results and Correct Course

There are no guarantees in the marketing world. Therefore, it’s important for real estate agents to analyze their results and identify what works and what doesn’t. When something is not working, it has to go. This analysis allows agents to focus their marketing dollars on efforts that produce profit.

Your marketing strategy will likely shift as you go on, but it’s important to get started and stick with it for long enough to understand whether or not it’s effective. All real estate professionals require robust and well-thought-out marketing plans in order to be successful. By following these seven steps, both experienced and new agents can identify and evaluate their marketing needs and put their dollars to work in an effective way.

Read more: Real estate professionals can also rely on automation and technological tools when possible to make marketing easier.