Originally published on November 08, 2010.
Magic isn’t something you buy, and it’s not something you develop or join, magic begins simply with a great communications and business marketing plan.
I wanted to sit down and discuss with you a few things to try to help you focus through the trees at what your goals are as we head into the new year. Skipping all of the buzz and hyperbole, here are just a few simple tips that should guide you on your way.
- What is your target market? Try avoiding being all things to all people. If you sell starter homes, then focus on starter home buyers and sellers. Look at your particular market trends, are they mobile? Is your city high in walkability? OR are you in a rural suburb? Be smart about this step.
- Set in stone a communications plan. Once you’ve discovered your target, learn their obstacles to buying and selling. Answer to those needs via your blog as often as you can. Try not to sell yourself, rather, simply provide the answers they’re looking for. Taglines, headlines, slogans, print or online, keep true to your target with solution based messaging.
- Migrate. If you are utilizing social media, then seek out your local targets and migrate with them. Attend events they plan, support where possible, volunteer where necessary, but spend time within your target audience and get to know them personally. Support them online, but touch them offline.
- Touch your target in ways they choose to be touched. If Craigslist is hot in your market, then be a good steward of Craigslist. If your market is soft in the technology arena, and less on texting or smartphone use, then remain true to the traditions your market is accustomed. Sometimes, being too early to market is just as bad as too early to adoption. Be present, but focus on where your consumer is looking.
- Discover where to spend. Spending money is the biggest hurdle to the independent agent, as well as the brokerage, but it doesn’t have to be. Are your signs looking rugged? Could you use a soft or all out rebrand? What are others in your market doing to stand out? Colors, fonts, and simply the way in which you market make all of the difference in a 2.0 society. Start small if necessary, but bring uniformity to your brand to bring uniformity to your message. Conform to modern web standards if possible with your website, make small investments if you’re just getting started, but make sure the platform you chose is expandable and that you won’t need to completely overhaul what you’ve started with. I suggest that your website have a blog as well as a front page. This is critical when you have multi-levels of consumers. Some may not even know what a blog is, so a supporting website is important. Also, invest in your IDX where available. It does not matter if your competitior has the same solution, what can make the difference is the supporting content- thus the power of a strong communications plan. Most importantly, when working with a designer, it’s perfectly fine to break your website into phases. Discover your most important basic needs, and grow from there. This will save you costly spends in the fourth quarter.
- Discover how you will communicate your messaging. For some, this is simple, for other areas of the country it can be complicated. Bandit signs for new construction (where legal) or door to door flyers in rental pocket neighborhoods still work. Cold calling or warm calling also still work- but remember your messaging and your focus.
- Make spends when they make sense. If you begin looking at your brand identity, take into account your messaging. This is crucial. A million dollar home on the cover of a post card doesn’t really make a lot of sense or connect with a first home buyer. The dream of homeownership isn’t the dream of retiring, unless retirees are your target.
- Make your social media expense make sense by following the rules of your communications plan. In other words, unless that is where your target demo is residing, then you may be wasting your time. Be present, but not a fixture when you know your target consumer isn’t there- you’re not missing anything, and it’s better to let your competitor waste their time unfocused.
This is not a complete list, rather I wanted to inspire you to plan. These tips are not easy to articulate, namely because every single one of you resides in a very unique area of the country. You’re hearing the crashing waves of buzz and change around social media, and what you should be doing, but I often wonder what your gut is telling you, and are you following it? If you’re in rural Indiana selling in the historical district, I’m wondering who are your buyers and sellers? And what’s the best way to engage them? I would think that living in rural Indiana, you might know a thing or two about that compared to social Joe living in Seattle, right? Weigh everything you hear against your own grasp on reality.
By having your communication plan solidified, your blog will have an endless supply of inspiration- you know who you’re talking to and what they specifically need to know. Your communications plan that outlines who you’re targeting, what your message is and which methods you’ll deliver the message is the starting point for all marketing. This is how the big boys do it and you can too.
The bottom line isn’t getting down to basics, it’s getting down to who you want to reach and how you reach them. Becoming all things to all targets in a market this slow will be the death of you. Do your homework, move for moving markets like short sales (if in fact they’re moving) and make sure your messaging follows what your consumer is desperately searching for- answers.