How important is a real estate marketing plan?
The one common trait among successful real estate investors is their expertise in marketing. As the bridge between a business and its consumers, marketing sets the pace and tone of a respective brand; it’s how people get to know, like, and trust a business. A good real estate marketing plan plays a fundamental role in real estate investing. That said, a real estate marketing plan is your best chance for growing and sustaining a successful business in today’s competitive marketplace.
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What Is A Real Estate Marketing Plan?
A real estate marketing plan is a written guide for investors to promote themselves and their business. It explains what they’re going to do, how they’re going to do it, and who will be doing it—and it’s the single biggest reason people succeed in this industry; it’s also the primary manufacturer of real estate leads.
More often than not, leads are generated by word-of-mouth marketing, otherwise known as real estate referrals. Most of today’s most successful real estate investors find their leads from referrals, as their past success stories precede many of them. A real estate agent, for example, receives roughly 75 percent of their business from satisfied clients.
“Your marketing foundation establishes credibility for your business,” says Than Merrill, my colleague at FortuneBuilders. “That foundation compels other people to take you seriously—especially when you are new to real estate investing. As your marketing presence continues to grow, it will also generate referral leads from other real estate professionals.”
The two most important qualities for generating leads as an investor are presence and credibility, which a marketing plan aims to establish. For investors, a marketing presence opens their name and business to the public, helping spread the word. On the other hand, credibility serves as the backbone for trust and establishing relationships. Before drafting a real estate marketing plan, new investors should think long and hard about their business goals. Like most endeavors, the key to success starts with a plan, and your real estate marketing plan is no exception. Assessing goals before drafting a marketing plan will better refine investors’ approach moving forward, including developing a roadmap to a successful real estate marketing campaign.
Chris Muller from DoughRoller offers this advice on how to make a sound marketing strategy: “make use of internet reviews to your advantage. A prospective client’s desire to collaborate with you or rent a place from you is heavily influenced by their online reviews, which are incredibly essential. Be confident that you have a strong internet presence when it comes to reviews”.
10-Step Marketing Plan Outline For Investors
The key to a successful real estate investor marketing plan begins with goals and ends with persistence. It takes a dedication to follow any plan through the proverbial ups and downs, only to achieve the goals one sets out to accomplish from the beginning; it also helps to plan ahead and prepare for the future. Having a path to follow is important, but it will be refined over time through trial and error, continuously improving along your investment journey. Since every marketing plan for real estate is different, I’ve outlined the essential steps investors can’t ignore below:
Identify A Target Audience
Clarify Your Message & Goals
Review Your Competition
Define What Sets You Apart
Organize Your Budget
Determine Your Media & Distribution
Create A Timeline
Track Important Metrics
Review & Tweak
1. Identify A Target Audience
Who are you trying to attract? Buyers? Sellers? Foreclosed homeowners? This section describes the people you’re targeting. As a new investor, you should spend a considerable amount of time describing your ideal target customer in detail. That said, clearly identifying your audience will better assist in your real estate marketing approach. After all, how can you possibly know how to market if you don’t know who you are marketing to? With a firm grasp of your target audience, it will be easier to tailor a message that gets your point across in a more efficient manner.
In identifying a target audience, keep several important indicators in mind:
Interests & Hobbies
At the very least, knowing these things about your target audience will greatly improve your real estate marketing plan.
2. Clarify Your Message & Goals
The message is one of the most important aspects of any marketing plan. Often referred to as the Unique Selling Proposition (USP), your message not only distinguishes you from your competitors, but it’s the foundation for everything you do—and it is what will resonate with customers. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), this section should summarize the main taglines, selling points, and value proposition.
In addition to your message, set clear, obtainable goals. Michael Garrico, Co-Founder at TotalShape suggests that “new investors should consider their business goals carefully before designing a real estate marketing plan. The key to success in every effort is with a strategy, and your real estate marketing plan is no exception. Assessing goals before crafting a marketing plan will help investors fine-tune their strategy in the future, including building a path to a successful real estate marketing campaign”. Doing so will serve as a roadmap for future success and act as a compass when your direction is less clear.
If for nothing else, each marketing strategy should get you one step closer to your goals. In the event a strategy doesn’t improve your position, it may be time to rethink things. Goals shouldn’t be too ambitious either; while they should motivate you to do well, unobtainable goals can severely discourage forward progression when milestones aren’t met. Read our guide on setting real estate business goals to learn more.
3. Review Your Competition
Every marketing plan outline should include a section that details what the competition is up to. More specifically, take a minute to look at what other investors are doing in your area. Are their marketing efforts paying off? Is their message coming across? What exactly is and isn’t working for your investor counterparts? Make a list of both strengths and weaknesses as you review your competition.
In gaining insight into what the competition is doing, you will not only have a better idea of where to start but perhaps even which techniques to avoid. If bandit signs don’t show any promise in a respective area, it may suggest buyers and sellers aren’t receptive to that particular message. At the very least, knowing what your competition is doing will help you avoid the antiquated “trial and error” approach. Consistently review the efforts of other real estate investors in your area to stay up to date on marketing trends.
4. Define What Sets You Apart
Take an honest, unbiased look at your business and determine what sets you apart from the competition. What is it that you can “bring to the table” that nobody else can? Regardless of how big or small, try to develop something you can do better than anyone else; perhaps it’s securing funding or negotiating deals. That said, what sets you apart doesn’t even have to be tied intrinsically to real estate; it can be interpersonal skills or even a caring personality. The real estate industry is so varied that any skill can be used to get ahead. As a people business, in particular, personal characteristics can take you a long way. Therefore, don’t sell anything you can do too short. You never know which of your own skills can take you to the next level, so find out which one you will use to your advantage.
Complete A SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis involves looking at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an organization. Strengths and weaknesses are relatively straightforward, but opportunities and threats will require you to consider where your competitors are at, and how it impacts your standing. This framework is a great tool for improving your business.
5. Organize Your Budget
Aside from goals, your budget is one of the biggest influences on your real estate marketing plan. This is the section where your pricing and positioning strategy will need to be aligned, and according to the SBA, investors should not assume that the lowest price wins. “Would you buy day-old sushi because it’s cheap? Your price needs to synchronize with your product offering and your target market. If you discount excellence, it becomes less credible in the eyes of your potential customers.”
Managing your money as a real estate investor is imperative. As the catalyst for success or failure, the marketing budget is an important part of your real estate marketing plan, as it will ensure you don’t overspend. As a new investor, focus your time on organizing your financial information, determine where to spend marketing dollars, and then make adjustments. According to the SBA, a good marketing plan needs to include a budget for expenses and the sales that result from the different activities. One thing is for certain: you need to have a budget before you can move on to the next step.
6. Determine Your Media & Distribution
Whether you are dealing with social media or content marketing, this section will highlight the types of media you intend to use. Some investors choose to use media outlets such as print, radio, and television to broadcast their marketing efforts. The SBA recommends investors consider where their potential customers will see their message and how they plan to track what they say about it.
This is where you explain your distribution approach. How will customers buy from you? The most popular channels for real estate investors include direct mail, social media, content marketing, business website, networking, and so forth. This section will include several outlets, not the least of which are:
Direct Mail Marketing
Social Media Content
Yellow Letter Campaigns
Website Squeeze Pages
Creating a user-friendly and informative website is arguably one of the most important pieces of any real estate marketing plan. This website will serve as the first stop for people looking to learn about you and browse your listings. It is also critical to make your site as mobile-optimized as possible. A large portion of your site visitors will be on their phones or another mobile device, and this will also help with SEO.
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7. Set Milestones
A general real estate marketing plan provides an outline to achieve a long-term goal. A real estate marketing plan should also consist of tasks and major milestones for new investors to ensure you’re on the right path. Not unlike setting goals, milestones will give investors something to work towards that doesn’t seem too far away. Setting milestones makes even the most monumental tasks seem possible. Therein lies the benefit of setting milestones: investors will gain a sense of accomplishment. The resulting positive mindset is sure to progress the business further, and meeting milestones is one of the best ways to do so.
8. Create A Timeline
In addition to milestones, a good real estate marketing plan will establish a timeline. Investors with an idea of how long the existing marketing plan should take will work with a sense of productive urgency. Not only that, but a properly drafted timeline will enable investors to tailor their entire strategy to the previously mentioned milestones. Doing so should keep investors on track and gauge whether things are progressing as expected. At the very least, a timeline will establish the foundation of an entire marketing plan and set the tone for how things will move forward. However, at its pinnacle, a timeline can actually make the difference between a poor marketing plan and one that takes an investor’s career to the next level—it’s that important.
9. Track Important Metrics
Tracking marketing efforts is one of the most important measures underutilized by real estate investors. It takes numbers to work a plan, and investors should be tracking everything from leads, sales, website traffic, networking contacts—and really any effort that takes time and money to implement. If you’re not tracking the progress of your marketing plan, you’ll never really know if it’s working. It is the tracking, after all, that will enable investors to fine-tune their efforts in the future. Say, for example, your bandit signs on a particular corner are not getting anywhere near the response you had hoped for, but those in a different location are producing many leads. Tracking your bandit sign marketing plan will allow you to improve efficiency by focusing your efforts in areas proven to produce more results. Likewise, tracking will help you rid yourself of ineffective methods, and therefore wasting your time on a plan that’s not working.
10. Review & Tweak
It is worth pointing out that today’s greatest marketers didn’t get to where they are without making a revision or two (or hundreds) to an existing real estate marketing plan. A real estate marketing plan is a work in progress and will be revised repeatedly. As a result, it’s best to look at today’s marketing plans as an iterative process, one that builds off previous successes. It is never safe to assume your own marketing strategy is complete. Instead, constantly review and tweak the components that are already in place. Take the elements that have shown promise and carry them over to the next iteration of your real estate marketing plan. Likewise, remove any strategies that haven’t worked well or still need improvements. Doing so will optimize your marketing efforts and ensure you are putting your best foot forward.
While not all marketing plans are created equal, it is a critical piece in the puzzle of real estate success. As a result, learning how to draft a real estate marketing plan can’t be underestimated. With a truly great marketing strategy at your side, you’ll find investing in real estate isn’t as hard as many people often make it out to be.
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