In the first post of this six-part series on defining the marketing journey, we discussed the importance of setting clear business objectives using the S.M.A.R.T. approach: specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound. For real estate agents, it’s most likely your business goals are defined in terms of closed transactions from year to year.
So, you have the easy part out of the way!
Now, it’s time for us to move on to marketing. Marketing is a mystery to most small business owners. Often, when we bring up the topic of marketing with agents, eyes glaze over and it is not uncommon for people to say: “I can’t afford marketing” because they are under the impression that marketing means having a TV commercial on the Super Bowl. Indeed, that is one form of marketing, but an extreme form limited to a select few multi-national companies. Our response to someone who says they can’t afford marketing is: “You can’t afford NOT to be marketing.”
Before we dive in, let’s take a look at a few definitions of marketing to give you a frame of reference.
Wikipedia defines marketing as:
“Marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships. It is used to create the customer, to keep the customer and to satisfy the customer.”
Marjorie Clayman, ad advertising executive explained marketing as such:
“Marketing is convincing people that your brand (meaning, your product, service or company) is the best and then protecting the relationship you build with your customer.”
Let’s frame this from a real estate perspective. Depending on the market in which you operate, you may be one of hundreds or even thousands of real estate agents. Or, you may define your geography in terms of neighborhoods, which means there are dozens of other agents vying for the attention of attention-strapped consumers. Within the pool of agents, there are a few top performers who work the phones better than anyone and have built a reputation over the years. To be sure, working the phones using lead systems such as Vulcan 7 or Espresso Agent is a critical element to real estate success. But it isn’t the only element.
Once you’ve established your business goal, you move onto your marketing objective, and here’s the essential question you need to ask:
“What goal must marketing accomplish to achieve my business goal?”
In its purest sense, for a real estate agent or any small business, marketing is about differentiating YOU THE BRAND from the rest of the pack. If you’re a magician on the phone, you might not need to worry as much about differentiating yourself. But even then, someone could come along who could be better than you in tracking down leads on the phone. What then?
To the degree possible, a marketing objective should, like the business objective, be stated in specific terms to aid in evaluating your marketing efforts at the end of the year. But it’s not always easy to quantify some marketing objectives. For example, your marketing objective might be to “build awareness of your personal brand/team across 5 different neighborhoods.” Short of spending money on expensive marketing research, it would be difficult to measure your success against this objective.
So, let’s look at a more practical way to define a marketing objective. Perhaps the goal of your marketing is to turn cold calls into warm calls. If you track your performance, you’ll know that your call-to-meeting ratio is X. Marketing may help to improve the call-to-meeting ratio because people will know your name or, better yet, have reached out directly to you because of something they saw or read about your brand. Therefore, if your business objective is to grow closed transactions by 40% in the coming year, your marketing objective might be:
“Build awareness of Team X so as to improve our call-to-meeting ratio from X to Y over the next 12 months.”
Marketing is about getting someone to “consider” your brand versus a competitor. If you can make it into a consumer’s consideration set, you are one important step closer to closing a transaction.
One final note about marketing and setting marketing objectives: it is not a static process. Marketing plans are living organisms that evolve to meet the needs of a changing business environment. But it is important to get into the discipline of setting measurable marketing objectives to guide future business decisions.
In our next post, we will move to the fun part of marketing and that’s setting communication goals. What do you want consumers to know about your business and how will this knowledge shape their attitude toward your brand?