01Determine The Available Marketing Budget
There's lots of advice out there about this. A common tip is to budget 10% of your commission income for marketing. That's OK, but difficult, considering you don't know what that income will be. Adding a percentage of commissions to a base budget amount is easier to plan and logical. If you're doing well, spend more on marketing to keep that trend going.
It can be a career death knell to allocate nothing to marketing until you get a commission, as it may be too late by then. If you're disciplined at money management and don't already owe a lot, debt is a reasonable tool for this purpose. A certain credit card limit amount can be allocated to marketing, and that amount can be budgeted over the first year. If you want to cease using the debt when commissions are coming in, that's good, but keep to the marketing spending plan out of the commissions.
02Once You Know How Much - Plan for Quickest-Result Marketing
If business cards are all that you can afford, then you better figure out how to get as many cards in the hands of as many viable prospects as possible as soon as possible.
Hoping you have a bit more budgeted than that, how much you have will play a large roll in this decision step. Here are some ideas:
1. Image Advertising should be postponed. Image advertising covers ongoing inclusion of your photo and slogan in newspapers and magazines or radio spots promoting your great client services. This is good marketing for the long term, but doesn't usually produce results until it's been run consistently for a long time. New agents need business their first year to survive.
2. If you want to "farm" a subdivision or area, study the property sales stats and make sure that there's enough activity to justify marketing dollars for that area. A look at how many agents are competition in that area would help also. Most MLS systems will show you a sold report by agent. Use a what-if of just getting a 5% nibble of that market and see what the dollar return would be. If it looks good, spend some money for post cards or a newsletter or an ad in the subdivision newsletter.
3. Budgeting for a good web site/blog might be very smart. With some template sites at under $40/month, proper layout and lead follow-up can yield fast results. In one small resort market, a new agent grossed $58,000 from a web site in the first year.
Read more at CreateAPlan Planning System
03Track the Results of Each Marketing Method Carefully
"Don't keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result" is an old saying that applies. Don't be doing direct mailing into a subdivision five years from now and not know how much in commissions the mailings have generated. Markets change, marketing methods change and new ones come along. You'll be far more effective long term if you keep up with the return of each marketing method over time. Then you can switch money around to the ones that work best.
For all types of marketing, have a prospect management system that is set up to have a field where you enter where that prospect came from. If you can't track it by how they got in touch, then ask each one. Some won't remember or will give you multiple answers, but do the best you can to record where they came from. Later, you'll run reports by marketing method and know how many prospects you've gotten that way. If you also place commission amounts in the prospect (now client) record, those reports can tell you how much money that method has produced over time.
For internet marketing, it gets easier and far more accurate to determine how many prospects you've received from a web site, right down to which page or form they used. This is tracked with the web site statistics. A good site provider can also track your marketing by prospect name and the end result, purchased, sold, or removed.
04Keep Up With Real Estate Marketing and Customer Trends and Act on Them
The internet has brought sweeping changes to how we market ourselves as real estate agents and to how we market our clients' listings. The change is getting faster and never ends. Keep up with what's happening so that you're not spending money on less effective marketing methods.
An excellent, and free, way to keep up with the news is with RSS news feeds or alerts in your email or a news reader. Learn how with Top Ways to Get Current Real Estate News. Use keywords like "real estate marketing" to get alerted to the latest trends, products and services.
Don't jump on every bandwagon offered. There's a lot more ineffective marketing out there than the good type. Read daily though, study the promises and services, and then act on them if they look promising. Again, track results and don't get locked into any long-term obligations.
05Don't Overlook the Tried-and-True Free Marketing that Works
The budget and marketing plan is quite important. Your long term success as an agent depends on them. However, the good old standby ways real estate agents have always built their business still work quite well.
1. Hand out those business cards. It sounds old hat, but it's inexpensive and a proven business generator.
2. Community service brings business. Become active in the community. Don't do the hard sell, but let others know what you do. If Habitat for Humanity is in your area, it's a great way to help someone while you help yourself.
3. Be outgoing and meet people. My first sale in real estate many years ago came from a conversation at the breakfast bar in Denny's. And it came in my first 90 days in the business!