As summer draws to a close and fall sets upon us, it is incumbent upon all businesses to build their budgets for 2014. The old adage rings true, failure to plan is a plan to fail. Too many brokerages in America are guilty of this. Here are a few tips that will improve the planning process in your company. It is a good idea to print this out and provide it to your team as a reminder.
- Look at data first. Many brokerages fail to take a close look at the effectiveness of digital marketing programs. Dig deeply into your reports and look for performance and performance trends. Google Analytics will help you determine partners that send you traffic and those that do not. Contrast that with leads by lead source. Also, look carefully for changes in performance as partners grow or shrink. Contrast performance with pricing. Get proposals from everyone for annual benchmarking. Most online portals grew revenue in 2013 as a result of raising prices, not expanding their customer base.
- A plan by the department. Many WAV Group broker clients operate more than just residential brokerages. They operate commercial departments, relocation departments, mortgage companies, insurance companies, and title companies. All too often, these companies are not planning their media buying together to leverage discounts and to cross-advertise. Consumers appreciate full service, one-stop shopping. Be sure you communicate that in your marketing.
- Make adjustments. Too many brokers set a plan and forget it. It is wise to build a construct for monthly reporting and success management. The reporting will help you to identify when programs are not being executed correctly, or when program changes are impacting your expected outcomes. For example, data feeds break or sites change their layouts in a way that impacts your performance. Furthermore, new programs with existing partners emerge. You may not need to have monthly review meetings, but quarterly review meetings are advisable. It is also an interesting practice to share your results with your partners. If Trulia is crushing Zillow in traffic and leads, let Zillow know.
- Monitor competitors and stray from the pack. Resist the temptation to copy your competitors. If your competitor is focused on the newspaper or a particular portal, focus your efforts on something else. This will allow you to optimize your partnership elsewhere and differentiate your marketing for agent recruiting and seller presentations.
- Don’t be trendy. For every illustration of a marketing risk that leads to outstanding success, there are 100 marketing risks that are complete failures. There is rarely a reason to go first in real estate. If you do, tread lightly and watch it like a hawk.
- Be social, but not overly social. Social media marketing is important and you need to find a strategy that works in your culture. Social media marketing augments other marketing efforts but should never be the lead. If you are allocating more than 20% of your budget to social, you are over doing it.
- Plan and update your messaging. You need to plan to update all of your marketing media each year. It is a good idea to space it out unless you are doing a major overhaul. Plan to review your flyers one month, your broker website the next month, your drip marketing the next month, your virtual tours the next month, your newspaper ads the following month, etc. This accomplishes a number of goals. It reduces advertising fatigue; a condition when consumers stop responding because your company marketing always looks the same. It gives you a story to tell agents to boost their enthusiasm and drive recruiting and retention. You can improve response rates.
- Survey agents and consumers. There is nothing better to direct your marketing strategy and to survey the opinions of the people you serve. High performance is influenced by opinion as much as performance measurement. If consumers and/or agents think that your online marketing is failing, then it is. Be sure to survey your agents and your clients to make sure that you are managing perceptions. Besides, survey data is a great tool for convincing sellers and agents that you are superior. If 9 out of 10 consumers say your website is #1, that becomes a powerful marketing message.
WAV Group facilitates strategic planning and budgeting sessions for many of America’s leading brokerages. Our consultants can guide your organization through the process, and provide industry best practices to improve your outcomes. We would be honored to provide your organization with a proposal. The process takes 4 to 6 weeks, so it is important that you begin to plan your meeting dates sooner rather than later. Contact Victor Lund with any questions that you may have.