What is a Marketing Plan and Why You Need It for Your Business

*from entrepreneurshipinabox.com

Do you want more customers, more income, and more profitability? Then, you probably need an excellent marketing strategy. But, strategy without a plan doesn’t bring you the success that you want. So, you will need an excellent marketing plan.

The marketing function is one of the most important functions of your company and a vital part of your success. Without marketing, your business may have a very low number of customers. Without customers, you can’t sell enough of your products and services. Without enough sales, you don’t have enough revenue. Without enough revenue, you can’t make a profit.

Marketing presents a continuous process that every business must perform from the beginning. If the marketing is a process then a marketing plan is the tool for implementation of that process.

Writing such a plan is not the simple task. But, if you have one, it will help you to know what action steps you need to take in order to attract enough and the right type of customers for your business.

Marketing Plan: What Is It?

In the simplest way,  a marketing plan is a blueprint for the activities related to communication of the messages about your products or services, or your business in general to your customers or potential customers.

In other words, it is a detailed roadmap that outlines all your marketing strategies, tactics, activities, costs and projected results over a period of time. It is the detailed written document setting the necessary marketing actions that your business needs to take to achieve one or more marketing objectives. This plan contains various strategies formulated to achieve the business growth and profit objectives.

A marketing plan outlines the specific actions you want to take in order to build an interest to potential customers and clients about your products and/or services. Then to persuade them to buy the product and/or services that you are offering.

The Purpose of Your Marketing Plan

The purpose of a marketing plan is to:

  • coordinate your business goals,
  • define the market and create proper market segmentation,
  • define marketing mix and
  • systematize activities about chosen marketing strategies.

Continuity of the Marketing Plan

While a marketing plan will give you an important part of activities for your business, every entrepreneur should update it regularly. This plan, once it is written, needs to be updated on a regular basis. You must remember that marketing and its activity planning is not something to be carried out only once.

For example, you can choose 5 different marketing weapons for the next six months. If you measure the effects of implementation of those marketing weapons, you can easily see that some of them will work well, and some of them will not give you desired, or targeted results. You must change something in those marketing weapons that did not give you desired results.

You must remember that a good marketing plan is something that never ends, and maintaining a marketing plan is an ongoing process.

Marketing Plan: Why It Is Needed?

With a good marketing plan you may:

  • Follow up on marketing activities and analyze what is good and what is not.
  • Analyze your market and gain solid knowledge about your target customers, market segments, your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Timely change your marketing strategies and tactics.
  • Know how you spend your marketing money.
  • Know real ROI from your marketing money.

Implementation

Your marketing plan is effective only if you have the capacity to implement it.

You must implement every step covered in your plan if you want your marketing activities to be effective. If you implement every activity obtained in one marketing plan you will know what to exclude next year, or what to add to new activities.

10 Cost-Effective and Creative Real Estate Marketing Ideas & Strategies for Agents

*from fitsmallbusiness.com

Creating a marketing plan and need some new real estate marketing ideas? Here is a cost-effective and creative list of great marketing advice.

  • Market yourself in the Central Illinois Homes Guide! It’s a publication owned by its PAAR members. Offering agents affordable and high-quality advertising.
  • Host Local Neighborhood Tours: When it comes to great marketing, nothing beats the personal engagement that comes from hosting a fun event for your sphere of influence. Even better, why not host an event that shows off your own love and expert knowledge about your farm area?
  • Create a New Logo:  Believe it or not, your logo (or lack of a logo) is one of the most important elements of your personal brand. A great logo can help propel your brand forward while a bad logo
 well, let’s just say it’s not going to help you attract more leads.  According to Patrick Sanders, creative director for real estate marketing powerhouse 1000watt, a great logo should:“
 signal something exciting and new — a message to the greater world that your organization is always changing and getting better. The work should reflect that energy.” You can also check out Graphic Design services with the PAAR Marketing Center!
  • Learn Facebook Messenger Marketing: One of the most exciting new developments in real estate marketing for 2018 is leveraging Facebook Messenger. Using Facebook messenger and a free app like ManyChat, you can build real estate chatbots to engage your site visitors 24/7 and even send content to your Facebook audience as direct messages!
  • Create a Video Tour of Your Neighborhood: A video tour of the neighborhood gives prospective buyers a much better feel for what a neighborhood is like to live in. Unless you live in a major city or tourist area, chances are there are very few videos showing highlights of your neighborhood on YouTube. Stepping in to fill that void can mean a nice boost to your online presence and can help generate leads!
  • Start a Direct to Door Marketing Campaign with Door Hangers:Joshua Smith famously built his business from scratch to closing more than 100 homes per year partly by using door hangers. Direct mailers can get lost in a pile of bills but leads need to remove your door hanger to get inside their homes, guaranteeing that they see it. The PAAR Marketing Center offers a variety of door hangers for real estate agents. Check out our Door Hanger options here!
  • Use Instagram Stories: The key is to use Instagram Stories to give your audience a look at your day to day life as an agent as well as focusing on your listings. Believe it or not, many people are curious about what the heck real estate agents do all day!
  • Learn the Art of Real Estate Postcards:  Sending out real estate marketing postcards on a regular basis is a great way to inspire interest in your business and raise brand awareness. You can showcase just listed or sold properties or announce your next open house. The PAAR Marketing Center offers a variety of postcards specifically for real estate agents. Learn more about postcard options here!
  • School Yourself on the Best Ways To Utilize Social Media: Many agents make the mistake of carpet bombing social media with listings, market updates, and tips and never really engaging with their audience. Instead, you need to focus your efforts on discovering what content works best for each social media channel you use.For example, contests can work great on Facebook while behind-the-scenes videos might work better on Instagram stories.
  • Create a Client Testimonial Packet: When it comes to landing more deals than your competition, one of the aces up your sleeve can be effectively using testimonials to help earn the trust of potential clients. Nothing is more positive than a third-party account of your performance from someone who has done business with you previously. Sometimes, this is all it takes to push someone over the edge to work with you and sign the contract.

    For help with creating your marketing plan, give the PAAR Marketing Center a call at 309.688.6419!

Why Personal Branding is Essential for New Real Estate Agents

*From eliteagent.com

Personal branding – it’s the buzzword of the moment, and for real estate agents, it is critical to every sale. Standing you apart from the crowd, making you memorable to vendors, authentic personal branding can be the difference between success and failure.

We all know that effective branding is a critical component to business success. From the start-up handing out flyers to a multi-million dollar logo relaunch, a solid branding strategy can be found within every successful enterprise. Yet this need for a cohesive brand doesn’t just apply to businesses, and in today’s digital world that brand extends so much further than simply matching the color of your stationery. As Seth Godin described, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a customer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

For customer-facing roles, such as real estate agents, having a clearly articulated brand is as essential as having a business card or a mobile phone. Some might even say that more than any other business, real estate agents are selected and used based on personality and presentation
 your personal brand.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is the process by which we market ourselves to others, or to paraphrase:

Your Personality  + Your Promise = Your Personal Brand

For real estate agents, this is the foundation of your sales strategy. Unless you have built relationships and created awareness of your unique sales approach and your Unique Selling Proposition, you won’t be remembered when it comes time for vendors to go to market. You need to be at the forefront of a home seller’s mind when they pick up the phone. And you achieve that with your personal brand.

However, personal branding has to be true to what makes you ‘you’. There’s no point marketing yourself as an agent that loves house styling, if you are color-blind, or don’t know the difference between a chaise lounge or recliner! A false brand will scream of misdirection, and in the real estate industry, presenting a trustworthy, honest version of yourself is critical. Find your positive traits and your Unique Selling Proposition, and from there a genuine personal brand will grow.

Establish your personality

To begin, ask yourself a few honest questions:

  • How do you see yourself?
  • How do your peers see you?
  • What are your beliefs, your values?
  • Are you detail orientated and organized? Bubbly and confident? Personable and thoughtful?

By looking inward at your genuine traits, you can begin to build an honest picture of the person that potential home sellers meet. From this list, you can choose positive attributes that are true to you, and that resemble the brand that you want to present to the vendor; the traits you want to be known for.

Ensuring your self-impression always aligns with how others actually perceive you is key to long-lasting, effective brand. As Jeff Bezos, (Founder of Amazon.com) said, “Your personal brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”

What is your promise?

There are a lot (a LOT!) of real estate agents out there. Somehow you need to be the one that home sellers eventually decide to sell through. So
 why should they choose you?

Your promise answers this.

What do you do for home sellers that others don’t?

  • Do you go above and beyond the call of duty in negotiations?
  • Are you particularly skilled in closing deals?
  • What are your passions?
  • What skill are you most proud of?
  • What are your superpowers?!

This promise is what will become your Unique Selling Proposition– that one ‘thing’ that stands you apart from everyone else. Though, when I work with clients, I prefer to use Unique Value Proposition. What value do you bring your vendors over and above other competing agents in the area?

You can identify your Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Value Proposition in 5 simple steps:

  1. List the things that are unique about your service, the things that your competitors can’t imitate. What are the things you are really good at?
  2. Identify what emotional need is being met by your service.
  3. Compare these Unique Selling Propositions against your competitors and remove those that are already being met elsewhere.
  4. Match the Unique Selling Proposition to your personality, the two must complement each other, not contradict!
  5. Remember, it’s not about being the best (everyone is trying to do that!). It’s about being the best at something that no one else is.

Delivering your personal brand

So, you have a personal brand you can confidently use! From here, define your personal brand with a compelling brand statement. Communicate this brand clearly and often.

Use this brand statement to answer the vendor’s first question: ‘What do I get?’ with a short, concise phrase that is consistent with your values and your personal branding. Be different and avoid reusing common terms such as ‘trust’ and ‘integrity’, which have now sadly lost their impact.

Whatever your brand becomes, bear in mind the words of the very wise Sir Richard Branson: “Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealized, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character and no public trust.”

How To Make Just Listed and Just Sold Postcards That Work In Any Area

*from jigglar.com

Are your agents considering using a Just Listed or Just Sold postcards? Before they do, you and your agents should read this! If your agents want to know how to make Just Listed and Just Sold postcards work in any area, you’ll need to cover five points.

Just Listed and Just Sold postcards are proven to be one of the best new business lead generators for real estate agents, but making mailers that work well and give a return on investment may be hard.

It’s important to make sure your agents:

  1. Stand out from the crowd
  2. Show how successful they have been in their area; and
  3. Give buyers and sellers confidence that they can do the same for them

Postcards That Work

There are 5 key attributes that your agents need in their mailers for them to have maximum impact.

The things needed are:

  1. Great photography
  2. Show what the properties were sold for or are on the market for
  3. Include testimonials
  4. The agent’s contact information
  5. A clear call to action

Let’s touch on each of those points in a bit more detail so your agents can win themselves more leads.

1. Great Photography

One of the most important ways to ensure your agents have a postcard mailer that grabs people’s attention is by including amazing photographs.

The old saying of images conveying 1000 words is probably more like 10,000 words when it comes to real estate photography.

There’s so much that a photograph conveys to buyers and sellers, and that goes the same for using the property photos of their previous sales to capture new sellers.

Long frontal shots that show off the best aspect work great for these mailers because they’re simple and can show similarities that resonate with other sellers.

2. Show What The Properties Were Sold For Or Are On The Market For

It is really important to be upfront about what kind of result your agents have achieved for their previous sellers.

Agents should include prices on their postcards. It gives buyers and sellers a reasonable idea about what they might be able to achieve for their homes, too.

If your agents are mailing this marketing piece to the same area, then this pricing information might be enough to get them over the line if they’re on the fence about selling.

Agents may also include additional wording here surrounding the prices to show whether it was a high price record for the area/street or how many days it was or has been on the market. Whatever is impressive, this is where agents may boast about it to new buyers and sellers coming on board.

3. Include Testimonials

Testimonials remain one of the most powerful motivators.

There’s something about hearing about other people’s success that makes you think “that could be me too”. For an agent, this is like gold.

Agents shouldn’t cover the back of their postcard in irrelevant fluff. If your agents want it to work well as a lead generator, they should include testimonials about what it’s like to work with them. Let their clients boast about the experience of working with them.

Make sure your agents also include names and photographs where possible and also comply with any local regulations about showing testimonials.

4. Your Contact Information

Obviously, agents need to include their contact information somewhere on the postcard. But, did you know that the placement and way an agent presents that information can make a massive difference?

Here’s what your agents need to include in order of importance:

  1. His/Her name
  2. His/Her direct mobile/cell phone number
  3. Personal headshot
  4. His/Her company logo
  5. His/Her website

It’s important that your agents include all of these if they can, but if they’re limited on space, just make sure that they at least get the top 3.

Also, pay attention closely to the readability of these items as that can affect the performance of your mailer.

Studies have shown that readability is decreased with light colored text on dark backgrounds, so if you are using a template with light text on a dark background you should look at increasing the point size of the font a little bit to help readability.

For templates where the color scheme is dark text on a light background, your agents won’t have so much trouble with readability.

5. A Clear Call To Action

Finally, let’s talk about a call to action – the most important piece of your agents’ Just Listed or Just Sold postcard.

This can take many forms, from the tried and true “free appraisal/price evaluation” through to more creative ones like “I have a list of pre-qualified buyers looking for properties in your suburb. Call me to arrange a chat today.”

Sometimes it can also help to offer a lead magnet, some type of brochure or flyer or report that will get sellers interested to know more about their local area’s real estate performance.

Can your agents put something together that will showcase the latest sales in their area with some interesting statistics? Could your agents put together a checklist of to-do items buyers and sellers may need to work their way through in order to prepare their home for sale?

This information is really interesting to people that are looking to sell and it is a good way to differentiate your agents’ just sold flyers from all the other similar mail people receive every day.

Regardless of how your agents word it, or what they are promising people, just make sure they don’t leave it out.

For more information on Just Listed postcards, contact the PAAR Marketing Center for a quote!

How To Create An Easy Content Marketing Strategy

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*from ArticleCity

Did you know that 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement?

That means your content marketing strategy should be the centerpiece of attracting your customers!

Today we’re going give you a simple content marketing plan template that you can use to kick off your efforts.

First, let’s start out with the basics:

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the a strategy of consistently creating and promoting targeted, useful content to attract your perfect customer.

Here’s how it works:

Instead of pushing products on people that may or may not want them, we will pull them in (“inbound marketing”) by creating content they are searching for or interested in.

When they land on our site, they will consume our information (answers to their questions, news updates, resources, etc).

Through the content, they will get to know, like, and trust our brand. Here we can capture their information, send them more cool stuff that develops a relationship with them.

Then when we are ready to sell something, they are much more likely to buy since they know us!

The whole purpose of creating this content is to create trust with your leads. This makes sales 1000X easier.

Here’s how to create a simple content marketing plan that will work for you:

Simple Content Marketing Strategy

1. Define Your Goals

A ship without a destination is just lost at sea.

First we need to define what your goal is:

  • Increase email subscribers?
  • Increase sales of a product?
  • Educate users?

You might even have multiple goals, but you must understand where you want to go before you create your strategy.

If you’re just starting, my favorite goal is to create educational content. That way, you can put it to an autoresponder that delivers the answers to the most common questions your user base asks.

Think about where you can make the most impact in your business – Is it by educating customers? Is it by driving more leads? Is it by explaining your product or service in a valuable way?

2. Define Your Perfect Customer

After you understand your goal, then think about WHO you want to attract.

We want to create a customer persona, or avatar before we create any content.

Here’s why:

You know how some customers can be AMAZING and you make lots of money with little effort?

Then other customers are really really difficult and it’s hard to make a profit?

The quality of the customer can vary greatly – So if you create your perfect customer persona first, all the content that we create will be geared toward attracting them, and leaving everyone else in the dust.

Here’s an example:

In the book “Dot Com Secrets,” Russel Brunson tells a story about how he use to sell marketing training to anyone and everyone.

It was very profitable, but he hated it because the customer base made it really difficult.

So he switched his lead magnet to a book called “108 Proven Split Testing Winners.”

Instead of attracting the “make money online” crowd that consists of lots of newbies, he started attracting more advanced businesses.

Why?

People that know what split testing is generally have more advanced online businesses.

Just by changing the type of content he put out, he attracted an entirely different (and better audience).

You can do this by creating your perfect customer avatar.

What is a customer avatar?

A customer avatar is a list of characteristics and the persona of your perfect customer.

This could include any amount of data that you deem relevant:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Job Title
  • Interests
  • Wants, Needs, Desires
  • Big problems they have
  • Questions they have

The best way to get this information is to know your customers! Actively talk to them or create a survey for them to understand who they are and what they want.

Another way to find more about your target customers is to run Facebook ads.

With the Facebook’s demographic reporting, You can find what age, sex, target interests are converting the best and actually bringing revenue.

3. Research & Validate Topics

One of the hardest parts about creating content is that you can invest a lot of time with little to no results if your content doesn’t “hit” with the audience.

That’s why you’ll want to find topics that your perfect customer is proven to respond to.

You can do this by reverse engineering content that’s already out there to find hot topics, trends, and news.

Once you find topics that are getting lots of traction, you’ll know that what you’re going to create is going to work before you even have the first word written.

Some of my favorite topics to create are based around current news – If you are one of the first to put out a piece on a trending news item, it can rank easily and attract natural links!

4. Create Awesome Content

Now that you have your goals set, your target audience defined, and validated topics, it’s time to create the content.

Depending on where you’re at with your business, you may want to write the content yourself or get a blog writing service to do it for you.

Writing for web is different that other types of writing though – You’ll want to make sure you format for the web by creating scannable content.

You’ll want to link to authoritative sources to back up your points, as well as your own content. (It’s called internal linking and will help your website rank better!)

More than anything, create value for your target customer. Make sure your content answers their questions and positions you as an authority.

As your readers become familiar with your posts, they will trust you as an authority and will begin to like you. So when you go to pitch a product or service to them, they will be much more likely to buy from you!

5. Optimize Your Blog Posts For SEO

One huge part of a content marketing strategy is getting search traffic from Google.

That’s why for every post, you’ll want to do keyword research to find what people are searching for.

Include these keywords in your title tag, your meta description, and throughout your content.

This will help you rank better and drive more traffic!

6. Promote Your Content

Creating the content is just one part of the equation. If you optimize well for SEO, then you have an increased chance of ranking over time.

You’ll want to develop a checklist for content promotion after every piece is published.

This will include things like:

  • Posting to social channels
  • Post to Facebook groups
  • Send to email list
  • Tweet out to the people you have cited in your article to let them know
  • Go back through old posts and add internal links to your new post in relevant places
  • Link to your content in guest posts

Conclusion

By putting all these pieces together, you can formulate an awesome content marketing strategy that will grow your traffic.

What is your content marketing strategy for this year?