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By Brian Wildermuth

RISMEDIA, Feb. 20, 2008-Effective and consistent communication is essential in building a successful real estate business. In fact, many highly successful real estate agents actually say they are in the “communication and information business,” yet for most agents, marketing and self-promotion is an afterthought–something that is done on impulse or with no consistent purpose.

An agent, upon hearing a story from one of their colleagues that they acquired a listing after sending out the latest sports schedule, might rush out and send a sports schedule to their farm or sphere and expect the same results. The typical result of an unplanned approach to marketing is one of great disappointment and potential abandonment of any future marketing at all.

What is missing is a plan. Most agents shy away from marketing, because they lack any formal training or know-how.

Here are a few steps to building an effective, hassle-free marketing plan:

1. Define your offering. There are nearly 1.2 million licensed Realtors in the country. You need to let your clients and prospects know what makes you unique. Start by writing down everything you would want your past clients to say about you when referring you to another potential client. This will help you define your service promise.

2. Know your audience. Whether you are farming a local neighborhood or staying in touch with your sphere, it is important to gain as much information about your clients and prospects as possible. At a minimum, you should know the basic demographics of your target audience – the average age, income, and family composition. Knowing this will help you deliver the correct message.

3. Design a theme and/or message. Once you know what you are offering and who you are offering it to, you can develop a consistent message that will help you keep your name top-of-mind with your target audience.

4. Decide on a budget. Most agents spend less than 10% of their annual revenue on marketing. Statistics show that in order to make any kind of meaningful impact on your target audience, you should be spending 25-30%. Either way, a pre-determined budget will help you allocate the funds necessary to carry out your message.

5. Determine the frequency of communication. Experts suggest that more than 3 times per month is too much, and less than 4 times per year is pointless. Whether you communicate once per quarter or twice per month, the key is to stay consistent.

6. Select your pieces. Selecting your marketing pieces in advance will save you a lot of stress and strain throughout the year. There are multitudes of options out there from catalogues to online marketing centers. The key is to ensure that your look is consistent with your message.

7. Choose the proper media. A balanced approach is your best bet to getting your message across. Mix up your delivery between direct-mail, e-mail, personal visits, and your website.

8. Implement and measure. Develop a marketing calendar spreadsheet that includes the following information: the specific marketing piece, the date and method of delivery, the projected cost, and a column for recording client responses. This will keep you on track and provide you with a basic yardstick for how well your plan is working.

©2008 SharperAgent

Brian Wildermuth is the co-founder and president of SharperAgent, and a national speaker in the field of real estate marketing.

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