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For the last 15-plus years I have been working with real estate agents and brokers across North America to create and implement marketing strategies to build their businesses. The most common factor I find when we begin this process is simple: hardly anyone has a working plan or budget for marketing. This single step is critical to your marketing success because it helps you benchmark success and measure your results.

Getting Started Is Half the Battle

So, where to start? Make a plan. Write down where and how you want to get in front of your existing and prospective clients and clearly identify which marketing venues are right for you. Because budgets aren’t infinite, it’s important to know who you are trying to reach first and foremost. Do you work a niche (i.e.: millennials)? Are buyers your thing? Do international investors make up a majority of your business? Answer questions like these for yourself and then you can more clearly identify how to get in front of these audiences. If you write down where, how and the frequency with which you plan on marketing yourself, and how much each item costs, you’ve just created a simple working plan and budget to manage your business.

Build Your Brand Tactically

Once you’ve identified who your primary client base is, and how you are going to get in front of them, it’s time to make sure they know who you are and what you can do for them. For some, that might mean coming up with a catchy tagline. For others that could be as simple as asking past clients to write online reviews about your service. For agents whose brokerages are part of a franchise, it’s valuable to leverage the franchise brand for credibility. Prepare a series of ads or newsletters outlining your skills, what your business stands for and ask for the business you want by highlighting what you can do for the client. One of the best ways you can market your niche and reach new clients is by utilizing your existing sphere of influence. This group of people already know you, respect you and understand the value you bring to a real estate transaction.

Another effective means for marketing yourself includes every door direct mail (EDDM). When you know your message and know who you are trying to reach, it’s quite cost effective to send concrete printed messages to prospective buyers or sellers using targeted mailing lists. One of the most effective tactics is social media marketing. You can reach virtually anyone using social media today. To dip your toe into this ever-growing marketing arena, you’ve got to consider it like one giant online cocktail party. At a cocktail party you’re going to meet some new people and probably reconnect with others you haven’t seen in some period of time. Your conversation would be a healthy balance of content that is lightly personal and business in nature. Give people content and information to keep them engaged. If you’re marketing to millennials, 84 percent of all millennials are still active users of Facebook, above all other social media platforms. So, an ideal way to get in front of that audience would be to blog or post to Facebook about the hottest new restaurants or store openings in your town. You need to give people what they want and this all comes down to knowing your audience.

Get “Out There” and Make a Name for Yourself

Regardless of your approach at marketing your personal brand and business, you should offer multiple channels for your clients to find you. Imagine if there was only one door into a Division 1 college football stadium. Not only would it be chaos but, fewer people would be able to get into the game. Using this analogy for your real estate business, if you only have one channel for clients to get to you, you’re going to have less volume. Present strategic and plentiful opportunities for your clients to find you to establish and grow your business brand.

Todd Sumney is the chief marketing officer for HomeSmart International.

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