Amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, don’t forget to keep the work hustle going. There are only 16 days left in 2017, and here are five things you can easily do in the next two weeks to ensure 2018 starts strong!
Create a marketing budget and strategy. Marketing should be something you do throughout the year, not just when you get a listing. Check out our detailed post on how to create a successful marketing strategy.
Clean your contact lists. Every direct mail piece, every email, every phone call, every door knock costs time and money. Stop wasting money on emails sent to bad addresses, postcards sent to people who no longer live at that address, or cold calling people who are not part of your target audience. Now is a great time to go through your lists and get rid of bad contacts, as well as add new ones you’ve made over the years.
Ask for testimonials. Ideally, you should be asking for testimonials after every closing. But if you’ve fallen behind, no worries, now is a great time to catch up. Reach out to everyone you helped sell or buy a house for in 2017. Consider a video testimonial in addition to a written one.
Consider your brand. Take at a look at your visual brand and your messaging. Does it still reflect your values and uniqueness? Is it still appealing to your target audience? Does it convey the message you strive to live out in every transaction? If not, now is a great time to tweak it, or revamp it altogether.
Schedule your January marketing pieces. Order your direct mail postcards, write your email newsletter, schedule your social media posts and get that newspaper ad submitted. When everyone else is scrambling to get their stuff out that first week of January, you’ll already be done and strategizing for the next month.
Marketing should not be something you do only for listings. You need to be marketing yourself and your business throughout the year…that’s how you get the listings! Below are some of our tried and true tips for creating an effective real estate marketing strategy.
Set a budget. I know this is hard for real estate agents, because your income varies with each listing. But a great way to start is simply by determining what percentage of each commission is going to go towards marketing. To get an idea of how much you’ll make, look at your income from last year. Create a budget based on those two factors, and then adjust as necessary throughout the year.
Example- You decide you will use 10% of each commission for marketing. Last year, you made $80,000 in commission. Therefore, you could plan for a 2018 marketing budget of $8,000. If that feels high to you, set your budget a little lower. It’s always easier to add money to the budget than to take it away.
Create tangible goals and know how to track them. How many leads do you want a month? Are you trying to increase your referrals? Are you looking to increase your listings above a certain price point? Set these tangible goals and then monitor your marketing strategies to see which ones are helping you accomplish these goals.
Example. You want 50 leads a month without having to make cold calls. So in January, you set up a regular email campaign, direct mail campaign and Facebook ads. After about 2 months monitoring clicks and asking leads how they heard about you, you determine that email is bringing in the least amount of leads. So you scale it back and use that time and money on Google Ads. After a few more months, you realize this combination is helping you go above and beyond your goals, so you commit to it for the rest of the year, while still monitoring and being open to change should one of those strategies start to dwindle.
Determine a visual brand. A consistent visual brand is crucial to real estate marketing. Some agents use their broker’s brand…the colors, the logo, etc. Others find a professional graphic designer to create a brand that is unique to them and communicates their unique value. There are advantages to both, the important thing is to stay consistent. If you already have a brand, now is a good time to review it. It is relevant to your target audience? Is it modern? Does it still communicate your unique value and they key elements of your business?
Define your audience. I know you WANT to sell everyone’s home, but realistically, you cannot. And your marketing will be a lot more effective if you define an audience and tailor your marketing to them. Many real estate agents define their audience by location. They choose a geographic farm and consistently send direct mail, door knock and participate in community events within that farm. Other agents choose to focus on retirees, while others are marketing to luxury property owners. It’s also okay to have a few different target audiences, as long as each are defined.
Create your messaging. I recently wrote an entire blog about how to create good content. While a marketing plan is not the place to create specific messages, it is a good time to determine general messaging themes and goals. For example, maybe you want your 2018 marketing to focus on why people should live in your farm specifically, or giving people reasons to list this year instead of waiting, or encouraging them to choose you over your competition. Having a general theme, or a couple themes, will help you avoid content writers block and keep your messaging consistent and powerful.
Be willing to be flexible. Real estate is an ever changing industry. It’s likely your marketing needs and ability to execute will change throughout the year. That’s okay! A marketing plan isn’t meant to be a chain, but rather a solid foundation from which to build and change an effective marketing strategy that works for your specific business!
CALL ONE STEP SERVICES! Need help creating a marketing strategy? Need to update your visual brand or create a new one? We are real estate marketing experts ready to help you grow your business. We are currently taking appointments for December and January, so please give us a call at 949-587-5301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request and appointment with Valerie, our Director of Client Relations.
These 2018 calendars are great for direct mail marketing or as walk and drop pieces. They provide a great return on investment because they are “sticky” meaning they stick around houses for a while and recipients refer back to them multiple times, therefore getting repeat exposure to your brand, your name and your message. Each design is available in two sizes, 4×9 and 8.5×11.
Download 2018Calendar Order Form
I frequently participate in forums on Alignable, asking and answering marketing questions. I occasionally bring bits of the forum here to the blog. Today, I’ll be expanding on a conversation I had with a bookstore owner about how to generate referrals.
Bookstore Owner : Looking for advice as to how best to market my audio bookstore to the local neighborhood and online. Here’s my issue. Our business model, that makes us unique to bookstores, is that we offer audio books for Rent. I believe we give a great value to our customers for the price we charge. But I have tried everything including radio ads, print ads, Facebook Ads and writing articles. Yet, most people find the store by accident. After 9 years in the same location, people still walk in and say to me “Wow, I didn’t know this place existed”. Thanks in advance.
Brianna at One Step: Do you have any sort of referral or rewards program? Often the best marketers are those clients who already love your business. Maybe you could offer a free month’s membership or a free book rental if they share your Facebook page, bring a friend to an event, tell a friend about your business, etc.
Bookstore Owner: We have tried several types of referral plans. Giving $5.00 credit for each referral. Offering a 1 Free month to our customers if they get a customer to sign-up to a plan. We usually advertise these referral programs for three months in a row. Out of the 300 customers we sent the offer out to only less than 1% referred anybody. That’s not say that we don’t get referrals from our customers, because we do. They just happen to be given organically. I don’t think our customers which skew in a older demographic care so much about getting a free month or receiving a dollar amount for each referral. Plus our business is so unique, I don’t think most people are thinking about it when they are out with friends.
Brianna at One Step Services: Rather than trying 3 month plans, I recommend thinking of ways that you can consistently and constantly remind your clients to refer you. You may be right that they aren’t interested in rewards and that organic referrals are best for your clientele. However, there is nothing wrong with reminding them to make those organic referrals. Many studies show that the more you remind or ask people to do something…refer you, like your social media post, write a testimony, etc…the more likely they are to do it.
So to increase those organic referrals, consider including a referral card in every book you mail out. Just a little something that a client could pass on to a friend with your info. Keep those same handouts near your cash register so people can grab them on their way out. Every time you send an email, make sure there is an obvious link so they can forward it to a friend. If you’re on social media, about once a week make a post asking for referrals or asking them to share your post/page with their friends. Here at One Step, we send out handwritten welcome notes to new clients and we include referral cards. We also send handwritten notes to our most consistent and loyal clients, people we think would speak highly of us.
It may sound obnoxious, but keep in mind one single person will probably only pay attention to one of these touch points. And it’s critical that you constantly stay top of mind to get those organic referrals. This is not a three month program, but something that is part of your long term marketing strategy. And I do think that you are off base in saying that your service is so unique people don’t think about it when out with friends. Media is a very popular topic amongst friends and movies, music and books are easy conversation starters. Your clients will refer people if you tell them to.
The Challenge: The Chanje Movement needed help promoting their first ever golf classic and gala. Previously, their big fundraising event had been a charity run which required very different promotional materials. They came to us with a vague idea of what they wanted, but didn’t know the details. Specifically, they needed guidance on their invitations, programs and signage.
The Solution: At One Step, we’ve created and printed marketing materials for several charity galas, including American Heart Association, so we had several different ideas for Chanje. We pulled out our stack of samples and discussed content ideas, design ideas, paper types and budget. Once we narrowed down the details, we brought in a designer who created a look for the event by expanding on the logo they had already created.
The Surprise: Two weeks before the event, we were discussing signage and the founder, Dave, expressed a desire for a sign that encouraged people to participate in child sponsorships. Their One Step account rep, Brianna, suggested printing on a white board sign so that the team could use markers to track progress.
The Result: The whiteboard sign was a huge hit. One Step printed a simple thermometer design on white board material, and the Chanje team wrote their goal and tracked their progress with erasable marker. They’ll be able to reuse this sign to future events. In addition, One Step created elegant invitations, event programs, sponsorship banners and signs for each golf hole. The Chanje Movement was incredibly pleased with the result.
The Testimonial: “Working with Brianna at One Step Services makes it easy for our small organization to increase our impact. When we need help with graphics & design or fresh ideas for our content or marketing, she is available – and they’re affordable and fast! We planned our first ever golf & gala fundraiser and their support made it possible to focus on sharing our vision and connecting with people. Knowing they are there for us gives me a confidence we have the support we need.” – Dave Brodksy
Our annual holiday schedules of events are ready to order! We’ve done things a little differently this year. Instead of choosing a city, you simply choose your county and we’ll put together a list of major events taking place in different areas throughout the county. Have some specific events you want featured? No problem, just send those over and we’ll put them on the card you choose.
These pieces are particularly effective because they are sticky, meaning people are likely to keep them around for a while and reference them more than once. Every time they do, they’ll be reminded of your name, your face and your brand. These pieces have a strong ROI and are a great way to wrap up your 2017 direct mail marketing efforts.
Each design is available as an 8.5×8.5 postcard or 8.5×5.5 postcard. As always, the production fee of $12 is waived when you order 200 or more. Additional bulk discounts apply for orders of 500+ and 1,000+. Download the order form and email it to email@example.com or give us a call if you have questions 949-587-5301.
If you are promoting a business, you are a content creator. Whether you write blog posts, send weekly emails, mail postcards, or post to social media, you are having to come up with content to share with your audience. The better the content, the more likely you are to
Step #1 – Make a list of types of content
This list will vary depending on what industry you are in and what type of business you are promoting. However, there are some general types of content that work well across the board. Testimonials and case studies make great content as do the answers to frequently asked questions. (Not sure what your FAQs are? Ask your customer service reps!) Other great content ideas include product promotions, event invitations, how to’s, top ten lists, and employee spotlights.
Step #2 – Create a list of content sources
Not all of your content has to be original. Your audience will appreciate you curated relevant content from trusted sources. Keep a list of sources that routinely publish good information on your industry. The easiest way to do this is with an RSS Reader <—- Go ahead and click that if you don’t know what an RSS Reader is. One of your primary sources should be us, One Step Services! Not only do we provide great content on our blog, monthly newsletter and social sites, but every month we release new content ready postcards that can be used for real estate agents, small businesses and nonprofits. Want to get the scoop when we release new designs? Sign up here
Step #3 – Give each day a theme
At One Step, Mondays are for motivational quotes, Tuesdays are for tips, Fridays are for fun. Giving each day a general theme or category makes it easier to decide what specific content needs to be published that day. I also give the months different themes. For example, in doing my planning for first quarter 2018 (ah, how are we already at the point of planning for 2018?) I decided that the theme for February will be the importance and relevance of Direct Mail. About 75% of the things I post that month will be related to that theme.
Step #4 – Create a content calendar
Once you have your list of content ideas and your themes set, it’s time to map it out. There are literally hundreds of different ways to do this. TBH, although I have been planning content for years, 2018 will be the first time I have to get every single thing down on a calendar to show the bosses. So my typical system of sticky notes and dreams isn’t really going to cut it. The first thing that I’m going to try is a color coordinated Google Spreadsheet. At first I was worried it would be a little to linear for my scattered creative brain, so far it’s working quite nicely. Want to see a sample? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to share.
Step #5 – Write /create / find your content
I know what your thinking…why do I have to do so much work BEFORE I start creating content? The reality is that creating content isn’t that hard, but creating effective, consistent, purposeful content is. And in order to create that kind of content, you definitely need to plan ahead and do steps 1-4. The good news is, that those first steps get easier and easier the more you do them and it becomes quicker to finish them every month. So don’t get discouraged! The hard work at the beginning is worth it.
When you create your content, refer back to the list you made in step one. Find a specific testimonial to post, answer a specific FAQ, write out a case study. Something to keep in mind…don’t be afraid to be a little personal. You don’t need to share your martial issues or what you had for breakfast, but your experiences with other business, your opinions on relevant industry news, and your solutions to problems you’ve experienced in business can be extremely valuable to your recipients. This entire blog post, for example, is based on my personal experience of creating a content calendar for One Step.
Step #6 – Distribute your content
Once you’ve written your content, its time to publish it! Where you publish is an entirely new topic for another day, but whether it’s on social media, through a direct mail campaign, or a post to social media, you need to share that ish! And yes, you absolutely can share the same content over multiple channels. You worked hard to create that content gold, use it and reuse it in different ways to get the most out of it.
I frequently participate in forums on Alignable, asking and answering marketing questions. I occasionally bring bits of the forum here to the blog. Today, I’ll be expanding on an answer I gave to a landscape design business about generating leads.
Can anyone recommend good lead generating tools/techniques for a custom home building and landscape design business?
My boss got her backyard completely remodeled a few years ago. Just a few months later, the next door neighbors also redid the backyard. About a year later, the neighbors across the street revamped their front yard. Typically, when one neighbor does something to upgrade their home, it inspires others in the neighborhood to do the same. Therefore, if you work with homes, either as a contractor, landscaper, real estate agent, house cleaner, etc, your BEST place to find leads is in the neighborhoods where you are already working. So, here are some ideas for generating leads from the neighborhood in which you are working.
Numero uno is signage! Stick a sign in the homeowners lawn to let ALL the neighbors know who you and what you’re doing. If they want similar work, they know who to call. You can do a simple coraplast sign, or you can do a large sign with an attached box for flyers or business cards.
Do a direct mail or walk and drop campaign. I recommend doing one at the beginning of the job and one at the end. I once received a mailed card from a solar panel company. They told me they were going to be in the neighborhood installing and that they’d love to stop by and give me an estimate. This was an incredibly effective message, especially since I had been under the impression my neighborhood didn’t allow solar panels. Another effective mailing would have been if they had gathered a testimonial from that client and sent it out once the job was done.
Introduce yourself. You may not have time to walk the entire neighborhood, but you can take an hour and just walk the street. Even if you don’t consider yourself a sales person, you’ll be surprised how far a casual introduction and a business card can go. You don’t have to make hard sell, just introduce yourself, chat with people about their needs, and leave them with a card or brochure so they know how to contact you.
Give your client a referral discount. Your customers are your best sales people. Do a great job on their house, and they’ll naturally recommend you when asked. But if you offer some sort of incentive, they’ll talk about you even when they aren’t asked! And their personal testimonial will go a long way in convincing neighbors to pick up the phone.
Do you have any other tried and true lead generation strategies for people working on homes? Let us know in the comments below. And if you need signs, postcards, business cards, brochures, flyers or ANY other print marketing to promote your real estate business, landscape business, or home contractor business, talk to us! We offer free consultations, competitive pricing and high quality custom design products that cannot be beat.
We have added 5″x7″ foldover greeting cards to our Thanksgiving card collection. These unique designs are perfect for real estate agents, small business owners or nonprofit organizations. Each comes with suggested messaging, but you are free to submit your own if you prefer. Be sure to check out our 2017 Thanksgiving Postcards as well.
Our holiday postcards are the perfect way to wish clients, friends and family a wonderful holiday season. We have 9 designs to choose from and 6 different messages. Mail these, walk and drop them, or attach them to gifts. We can also convert any postcard design into a 5″x7″ foldover card.
Want something more custom? No problem. We can create completely custom cards that feature your brand, a family photo, whatever you want. Just shoot us an email with your vision and we’ll get it started email@example.com.
Also, keep in mind you can order as early as you want and set a future mail date. Mark this off your list TODAY so you can focus on baking and shopping and all that fun stuff.
Download the Holiday Card Order Form 2017
All postcards can be converted to a foldover. Here are just a few examples