Investment Real Estate Marketing Plan – Putting Details Into Action

Marketing is one of the most important things a real estate investor can do to grow his business. It is also one of the areas that is easiest to make multiple mistakes. From failing to properly plan, failure to track your results and even worse, failure to control spending; marketing is fraught perils that beginning investors and long time investors alike must be aware and prepared to avoid.

There are 3 main areas of marketing to concentrate on when seeking to grow sales and revenues. The first is education, the second is planning and the third is tracking for adjustments and success. All three are important for investors to watch as they seek to grow sales and revenues and more importantly, build a business model that is sustainable through any real estate cycle.

EDUCATION

Educating yourself as a real estate investor and marketer is absolutely paramount if you are going to have success and grow your business. There is simply no excuse for not understanding the basics of each as they both are extremely important for the longevity and ability to stay relevant and profitable. Here a few examples of places to become educated on good marketing techniques for real estate investors.

1. Local Library – There may not be a better place to become educated on real estate marketing than the local library. Break the topic down into two subjects and you can have the basics down inside of a week. Under the real estate section there are multiple titles that explain the basics of real estate investing from beginner levels to expert levels. In addition, many of these books will give a basic outline of some simple marketing techniques and tools to get you started. When you combine that knowledge with a good Marketing 101 book from the library, you can quickly pick up the basic outline of why marketing must be done and how properly set up a marketing plan. The best part about an education from the library is the cost – practically free!

2. Real Estate Investment Clubs – Often times, these clubs are referred to in the industry as REIA’s. Associations of local real estate investors who come together several times a month to discuss topics relevant to real estate investing. These are great sources for so many things related to real estate investing, including marketing ideas and plans. By attending and immersing yourself into these groups, it is easy to develop friendships, partnerships and even mentors who can answer questions and provide guidance. By paying attention to what the top performers are doing in the field and how they are marketing their businesses, you can pick up ideas and integrate those ideas into your marketing plan. It is called modeling and it is one of the best ways to educate yourself on what is working in a particular real estate market. The biggest upside to becoming educated at a REIA is that you are surrounding yourself with the type of people that are going to be vital to your future success. The costs are usually very affordable and you can often avoid mistakes made by other investors before you.

3. Go it Alone – There probably does not need to be a tremendous amount of discussion under this heading. It speaks for itself and generally goes against all advice I could ever give any business person, especially a real estate investor. As far as education is concerned, it is an approach that many investors choose to take and often at a tremendous cost. Going it alone means deciding to jump into the deep end of the pool with both feet and learning as you go. Trial and error can be good and can sometimes lead to good results, but often after many hours and many ups and downs. Strictly looking at costs, many investors have experienced huge losses in the areas of marketing to learn what works in their particular market and often are a little behind the actual trends due to not properly learning to track and adjust.

My suggestion when it comes to education to use all the resources available including those that come with little to no costs. When you are becoming educated on how to set up a proper marketing plan complete with tracking and adjusting, then I would make sure I was a part of a local real estate investors association so that I am always up to date with the latest marketing techniques.

PLANNING

When I talk about planning and marketing, I mean to process of laying out the actual strategies you are going to use to market your business, the time frame you are going to use those strategies, the way you are going to track those results and the possible adjustments you are going to make as your results come in on your plan. One of the biggest mistakes that we see today in the real estate marketing world is not a complete failure to plan, but a failure to lay the full plan out from beginning to end. That being said, here are a few tips to properly develop a plan.

1. Know what you are currently doing and what results you are currently achieving. Even if the answer is that you are doing nothing, you can not work on where you are going if you do not know where you currently are starting from. You should be able to pinpoint today any marketing you are doing and the cost of that marketing as well as any results you are seeing.

2. Know what results you are looking for before you begin. So once you know where you are starting from, the next question is were are you going? Lay out concrete results you want to achieve and be specific. One of the glaring mistakes in this area is not being specific enough. You cannot track abstract goals. Your goals must be specific and detailed so that you can verify if you are achieving them. An example would be a specific number of new leads you want to bring in from each marketing source.

3. Give yourself set time frames to test your marketing. This is definitely the second biggest problem for real estate marketers and most marketers in general. Marketing plans must be given time to take shape and develop. Most real estate marketers are developing marketing plans which are call to action in nature. They are asking their target audience to take a particular action so that they can capture that action and develop a new lead. An example would be to “Call Today to Sell Your House Quick!”. This is a call to action marketing phrase. Often times, there will need to be multiple impressions of that message before the action is followed. Failing to plan a specific amount of time such as 60 days or 90 days, leads to a marketer stopping his action before his target audience responds. If you allow your plan to last longer and stick with all of your marketing pieces and techniques longer, you give yourself a greater chance for success in the long run. It allows for you to see over a longer period of time the results you are getting and that provides a clearer picture of what works and what does not work. DO NOT quit marketing after a couple of weeks simply because your phone is not ringing off the hook. Set your time period on the front end and then let your marketing plan work.

4. Failing to get input from other experts can be costly. If you have access to other real estate investors, I would definitely get their input on your marketing plan before implementation. If they are able to give you advice and direction it can often times help you to figure out the best route to take or at least if you are on track for success. If you have taken your time and all the steps necessary so far to put together a quality plan, then take advice from other experts, but do not be persuaded to change everything. Simply let others take a quick look for feedback, but be prepared to move forward with your plan and any adjustments they think would make a difference.

TRACKING

Tracking means having a way to actually follow and measure all of the marketing activities you are doing and the number of results each gets you. Here are some examples of the things that real estate marketers need to track for every marketing action they take.

1. What are the total number of leads generated per marketing technique tracked daily, weekly and monthly.
2. How many of those leads turned into qualified prospects daily, weekly and monthly. (qualified prospect means you were willing to invest more time to develop the lead)
3. The number of offers made to purchase property daily, weekly and monthly.
4. The ratios of offers made to where the original lead came from.

I am going to insert a quick note here to make sure everyone understands exactly how to track. It is not enough to simply know how many calls you are getting or how many leads are generated or how many offers or deals are being done. When you actually purchase an investment property, you MUST know where that lead came from at the very beginning. Tracking ratios is extremely important to this. It is important to be able to track and measure not only the leads but the quality of those leads. You can have one lead generator that gives you a majority of your leads and another that gives you a majority of your transactions. It should be obvious that you would want to spend more time and resources with the marketing technique giving your more transactions unless you are in the business to simply feel busy and not necessarily to earn a living!

5. What is the cost per lead generated, per marketing technique daily, weekly and monthly.

6. What is the average income generated from each transaction generated by each marketing technique daily, weekly and monthly.

When you are able to track your business in this way, it makes it much easier to make adjustments as you go and it definitely gives a clearer picture of how well you are spending marketing dollars. Often times, as legendary basketball coach John Wooden would say “we mistake activity for productivity” The entire reason for developing and implementing a proper marketing plan is so that we can determine what works, what does not work and what changes we need to make so that we are spending the fewest dollars possible for the greatest impact and result. If we fail to implement any part of this type of marketing plan, then whatever success we achieve cannot be measured against any activities and therefore cannot be duplicated.

I am a big proponent of education and immersion as the best learning tools available and I believe that when it comes to marketing, it is simply too easy to learn the proper way to plan and track. When you have the basics down and solid plan to follow, success will follow.

How to Create the Perfect Marketing Plan For Your Small Business

A Good Marketing Plan is the Roadmap to Success

No one dreams of failing when starting their business, but the fact is that more than half of all business owners call it quits by the end of their second year and a full 80% before the end of their fifth year. While there are a number of reasons for these stats, by far the biggest reason these businesses fail is that they lack a solid marketing plan.

Too many small business owners believe in the “Field of Dreams” style of doing business – Build it and they will come. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Your success not only relies on a good product/service, but more importantly, good, consistent marketing. A good product without marketing is far more likely to fail than a bad product with good marketing.

When first starting out, too many business owners are either intimidated by the marketing plan process, or simply fail to put one together in the first place. Whether you’re just getting started or have recently come to the realization that your business needs a solid marketing plan in place to move forward, you’re in luck. Simply follow the outline below and you’re sure to get many more customers, with far less time and money on your part.

The 8-Step Guide To A Powerful Marketing Plan

Step I. The Executive Summary

Your executive summary is a two-minute overview of your marketing plan. While this section should be short and to the point, don’t assume everyone who reads your plan knows what your business is about. Include things like your business name, what it does, where it’s located and your target audience.

Talk about the market and how your business plans to fill a gap, the market threats and opportunities. Lastly, talk about your sales objectives and how you plan on reaching them.

Step II. Assess the Situation

Assessing the situation for your business will probably be the most difficult part of your plan to develop and the largest section of your marketing plan. It will also require the most research and is probably the most frustrating section to the business owner.

When researching, break this section up into three distinct categories:

* Your company
* Your competition
* Your customers

Assess Your Company

* Define your business
* Define your management strategy
* Define your customer base
* Define your financial situation
* Define your strengths and weaknesses

Assess Your Competition

* Define who they are
* Define how they are different from you

Assess Your Customers

* Identify their needs
* Identify their level of satisfaction

In addition to expanding on your executive summary, be sure to include your mission statement and your overall vision. Also, perform thorough research on your competition and stay abreast of the gaps in your marketplace so you can better fill the needs of your target market.

Step III. Build a Potential Client Base

In this step, you will clarify your strategy of how you expect to grow and maintain a customer base that is large enough to build your business upon. Some of the topics you should be sure to include are:

* Identifying your competitive position
* Identifying your niche
* Describing your targeted customer base
* Describing what you offer these customers
* Identifying the information you’ll tell your customers about your products/services

Spend plenty of time identifying your position and niche, as these are the areas in which your business will either succeed or fail. Next, decide whether you will target current customers or new ones and whether you will market new or current services.

Keep in mind that marketing new services to new customers comes at a higher risk than marketing current services to current customers.

Step IV. Set 6 and 12 Month GoalsOne of the surest ways to succeed is to list specific, measurable goals. Be sure to be as specific as possible and write down what you will do and by when.

* Your goals should focus on the niche you described above
* Your goals should be measurable
* Your goals should aim for 6 month increments

Step V. Determine the Marketing Tools You’ll Use to Accomplish Your Goals

While the majority of your marketing plan is based on thorough research, this section of your plan will rely more on your creativity. Think about where your customers are and the best ways for you to reach them, preferably at the lowest cost to your business. There are literally hundreds of marketing tools you can use to find and get customers, so you’ll need to spend some time learning about some of these tools, and then:

Identify the tools you will use to reach:

* New customers
* Current customers
* Past customers

In addition, you’ll need to identify the tools you will use to ensure a good fit for your:

* Customers
* Budget
* Personality

Depending on your market, your customers will expect you to advertise and/or market to them in certain places. While it’s a good idea to do things somewhat differently from your competitors, don’t try to be different just to be different. Instead, be better, more efficient and more interesting.

Step VI. Identify Resources

Now that the bulk of your marketing plan is complete, it’s time to think about the resources you will need to successfully implement the ideas and goals you’ve come up with. Resources include:

* Costs to your business
* The time required to implement each task
* The person responsible for implementing each task

Do your homework! Each of these resources on their own can make or break your business if you choose unwisely. As with other areas of your business, performing due diligence will increase your chances of success.

Step VII. Develop a Marketing Calendar

This step may not require as much research as some of the other steps, but it’s extremely important to take some time and lay out your plan for at least an entire year.

It’s not sufficient merely to have a plan, you must act on it and the best way to make sure you do that is to create a calendar detailing the activities and strategies you will implement week by week and month by month. You probably won’t see results immediately, but by sticking to your marketing calendar, you are sure to see positive results eventually. Keep your calendar in front of you as much as possible and stick to it.

Step VIII. Implement and Monitor Your Plan

Like any other plan, you not only need to implement the key points and strategies you’ve come up, but to also monitor your actions and the results they create.

Some of the things you’ll want to do are:

* Identify how you will track results
* Identify how you will know if you need to adjust or update your plans
* Identify how you will reward yourself for successful completion of certain activities

Depending on the tools you choose to market your business, there are a number of ways you can go about tracking your results. Diligently check your results and decide if your activities are paying off in some concrete way. It’s not always about making money (though that’s typically the most important result), but you should see some positive results like more names on your mailing list, more phone calls to your business or an increase in word-of-mouth.

As long as you see some positive results, make sure to take some time to reward yourself and your team members for a job well done and build on each new success.

Summary

The more time and effort you put into creating a solid marketing plan, the more likely it is that your business will survive beyond the magic two year mark that claims so many other businesses. Be thorough. Be creative. Be realistic. Keep a firm eye on the competition. And above all, have fun marketing your business because it is the most important reason for your ultimate success or failure.

How to Write a Business or Marketing Plan

What is a business or marketing plan? Why do you need one? In a nutshell, a business and/or marketing plan is an essential mix of documents to help you create a clear picture of what your business is about, where you plan to go, and how you will get there. These plans will paint a picture in steps or form a map of your business – your goals, values, strengths, areas for development, finance and ways to market etc

When you start out you will have an idea in your mind as to how you see your business moving forward. This is a positive beginning however unless you get your thoughts and ideas on paper you will have nothing to reflect on as your business progresses. Successful business growth is about planning and this is a critical stage.

It is important to remember that your business or marketing plan is not designed to be set in stone. You will establish goals and objectives however be mindful that the growth of your business will be an evolution. Keep your options open and be fluid in your approach as you and your business learn, adapt, change and evolve.

First we’ll take a look at a business plan and what is involved.

As a start-up, keep your business and marketing plans simple.

Your business plan can include:

  • An Executive Summary: A list of the main highlights of your business.
  • A Company Description: How you started, what type of business you are i.e. sole trader/limited company, and what your plans are.
  • Your Product or Service: What are you selling? Concentrate on the key benefits for your customer.
  • A Market Analysis: Who is your market? What are your customers looking for? Who are your competitors? How will you target your audience? etc
  • Your Strategy and Implementation: Specify your responsibilities including target dates and costs. This will help you track your results.
  • A Web Plan Summary: What is the purpose of your website? What is the cost to build & maintain etc? How will you market your website?
  • Who’s Who in your Team?: How does your organization work? Roles & responsibilities? Who reports to whom?
  • Your Financial Analysis: How will you manage your expenses and costs? Include projected Profit and Loss and Cash Flow tables.

As your business develops you can always elaborate your process particularly if you apply for funding from investors or a bank.

Now onto your marketing plan. This plan involves how you will sell your product or service to your target audience. Like a business plan, your marketing plan will provide a map of your business, however with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) you will gain a better insight into the market potential of your new business.

Your marketing plan can include:

  • A Situation Analysis: Analyse your market using a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). Include in your analysis a current market forecast, information about your customer sector, and your market needs.
  • Your Marketing Strategy: Outline your business philosophy and values i.e. your mission statement. What are your objectives, your plan to market and how you can best position yourself?
  • A Sales Forecast: How will you create opportunities to meet your customer, track monthly sales, and follow-up with your customers? Breakdown the elements of your business i.e. sales by your product, area or market segment etc. A forecast provides a strong focus for your business.
  • An Expense Budget: How will you manage your expenses/profits? Preparing a thorough budget allows you to maintain a positive cash flow.

You will notice that there are cross over elements for both types of plan. If you choose to write both a business plan and a marketing plan you will give yourself a very powerful insight into the potential of your business, as you will create a visual representation which you can revisit and reflect on as you progress.

Business and marketing plan templates can be found online if you add “business plans” or “marketing plans” to your search engine.

The Elements of an Effective Marketing Plan

Writing a Marketing Plan

Whether your business is a start-up or existing, marketing plans are a crucial component to sustained financial success. Careful planning will ensure successful implementation, leading to intended financial results for your organization. This planning begins with the development of a marketing plan.

Before you begin, it is important to establish a completion date for the initial draft, to identify important parties that will contribute ideas for the plan as well as the responsibilities of individuals to implement the plan and the annual marketing budget. Once you have set the stage for writing and completing your plan, you can begin its creation.

Follow these 7 steps when writing a marketing plan:

1. Setting the Objectives– What are your organization’s marketing objectives? What is required to achieve your annual revenue goals? How many customers do you need to acquire? How much revenue should be generated from existing customers? For existing businesses, a beneficial exercise to complete is a S.W.O.T. analysis. Identify your organization’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This analysis will enable you to develop key insights into the drivers of your business and what changes need to occur to reach your annual targets.

2. Research-Conducting market research and market analysis can allow your business to understand where your customers are currently coming from. This information can allow you to set focus areas for new client acquisition as well as up-selling opportunities for your current customer base.

3. Define Strategies-How will your business compete against your competition? What are your target markets? What price offerings will give your business the greatest competitive edge?

4. Develop a promotion plan- Outline which marketing communication tactics are needed to achieve your strategies such as advertising, PR, search engine marketing, events, etc. Choose a few tactics under each strategy to implement.

5. Build Measurements for Each Tactic-Outline how you plan to measure the results achieved for each tactic. How will you track and measure ongoing results? What metrics are crucial for your results to be obtained? I.e. # clients acquired, total sales volume, product mix.

6. Develop a Strategic Plan- Outline step by step the concepts and ideas that are needed to achieve results. Set weekly, monthly and quarterly goals, identifying the individuals responsible for each task, as well as which metrics will be achieved and tracked.

7. Implement, Track and Modify the Plan- Now is the most important piece of the marketing plan- implementation. As you implement your marketing plan, be sure to track all results. If you have a team working on the marketing plan, be sure to update them to results experienced by the entire team. As things require attention or modification, be sure to change the plan accordingly.

By following the steps outlined above, you will have created a well thought through marketing plan and have the tracking mechanisms needed to analyze / modify the plan as needs / results change over time.