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Mapping Out Your One-Year Personal Marketing Plan

Now is the time to plan this year’s marketing campaign. Take control of your marketing mix by using our year-long game plan that not only simplifies the process, but also will keep you accountable throughout the coming year.

Editor’s note: Over the past year, we‚’ve brought you many informative articles regarding many different facets of personal marketing. This month, we bring it all together in a comprehensive guide that will help organize your marketing efforts for the coming year. As we enter into November, now is the time to plan next year’s marketing schedule. This exercise is a major undertaking that requires ample time and attention, so don’t delay. After reading this article, set aside enough time to map out your 2001 game plan. Then get ready for your best year ever.

Are you stuck on the advertising and marketing treadmill? Are you constantly running around trying to come up with a new ad or mailing at the last minute? Do you start the year off determined to do everything right and somehow get sidetracked after a few months when cash flow gets tight or something better comes along?

Even if your marketing is working fairly smoothly, you may feel there’s got to be a way to make your life a little easier ‚Äì and your marketing more effective. Well, there is. What you need is a one-year marketing game plan. A step-by-step, mapped out plan of attack that will keep you on track.

And now, as we enter the last two months of the year is the time to get things off to a good start for next year. One of the biggest keys to effective marketing is effective marketing planning, and that’s why it is imperative that you start planning next year’s marketing mix now, not a week or a month from now.

We’ve provided all the tools you’ll need right here in this article. Start by downloading your blank game plan. Then, follow the comprehensive year-round marketing plan we’ve mapped out for you. Your own plan may vary based on your budget, what’s available in your area and other factors, but try to use these suggestions as a guide and follow it as closely as possible.

Once you’ve mapped out your own game plan, it needs to become your guide to the coming year. You should review it every quarter and chart your progress.

The problem we see far too often is that agents don’t plan their marketing in advance and then their marketing suffers by operating under a shotgun approach that lacks focus and consistency. Too many times agents operate in the deal mentality, It’s been a bad month, I better do some marketing.‚Äù That approach is ineffective and a total waste of money. You need to stop operating from deal-to-deal and develop a long-term plan for growing your business. That’s exactly what this game plan is all about ‚Äî setting a plan and sticking to it over an entire year to get all your marketing money working together to present a consistent image.

Starting with the Basics
Using the personal marketing tools provided by Hobbs/Herder, you can easily map out an effective program that will keep your marketing going strong year round.

As illustrated in the sample game plan worksheet [insert link to download], your year-round marketing plan should comprise four aspects of personal marketing: direct mail (including E-mail farming), past client contact, advertising and public relations. (Note: Even though past client contact should technically be under the direct mail umbrella, we’ve given it its own category because of the importance it takes.)

Direct Mail
The direct mail category should include mailings to your sphere of influence, your farm area or niche market, and all leads you generate. We recommend mailing once per week for the first eight weeks, then an average of three times per month. This way, you’ll establish name recognition quickly and maintain it consistently.

To make the most of this client contact schedule, use a mix of personal marketing tools, including your personal brochure, your PowerKard, Houseflier, personal letters, holiday cards and, to take it to the next level, even a series of AdKards or PersonalKards.

Beyond the normal personal brochure distribution – handing them out instead of business cards and using them for open houses, prelisting and presentation packages, lead follow-up, etc. – everyone on your mailing list should be mailed your personal brochure twice per year.

Each brochure you mail should be accompanied by a cover letter. Refer to the Hobbs/Herder 90-Day Brochure Prospecting Plan for examples of cover letters for virtually any brochure mailing.

The Power of PowerKards
PowerKards are the true workhorses of the personal marketing game plan, and therefore, they are a personal marketing must have.” Because they are designed to coordinate with the rest of your materials, they present a capsulated version of your personal image every time a homeowner receives it. This is a powerful way to keep your name in front of your target audience as well as deliver timely, valuable information.

It is also versatile enough to be used for almost any kind of message – from just listed/just solds, to direct response ads, holiday messages to handwritten notes. (The Hobbs/Herder PowerKard Primer is a great resource for more ideas.)

To mix things up, you can also use your Hobbs/Herder Houseflier master for selected mailings. Simply overprint a direct response ad onto your flier, fold it in thirds and use it as a self-mailer. This will interrupt the steady flow of PowerKards to keep things fresh and dynamic in your direct mail campaign.

Add Some Spice with AdKards and PersonalKards
AdKards and PersonalKards are a great way to inject vitality and creativity into your direct mail plan. AdKards are print advertisements which have been converted to a postcard. PersonalKards are fun, high-quality, offbeat greeting cards sent to clients for lesser holidays like Groundhog’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day.

By breaking the rhythm of the consistent flow of PowerKards, they give you a chance to call attention to specific messages with eye-catching full-color ads. Click on the link above to learn more about how you can incorporate these powerful tools into your marketing mix.

E-mail Farming
Hobbs/Herder has always recommended three direct mail touches, or client contacts monthly. With today’s increased percentage of the population with home computers and Internet access, E-mail farming has become another viable option for delivering your message. If you’re able to get most of your farm in your E-mail database, you can replace one of your traditional direct mail touches with an E-mail message. Not only does this save you time and money, but it tells your farm that you’re on the cutting edge of technology.

Personal Letters
Personal letters are another important part of your direct mail mix. These are exactly what their name implies: a first-person message from you to your target audience that sends a warm greeting or information of special interest at least twice annually. This can be printed on your Hobbs/Herder Houseflier masters or on your personal letterhead.

The topic of each letter can be almost anything ‚Äì just make sure it’s warm and friendly, offers some valuable information your target market will find interesting and subtly asks for their business and/or referrals. Generally, personal letters should not be hard sales pitches ‚Äì save those for face-to-face meetings.

Try sending a personal letter for the holidays. Share one of your fun family traditions instead of just talking about real estate. You could send out a copy of an interesting article your found in a business or financial magazine and discuss the implications for homeowners in your area, explaining that you’re always here to help them if they have any questions. When you’ve attended a seminar or real estate convention, send a letter telling them how the information you learned will allow you to serve them better. The topics are endless.

Past Client Contact
All too often, real estate agents tend to neglect their past client database in favor of constantly trying to develop new business. Overlooking this group can be a costly mistake. The per-client cost is far less to cultivate your past clients than the cost, on average, to develop one new client.

Once you’ve developed a relationship with a client, it needs to be nurtured and handled differently than the rest of your database, or else you run the risk of sending the message that their business didn’t really mean much to you, that they were just another transaction. You’ll find the more you prospect your past client database, the easier your job will become.

Last month, Greg Herder devoted his entire column to this crucial subject. Click here to read how to integrate your past clients into your yearlong game plan, and then make sure to map out when you’re going to mail those letters and put it on your plan! If you fail to plan ahead, it’s too easy to not follow-through with the appropriate action when the time comes.

Unfortunately, for many real estate professionals, only one thing comes to mind when they think of advertising: House Ads. That’s definitely not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about personal, emotionally based, image-building advertising that promotes you and helps you establish a relationship with your target audience.

Your advertising dollars should be split into segments such as: ads in home publications, ads in newspapers and magazines, billboards and cable TV. Each of these advertising outlets should have their own line on your game plan.

You need to determine which of these categories will be most effective for you in reaching your target market and focus most of your advertising dollars there. For this example, we‚’ve divided everything into a fairly even mix to give you an idea of what a full-scale media campaign looks like.

On the sample game plan we’ve provided, we’ve divided print advertising into two categories: homes‚ publications ads and newspaper ads. We chose homes publications simply because that is where many agents place a majority of their advertising, and because those publications are typically widely available in most areas.

However, don’t limit your options to just to these publications. Take a look at all of the publications available in your area. Focus especially on those that appeal to your target market. Pay close attention to any publications designed specifically for a niche market or geographic area you may be farming. Don‚’t worry if other Realtors® arent advertising in particular publications. As long as you know the publication is well read by your target market, it may be just what you need to stand out.

Outdoor Advertising
Depending on your market, billboards and other outdoor advertising (bus benches, etc.) may be a viable option for you to consider incorporating into your marketing mix. In large metropolitan regions, outdoor advertising can get very costly, but if you’ôre in a smaller area, you may be able to generate good response for a reasonable investment.

The same axiom from real estate holds true for outdoor advertising: location, location, location. Only invest in this sort of advertising if you can acquire a highly visible, well-traveled location in or near the entrance to your target market area. If your billboard does not reach your target audience, no matter how inexpensively, you‚’re wasting money.

When scheduling billboard space, remember that you don’t necessarily leave your ad up continuously. By spacing out your placement ‚Äî a few months on and a few months off ‚Äî drivers will grow so accustomed to seeing it over time that they‚’ll begin to think it’s there even when it’s really not.

The Cable Connection
Cable TV offers a new advertising frontier for many agents. We’re not talking about house ads on TV or dull, I’m the best agent‚ infomercials, but actual 30-second spots that promote you as an individual, capture your audience’s imagination and tie in with your personal marketing campaign.

Because of the cost effectiveness of this medium, advertising on television is no longer just for the big national advertisers. Like outdoor advertising, rates will generally be higher in large metropolitan areas, but if you check with your cable company, we‚’ll guarantee you’ll be surprised at how inexpensively you can purchase airtime. For more information on how you can get a leg up on your competition by taking advantage of the untapped opportunities in cable TV, click here.

Scheduling your TV commercial time is similar to billboards and outdoor advertising, with bursts of frequent air times followed by off times. Your cable representative should be able to provide you with market analyses and demographic information to help you determine the best time of day and the best programming for your ads.

The Public Relations Plan
An oft-forgotten but important part of your marketing mix is public relations. Having an article written about you or being quoted by the newspaper or local TV news show is powerful advertising that you can’t put a price tag on ‚Äì and it’s free!

But the only way to get this exposure is to make yourself known to the local media, and that’s why it’s so important that you plan your public relations schedule ahead of time. Schedule sending two or three press releases a month to editors and reporters in your area. Your schedule should include specific topics for each press release you plan to send. Otherwise, when the time comes to send out a release, suddenly you need to think of a topic and write the release, and chances are you won’t do it because you’re simply too busy for that kind of undertaking.

Putting Your Plan to Work
It’s been said that, A plan isn’t a plan if it’s not written down.‚Äù Well, we couldn’t agree more. You cannot underestimate the power of your game plan worksheet. It should be one of the most frequently used sheets of paper you will use in 2001. Post it on the wall as a visual reminder of your progress!

Now that you have a plan, stick to it like glue. The key to success is consistency. Hire an assistant and make it a central part of his or her job to make sure everything goes out on schedule. By planning ahead and mapping everything out in advance, this should be much easier to accomplish than ever.