Kick off the fall with Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. We’re going deep on agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow, realtor.com and more. Top marketing executives drop by to share their newest tactics, too. It’s all you need to take your branding and marketing game to the next level.
With more than two decades of marketing experience across several industries, I’ve created many marketing plans over the years. For our 2022 plan, I am relying on a few best practices I’ve developed over the years and incorporating current market conditions to refine some elements.
Lay the foundation: Establish goals
Now that I’m in real estate, I can apply terms like foundation, architecture, and blueprint to the planning process, which tie into the business.
For example, when building a house, you need to ensure that the result is a fully functional home. If you don’t follow the blueprint, you could end up with a toilet in your kitchen — not what you had in mind.
Align with your company goals
Let’s start with the foundation. Marketers should not be planning in a vacuum — everything we do needs to ladder up to the company’s goals.
When building a marketing plan, start here: Understand how marketing can support your leader’s objectives, goals and targets for the year.
Using the company goals as the foundation, you can create a framework or blueprint for your marketing efforts to “build out the house,” so to speak.
Build out the house: Plan how you’ll get there
Ensure your plan includes actionable steps to reach your goals.
Set an action plan
Make sure you’re working toward those goals. For instance, if one of the company’s objectives is to increase GCI by 10 percent, our marketing plan will identify specific routes to market that can directly influence this outcome.
Our brokerage is known for its high agent support levels. So many elements of our plan align with goals set for agent retention and enablement. We also incorporate consumer and community-facing elements into the plan to increase awareness of our company.
These objectives feed into quantifiable goals, which give us a way to measure and focus our efforts.
Leverage flagship content
After identifying the various routes to market, the next step is to define specific audiences and the type of content and channels that resonate with each.
In addition to leveraging the unique consumer-facing lifestyle content from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, we also produce market-specific lead generation materials such as comprehensive guides for buyers and sellers.
Over a year, we drip out smaller chunks of content from these flagship guides across various channels to allow our agents to maintain continuous engagement with consumers through strong calls to action (CTAs).
On the agent front, we focus on the listing support and marketing-specific training content, keeping current market conditions intertwined in our messaging.
Sweat the assets
The next step is creating a channel plan to map out which pieces of content will be distributed and where. Each platform has a specific function based on our objective.
For example, on Instagram, we focus on consumer-facing content, while our Facebook pages are currently more focused on recruiting and internal communication. Creating a strategy behind each social media channel allows us to build better cohesiveness and target each of our markets effectively.
We use a “rocks, pebbles, sand” approach to filling in the “jar” of content and tactical execution calendar.
- Rocks: These posts are immovable, timed explicitly in the calendar year, like generating a new listing presentation in preparation for the spring selling season, attending conferences, or producing award materials.
- Pebbles: This is more flexible content that can fit into the spaces around the rocks, like a drip-email campaign.
- Sand: One-offs and unplanned content. We treat sand as spontaneous activities or one-offs that we can easily add to the calendar.
We approach the tactical calendar one quarter at a time to be nimble in responding to the market and the pebbles and sand that come our way.
I approach the budget as the last stage of the planning process. In my experience, I have been far more successful when I don’t make the budget the driving factor but look at it as the outcome of the plan.
Architecture: Understanding the 2022 landscape
The pandemic put into focus just how much real estate buyers and sellers expect connectivity, ease and personalization.
The pandemic, in some ways, was the nudge our industry needed to meet consumers where they are. A big part of our 2022 plan will be to continue the momentum and make tech adoption permanent — the consumer will expect it.
Consumers have shown us that they are as connected as ever to the digital world. As agents, it is essential to be involved with consumers at every step, especially online.
The days of prospective clients physically approaching a brokerage office for assistance will dwindle, which is why in 2022, we will enhance our company’s and agents’ digital presence with robust SEM and SEO efforts and invest more in digital marketing campaigns.
Another way we’re planning for 2022 is to tailor our messages to better resonate with today’s clients. The buying frenzy of 2021 was likely very frustrating, especially for buyers who could not win in a bidding war.
We are coaching our agents to shift their personal marketing messages from touting how fast they sold a house and for how much above asking price to a more client-centric message about personalized service, expert counsel, and proven negotiation skills, using testimonials and success stories if possible.
Stay on top of the market
Being sensitive and responsive to the market is invaluable when it comes to planning. You can have a full year of content mapped out, but if that content seems tone-deaf to your audience, it’s not actionable content that will support your company’s goals.
And just as content needs to resonate with your audiences, a marketing plan needs the full support of company leadership. That’s why collaboration with my business stakeholders throughout my planning process is paramount. I always socialize my marketing plan to get feedback and buy-in throughout.
In 2022, marketers should rely on tried-and-true best planning practices while attuning to market shifts that impact target audiences. The coming year is an opportunity to reset and create a path to a new normal.
Kristen Diamond is the chief marketing officer at Better Homes and Garden Real Estate The Masiello Group in Northern New England. Connect with her on Facebook or LinkedIn.