Planning for 2016: what real estate agents need to know

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He who fails to plan is planning to fail - winston Churchill

It’s barely November. Chances are, you’re just starting to think about Thanksgiving. But as a real estate agent, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about 2016. And not just thinking — planning. But not just random plans. What are your goals? How will you achieve them? How will you measure them?

We talked with several leading agents who are thinking ahead, picking their brains as to what they’re doing for 2016. As always, real estate agents are remarkably generous with their expertise, sharing guidance and know-how openly!



Audit your brand

A brand audit takes a deep dive into every aspect of your business — as perceived by those outside of it. You may have a complete understanding of who you are and what you do. But are your clients getting it? Are you telling that story through all channels in a consistent and concise way?

Logo. Maybe you have a very expensive brand mark by a graphic designer. Maybe you have a type treatment you created with Word. No matter what you’re using, use it like you mean it. Are your fonts and colors consistent across your stationery, emails, website, marketing materials, uniforms and signage?

Imagery. Do the images you use all have the same color scheme, framing and characteristics? For example, do you like black and white images? Illustration? Are you using stock photography that everyone has seen before?

Emails. Does everyone on your team use the same domain? Or are you mixing gmail and hotmail accounts, etc? Do you all use the same tagline or signature? Perhaps some folks like to include their full name, mobile number and web site; others, have hyperlinks to Facebook or Twitter.

Tone. Some folks like to use first person when talking about their companies, as in “We sell luxury homes.”  Some prefer third person, as in “XYZ Realty sells luxury homes.” Whichever you prefer, are your sales materials, website, emails and ads all using the same style and tone of voice?

Laurie Weston Davis of Scott Lincicome Properties in Pinehurst, North Carolina, says her team is really drilling down on brand. “For us as a company, we have to look at how we are building our brand and what are the things that we need to do to stay true to our vision. Visual media marketing is what sets us apart, so that is a big piece of our budget.”

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. - Alan Lakein

Put your marketing under a microscope

Did you run newspaper ads? Digital ads? Did you have an ebook or a newsletter? How did open houses work for you? How many people mentioned they saw your ad? Is print still working for you or are you moving more dollars into digital?

That’s what Keyes agent Lisa Crovato is doing to change up her marketing investments in Florida. “I will be drastically reducing my print campaigns in 2016,” she said. “Adwerx is a perfect tool for this. It’s very easy to use and its quick. The less time I have to spend on the campaign, the more time I have to find buyers for my homes.”

Evaluating how much you spend on marketing will also be influenced on how much you think your clients are worth. If you use a formula that one client = one transaction, you will limit you spend. But if you recalculate based on the lifetime value of each client, you’ll have a new number to work from.

Curate your clients

Take a look at your past transactions. Where did each client come from? What does that tell you about your network or your marketing efforts? What source is untapped and what source is tapped out?

Understanding where your clients come from helps you shape your marketing investments going forward.

“I did a thorough analysis of third and fourth quarter business and evaluated it in context of the entire year,” said Mark Slade of Keller Williams in New Jersey. “I needed to see where my business is coming from to make changes or adjustments. What’s working? What’s not? The result is very eye-opening.”

Don’t get comfortable

“In looking forward to 2016, I’m thinking about 2008,” said Steven David Elliot of Fathom Realty in Raleigh, North Carolina. The ghosts of the housing crisis aren’t fully exorcised for many agents. But the market has been so strong in the last few years that new agents might not be aware how fast things can change.

Plans are only good intentions unless the immediately degenerate into hard work - peter drucker

“New agents haven’t been through it. It looks easy now,” he said. “But unless you have a plan for 2016 that includes robust marketing, you won’t be prepared if anything bad happens. Of course if it stays strong, fantastic. But you have to keep people in your funnel, and brand awareness is how you do that.”

Sometimes thinking outside your comfort zone means finding new opportunities for collaboration.

Kevin Boudreaux of Chase Team Realty in Celebration, Florida, has a strategy for partnership: looking outside the office. “We are increasing our community outreach by partnering with local banks, attorneys, and lenders to offer public workshops on everything from buying your first home, how to manage a checking account, how to save for a child’s college and more.”

So whatever your strategy may be, don’t get too comfortable. Always continue to learn new tricks, test new waters and remain relevant to the customers you serve.

Watch the bottom line

Don Harper of Harper Realty Group in Cary, North Carolina ran the numbers. “I’m working backwards from a desired goal to the number of transactions that will be required to meet that goal. I began with a heavy round of dollar refocusing, based on what is working and what isn’t.”

This kind of analysis may require the help of a financial advisor or a business coach. When in doubt, hire help! Don’t go it alone.

Coldwell Banker agent Andrea Geller from Chicago also did some deep analysis. “As a result of that,” she says, “I am going to keep my focus on growing my relationships through social marketing as well as working my existing client base more effectively. My online lead generation will be more targeted and streamlined in order for it to take less of my marketing efforts and dollars.”

Hit the ground running in 2016. The more you plan and create goals, the more your pipeline will fill and you’ll be ready for a great year!

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