Marketing Battle Plan

SOMEWHERE THIS MORNING, in the neighbourhood where you make a living listing and selling real estate, someone woke and decided to sell. If they didn’t call you, it’s probably because they didn’t know you, says real estate marketing expert Ray Wood.

THERE ARE many of these opportunities lost and it’s happening multiple times a day to agents everywhere.

Today, property owners have more selling options than at any other time in history. There are dozens, or even hundreds, of agents in most areas of Australia, all competing for real estate’s Holy Grail: the listing.

I’m fortunate to work with some very successful agents. Their focus on attracting new contacts and building relationships is one of the main reasons for their success.

The philosophy and argument behind this is pretty simple: the more contacts I have, and the better I  look after them, the greater the chance that the person who woke up this morning and decided to sell will call me.

When you take a look behind the scenes of an elite agent’s contact strategy, the planning and attention to detail is state of the art. But most agents don’t do it because it requires planning focus, investment, implementation and follow- through.

I recently sat in on a planning day with a highly successful agent setting up his marketing blueprint for 2015.

This ‘Battle Plan’ as he calls it, is a full, detailed summary of all communication with his contacts for the coming 12-month period. He invests a number of days to plan, then checks and tweaks everything to make sure he’s getting maximum ROI.

To illustrate the real value of each contact, he simply divides his annual income by the number of solid, warm contacts in his real estate CRM, as 95 per cent of listings will come either from people already in his database or sellers they refer to him.

His contact methods include direct mail, postcards, email, text message, social media and telephone. The campaign manager in his CRM essentially drives his entire battle plan. He then methodically builds a calendar of when and how communication will be delivered and who is responsible for it.

Printed material, like cards, is ordered and prepared at the beginning of each quarter. Exceptional direct mail letters, crafted to build rapport and engage a response, are written well in advance.

At the appropriate time, his CRM prints, folds, envelopes and mails the letters to his contacts, for less than it would cost for him to do it himself, with the click of a button.

So at the start of his year this agent knows what’s happening and when.

He has a dynamic and compelling Unique Selling Proposition over every other agent in his area, because when his sellers wake up and want to sell, chances are they’ll call him.

Most of the top agents I work with are intimately familiar with their numbers and leverage technology very effectively. Email is a good example.

The real estate industry loves email because it’s the cheapest way to connect with someone. But that’s something of a myth, because the average email open rate is now below 20 per cent. It’s obviously difficult to make a real connection with your contact list when only one in five sees your message.

There was a time when we looked forward to booting up our computer and checking our email. It was novel and interesting. Today I hear nothing but complaints about the amount of time people have to spend each day clearing their inbox.

But content is everything, and when the content fails to engage the target it’s easier to hit ‘Unsubscribe’ and make it one less sender you have to deal with.

From a marketing perspective, an email subject line will almost always influence the open rate more than who it’s from. By way of example, a subject line like ‘Summer Newsletter’ is far less interesting than, say, ‘Have you seen this yet?’ It builds intrigue and interest. It implies the recipient is about to miss out on something if the message isn’t opened.

Also, set up a blog on your website and direct traffic there when possible. Search engine crawlers are built to rank websites that are updated and visited regularly.

Real estate software can now tell us who has opened our email and who hasn’t, and when used correctly this is a very powerful tool. Let’s say you send an email to 100 buyers about a listing where  the owner has just reduced the price.

You can then send another message the following day to those who opened the first one, saying something like ‘I notice you read my message about 123 Smith Street. With the price now at $X I think it will go quickly, so I’ve scheduled an open house this Saturday at 2pm.’

So set up your battle plan well in advance. Engage everyone on your list with some great content and arrange for regular, quality communication. It’s a sure-fire recipe for success, and right now is the perfect time to get started.

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Ray Wood

Ray Wood is the CEO of real estate marketing group Bestagents, a founding partner of real estate software company LockedOn and the bestselling author of How to Sell Your Home for More.