For most agents, real estate marketing plans are nothing new. After all, you spend listing appointment after listing appointment pitching the benefits of savvy marketing.
But what about a marketing plan for your own brand?
For many agents and team leaders, trying to create a real estate marketing plan for your business is a lot like a dentist trying to give themself a root canal.
You might have all the knowledge you need to get it done, but it's still way harder to do for yourself.
Today, we're going to take a close look at the way real estate marketing is changing in 2020 and share proven strategies from the best franchise-based team leaders, boutique brokers and solo agents in real estate to help you create—and more importantly, execute—your own original marketing plan for 2020.
The best real estate marketing strategy is the one that makes the most sense for where you are today in your business.
For example, a solo agent doesn't need to be spending hours crafting perfect Canva images for social media. One the flip side, a high-octane broker may want to create an entire marketing system for Instagram leads.
Before we dive into the pro tips and examples, we've compiled a list of templates so you can choose the right one for you.
Real estate marketing plan templates for 2020:
What's the #1 mistake most agents and team leaders make when setting their marketing goals for the year?
According to experts like Mike Stott, "[Most] agents/Team Leaders/Managers don’t have a compelling reason to reach those goals — they are numbers that sound good but don’t have an emotional oomph behind them."
Mike has coached leaders of multi-million-dollar mega teams to get clear on vision first. He suggests getting as granular as possible to help crystalize your big picture goal.
Ask yourself the following five questions:
The last three questions listed are the exact questions Labcoat Agents CEO, Tristan Ahumada uses to get clear on his own vision for the year and, most importantly, separate his goals from his priorities.
"In order to separate my priorities from my goals, I ask myself 3 questions and the answers to those questions become my priorities. My goals are filled with my aspirations and my desire for growth in all realms of my life," he explains.
If you're a team leader or manager, make sure you know the answers to the above questions for every agent on your team.
This will give you and your team something to look forward to on the tough days and keep you from falling into a routine of not doing the work.
"The biggest tool for consistency is developing the habit of tracking your numbers daily so you can see (over time) the effect your daily activities have on your production," says Mike Stott.
But many agents (and even team leaders) get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget to consistently track their numbers.
If that's you, no worries.
Sit down and compile the big-picture numbers for your business:
But don't be fooled. The math doesn't stop here.
When we asked Virginia Beach broker, Barry Jenkins 'How are you setting your marketing goals this year?' here's what he had to say:
"Sounds cliché, but ROI. I’ve learned that JUST closing deals as a team doesn’t necessarily mean making more money."
It's a point many agents have learned the hard way.
To make sure you're implementing a high-ROI real estate marketing plan in 2020, you'll need to get a firmer grasp on the math behind your marketing.
Here are the marketing metrics to pull:
Take a minute to write these numbers down in a notebook or your marketing plan template of choice. Next, let's get to some real-world examples of awesome real estate marketing plans to help inspire your own.
The following template from Zillow can help walk you through the right metrics per medium. You can create your own, adding all your rmarketing channels in the 'Tactic' column on the far left.
When we asked top-producing broker Emilio DiSpirito for the ONE marketing strategy pro tip every team leader should try, his answer was simple:
Take a look at what the competition is doing.
To be clear, that does NOT mean you should copy the same strategy as the Realtor next door (that almost never works out well).
No. You need to get strategic. Look at what your competitors are doing at the highest level of their real estate marketing. Then, tailor your own plan to deliver a completely unique kind of value.
Here's how it works for Emilio's team (who, by the way, reached $50 million in transaction volume last year):
"This exercise was very useful and assisted our team in gaining confidence and increased our closing ratio when going up against the other big guns in our marketplace," says Emilio.
The first two weeks in January, in the smallest state of the union Emilio and his team put $7.7 million in pending. And they did with with a team of just three seasoned agents and three brand new agents.
Clearly, it pays to know what you're up against.
"Gone are the days of mass emails and flyers. Make it personal. Make it mean something. Make it count, " says Josh Weinberg, marketing lead at Your Coaching Matters.
Once you've mapped out the competitive landscape, it's time to get deep.
"Discover your own voice and use it to project your why. If you don’t know why you do what you do, and you can’t clearly articulate it, you have zero chance of creating a marketing strategy that differentiates you from your competition," says Ryan Graham, Founder of Community and Council Realty.
If you've been running at full speed, it can be hard to remember why you got into this business in the first place. Ryan recommends taking a minute to ask yourself the following questions:
According to him, "If the answer is money, then you’re either not looking deeply enough into yourself, or you’re doing it for the wrong reason."
Of course, money is important. But it should be a byproduct of your success—not the goal itself.
"What matters is the 'why' that sits at the foundation of everything. It’s the only constant, it’s the only thing that will keep you going, and it’s the only thing powerful enough to actually draw people to you in a meaningful way," says Ryan.
Need help creating a slogan or tagline that feels 100% you? Check out these 11 Catchy, Non-Cheesy Examples to Inspire Your Own.
Traditionally, many real estate agents would create a buyer persona based on factors like:
While demographics can be a big help in narrowing down your marketing, and especially social media advertising, it's important to note that demographics are changing fast.
If you're not paying attention, you could miss valuable opportunities by over-targeting your marketing to a specific type of buyer persona.
In 2020, forward-thinking Realtors should expand their buyer personas to include behavioral factors such as:
"Think about who you're running ads to. Go there in your mind. You’d be surprised at the number of agents that advertise just listed homes but their website shows old listings from another city than advertised," says broker Barry Jenkins.
For team leaders like Barry, it's all about marketing to your customers the same way you want to be marketed to.
"The consumer saw the ad for new listings in XYZ city and got old listings in a different city. We can’t think that will work. If you apply this idea to every facet of your marketing, you’ll find it to be both fascinating, and you’ll innovate at a much faster pace."
Follow Up Boss users can instantly see what their leads are interested in via the Website Activity tracker.
Time to get tactical.
From cold calling to Instagramming, your marketing calendar is key to a real estate marketing plan that works.
But before you start adding all your fancy new brand channels to the list, make sure you're honing in on your core themes for the year based on your USP.
For example, Ryan at Community and Council includes local charities and fundraisers as part of his team's focus on community-building.
Here's a snapshot of their content calendar for 2020:
What about marketing channels?
In this day and age, there's no shortage of places to market your real estate brand.
"Less is better. Focus ONLY on 2-3 maximum and hit those hard and with a clear plan in your schedule, repeating all year. Give it the year. Most marketing works best if it’s not dropped. It’s cumulative. Keep at it for a whole year before changing strategy," says leading real estate coach, Donna Stott.
Last year's numbers should tell you everything you need to know about which marketing channels are giving you the best ROI. Before you start experimenting with any new platform, make sure you've optimized your best deal sources so far.
Once you've narrowed it down, you can then plot out your marketing content, channel by channel in a separate section or tab for each medium.
Last year, when Ryan hired a marketing consultant to help launch his new real estate business, he never imagined he'd be saving hundreds of hours on marketing each month.
"That process resulted in a full content calendar for the year, covering social media, email, postcard, paid, earned, calls, and events. Our goal is to systemize the production of all assets then hiring to execute and deploy to ensure this is a well-oiled machine that runs on autopilot."
Ryan and his team built out templates for Social Media in Canva and use Zoho Campaigns for email content production and sending. They also design their postcards through Canva using set brand guidelines to govern color choice, font style, imagery selection, and copy tonality.
"Now that we have all of this built out, we’ve outsourced most of the reproduction, leaving the executive responsible for simply reviewing assets prior to publication, and planning for the future content calendar," Ryan explains.
"This system took a significant amount of time to develop, but now that it’s up, it requires less than 2 hours per month of executive team time to review, and less than 20 hours per month for staff and subcontractor time to deploy in its entirety. This creates massive leverage for our business to sustain marketing reach and growth."
This year, Barry Jenkins' main marketing priority is "focusing my money on the best opportunities I can without having to ‘start over' with just new leads."
He's spending more on 'remarketing' to his 93,000-person combined database and capitalizing on the ‘old’ opportunities still shopping.
"We’re still using Ylopo to do this and if I divide the number of people coming back to my website and showing intent by the dollar amount I’m spending on remarketing, the cost per event is around $1.50," he explains.
The beauty of Barry's approach is that the people he's marketing to are people that have seen his brand for years due to simply being in his CRM.
"Now they are coming back to my website. This has been a game changer for us," says Barry.
Using Ylopo, Barry's agents can take immediate action based on actual lead behavior.
Brandon Grass is one of the most ambitious solo agents the world of real estate has ever seen.
Last year alone he booked 80 listing appointments—all from cold calls.
"My biggest listing this year came from a cold call I made on January 23rd. She initially said, 'No, we're not interested.' I went by and dropped off a simple thank you card and that changed everything," says Brandon.
That's right. The good old-fashioned thank you card has worked wonders for this one-man cold-calling machine.
"I just write a handwritten thank you card like, 'Hey Jill, great talking to you. Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.' And then I put my business card in there and seal it up. One woman actually called me saying, 'I've got three friends that are looking to sell. I need more cards.' She's like, 'I've been in sales all my life and anyone that does this deserves a shot at my business.'"
The best part? At $1 per card, the ROI on this marketing strategy can't be beat.
Image Source: Realty Leadership
It’s not easy to keep up with the latest real estate marketing trends; while buyers are looking for homes around every corner and sellers are desperately seeking buyers, real estate agents are in the midst of it all trying to close a deal.
But agents who make the mistake of neglecting their real estate marketing plan during the busy season will find themselves pledging once again in January to really stick with it this year and generate the leads they need to stay busy and focused through all 12 months.
Don’t wait until wintertime to breathe new life into your marketing. Here are 25 fresh ideas for real estate lead generation that will help with reviving that marketing plan, populating that sales funnel and reaping the rewards down the road.
1. Optimize your “about me” page
Every page on your real estate website should include a call to action, and that includes one you might have neglected because it’s “not that important.”
If you’re not happy with your current headshot, then find a photographer who can take one you like and upload it. Write the story of how you got into real estate and share what you love about it.
Then invite your visitor to take some kind of action, whether that’s sign up for a newsletter or follow you on Facebook.
2. Install browser extensions
Many web browsers offer customizable “extras” these days, from tools that can capture an entire browser window in one image to project-management software add-ons. There are grammar-checkers, article-savers and even tools that will help you schedule emails in advance.
Make an audit of your current marketing strategy and start finding plugins based on your biggest pain points.
3. Order one-of-a-kind business cards
From fabric to metal to cards that fold into miniature pieces of furniture, there’s a lot happening on the business card design front.
You don’t need to go crazy — perhaps you just want to experiment with a square card instead of the old faithful rectangle — but consider at least adding some foil or a bit of texture to your real estate business card.
4. Spice up your signature link
Just as your website should invite visitors to contact you, so should your email signature—for example, your signature can invite your email recipients to join your mailing list or link to your Instagram for photos of your properties. Better yet, include a link to some kind of bonus material — a checklist or a guide they can’t find anywhere else — in exchange for their sign-up.
5. Automate content sourcing and marketing
When you’ve got buyers and sellers alike breathing down your neck, one of the first things to fall by the wayside is your content marketing plan. But come the less intense fall and winter months, and you’ll be sorry (again) that you let it slip.
If you have a decent content marketing plan but haven’t figured out automation yet, that could be a turning point for your business. It will allow you to regularly publish high-interest content no matter how busy you get.
6. Revamp your email strategy
Perhaps you’ve got no email strategy to speak of, and if not, that’s step one: Start collecting addresses and sending people valuable information — and you’ll probably need some kind of real estate CRM to keep track of it all.
If you’re already doing that, then it’s time to figure out where you need to level up. Have you segmented your list yet, and are there further segments you could explore? Are you getting equal response from all your list segments? Figure out where you’re falling short and shore it up.
7. Grow your email list
You can have the most amazing real estate drip email campaign ever crafted, but if your list is minuscule, it won’t matter.
One high-return option: Create a valuable resource for the people you hope to add to your list (infographics, checklists, guides and short ebooks can work well — more on that later) and then create a landing page that gives visitors access to the resource in exchange for their contact information.
You can use the signature link trick above or try another tactic — guest posting on another website, a Facebook promotion — to drive traffic to the landing page.
8. Use gifs in email
Gif files were created in 1987 (really!) and yet people still haven’t tired of snarky video snippets overlaid with text 30 years later, so why not take advantage of technology to sneak a gif or two into a newsletter or just an email exchange?
If your gif game is strong, you might be pleasantly surprised by how your recipient reacts. Maybe your open rates will increase!
9. Experiment with Hyperlapse on Instagram
Did you know you can create time-lapse videos on Instagram? Install the app and see if this doesn’t solve all your Instagram listing-video woes.
10. Boost your Facebook posts
There’s a ton you can do with Facebook advertising, but to start with, try boosting one of your posts. We’d suggest something other than a listing or open house post (though those are always options) — this would be an excellent tactic to use in conjunction with growing your email list, for example.
11. Create a SlideShare presentation
SlideShare is a web hosting service for presentations that’s owned by LinkedIn. You can share presentations on anything; you might consider loading up a market report or an explanatory presentation on appraisals or homeowners’ insurance. You never know what prospects might be looking up, so experiment — a presentation about what a newcomer to your area should know, maybe?
12. Capitalize on memes
If you’ve found success with your gif experiments, then you could be a strong candidate for creating real estate memes that get shared around the country. Whether you’re targeting real estate agents or buyers, sellers or investors, a skilled meme-maker can create something that resonates for weeks.
13. Rejuvenate your video marketing
When so many real estate videos are essentially just a slide show of images set to music, it’s really not hard to make something that sets your listing apart. Create a vignette of your sellers setting off for the day or coming home from work, or follow their dog through the house with a drone.
You can always hire out the creativity, but you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money to make a video that people will remember.
14. Film an explainer video about your agency
Do you have a one-of-a-kind office downtown, or is your team fully remote? Tell your clients who you are with an explainer video that outlines the key players in your business, what each of you do, how you work and what it’s like.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and get weird. Better a little strange than outright boring!
15. Put your pet in your listing photos
Every real estate photo is better with an animal; it’s just a fact. If your clients are OK with it, consider making your pet a signature part of your listing photos — either in just one or in several or even all of them.
This tactic has the advantage of potentially making your pet semi-famous in your area if he or she appears in several listings’ worth of photos. You might be pleasantly surprised by how often you get stopped in the street by fans!
16. Create a how-to or question-and-answer webinar
Maybe it’s “how to maximize your listing ROI” or perhaps you’re seeking sellers and want to run a Q-and-A with a local appraiser who can talk about the reality of home values in your area.
Whatever the case, a webinar can be a high-return way to showcase your value. Hype it up on social media and via your mailing list beforehand, and you should also ask attendees to register so you’re capturing their contact information.
17. Graphs, guides, charts and maps
Visually interesting graphics that explain the home sales process or your city through a clear, compelling layout are highly shareable. Put together a chart every month that explains how the change in mortgage interest rates has actually affected the average mortgage payment, or start creating infographics about how a home’s value is appraised.
If you start sharing your creations regularly on social media, you’ll very likely start seeing more followers and more action on your other posts, too.
18. Publish a local market quiz
This is an excellent option for agents or teams who have been active in an area for years — many of your clients and colleagues might be newer to the area, so this is a chance to show off your skills.
Create a quiz about your local area. Make it as difficult or as easy as you like, and make sure you tag any local businesses you’re referencing, too; then publish a selection of the results on your website and share them on social media.
19. Create a survey and publish the results
A survey is a quiz’s more serious older sibling. Instead of testing respondents on local trivia, you’ll be asking them demographic, income and possibly opinion questions to try to get a feel for who lives in your neighborhood.
If you get a high enough response rate and are scientific about analyzing the results, it might even be possible to get local news media interested in your survey results. Leave at least one field open for comments — you’ll probably get a wealth of content ideas from it.
20. Write a blog post about area restaurants and entertainment
There’s one long street in Denver that has the best Vietnamese and Mexican food in the city — but there are so many restaurants right next to each other that it’s nearly impossible for a newbie to pick a top eatery out of the crowd.
Your audience probably wants similar information, so share it with them, whether it’s the best kid-friendly spots for barbecue or a full list of every single place you can sit down for a bite in your area.
And if restaurants are overdone, then think dog parks, hiking trails, theaters or skeet-shooting ranges.
21. Devise a game to accompany awards shows or other events
If you’re a movie, music, pop culture or a political buff, this might be something to try: When the Oscars, Grammys, a Presidential candidate debate or another big event is taking place, turn it into a game.
You can award points for every time a starlet cries or a candidate slams a fist on a podium. Lay out the game rules in a PDF that’s branded with your information and offer it as a free download to fellow fans of the game target.
22. Create a resource guide
When a parent is looking for information about schools for the oldest child in the family, or a recent college graduate is wondering how to start saving up to buy a home, they typically turn to the internet for answers.
You could be on the other end of that search if you offered a guide for them. Local-specific guides are especially powerful for showcasing how well you know your sales area, but more general guides on refinancing or preparing a home for inspection are also good ways to showcase your knowledge.
23. Answer questions for buyers/sellers and homeowners on Reddit or Quora
Two underused but popular social media platforms are Reddit and Quora; Reddit has been around for a long time, and Quora is relatively new.
They serve very different purposes. On Reddit, you’ll want to find the group or “subreddit” that best applies to you — maybe it’s about real estate or homeownership or it’s an area-specific subreddit — and on Quora, you’ll want to subscribe to relevant topics.
The key to success on both is to provide valuable information without outright asking for referrals or in any other way behaving like a salesperson. Answer questions thoughtfully and thoroughly, and feel free to let your own sense of humor and personality shine through — both sites’ participants appreciate that.
24. Start a podcast
This does not have to be a real estate-specific podcast — in fact, you’ll most likely get more listeners if you decide to focus your podcast on educating them about something local. Maybe that’s microbreweries in your city, or perhaps the best restaurants in town. Whatever the case, publish consistently (at least twice a month) and offer fans an avenue to suggest future podcast topics.
25. Host a contest
This could be a listing-specific contest — a “golden ticket” that buyers can find in one of five high-end open houses, perhaps? — or something with a wider range. You could ask kids at the local elementary school to design pages for a calendar, try something similar with adults and photography or maybe offer a prize for the person who best expresses local pride in a specific way, such as the best recipe for green chiles.
If this sounds like a lot, consider sponsoring a race or a contest at your local city or county fair as a jumping-off point — but creating a contest that locals are fighting to win can only help your brand, so you should seriously consider staking that claim on the neighborhood delicacy if no one else has done it yet!
If your real estate marketing plan has fallen flat since January, then there’s no time like the present to get back on track.
Start by giving your current real estate marketing strategy a full and honest audit. Ask yourself how many of your resources are being dedicated to your email, social media, video and photo, content creation and general marketing maintenance plans.
If you’re loading up on email but neglecting social media and video/photo marketing, pick a few items from those lists to implement. Focus on the parts of your plan that are the most heavily neglected and then move on to the next, considering how you can leverage software as well as your content in your email and your videos and photos in your social media all the while.
Do this consistently throughout the year — reassessing your strategy once every couple of months and focusing on the neglected marketing stepchildren to revive it — and you’ll have a real estate marketing plan that’s the envy of your competitors.
Real estate and marketing are two things that never stay the same.
If you really want to knock your sales goals out of the park this year, you need to understand the bigger forces at play.
We asked a select group of agents, brokers and real estate experts for their biggest predictions on what to expect this year.
Here's what they had to say:
"The ibuyer awareness will continue to grow and give the public even more options to have a stress free moving experience from selling to buying. Agents just need to keep up with the ibuyer trend and focus on delivering even more added value to their clients."
— Gary Ashton, RE/MAX Advantage
"The one thing that stands out above everything else is nurturing your database. We’ve always heard the industry talk about this, but this year it will be different because we will be seeing companies use True AI to nurture their sphere and past clients long term. This will be the ultimate way to leverage technology, starting end of this year! Watch out for it! "
— Tristan Ahumada, CEO, Labcoat Agents
"I think the industry will be further divided between the large institutional marketing campaigns and the individual personal touch campaigns. For most team leaders and managers there simply isn’t a big enough budget to compete with the 'big guns' that the large institutions have in recruiting and training. So for most, it means mastering the personal route. This will get someone's attention. When you as a team leader or manager know what the 'oomph' is behind each agent's goal it will help you coach them in a manner that will support them in succeeding. When you know your competitors' agents and their agents' emotional oomph better than they do it will lead to conversations and relationships that cause them to want to discuss with you the opportunities your firm offers."
— Michael Stott, Your Coaching Matters
"The biggest problem we have in 2020 is ATTENTION. There are too many marketing messages for people to see and digest. (Read: delete, delete, delete or walk-mail-to-the-trash or hang-up-fast) —— Which is why we really have to REDUCE the number of people we are marketing to and do a far better job EARNING and KEEPING their attention. Get to know them. EARN their attention."
— Donna Stott, Your Coaching Matters
Psst! If you're looking for more inspo for standing out amid the noise, Donna strongly recommends Seth Godin's latest work.
"Artificial Intelligence. Not the 'fake' version but the real version that enables a marketer to not just use consumer behavior to determine ad spend but clear analytics on what ads lead to the best conversations. I can’t overstate the importance of this..."
— Barry Jenkins, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate
"2020 is the year to connect with consumers in a meaningful and personalized way. The most beautiful thing about our industry is that it is always evolving and in order to get to or remain at the top you need to be authentic and creative."
— Emilio DiSpirito, Broker/Owner, DiSpirito Team Real Estate
"There will be more distractions and noise in 2020. Lots of bogus claims about AI systems & AI marketing. Look past the fluff and see what results these companies are generating."
— Eric Bramlett, Broker, Bramlett Residential
One thing is clear. There is A LOT of change on the horizon for real estate marketing.
But if you've been in the game a while, you're probably pretty comfortable with a little disruption.
Here's a quick recap of the above expert advice:
When it comes to real estate marketing in 2020, the only thing you can count on is that the more tech dominates the landscape, the more your personal approach will matter.
Once you've firmly decided and documented what that plan looks like, it's all about measuring your results.
Austin-based broker Eric Bramlett has an awesome mantra for this:
"Measure EVERYTHING. Do more of what works and less of what doesn't."
We all want a done-for-you marketing plan we can plug right into our real estate business, but the truth your authenticity is the very thing that's going to determine your future success.
Stay honest. Stay consistent. And whatever you do, don't stop tracking your results.