What does 2017 look like for your business?

Is it a ‘rinse-and-repeat’ of 2016? Or, are you ending this year with a clearly mapped out marketing plan to achieve specific business goals in 2017?

In this episode of Real Estate Pros, you’ll learn how to map out an effective annual marketing plan with 3 simple questions and examples from agents and agencies around Australia.

3 Questions To Ask Before Drafting Your 2017 Marketing Plan.

Lately, we’ve been reminded of what real estate agents focus at this time of the year, every year.

Although buyers are still buying property and tenants still looking for homes to rent, there are many agents who advise their clients to hold off until the new year to list their home, as it allows more flexibility for settlement periods and increased supply and demand.

More than likely you’ve spent this year working hard in your business so you’re using use this time of the year, when it’s a little quieter, to work on your business and to plan for the year ahead.

I’ve had countless conversations with some of Australia’s top agents and teams in the past couple of weeks and this is exactly what they’re doing.

It’s important when you’re planning your marketing for the new year, that you take a step back and ask questions rather than simply plotting some tasks on a calendar and hitting ‘go’.

The first question might seem like an obvious one but it’s critically important.

1. What performed well in this last year?

It’s easy to jump the gun on starting fresh without taking a close look at what worked and what didn’t in 2016.

I’m a big fan of what’s called a marketing ‘not-to-do’ list whereby you list all of the marketing activities you perform, and the channels you use, and evaluate each and every one of them based on your return-on-investment (ROI). If it’s not delivering business outcomes, or worse, if you can’t measure its effectiveness, give yourself permission to put it on your marketing ‘not-to-do’ list.

If it’s not delivering business outcomes, give yourself permission to put it on your marketing ‘not-to-do’ list.

We recently met with one of Australia’s top agents who put a significant amount of time and effort into his presence on Instagram in 2016. But by carrying out this process, he identified that, although his efforts on Instagram have generated plenty of engagement from followers, their team has not received any measurable business outcomes as a result.

After digging a little deeper into the makeup of his audience on Instagram, most are either other agents who admire what he’s doing or people who simply admire the types of properties he sells – but most likely can’t afford to buy them.

The lesson?

His clients and prospects – the people employing him as an agent – don’t use Instagram.

Secondly, this agent couldn’t measure the return on his investment in the platform, so he’s decided to re-allocate his budget into another channel, with a different strategy in 2017.

He’s put Instagram on his marketing ‘not-to-do’ list.

Dedicate a day to diving into your numbers to come up with a comprehensive picture of how your marketing has performed in 2016. Don’t forget to consult each team member on the front line of sales or property management to get first-hand feedback on what marketing helped them secure a new listing. The goal is not to uncover every little metric from last year, but to answer the two big questions: what worked and what didn’t.

If you’re in business, my guess is that revenue and profit are pretty important to you. This activity alone will give you a clear understanding of what’s impacting both.

2. What do you want to achieve in 2017 and in what order of importance?

Next, you need to consider what’s important to you:

  • Is it growth in market share?
  • Is it growth in property managements?
  • Is it recruitment of new staff?
  • Is it retention of staff?

I recently spoke with the director of a well-established multi-office network who told me about the challenge they’re having with new businesses in the area, eating into their market share and attracting their top performers in the process.

So, the core objectives for this particular agency in 2017 are (in order of priority):

  1. Increase staff retention to 100%
  2. Increase market share by 20%

Their content marketing strategy and website redesign are focused on achieving these two primary objectives. Sure, they have other business goals, but by asking themselves what’s most important, they have developed a clear strategy to achieve it and they have eliminated any tactics that may distract them.

You’ve probably heard the saying “doer of all and master of none.” This applies to your marketing strategy in 2017.

Don’t just create a list of tasks that your marketing team can tick off to say they’ve completed – things like post to Instagram 10 times a day.

Ask yourself what are the two or three most important business outcomes you want to achieve in 2017 and work backwards from there.

Lastly…what portion of your budget can you dedicate to new or untested initiatives in 2017?

3. What portion of your budget can you dedicate to new or untested initiatives in 2017?

Google are famous for a program they called 20% time whereby staff were given one day per week to work on an idea they’ve had to eventually pitch that idea to the rest of the team. Some of these ideas never saw the light of day, but some did. Gmail was one of those ideas created by a staff member during the time that this program was running at Google.

The marketing manager from an independent real estate agency in Melbourne told me last week about how a similar program in their business is yielding new ideas. Each month, this particular agency holds what they call an ‘Innovation Workshop’ whereby staff must create a solution that solves a specific problem in their business using technology.

The winning idea from last month’s workshop was born out of frustration with a problem that you may have had in your own business.

Staff in this agency would often complain about the amount of emails and replies that were being forwarded around the office on any given day. So the winning idea from last month’s ‘Innovation Workshop’ was to use Facebook’s new platform called Facebook at Work whereby staff can view all of these emails and replies in the form of a Facebook Newsfeed, specific for their office. This initiative has led to happier staff, a less crowded inbox for all team members and improved productivity.

The lesson in this example for all of us is that we need to invest in the time to explore new ideas that help solve specific problems for our business or for our consumers. If you’re not allocating a portion of your budget to new or untested initiatives in 2017, your competitors might be. And it just might be the thing that your staff want to be a part of and real estate consumers are attracted to.

So over to you…

What does 2017 look like for your business?

Is it a ‘rinse-and-repeat’ of 2016?

Or, are you ending this year with a clearly mapped out plan for 2017 to achieve specific business goals?

My hope is that you are, or that you will.

Good luck.

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