Do you have a marketing and advertising department? For most MLS, Associations and Brokerages today, the answer is NO. For the largest companies, the answer is Yes. Marketing and Advertising is typically the first “Cut Back” made by an organization facing uncertain economic times – but is also the most fundamentally destructive place to try and reduce costs in your business, especially for real estate Brokers. Studies show this is the reason why large companies gain more market share durring cyclical economic recessions and small companies fade or disappear.
If you are of the ilk to appreciate and agree with this position, here are a couple of solutions for you to consider to bulk up on marketing.
- Consider cutting back in the finance department. Most business owners and managers will hang on to their accounts payable and receivable staff in a recession. The driver of this choice is laziness. The task of paying bills, balancing checking accounts, payroll and other customary accounting functions require a lot of time, but not deep levels of experience. Divide the task up among the executive staff or just do it yourself. After all, the daily routine of managing your financials day to day will serve to heighten everyone’s intimacy with the financial details and gain a clear understanding of company’s expenses and profits.
- Become a student of Marketing and Advertising – Marketing and Advertising are strategic and artful competencies. They begin with a Marketing Plan. The Marketing Plan requires research. There are thousands of websites and blogs that can help you begin to develop your marketing plan. One such place to start is at Small Business University. Take a look at Marketing 101 here. If you need help, consider contracting with a company like the WAV Group or other consulting firm that specializes in research and plan development. WAV Group founding partner Marilyn Wilson was formerly the EVP of marketing for Fisher-Price – Mattel, overseeing global marketing of all company brands and products, and managing a $40 Million advertising budget. She has 10 years of experience working with MLSs and Associations to develop Marketing Plans.
- Hire or Outsource for execution. Do not presume that just because you have a plan, you have the skills to execute the plan. There are abundant opportunities to work with Marketing firms and Advertising Agencies to execute your plan. To be clear, if you do not have a good marketing plan in place – these efforts will be ineffective. Marketing and Advertising tasks need to be very specific in their goals and the messaging needs to be very targeted. Understanding the landscape of your target audience relative to age, sex, geographics and psychographics are fundamental to building any marketing communications.
- Measure – Marketing plans have specific goals that are tied to a matrix of data points. Some of these include top line sales, website visitors, new customers, repeat customers, and opportunities (leads for brokers). Other goals may include customer satisfaction, brand recognition, engagement, etc.
- Consider Partnerships – Non-competing companies like yours are also facing the same challenges. Partner with them to reduce costs and obtain a better negotiating position. The easiest way to do this is to rely on trade organizations. For example, MLSs can leverage the power of the Council of MLSs for research. Associations can leverage the State Association or partner with a peer to develop marketing communications to keep costs down. Brokers can consider cashless mergers and other strategic partnerships. In each case, depending on your circumstances, it is likely that you are trying to target the same audience, although the delivery points may be different. Rather than each business investing in the resources to develop advertising communications, simply changing the logo, company name, and some of the copy will typically work to customize for your marketplace. This is the spirit of franchising.
If you are considering some of these strategies, feel free to give any of the WAV Group partners a call, or leave your message in the comments area of this post and we will reply promptly. If you feel this is valuable, click the retweet button or add a link to your facebook page to share with your friends.