If You’re Not Marketing, What Are You Doing?

November 20, 2008

The rest of the economy seems to have caught up to real estate. We were at the tip of the spear when things began to slow, and I believe we’ll be at the forefront when things begin to turn around.

There are still folks out there marketing, still out there selling. But for the moment, not even the most optimistic among us would suggest it’s business as usual. We are in the midst of a downturn, at a traditionally “down” time of the year no less. Currently, we’re not telling our real estate clients that now is the time to spend their marketing dollars generating leads.

But if they’re not generating leads, what should they be doing? Hunkering down and waiting this one out? Hardly.

When the market is good, I’ll grudgingly admit that even mediocre marketing can work—or at least, it won’t hurt your chances at success. But what about marketing when all the sheep are nowhere to be found? At Hill Mullikin, we’re telling our clients that now is the time to plan to succeed. Current conditions present us with a rare and valuable opportunity: time to step back and figure out a few things.

Things we don’t always have the time or patience to figure out. Things like what is it my customers want? What makes me different? How am I going to be top-of-mind when they’re ready to buy? How can I leverage new technology and new ideas to get a greater return on my marketing investment?

Now is the perfect time to plan for the new year—for the new economy. Because when the market returns, relevance will be king. In other words, you’ll need to be relevant to your customers. They’ll be empowered not only by economic conditions, but also by a rising tide of information available at their fingertips. So take the time now to get to know who your customers are and understand what’s meaningful to them.

It sounds simple, but another essential component in preparation for the new year is figuring out who you are. At Hill Mullikin, we suggest a battle cry. A battle cry is a simple statement, a stake in the ground that defines who you are and what your position is in the marketplace. For instance, Microsoft’s battle cry is “information at your fingertips.” Barack Obama’s campaign battle cry was “change.” Both examples are clear, concise and ownable positions. Let’s take this time to figure out what your stake in the ground will be.

For many of our clients, the battle cry is presented in the context of a brand platform, an internal, easy-to-understand brand manual and a blueprint for all advertising and messaging. The brand platform outlines a clear, consistent voice that can easily be recited by every member of the team, from sales to marketing to administration. Coupled with a sound, strategic marketing plan, the brand platform has proven to be a powerful tool in the planning process.

“If you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to fail,” the old saw goes. For real estate marketers, I believe it’s truer today than it has ever been.

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