Carol was an associate real estate agent at a new real estate agency. The other partner was a broker, so he took on that part of the responsibility, while Carol kept the books and did the advertising.
They weren’t calling their ad marketing, and in fact, it wasn’t.
His method was simple. Every time they had a closing, she looked at how much money had come into the account and figured out where she could spend it on advertising.
Can you see where this leads? She forgot all about those other mundane expenses like rent, electricity bills, phone service, etc. So when those bills came, she freaked out. And sometimes she paid late fees if the next closing didn’t come soon enough.
Carol had no idea how much she would have to spend on advertising because she and her partner had no marketing plan.
They had both been real estate agents for several years, but worked for other people and hadn’t paid much attention to where clients and clients came from. So they had no idea what media to use for advertising. They didn’t know if people were responding to their newspaper ads, their pages in a house magazine, or just the signs posted on their properties for sale.
On top of that, Carol was easily led by salespeople who gave up on coming up with the latest and greatest idea. She bought everything from signature ads in support of school sports to restaurant placemat ads to shopping cart ads. If there was enough money in the checking account, she would buy.
She should have started with a budget. While no small business owner can predict how many dollars will come into the business in any given month, they can make an estimate based on history. After removing all fixed expenses such as rent, they can see what percentage is left for other things. Part of this should be allocated to marketing.
But that entire percentage shouldn’t automatically be spent every month. Instead, they should plan ahead for quarterly and annual promotions that take a bigger chunk of marketing dollars — and set aside a portion of revenue each month to cover those periodic expenses. For example, if they send out a quarterly newsletter, they should budget for printing and postage. And if they buy and send gifts to their customers during the holidays, this cost must be taken into account.
If the business is real estate, annual expenses such as restocking signage should also be included in the plan.
The next step, once they see how much money they need to work for media marketing, is to carefully consider where those dollars need to be spent for maximum effectiveness.
Most businesses will benefit from having a web presence – which is a small expense once the website is up and running. But even a hosting fee of $10 or $20 per month adds up over a year, so it needs to be budgeted for.
All businesses need to know who their customers are so they can choose the right location to reach more of them. If it turns out that most of your customers are between the ages of 25 and 35, no advertising in “Senior Times” will grow your business!
Next, businesses need to be careful and keep track of where customers are coming from. In some businesses, like real estate or insurance, it’s easy to just ask. In others, you don’t have this option. But a coupon or special offer with a promotional code will reveal the truth. If you place a valuable coupon in a post and you don’t get many takers, you know it’s not the right place to advertise!
The ad size test is also important. Sometimes a small ad will attract as much as a bigger one. But sometimes not. If the budget is tight, it may be more effective to place a large ad every two or three weeks rather than a small one every week. Testing your results is key.
The second part of creating a marketing plan is the marketing copy itself. Good writing takes time. Seasonal promotions should be planned in advance and printing arranged or merchandise ordered well before it is needed.
Often, small business owners dread writing their ad copy. They’re not good at it, so put it off at the last minute. I’ve seen real estate agents try to write copy to promote a home when the deadline was only 15 minutes away.
I believe it is better to have no publicity at all than bad publicity – because bad copy gives the impression of an unprofessional and sloppy company. It’s a real waste of money.
With your marketing plan in front of you, you can give yourself plenty of time to either block off some quiet time to write your copy yourself, or explain your needs and hand off your reference materials to a copywriter who will do it for you.
Yes, copywriting is another expense that should be included in the marketing budget, but if you’re really not good at it and don’t want to take the time to develop the skills, professional copywriting services will more than pay for themselves. income increase.
Oh – you’re probably wondering what happened to Carol.
When her partner finally figured out what she was doing and why they were broke, they got into a huge battle. Their separation was not very pleasant and actually ended in court.
A marketing plan, agreed upon by both partners, would have saved them a lot of heartache, as well as a lot of money.