Successful marketing gets results. But to get results, you need to set realistic goals.

How many new customers? How many referrals? What kind of dollar volume do you need to generate?

Defining your goals is the first step in building a marketing plan. Goal setting isn’t just how much business you wish you had, though. Capacity is critical. How much work can you take on and still deliver the level of service that’s going to get you those valuable referrals? You should always review and adjust your goals accordingly based on your results.

Brand Differentiation

With so many independent real estate agents and brokerages of all sizes out there, it’s important to identify what differentiates you from your competition. In defining what makes you unique, you begin to form your marketing message. Clients know what a real estate agent does — but what do they need to know about you? Is it your years of experience, your negotiation skills, or a particular niche expertise like first-time homebuyers?

If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to highlight your education, specific certifications, as well as the energy and enthusiasm that you bring to the table. Take the time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. And, with your goals in mind, craft a concise statement that describes who you are and what your clients can expect from you. This personal mission or brand statement should serve as a jumping off point for all of your marketing.

Target Audience

You’ve defined your goals and come up with a brand statement. The next step is to develop and refine a marketing message that will capture the attention of your target audience. Defining a target audience doesn’t mean you’ll turn away other business, though. Having a target audience — like goal setting — helps you take aim. It gives you a platform to build on. Become a subject matter expert for your target audience by adding to your experience with certifications or other education credits. Experience working with a particular niche client or type of product builds expertise that translates into new clients and better referrals.

Media and Message

Here’s where your marketing strengths and weaknesses come in to play. Agents tend to be strong sales-oriented individuals — not web designers, copywriters, social media specialists, etc. If you possess some of these skills, great. If not, do what you want your clients to do and find someone with the experience and expertise you need to deliver a consistent marketing message across multiple channels.

Work with a web designer to build a web presence that conveys your message and has a strong call to action. Looking to others for their expertise is also an excellent tactic for building strong lasting relationships with business colleagues, which lead to potential new clients and referral partners.

Identify the channel or channels you want to use to deliver your message. Whatever channels you choose to pursue will need to fit into your budget. While you’ll obviously need to have a website and build a social media presence, don’t under estimate the power of other more traditional channels such as email campaigns, advertising, PR, and print collateral.

The Bottom Line

Marketing is part of sales. By identifying your goals and target audience and building your brand statement, you have planted the seeds you need to begin to grow your business. Knowing where your strengths lie and focusing on them will get you where you want to be.