With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time when most real estate agents focus on creating a business plan and setting their goals for the coming year.

But before you get started, it helps to look at what you achieved this year. Did you make or surpass your goals for 2014? If not, perhaps you set your goals too high. Or, maybe you failed to reach your goals because you didn’t follow your plan from start to finish.

Whatever the reason, here are five easy-to-implement goals that will help your business thrive in 2015:

1. Set several smaller, realistic goals

It might seem odd to set a goal about setting goals, but this is a big one. It is frustrating to witness an agent who sets unrealistic goals and then almost immediately falls short of them. Setting goals that are unrealistic from the outset is a major reason why many agents stop pursuing their goals. Without goals, your chances of success are extremely limited.

Many agents tell me they want to double their business every year or close 10 deals a month. Doubling your business is huge. If you can do that, great — but you must have a plan of action to make that goal realistic.

Setting quarterly goals instead of one large goal for the year is one way to approach goal-setting. This will make your goals easier to grasp and measure than a massive 12-month goal.

2. Get your database together

As a Realtor, you should always be organizing, updating and cultivating your database. We’re into the winter season, and now is a good time to get your database organized. Make sure contacts are categorized and the information is accurate. There are many good customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, such as Wise Agent, Top Producer, Realty Juggler, Follow Up Boss and more. Use the one that works best for you and fits your business model. A good CRM will help keep you top of mind and will minimize the risk of losing any potential business from a poorly managed database.

3. Get in front of the camera

Most agents don’t use video in their business, which is precisely why you should!

Sure, video seems scary. But it shortens your sales cycle by enabling potential clients to get acquainted with you before you ever meet them in person. Start by shooting short, conversational videos about buying, selling, the state of the market, whys, hows, reviews, etc. It will help your business exposure tremendously.

YouTube is a free medium to use in your marketing, so take advantage of it by posting your videos there. YouTube is the No. 2 search engine in the world and is owned by Google (the No. 1 search engine). What’s more, Google will rank your videos in search results with other content.

4. Use social media more … but not to pitch sales

Social media channels are used to talk to and engage with your friends and followers, and to get to know people better. They are also used to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. What you don’t do is use them to work your entire sales pitch.

Branch out and use not only Facebook and Twitter, but also Instagram, which is a great way to interact and develop a following. This doesn’t mean you have to be on social media 24/7, but there are many popular formats where your client base does hang out. If they are spending time on these platforms, your presence is almost a necessity.

Yes, you can post real estate-related stuff — but doing it all the time may alienate people. Instead, use social media channels to eventually drive people where you really want them: to your website and videos.

5. Get your own website

I know your company gave you a free website. The issue is that you don’t own that site … the company does. What would happen to that website and content if you left your current company? Typically, if you leave, you lose the website altogether and have to start from scratch, SEO and all!

Bottom line: Get your own website. WordPress is a great website platform. You own your site and can create content whenever you wish. They also have many SEO options that improve your site’s standings in Internet search results, which is very important and adds social and professional credibility. Having full control and ownership over everything that pertains to your business is important.

Setting goals is critical to the success of any business. The five goals above are great building blocks to a successful business in 2015. Each of them has an exact function that will increase your exposure, branding and lead conversion.

What are your goals, and how are you going to meet them in 2015?

Wade Vander Molen is the director of sales/marketing for Stewart Title and has been in the title industry since 2005.

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