Working at a magazine forever skews your vision of the holidays. Think about it: You take Christmas photos while the summer sun is blazing, and when the snow falls, you’re thinking about Independence Day. You are never in “the now,” because you are constantly planning weeks and months ahead.
Take lifestyle magazines. They plan their editorial calendars, including feature stories, a full year in advance. This allows them to set their advertising and circulation goals to help pay for the production costs of those issues.
As a real estate agent, you can think like a magazine editor and plan not just your content marketing but your promotions and spending.
Your objection to this idea may be, “I don’t know how much I’m going to make.” That, however, may be more under your control than you realize, and there’s nothing like making a commitment you can’t get out of to add a little incentive! For example, if you sign a contract to advertise in a certain spot each month, you will likely work extra hard to make sure you have a great listing to promote.
Here are some tips to help you think like a magazine editor when you are doing your annual planning:
1. Create an editorial calendar. This works for blogs, newsletters and essentially all content marketing, but it can also be applied to event planning and provide an overall structure for how you plan to run your business in the coming year.
2. Don’t do the same thing every year. So-called “set it and forget it” campaigns are often as forgettable to your clients as they are to you! Don’t rely on the same old tired campaigns. Start thinking now about what you will be doing for spring, summer, fall and even next winter. The same old templates won’t move the needle. The look should always be cohesive (so they know it’s you) but different each time.
3. Put big energy behind your big events. Not all months are equal in your business. There are some months that are bigger and some that are smaller. Vogue magazine is famous for its monstrous September issue, and the publishers throw extra money at specific issues. Depending on the seasonality in your market, you know what the right time is to put extra effort and marketing or advertising dollars toward increasing your visibility — and you know when your maintenance budget will suffice. You can’t always predict how busy you will be, but you can make educated guesses based on past performance.
4. Plan for flexibility. It sounds counterintuitive when you’re planning an entire year in advance, but you actually can and should plan for plans to change. Thinking like a magazine editor works here, too: Magazines are constantly balancing advertising and editorial. When the ad team sells more space, they have more room for content. Conversely, when they don’t meet sales goals, the magazine shrinks accordingly. The same thing is true of you and your marketing/advertising budget. When you are having an unexpectedly strong month, take advantage of it and spend a little more on ads and marketing initiatives. Once you’ve got your baseline presence in place, you have a little flexibility to bend with the whims of the market.
Making commitments a year in advance is a bold step. Even so, it can be the best way to motivate yourself to do what it takes to achieve greatness. When you’ve got some skin in the game, real estate success becomes less about luck and more about being prepared to take advantage of each and every opportunity in the marketplace.
Deidre Woollard was part of the marketing team at realtor.com and is currently the head of communications for Partners Trust, a leading luxury brokerage in Los Angeles.