I have spoke to thousands of Realtors, and even now in 2012, there is still a lot of just plain bad “do-it yourself” marketing and “one size fits all” marketing that is happening, and it is driving me bonkers!

I was working on this article last weekend when I got home to find this on my porch:

I called it a trifecta of bad marketing.

Two postcards and the Yellow Pages on my doorstep. As I picked up the postcard — a real estate postcard, no less — my husband knew I was going to have a little bit of a rant.

“Look at this postcard!” I proclaimed. “This is awful on so many levels. Look at all those fonts. And, why is the subheader in rainbow-colored font? Why are we getting a postcard on our doorstep about selling when we are only renters?!”

My husband just shook his head and said, “Let me look at that.” So he took the card and said, “Why does he have his photo with his two dogs? And why he is using an AOL email — that’s pretty unprofessional.”

So see, it’s not just me!

If you are like most Realtors, you are on a shoestring budget just trying to make a go at your business and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for marketing. I get it.

But sending out poorly written, poorly designed and poorly targeted marketing messages is 10 times worse.

Here are a few tips to get the biggest bang for your buck with your marketing, and to transform your marketing message:

1. Eliminate “do-it yourself marketing.” No more Word or Publisher templates for newsletters, fliers or mailers. No matter how many photos or fonts you use, they still look unprofessional. Use a professional marketing service like Imprev that can provide quality materials. If you are with a larger brokerage or franchise, use the marketing services they provide. TIP: If you can afford it, get a designer on your team who can help define your brand standard, which goes beyond your logo.

2. Just say no to clip art. A cartoon of a house should not be on your marketing materials or your website. And while we are at it, refrain from using “fun fonts” like Comic Sans — those belong on a family holiday newsletter, not your website or listing fliers. TIP: Use no more than two fonts on your marketing materials. Using too many fonts looks cluttered and unprofessional.

3. Stop sending the same old, same old to your list. Are you sending 500 postcards to your database every month because you have done it for _____ number of years and “people like it”? Have you asked anyone on your list if they like getting postcards, or are you annoying some people who think what you’re sending is just another piece of junk mail? TIP: Use a free service like SurveyMonkey that allows you to set up an online survey to email to all of your clients to find out exactly how they would like to hear from you: phone call, email, in person, social media, etc.

4. Stop spending money and time on things that are just “kind of working.” If you are just getting one or two calls off something you are spending money on, it’s time to stop and re-evaluate where your dollars are being spent. So many agents I know spend literally hours putting together a listing flier because they reinvent the wheel every time they get a listing. Be diligent with your time. TIP: One of the best things you can spend your money on is a professional photographer for your listing photos. Save money, time and make the best impression possible of your listing.

5. Eliminate one-size-fits-all marketing. Make the effort to keep in touch with your clients in meaningful ways. It’s not enough anymore to just “touch” someone once a month with marketing. In an ideal scenario, you will have various types of marketing going out each month depending on the person; you may have 100 postcards, 10 coffee dates, 100 emails, 10 handwritten cards and multiple Facebook comments as part of your overall “keep in touch” marketing campaign. TIP: How about sending an anniversary card EVERY year on the day they closed escrow?

6. Embrace social media. If you are still on the fence about social media (specifically Facebook), now is the time to get off the fence. Have a presence on Facebook. Start with your personal profile and take 15 minutes a day to connect with people. Like and comment on photos and posts. Post interesting articles about the area you live in. TIP: Create a list on Facebook of the 10-20 people you think are in the market to buy a home in 12-18 months. Use that list once a day to interact with those key people in an authentic way.

7. Become a master curator of content. Want to know the secret to connecting with people online? Curate content that is interesting and relevant to them. People spend 12-18 months looking for homes online before they ever contact a Realtor, so use that time to connect with them online. TIP: Every morning find one interesting article from Inman News, or the Wall Street Journal, Patch or Houzz, and post that or post it to someone’s wall who you think would enjoy it.

Why am I so passionate about this? Because I am tired of seeing agents spend money on things that don’t work, that are outdated and that don’t represent who they really are.

Take the time to be thoughtful and mindful with your marketing, and it will make all the difference in the world.

What type of marketing mistakes do you see Realtors doing? I’d love to hear your feedback; post your comments below!

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