By Jim Reid
If you have already completed the customer, product or market marketing research functions that I discussed in my last column, then you’re likely full of valuable insights for designing your product development functions.
It is critical to establish the projects you are going to be working on during the next five years. Some “products” could include: Realtor professional development (functional research and communications skills and expertise development), personal branding, target property mix and property specialization branding.
Few real estate salespeople seem to clearly understand the “products” people buy through them. There is a chain of products that clients expect to obtain when they use you to change their real estate portfolio. Not the least of these is your skill and expertise in all aspects of this business. These are products you sell in your personal marketing mix. They are just as important as the marketing mix you use to buy and sell properties or businesses for them.
In short, the product development marketing function is an analytical precursor to our more commonly understood marketing functions like distribution, advertising and selling. Through strategic planning you create or enhance the products/services you provide to clients. It is a time when you must ask yourself, your friends and your clients how you may serve each other’s needs. You have products that market yourself and products that market your client’s products and products you use to help purchase properties.
The deliverables from these sub-functions could be an array of marketing materials (resumes, pamphlets, charts and information, personal statistics), or courses and training goals, or custom client property marketing programs, or a marketing binder, or a personal real estate website. Your business plan objective should be to design projects for each product you market. Remember, you must market yourself before you market your client’s property.
Developing yourself as a product should never be thought of as building a “warrior-for-sale”, although some warrior qualities are sometimes needed in our business. Realtors who last and prosper in this industry understand the true meaning of terms like integrity, truthfulness, honesty, trustworthy, respectful, caring, humility and generosity. These spiritual qualities resonate from those who are valuable servants to their clients. These people are our vine and you should all seek these qualities to develop your product.
Similarly, your product expertise should not be haphazard from deals in different types of real estate. For example, your business plan should include a disciplinary approach to attending open houses and staying current on all activity in the realty products you will be buying and selling over the next five years. You must allocate the time to become the most experienced in your target markets’ products.
With new technologies there are all sorts of innovative products available to you and your clients. You need to identify these and determine their costs so that you can budget them into your customized marketing programs. (After building my real estate farm website, and being the first in my market with a virtual tour, and the first in my market to stage a house, I created a few new real estate sales representative products that added to the value of my commissions, which my clients valued.)
By the way, there is no such thing as a “static plan”. Plans are meant to change as quickly as new information or situations occur. But those who at least create an initial macro-vision on paper are those who are never off-balance due to a bad business experience or regulatory change.
An important element of product development is the packaging. Too many of us are packaged like potato chips – a half-empty huge colourful bag of pressurized air. You should be shrink-wrapped in a transparent persona with only a warm aftertaste of richness and quality. Sort of like Tim Hortons to a coffee addict.
By the way, if your legal name is unpronounceable or hard to spell or unmemorable to your target customers, you are permitted to register an easily recognized trading name in your industry.
Next column, we will examine the marketing communications and technology functions you’ll need for your real estate strategic business plan.