By: John Seroka
Your company most likely develops an updated marketing strategy every year, but you may not be getting the desired outcome.
If your strategy is going to be successful, your whole team has to have full confidence in it and cohesively persevere to carry it out. There are 8 common obstacles that stand in the way of marketing success.
Many companies throughout the mortgage and real estate industries annually create their marketing and public relations plans. But there’s a problem…many fail to achieve their desired outcomes.
For a marketing strategy to be truly successful, there must be a high level of determination among the executive staff that becomes contagious internally. Resources need to be made available. Everyone must believe in it and believe they can succeed.
Here are 8 common reasons many marketing strategies fail.
1) You do not have a clearly defined value proposition. Why should your target audience work with you, partner with you or buy from you?
Your value proposition needs to define how working with your company will make a positive difference in their lives.
Defining your value proposition can be intimidating, especially if you’re a mortgage company or real estate brokerage. In these cases, it is especially important to think beyond the characteristics of the service you provide and think about why people should choose to do business with you over a competitor.
Pro tip: Start by visiting with the company founder and asking why they started the company and why they felt they would win in the marketplace. They will be thrilled to give you that insight and it will be incredibly valuable.
For even more insight, reach out to the people who have done business with you and ask them why they chose you. You could even approach your own employees and ask them why they chose to work at your company.
For other companies, the value proposition could include specific benefits of a service or technology along with the value your key people bring that make you unique. Even in this case, it would still make sense to talk to your clients and employees to help crystallize it.
2) A complete strategy does not exist in print or it’s just a shorthand version from a boardroom discussion. Sure, this is an obvious problem, but many times strategy discussions take place in the board room and other fires get in the way of fully developing it.
When you develop a strategy, it has to include competitive research, a SWOT analysis, well thought out goals, a calendar of activities, and a reasonable, competitive budget to accomplish the goals. Skipping over any of these items, or not covering them thoroughly, will put you at a deficit when it comes to measuring your success and developing next year’s strategy.
3) Goals are poorly defined. According to CoSchedule, marketers who set goals are 429% more likely to be successful than those who don’t.
Before the strategy gets written, there needs to be agreement on truly quantifiable goals. Poorly defined goals are goals that are so vague that you can’t possibly quantify them.
An example of a poorly defined goal could be “I want to drive more website traffic” without defining how much more, what kind of traffic and what you want them to do when they come to your site.
Well-defined goals bring results. In the example of driving more website traffic, a result should go beyond a percentage increase in website traffic, inbound calls or meetings. A result is actual new business due to driving the right kind of inbound traffic from a variety of marketing tactics and channels that converts.
Here are some tips for goal setting:
- Make your goals measurable. If your goal is to increase your sales, listings, new account acquisitions or origination volume by X%, that’s great! This is easy to measure. Other goals, like increasing awareness of your company, are a bit harder to measure, but it can still be done. In the case of increasing awareness, you can start by looking at your current website traffic, social media followers, the reach and engagement levels of your social media activities, Google Trends, branded search volume in Google Analytics and leveraging other tools that help you determine share of voice. This way, you have a basis for measuring how that awareness level changes over time.
- Make sure your goals are attainable. This requires a combination of having the right marketing budget and being realistic by reviewing past results and considering the current environment. Consider how much can be reasonably accomplished within your budget in the competitive environment. Do you have enough money to cover Google Ads and advertising on social platforms as well as display? Did you allocate enough money for your content development needs? From our experience, many underestimate the amount and variety of content they really need to compete. This is especially true for many lenders and real estate brokers. If you question whether you have set the right budget to compete effectively, someone with the right research tools will be able to tell you how much your competitors are spending and where. Reach out to us if you need assistance in this area. We provide this service free of charge. If your competitors are clearly outspending you based on the competitive research, consider this as you set your new business goals. Setting outsized goals with a minimal budget and low-level usage of automation only serves to frustrate your team when they are not achieved.
- Establish a calendar of what will happen and when. Getting things done that drive you toward your stated goal(s) is essential. Without a calendar, your goals become wishful thinking. Your calendar should include monthly activities like email, ads, social media campaigns, events, blog posts, white papers, direct mail, etc. You should also have a written overview that drills down to be more specific yet allows for some flexibility for changing market conditions.
4) You forgot to get full team support behind the strategy. Something often forgotten is that everybody in your company is part of executing the strategy to some degree. Everyone should be aware of your campaigns, latest news release, direct marketing program, and on and on.
Once the strategy is set and there is buy-in from key execs, everyone must play “follow the leader” and do their part.
Here are some ideas to help you drive company-wide support:
- A company outing. Or, if the logistics don’t make this possible, consider other means of communications like a pre-recorded or live event with designated speakers that your company can tune into or even a series of events leading up to the launch. However you choose to develop the event, you should share your vision and goals for the company, share where you’re going and how you plan to get there. Done well, this event can be a fun team-building experience! Let everyone know the reasoning behind the strategy so they have a clear understanding of where you were and what you plan to achieve.
- Share what you discovered through the competitive review you conducted as you developed the strategy. This will help everyone understand why it’s great to be on your team, pushing ahead to get to the next level.
- Build enthusiasm. Let everyone know how they play a role in the success of the strategy.
5) No clear responsibilities or accountability. Strategies die due to lack of accountability and specific assignment of responsibilities. Therefore, make sure that everyone understands timelines and the roles they play in bringing the strategy to fruition as a team.
Don’t forget about those that may only have indirect involvement…they also need to clearly understand their roles. For example, how are leads distributed resulting from a direct marketing effort? Is there any internal training necessary to ensure a smooth process when a new campaign drives inbound leads? Who will do the training?
6) Wrong people working the strategy. Do people assigned to work on the strategy have the skills to execute their part? In the effort to get everyone involved, be sure to accurately identify their skill sets so they can be successful in their roles.
For example, if one part of the strategy is producing videos that will be posted and promoted on social channels, this could be a tall order if the person assigned to this task doesn’t have experience in scripting or production.
7) Lack of time or lack of money. Nothing is more frustrating than writing a marketing strategy and then finding out that there’s no budget to cover it and/or everybody is too busy wearing different hats to execute.
There’s no shortage of companies that have zero-based budgeting when it comes to marketing. With this, every line item is debated and scrutinized before being approved, corners are cut and then goals are compromised. Even if the budget is small, it’s good to know up front so you can set reasonable goals and design a strategy that fits the budget as was indicated earlier.
8) Changing market conditions. Interest rate fluctuations, regulations and much more can influence how your strategy is or is not carried out.
If you’ve been in the mortgage or real estate industry for any length of time, certainly you’re aware of this. Make sure that your strategy is flexible…and that you are flexible and ready to adapt as changes occur.
Blindly executing on a strategy that doesn’t make sense any longer is not only expensive, but it has the potential of making you look foolish and even drawing unwanted attention.
Any one of these items can impede the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Simply being aware of these common obstacles should help you deal with them in advance and ensure your success.
Reach out to us if you would like a free consultation on how we could assist you with developing a winning strategy!