Local Realtors seeks to make first-time home buyers comfortable, happy, and worry-free both during the home buying process and even after their closings. By doing this, Local hopes to build a reputation as THE real estate agent in Melbourne for first-time home buyers, effectively eliminating competition within their market.
This marketing plan details the current and new marketing programs and practices of Local Realtors which will lead to establishing and consolidating this reputation.
Local Realtors will pursue the following specific goals:
Personal Goals for owner:
- Hire an additional agent before workload cuts into time necessary for marketing and company direction
- 20 invitations to area speaking engagements in 2018
- Exceed $1.7million in revenue in 2018, $1.9 million in 2019, $2.2 million in 2020
- Exceed 700 leads in 2018
- Be ranked in the top 5 real estate agencies for first-time home buyers in Melbourne Homes Magazine
- Achieve 100% customer satisfaction
- Customer testimonials of at least three sentences written by 75% of successful home buyers
- Increase number of agents employed by Local Realtors to four by the end of 2018
Local Realtors seeks to make the process of buying a first home a relief for clients, offering them such great service that all of their fears associated with the process will disappear. Through this, Local Realtors hopes to make home ownership, and the financial, emotional, and psychological value that comes with it, happen for as many people as possible. Ideally, the ideas and process of how customers are treated at Local will be shared with similarly-minded real estate agents in other towns and states so that the reach of the company’s impact goes well beyond its locale.
A couple signing up with Local Realtors will find themselves surprised from their first interaction about the level of care and thoroughness. Through simple language and some probing questions, the real estate agent will unearth the couple’s desires for their home as well as their fears. The Local agent seems to have seen it all before, yet does not come off as cocky or dismissive of these fears – such as the couple’s fear of being taken advantage of, of buying more home than they can afford, of learning about issues with the home only after the closing, or of spending more than they should. On the contrary, the Local agent will provide information and assistance that shows the couple from the start that there is no need to be exceedingly anxious through this process. That anxiety will slip away as the couple’s trust for their agent builds and it will be replaced by a feeling of excitement and adventure as the couple starts to see each home as a possibility.
The Gap Dashboard represents the quantification of the key personal, business, strategic and tactical goals for Local Realtors. The results in all of these areas will be tabulated once a month based on the accumulation of the week’s key marketing metrics as well as other items which are not tracked by the company’s systems (such as the personal goals). Furthermore, rating by Melbourne Homes occurs on an annual basis only and will be entered when the ratings are released. Local Realtors is responsible for accumulating the data to check against the goals each month. They will note gaps and decide whether original goals were too lofty or whether the shortfalls were within the control of Local Realtors.
2018 2019 2020
Invitations to speaking engagements 8 14 20
Other 0 0 0
Revenue $1,700,000 $1,900,000 $2,200,000
Leads 710 850 1,020
% of customer writing testimonials 60% 70% 75%
Number of agents 2 3 4
Rating by Fairfield Homes for
first-time home buyers 8 6 4
Customer satisfaction rate 90% 98% 100%
The ideal customer for Local Realtors is a young couple (let’s call them the Smiths). The Smiths have been renting a home in Carlton, but now seek to move to the northern suburbs, although within commuting distance of the Melbourne CBD. They have a one-year-old child and would like to live in an area with the best possible public-school system and a comfortable environment, similar to the small towns they grew up in. The Smiths are not familiar with Melbourne’s northern suburbs, beyond what they have read on their own and having driven through some of them.
They desire help not just with finding a home that meets all of their needs, but also advice from someone who knows the entire town and the ins and outs of moving in. Furthermore, this is the first home the Smiths will buy and they are a bit out to sea on all of the implications and legal hurdles. Although they are well-read on the subject, most of what they read suggests that they find a real estate agent who they feel they can trust, especially if the agent may be working under dual agency. Therefore, trustworthiness, knowledge, and experience are the key elements the Smiths look for in a real estate agent.
- The ideal customer market for Local Realtors has the following characteristics:
- Living in Melbourne city
- Interested in living in the northern suburbs of Melbourne
- Generally aged 30 to 45 years old
- Household income of at least $175,000 annually
- Generally, a married couple with or expecting at least one child
- Interested in living in a beautiful place (home, neighbourhood, and town)
- Feel there is a “right” home for them and that they should not have to “settle” for anything less
Local Realtors is THE real estate agency for first-time home buyers in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. While second home or retirement home buyers may feel they should look elsewhere, first-time home buyers quickly understand that Local focuses specifically on their needs and has the experience to make them comfortable with the entire process and even the prospect of moving to a new town.
Local Realtors differentiates itself through its focus on the specific market niche: first-time home buyers looking for a northern suburbs residence within commuting distance of Melbourne CBD. Local seeks to represent only individuals and couples buying their first home, although others will not be turned away.
To this end, Local takes a decidedly “non-slick” approach by holding careful and thoughtful sessions with clients to answer all of their questions, as well as general information sessions and seminars for prospective clients. Local publishes a “how to buy your first home” guide on their website with the best information from the web along with their own advice. Local seeks to align all of their activities with serving this market niche.
Local Realtors will position itself as experts on shepherding first-time home buyers comfortably through the process of buying a home they like and can afford.
These measurable results will show Local that it is achieving its goals over the next three years:
Increase in qualified leads (first-time home buyers) by 50% in 2018 and 20% in the following years
- Decrease in non-qualified leads to under 5% of total leads
- Conversion of qualified leads to clients increasing to 30%
- Decrease of client switching to other real estate agents to under 10%
- Increase in percentage of clients that successfully buy a home within one year of inquiry to 75%
- Customer testimonials of at least three sentences written by 75% of successful home buyers
Core Branding Elements
Local Realtors brands itself by paying attention to the following:
- Simplicity: All marketing materials and written statements are jargon-free. Images are not busy, but focused on one clear idea. The effect is intended to show that Local is comfortable in its choice to serve a particular market niche and serve it well.
- Customer relief: Images (photos of past clients) on the website, advertisements, and marketing materials focus on the happy couples and families that Local has placed in homes and include captions with short statements from the clients describing the relief they felt by being shepherded through the process by a real estate agent that they could trust and that understood their particular needs.
- Consistent logo: The name of Local Realtors will always appear in blue and white in a simple, consistent type face.
- Transparency: Paramount to retaining the trust of customers is that answers to key questions can all be found easily within materials and are volunteered to customers in all interactions. For example, Local must explain that while it does make a higher commission from a higher selling price, it bases its entire business model on satisfied customers who are treated fairly and the referrals and testimonials that result from doing so.
- Tagline: “Your First Home Purchase Made Easy”
Local Realtors acts as an agent between home buyers and sellers as its basic service, but will offer the following services and products geared toward moving individuals up the chain:
Suspects: Local will publish a monthly column with advice for first-time home buyers and print this in their monthly listing bulletin. Local will also hold an information session once a month which will either be a talk by the owner, a small panel discussion, or a talk by a relevant expert. These events will all be of interest to first-time home buyers or those planning to become a home buyer eventually. They will be held in locations of a suitable size.
Prospects: Those who contact Local Realtors by phone, walk-in, or email and those who attend the monthly talks are considered prospects. Local will offer to meet with prospects for the purpose of discussing working with them as well as educating them about the Melbourne northern suburbs home market and first-time home buying in general. These first sessions can last up to three hours in order to make sure the prospect is comfortable.
Clients: Clients are shown homes, as well as given additional time to answer questions and consult on options. When clients wish to make an offer, Local takes care of all paperwork and represents the buyer through the negotiation process. When clients close, Local sees that their interests are represented and that all paperwork is processed swiftly.
Champions: As Local Realtors works exclusively with first-time home buyers, they do not seek repeat customers. However, Local believes that “champions” are those who refer the five prospects or more to Local. Local stays in touch with all past clients at least once every six months to see how they are settling in and to offer additional advice (recommendations on vendors and services, schools, etc.) to maintain a relationship. Local will refer past clients to another real estate agent when they are interested in buying another home and will earn a small finder’s fee from the other agent for these referrals.
Pricing for real estate commissions is highly standard in the industry although prices become somewhat negotiable in down markets. The standard real estate commissionin Melbourne is 2.4% of the selling price. Prices are set by the selling agent for each home and the commission is paid by the seller out of their receipts from the sale.
Other informational services offered by Local Realtors are free of charge and offered with the purpose of building a reputation as a northern suburbs of Melbourne real estate and first-time home buying expert.
The following marketing materials and methods are used to reach the target market:
- Monthly listing bulletin
- Marketing kit (with versions geared towards clients and towards professional offices)
- Newspaper ads
- Direct mail postcards
- Signage outside Local Realtors office
- “How to buy a first home” guide
Each marketing kit will feature three case studies consisting of a one page story, a photo of the client(s), photo of the home, and testimonial statement from the client. The website will feature three video testimonials consisting of one-minute videos narrated by a client along with pictures of their home, the process of working with Local, and the Local office. Local will ask some clients if they would be willing to take part in a testimonial/case study one month after closing during the follow-up meeting. They will be offered a $250 gift certificate to a home goods store for their trouble. A professional videographer/photographer will be brought in to work on this and a freelance writer will be employed to write the case study.
The marketing kit prepared for professional offices will include all of the information in the client version as well as details on the gift certificate offer. Also, the case statement will be adjusted for this version to reflect the other benefits to their office from having a referral relationship with Local Realtors.
Direct mail postcards will be sent to a target list of 1,000 individuals who currently rent in Melbourne, and potentially fit the ideal target market. These lists will be purchased based on income, age, and lifestyle elements suggesting they may be looking to move to a suburb. One postcard will be sent every other month with an invitation to the next information session. A new 1,000 individuals will be chosen every six months.
The Local Realtors website will aim to impress qualified prospects with the trustworthiness and expertise of the office. The following elements and pages will support this:
- Selections from the “How to Buy a First-Home” Guide and information on how to send for the complete guide
- Collected columns/articles from the monthly listed bulletin presented as a blog
- Wrap-up descriptions of key takeaways from past information sessions
- Details on upcoming information sessions – bios of speakers, location, time, RSVP contact, content of the session
- Bio of the owner in form of narrative about his interest in working with first-time home buyers and experience helping them
- Bios of other real estate agents with the firm, as they are added
- Video testimonials of past clients
- Written case studies of past clients
Social Media Plan
The company will send blog posts to article databases and other real estate blogs in the hope that the name of Local Realtors will be promoted elsewhere and that more incoming links to the website will be generated.
Local Realtors will publish ads in the Age, and several local newspapers. They will include information on the upcoming talks or information sessions, link to or URL for the Local website and its tagline of “Your First Home Purchase Made Easy”.
Lead Generation Plan
Leads will be generated through the following tactics:
- Advertising in local newspapers: Each will specifically advertise the upcoming information sessions as well as encourage direct calls from home buyers looking for an agent. Often those moving from other communities with the northern suburbs as a target will purchase these newspapers when looking at real estate listings.
- Advertising in Melbourne Age real estate section: To better target couples intending to move to the suburbs.
- Free monthly listing bulletin: This short, printed bulletin will be printed on a monthly-basis and distributed to local community centres, general stores, restaurants, and other areas where a small pile can be offered in an entryway to visitors. The bulletin will encourage direct calls about listings as well as attendance at the upcoming information sessions.
- Online pay-per-click advertising: Local PPC search engine ads around keywords such as “northern suburbs real estate,” “Melbourne northern suburbs homes,” “Melbourne commuter home,” etc.
- Local radio ads: Featuring short statements about the experience of working with Local Realtors by past clients and information on the upcoming information sessions.
- Client referrals: Requested after closings and rewarded with gift certificates.
- Professional referrals: From professional offices serving the same target market as Local.
Local Realtors will target referrals from the following sources:
- Past clients
- Baby stores and service providers
- Financial Advisors
- Mortgage brokers and bankers
One month after closing a sale, Local Realtors will speak with the past client, setting an appointment to visit them at home if possible, and deliver a customer satisfaction survey. At this time, the agent will ask the past client if they can provide the names of other friends, colleagues or family who are thinking about buying a first home in the northern suburbs. The agent will request the name, phone number, and email address of the referrals and carry a pad which the client can write the information on directly. The agent will specifically ask the client for their consent to contact these prospects and let them know who referred them. The agent will explain that the company thanks past clients for every referral that closes with a $250 gift certificate to a local home goods store.
Baby stores and service providers (such as classes for parents and children) are another possible source of referrals. As they work with couples with new children who are potentially moving into a home as their family grows, these businesses will be informed of a similar deal for referrals that close on deals through Local Realtors. They will be given a $250 office supply store gift certificate for every referral that closes.
Accountants, financial advisors, and mortgage brokers/bankers may be working with people who are saving up a down payment in the hope of buying a first home. They are in a position to refer these clients to Local Realtors if the clients are thinking of buying in the northern suburbs. Local will reach out to these offices with information and an offer of the same $250 office supply store gift certificate for every referral that closes.
Lead Conversion Plan
Local will use its initial appointment with a prospective client as the main tool to convert them into a client. When clients inquire, they will be asked to come into the office for a meeting where they will learn everything they would like to know about buying their first home as well as about how Local works. These appointments will not be hard pitches where a client is pressed with all of the reasons to work with Local. Instead, they will attempt to show the client the specific expertise of Local by answering their specific questions and providing general advice relevant to first-time home buyers. Through this process, the prospect will also learn about the care that Local takes in its process with clients in order to make sure they are comfortable before each decision and have all of the relevant information they need.
These people will be invited to the monthly information sessions, described earlier, which show both the direct expertise of the company through his presentations and Local Realtors’ genuine desire to make the home buying process easier by bringing in experts from related fields (renovation, landscaping, school system, mortgage brokers, bankers, financial advisors, and other even other real estate agents).
The service experience of Local Realtors will be characterized by going above and beyond the level of care and empathy shown by most real estate agents. By doing this, Local will show clients that they understand the home buying process from an emotional and psychological perspective as well as from a technical perspective.
Care will be taken during the process to measure and maintain customer satisfaction. Loyalty will be built among the company’s champions through participation in the monthly information sessions.
Loyalty Product/Service Offerings
Champions (those who have referred at least five others) will be rewarded for referrals with gift certificates, as mentioned. Furthermore, they will periodically be invited to take part in new homeowner panels at the monthly information sessions. This will offer the homeowner a chance to share information they wish they had known about first-time home buying alongside other first-time homeowners (some who were not Local clients). Ideally, these panels will further cement the past client’s identification with and connection with Local Realtors and be a source of some pride, as most public speaking opportunities are. Their contribution to these events will also serve to advertise their satisfaction with the process of working with Local Realtors in the past.
As mentioned previously, satisfaction surveys will be given to past clients one month after their closing, to allow for their life to settle down after this busy period and the moving period. These will be hand-delivered by the company to the past client to further impress upon them the importance of the survey. They will be requested within one week of that delivery. Satisfaction surveys will be entered into a table so that the results can be reviewed quantitatively.
Customer Service Process
This customer service process will be led by a checklist used by the agent to make sure they have discussed key areas of the process, asked the important questions, and allowed ample time for the client to ask questions. This checklist will be reviewed and added to whenever additional items come up which should be included. The checklist will serve to guarantee that key tasks are taken care of for each client so that the agent can think beyond the basics to what else can be done to wow the client.
Customer satisfaction will be measured with the post-closing customer satisfaction survey, mentioned earlier. This survey will rate all areas as “highly unsatisfactory,” “unsatisfactory,” “satisfactory,” “highly satisfactory,” and “delightful.” Clients will be asked to provide specific written feedback on all areas marked at either extreme. The results will be entered into a database by the office assistant and a monthly report on customer satisfaction generated. Any unsatisfactory remarks will be reported directly.
During the customer service process, a few tactics will be used to wow clients:
- Local will devote no less than 30 minutes to helping clients prioritize what they are looking for in their home purchase.
- Clients generally become more and more overwhelmed and discouraged the more houses they have to see. When viewing the fifth house Local will give the client a small gift (gourmet cookies, chocolates, etc.). Local will repeat this with the tenth house and every five houses after that point.
Local Realtors will fit marketing activities in on a daily and weekly basis through the following disciplines:
- Devoting 9 to 10 am every morning to the marketing “theme” of the month
- Devoting a weekly time, Monday 1 pm to 3 pm, to review the last week’s numbers against projections and previous weeks
- Devoting a weekly time, Friday 1 pm to 2 pm, to schedule work on the marketing theme as well as other marketing activities for the next week
- The office assistant will be responsible for handling all incoming calls during these times and making sure they stay clear on the office schedule
Local Realtors will hire an additional agent at the point when we can no longer handle the volume of clients, which is projected to be we have eight clients at a time, if not earlier.
The Milestones table represents the key development activities over the next year as new systems are implemented and old systems are redesigned or updated.
Monthly Marketing Theme
- Information session design review & planning
- Monthly bulletin
- Professional referral program
- Customer satisfaction survey process
- Tactics to maintain contact with satisfied customers
- Marketing Kit
- Advertising methods
- Marketing training process
- Customer referral program
- How-to guide
The key drivers of increased revenue will be improvements in the lead conversion rate and more overall leads. Increases in the average commission as more luxury and standard homes are sold relative to apartmentswill also contribute the revenue growth. These critical numbers will be tracked by salesforce.com, the firm’s sales and lead information database, and QuickBooks, the firm’s accounting software. Additional software will pull results from both programs into custom reports.
The commissions on home sales are broken into three categories which represent the average commissions for homes in their category.
- Apartments average $400,000 for a $9,600 average commission.
- Standard homes from $800,000 to $1 million are expected to average $900,000 per sale for an $21,600 average commission.
- Luxury home sales range from $1 million to $3 million and average $1.8 million per sale for a $43,200 average commission.
Unit sales will increase over the next year through the marketing efforts of Local Realtors alone. By the end of the year he will bring on an additional new agent and add more agents over the next two years. Direct costs include travel costs and gifts given to clients.
Marketing Expense Budget
The marketing expenses listed will generally rise with inflation over the next two years, except for referrals which are expected to account for an increasing number of the leads each year. Advertising will be increased in the spring and summer months to better publicize larger monthly information sessions. However, even during the off-peak home buying seasons these information sessions will continue to cultivate prospects.
Other expenses remain regular in order to continue to cultivate suspects who may start thinking about moving months or years before they are ready to buy. The direct mailing, sent out every other month, will cost $1,500 each time it is mailed. The monthly information session has a budget of $1,500. Some months will be more extensive events and will exceed this budget and other months will be more intimate events with only the company owner speaking, and will be under $1,500.
Gift certificates of $250 given out to customers for referrals and testimonials, and fees for the videographer and copywriter used for creating case studies, are also included.
2018 2019 2020
Advertising $41,000 $42,640 $44,346
Information Sessions $18,000 $18,720 $19,469
Direct Mail $9,000 $9,360 $9,734
Website $6,000 $6,240 $6,490
Testimonials: Gift Certificates $3,750 $4,500 $5,000
Testimonials: Videographer/copywriter $7,500 $9,000 $10,000
Referral Program $5,250 $8,750 $10,000
———— ———— ————
Total Sales and Marketing Expenses $90,500 $99,210 $105,038
Percent of Sales 8.71% 7.59% 6.08%
Key Marketing Metrics
Leads generated will often not convert into clients for months, and those clients will not yield revenue for additional months. Leads are somewhat seasonal, as fewer house hunters search in the winter and fewer closings occur in those months. Referrals will yield a growing portion of sales and will be generated by an increasing number of clients and other sources. Testimonials are now secured from roughly 50% of clients and the goal is to increase that number to 75%.
Key Marketing Metrics
2018 2019 2020
Revenue $1,700,000 $1,900,000 $2,200,000
Leads 692 830 996
Leads Converted 15.50% 23.00% 25.00%
Avg. Transactions/Customer 1 1 1
Avg. $/Customer $11,610 $12,696 $13,605
Referrals 144 152 160
PR Mentions 37 72 79
Testimonials 49 72 95
Other 0 0 0