Now that we’ve started the new year, the thought of every self-employed real estate service provider (Realtor, property manager, mortgage broker, etc.) should be turning to “What do I need to improve my income this year?“. Now is the time for reflection and determining what needs to be done to learn from past mistakes and ensure success for 2010.

I’m no different. As I have been talking with real estate service professionals over the past few weeks, I realize that less than 50% are working with a current marketing plan. When I ask what the goals are for the upcoming year, the responses are typically very general about ‘getting more business’ and/or ‘improving income’, without a supporting action plan. IMHO, if your goals are to get more business and improve your income, these aren’t goals that need to be stated … these are the underpinning of every business person’s psyche and should be understood to be everyone’s goals.

One constant that will impact the upcoming year is that the real estate industry is change  — if it’s not the regulatory side, then consumer buying habits are changing, the type and availability of product inventory, and vendors selling habits continue to change. For those that have been in the business for a few years, it’s sometimes easy to rely on what served us well in the past, and not update our marketing goals based on upcoming change. People entering the industry are not making that mistake, especially the younger and/or hungrier Realtors and Mortgage Brokers. They are using every tool in their marketing arsenal to create a niche and get themself known.

So perhaps the better question is; “What are the things that are going to consume your time and energy that will contribute to getting more business and improving your income?” Many of the people that I have spoken with have not taken the time to plan their activities for the upcoming months, and factor in the regulatory/industry/product/communications changes that will have an impact.

What can you do in the the next few days that will help?

Creating a Marketing Plan starts with a realistic assessment of where you are right now. In the next few days of relative relaxation you have the opportunity to learn from others what they are doing, and assess how the regulatory/marketing/technology changes will impact you. Take your best guess about the upcoming changes. Some are known.  Regulatory changes, such as planned tax increases will provide some positive market movement before their implementation.

Other issues, such as formulating an online promotions/communications strategy might mean that you have to educate yourself about how social media marketing works, and how you participate. Here are some online marketing ideas to start with:

  1. Write about the neighborhoods that you work in or want to work in. Better yet, work out a relationship with someone to share the workload. You new best friend(s) could be a local flower retailer, community organizations, banker …. whoever also wants to create local content and needs another distribution channel.

  2. Take and publish photos and local walking videos

  3. Collect and syndicate hyperlocal content (see #1)

  4. Promote local services, such as retailers. It’s a Win-Win situation.

Lastly, consider the content management environment that you need to achieve your newfound online marketing goals. A house is built from the foundation upwards, and so is an online communciations/marketing plan. Don’t get caught up in the trap of spending too much time creating and managing content, and not enough doing your business. Have a strategy to achieve both elements of your marketing plan.

Welcome to the New Year. It’s already a time of excitement and change. Take a few days to get prepared .. and enjoy a prosperous 2010!