What do songwriters, sculptors, and marketers have in common? For Robbie English, they all make forms of art.

“The art of marketing is not for the faint of heart. Many REALTORS® do not understand what it takes to plan and implement a true marketing strategy,” says English, a Texas REALTORS® instructor whose courses include Real Estate Marketing Reboot.

English says REALTORS® who are successful at marketing are those who take the time to identify their target audience, implement a process and make a plan, and follow it.

Stephen Etzel, a Texas REALTORS® instructor whose courses include GRI Marketing and REALTOR® Launch, says the biggest mistakes he sees REALTORS® make are not having a plan of action and goals. “Before beginning any marketing efforts, think of five key focuses: budget, audience, strategy, tracking, and resources you need.”

Build the Right Budget

If you’re not thinking strategically about your budget, you will waste time on efforts that bring lower returns. Amy Smythe-Harris, a Texas REALTORS® instructor who teaches REALTOR® Launch and GRI Marketing, says it’s important to review your marketing campaign, business plan, and budget in tandem to determine where to best invest your money.

“Mailings for just listed and just sold, or geographic or economic farm areas may fit your business strategy, but make sure you are weighing the cost of producing and mailing them with being able to track the results,” says Smythe-Harris. “Social media marketing is popular, but do your research! It needs to be the right fit to further your business goals.”

Smythe-Harris also suggests knowing when it’s worth your budget to outsource certain tasks. “Like a lot of other REALTORS®, you may not feel comfortable having someone else do things on your behalf. I have found it beneficial for my practice to outsource certain things that I could do but would take time away from prospecting or marketing.”

For instance, Etzel says he often sees REALTORS® try to save money by building their own website, especially since it’s become easier to do. “There is more to a site than looks,” he says. “Hiring a professional to create and market your site could free up your time to focus on other tasks to generate income.”

Know Your Audience

Etzel says it’s important to know your target market and understand the tools they use. While direct mail may work in certain farm areas, you may need to create an online marketing campaign to reach an audience of those ages 24 to 40.

He also sees agents overlook opportunities to market to local consumers and emphasize their local knowledge. “National marketing does have advantages, but most consumers searching for a home want to work with an area specialist.”

Tina Wilcher, an instructor for courses including Communicating Your Worth to Buyers and Sellers and REALTOR® Launch, says all agents should know their value proposition, or what skills they bring to the table. “Things of value that agents offer to clients are knowledge of contracts, awareness of market conditions, access to properties, and most important, negotiation skills. Highlighting your skillsets that will exclusively benefit your target audience can help generate new business opportunities,” she says.

Track Your Efforts

“Tracking conversions is the best way to measure the success level of your marketing campaign,” says English. “While we initially want to inspire consumers to respond, once they have, we need to develop a relationship with the leads to create trust, value, and enhance their ability to remember us above all other similar marketers.”

Etzel suggests asking those who call, email, or text you how they found you. And for online activity, Smythe-Harris recommends using social media trackers such as Twitter Counter, Facebook Analytics, and Google Analytics to help you determine what type of content is most engaging to your followers.

Don’t Lose Sight of What Works

Many REALTORS® have found success using online tools to broaden their marketing reach. For instance, Etzel says he’s seen success when REALTORS® offer opportunities for consumers to be included in marketing efforts, like a starring role in a YouTube video.

But Wilcher says although social media marketing has skyrocketed, there is still value in word-of-mouth marketing. “NAR research shows that many consumers find both their REALTOR® and property online. For this reason, many agents have given up on traditional word-of- mouth marketing,” says Wilcher. “However, I find that one of the most effective marketing strategies is personal referrals. People seem to have confidence and place trust in a REALTOR® who someone they know, like, and trust has referred them to.”