Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Robert Luna, and I’m the Director of Business Development over here at Diverse Solutions. My job is to work with the executives at MLS’s, associations, and large brokers who are interested in our dsSearchAgent IDX solution, our AgentCast websites, and all of the other products we offer. My background and experience has given me a unique perspective in the real estate software industry, and I hope that I’ll be able to share some of that knowledge with this blog’s readers now and in the future.

Earlier today, I heard a coworker telling a story about a broker in need of a company website. The broker hired somebody who is a “web developer” to create a real estate broker site. Over 3000 dollars and six months into the project, the broker was frustrated and still didn’t have a site. Sounds hard to believe, right?

Unfortunately, these stories are more common than you might think. We’ve all heard the adage that “there is no free lunch.” Well, here’s another classic: “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” My point is that you must make some time to set up a marketing plan, and since we all know that there really is no free lunch, you will need to roll up your sleeves do some research, make a plan, and follow through.

When I started doing sales twenty years ago, I was given a copy of Zig Ziglar’s Secrets Of Closing The Sale. My manager told me that it was “the salesman’s bible,” and that if I wanted to be a professional at sales, I would need to study to develop my skills. Today, I have an entire library of sales literature and have attended more conferences and seminars than I can count. In a similar fashion, today’s real estate professional is expected to be the expert by his/her clients and have all the answers.

That being said, in order to be a real estate professional, you will need to keep up with current events and have a definite marketing plan. Following are a few tips to get you started.

Step 1 Write down you goals. What are you looking to accomplish, and how soon are you planning on accomplishing it? Once you have something down on paper, you’d be amazed at how much more motivated you will be to keep those goals.

Step 2 Define your target area. Too many Realtors® bite off more than they can chew. Instead, you need to make sure that you are an expert within your area.

Step 3 Create a marketing budget you can live with and track the results. For example, if you’re spending $1000 in print ads, and you generate ten leads, you will know that each lead cost you $100. Then, for each one of those leads, you should track your commission. By the end, you’ll have some good ideas on how to allocate your budget.

Step 4 Manage your time like your check book; after all, they’re both directly related. You should have a routine and set specific times for specific tasks. You’ll soon be surprised at how efficient you can be and how much more you can get done.

Step 5 Manage your web presence. Our AgentCast Pro website solution is exceptionally powerful and offers many “Web 2.0” features. One such feature is our dsAgentChat instant messaging technology which offers real-time chat with your website visitors. According to Stephan Swanepoel’s 2007 Trend Report, the majority of Internet real estate shoppers expect email responses within 30 minutes. With dsAgentChat, you can cut 30 minutes into mere seconds.

Step 6 Follow up on your website leads. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I have seen studies that show that up to 35% of the leads generated on an agent’s website are not followed up.

Step 7 Get social. Social networking tools such as Active Rain, Trulia Voices, Zillow Q&A, and even Facebook will help you stay fresh and relevant among many Internet users. In addition, you’ll find that more and more top producers across the nation are blogging on a regular basis, so this is something that you may want to consider getting into if are looking for a way to set yourself apart.

Step 8 Continue your education. Personal development will require you to set some time aside for training attending classes, reading, or attending seminars and conferences constantly continue to develop your skills.

Step 9 Reach out. I have met very few people who have told me that they enjoy cold-calling, and even fewer who have time set aside to do so. While it may be enjoyable to only a few, remember that everything you get out of your business is a direct result of what you put into it. Therefore, it may very well be time well spent for you to reach out and try cold-calling every once in a while.

Step 10 Network constantly. Many businesses within your area may have a constant flow of homeowners who visit their offices and / or use their services. Creating relationships with these businesses may be beneficial to you, your clients, them, and their clients, all at the same time!

What I have provided is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more ways that you can develop your knowledge and improve your marketing skills; just like everything else in life though, you’ll have to wisely commit to the decisions you make with your time and financial resources.