Market Like a Pro
Keller Williams associate Julie Hopkins of Park City, Utah, knows the power of a sound and consistent marketing plan, and it starts with writing your story.
The avid downhill skier ran $100 million marketing departments for companies like Mrs. Fields, Sharper Image and Park City Mountain Resort before jumping feet first into residential real estate.
When Hopkins set up shop in her Utah ski town, one of the first steps she took was to craft a marketing plan fit for a Fortune 500 company. Hopkins says that marketing – your listings, your business, and yourself – is a crucial component to every agent’s business plan. And it’s one that will bring in both new and repeat business when done right.
“You can spend money really fast in real estate,” says Hopkins. “You have to appropriate your funds in a smart way. Try something, and if it’s not working, don’t waste time – discontinue it.”
Hopkins had an impressive career in high-end marketing after earning her MBA. She also taught marketing in the MBA program at The University of Utah, and consulted for companies such as Walmart, PetSmart’s vet services, and the Toyota Dealers Association. But the long hours and the long commute were wearing on her
“I came home every day exhausted,” she says. “I wasn’t happy. I quit my job without knowing what I was going to do.”
For a while after, Hopkins did consulting work for high-end luxury brand brokerages and quickly became a top 10 individual agent at Prudential Utah Real Estate, now Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. Then, Hopkins decided to join Keller Williams and start her own real estate business.
“When I branched out on my own, I was scared,” Hopkins says. “But when I did, I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. I still work long hours, but I’m energized by it – I love it and it makes me happy.”
Market Your Business like a Fortune 500 Company
Hopkins says the first step to creating a successful real estate marketing plan is to develop your story or personal brand. Your brand is the way you present yourself and your business to the world; it’s what sets you apart from other agents.
“It’s everything from your logo to how you write about yourself to how you present yourself visually,” says Hopkins. “It’s even how you answer the phone,” she says, noting a huge difference between a “Hello?” and an upbeat “Hi, this is Julie, how can I help you?”
Hopkins’ personal story of growing up in a ski town and knowing the mountain lifestyle, resort town dynamics and how to make a home is attractive for her clients: buyers coming to make Park City their home, as well as buyers looking for a second home to escape the city or to use as an investment property.
Hopkins’ website makes her a relatable local expert with pictures of mountain vistas, cozy homes with fireplaces, and herself smiling on the area ski slopes. She also includes insider information on her favorite local restaurants and a Park City events listings page as well as her community involvement on several nonprofit boards
Your Business Marketing Plan
To hone in on your brand and create a successful marketing plan, first define your target audience – what are they looking for, what is their price range and how do they get their news and stay informed? Once you have that, you can choose the right marketing vehicles for your business. Hopkins sticks with a few core marketing strategies that have consistently worked for her, but also leaves room to experiment.
For agents starting out, says Hopkins, pick one or two marketing vehicles and do them consistently. Hopkins commits to sending an email with tips and trends to her network on the same day each month. Sometimes when work is busy, she’s tempted to skip it, but “I just force myself to do it and it always pays off ,” she says.
For listings, Hopkins is meticulous. “A lot of agents take a listing and put it on the MLS and then think that’s it,” she says. “But it’s so much more.” Agents must think about what makes a home unique and who the future owner might be.
“I take great pride in looking at a home and thinking about what sets it apart from other homes and why someone would want to buy it. Then I use that information to craft a marketing message and campaign to get it sold.”
Hopkins also tries to be at as many showings as possible to overcome objections, hear what buyers are saying and then fine-tune her marketing and her approach to get it sold.
She believes her background in competitive skiing has also served her well in real estate, giving her a healthy drive to “win.” She also credits Keller Williams with her success.
“Keller Williams believes in individuality and promotes entrepreneurism, but they also support you when you need it. It’s a great fit for me.”
Keep Expenses in Line
Hopkins keeps very close tabs on her marketing expenses, tracking everything in a spreadsheet, and is extremely selective about the ads she chooses to place. She typically receives at least one sales phone call a day, from a grocery store or a television station, asking her to advertise. “You really have to sort through the ideas so you can be smart about your marketing spend,” she says.
For inexpensive marketing strategies, agents might consider a co-op ad, or a print ad shared by several agents, she says. Email blasts and social media posts are also effective and free ways to reach out to your network. But Hopkins still believes in traditional marketing media as well, for example direct mail.
“A lot of agents have moved away from that, but I still believe in it, right or wrong,” she says. The best approach, says Hopkins: one that balances both new and traditional media.
OutFront 14.1 Coming Soon
Julie Hopkins' story is one of many featured in our upcoming edition of OutFront magazine. The magazine focuses on the Keller Williams advantage and success strategies among our associates across the world.
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Story written by: Deborah Blumberg