Leveraging Your Marketing Message

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We reveal a proven technique to increasing the effectiveness of your campaign that only requires putting a little foresight and planning into your individual marketing messages.

May 2005, An E-News Featured Article

Here at Hobbs/Herder, people are always asking us how to get the biggest bang from their marketing buck. In this article, we're going to share one proven technique. But before we tell you what it is, let's see what can be learned from a great marketer in a recent national ad campaign.

Bombarding the Marketplace

Earlier this year, McDonald's inundated the mass media with advertising that did two things: 1) Promoted the company's new Chicken Selects, and 2) Delivered the company's “I'm lovin' it” slogan and image. For several weeks during February and March, you could barely turn on your TV, listen to the radio, browse the Internet, drive through your town or open a newspaper without being reminded about McDonald's new Chicken Selects.

There were TV commercials. There were radio spots. There were bus bench advertisements. There were online banners and ads on various Internet sites. There were print ads in the newspaper. There were even TV commercials that featured the bus bench ads prominently.

Did It Work?

On April 21, McDonald's announced that 2005 first-quarter revenues had increased by nine percent over 2004's first quarter, and that comparable sales (stores that had been open for 13 months or more) had risen by 4.6 percent. McDonald's wasn't recently named “Marketer of the Year” by Advertising Age magazine for nothing. It's great marketing, not great hamburgers, that has made McDonald's what it is today.

Now, anyone who follows advertising knows that McDonald's is one of the biggest advertisers around. For this campaign, they had a designated budget and their objective was to get the most bang for their buck. So consider this - if, instead of focusing all of their advertising on Chicken Selects for that time period, McDonald's had attempted to deliver unique messages regarding 15 different menu items, do you think we would remember those ads? Would the campaign have made such a powerful impact? Of course not. It's the repetition of the message that made such a strong impression. Which brings to light the importance of a focused, planned marketing message that consistently delivers the same message for a given period of time. That's what leveraging your marketing message is all about.

Defining Leverage

Leverage is making sure that every dollar you spend is working together to build on each other and further your goals. By leveraging your marketing dollar, you create a more powerful impact. Your marketing dollars should not be having a tug of war; instead, they should all be pulling on the same end of the rope, pulling you nearer to your goals.
One more note on the McDonald's example: Whether or not people actually purchased Chicken Selects is not the point. The point is that the heightened awareness created by the leveraged marketing message got people thinking about - and eating at - McDonald's.

How You Can Do It

Leverage is a topic we discuss quite frequently within the pages of the Enews, but when we do, it's typically dealing with leveraging yourself through systems, staff, and other ways to stretch your personal effectiveness. This month is a little different in that we're applying the concept to the individual marketing messages you choose to deliver. We're not talking about the overall direction of your campaign and slogan, but instead the Powerkard messages, ad content and other individual messages you deliver throughout the year.
And while McDonald's Chicken Selects campaign may seem light years removed from your marketing efforts, there are more similarities than you might think. You want to: 1) Communicate your current marketing message (more on that in a minute), and 2) Deliver your personal image and slogan in every way possible.

For example, let's say you made the decision to offer a special report (such as those included in the materials given to Hobbs/Herder Gateway seminar attendees) as a marketing device. Spreading the word about the availability of this report then becomes your current “marketing message.” So what do you do next? For many agents, the answer would be to take out an ad promoting the special report, and that's it. Others might go one step further by taking out the ad and sending out a Powerkard message to offer the special report.

Making Leverage Work for You

Now let's take a look at an example of a leveraged marketing message:
You run an ad in the local newspaper(s).
* On the same day your ad offering the special report hits in the local newspaper, you've timed a Powerkard mailing with the same offer to arrive at every home in your farm.
* You have added the offer to your House Fliers placed in flier boxes on your listings.
* You have sent a high-quality E-mail to your farm offering the special report.
* Much earlier, you had written and disseminated a press release to local periodicals announcing your offer for a free consumer guide starting on that date.
* Any brochures you hand out during this time would also include an insert about your offer for the report.
* Your personal Web site would be updated to prominently offer the report to all visitors.
* If you're advertising on cable TV, you would begin using an alternate ending that offers the report.
* Taking it a step further, you could even have planned a speaking engagement on the topic of the report.

Your objective in leveraging your message is to have everything build on everything else. In relation to mass marketers like McDonald's, your budget is miniscule. That's why it's so important to get as much mileage as possible from each marketing message. Your ultimate goal is to get people thinking, “Wow, I've seen that everywhere” so that when they have a real estate need, your name is the first thing to pop into their mind. It becomes a natural conclusion. Just like if you said “fast food hamburgers,” the first thing in someone's mind is McDonald's, your name should be the first thing people think of when they hear the words “(Your Town) real estate.”

Don't Make this Mistake!
Hobbs/Herder's proven methodologies recommend delivering three “touches” to your farm each month. Many agents interpret this to mean that they need 36 different marketing messages (or pieces) each year. This is definitely not the case. First of all, at least half of your “touches” should be real estate credibility builders such as Just Listeds, Just Solds, market updates, testimonials and success stories. That leaves you with a maximum of 18 more mailings throughout the year. This is very important - there should be a certain amount of repetition in your messages. (That's the whole point of this article in a nutshell.) Do not be afraid to mail the same message to your farm more than once or twice a year.

Those 18 remaining mailings might only use four, five or six messages. That approach will be much more effective than if you tried to send 18 different messages. Agents often are so proud to have mapped out an entire year's worth of unique messages, but they have failed to build repetition into their campaign messages.

An Integral Component of Your Game Plan
Leveraging your marketing message needs to be looked at as an integral component of your overall game plan. It isn't confined only to special report offers. If you are running image ads in local newspapers and/or magazines, for example, you should send the same ad as an AdKard to your farm at the same time the ad runs in the publications. You could also feature the ad on the home page of your Web site. You could also send the ad to your E-mail farm via your MegaAgent E-mail farming capabilities.

Consistency vs. Leverage

We often talk about the importance of consistency in marketing because agents tend to get bored with their materials. A consistent, repeated image delivered over time will create your personal brand. Leverage is another form of repetition, although subtly different than the consistency that creates branding. Where branding is a linear process, leverage is akin to stacking your messages on top of each other simultaneously for maximum effectiveness.

What it all boils down to is this - don't let your message to sneak up on anybody; Instead, hit them over the head with it. You want it to be unavoidable, and that is possible to achieve in your farm area, even without McDonald's marketing budget.

You have already committed to marketing. The key now is to invest the time in planning your campaign for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. You cannot leverage your marketing message by the seat of your pants. It requires proper planning and mapping out a long-term marketing strategy (which you should be doing anyway - this is just another element of that process). We encourage you to take the time to strategically plan your campaign for maximum efficiency, or find someone to help you do so.