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Marketing as a stepping stone to the future.

On the cusp of celebrating the firm's 20th Anniversary in 1996, Joseph Hilton Associates (JHA) is focused not on Our past but on our future. Our firm's leadership, Joseph Hilton, chairman, and Mariyon Robertson, president, values a well-defined, aggressive marketing strategy implemented over the long term as an integral stepping stone to that future.

Rather than just a support mechanism, marketing at JHA is viewed as a highly proactive function that helps to shape and steer the firm's development.

As an indication of its commitment to marketing, JHA has spent the past year focusing a great deal of its attention and resources internally to establish the marketing strategy and building blocks needed to effectively carry the firm into the next chapter of its history. Now that the foundation has been established, JHA can focus its efforts on taking an aggressive approach to the market.

The following steps as undertaken by JHA in the development of its marketing plan, serve as a useful model on which other real estate firms to structure their approach:

Step One: Where Are We Going?

Prior to designing a marketing plan to support a firm's goals, a firm must form a strong collective vision of where it is headed. Although priorities may shift to fit the specific requirements of a firm, the fundamental purpose of developing and launching a comprehensive marketing plan is to increase the recognition of an organization in the business community as a provider of quality service.

As basic as it may seem, developing a clear vision as to the long-term direction of a firm is a difficult task. The undertaking is further complicated for a brokerage house due to the fine line it must walk between weighing the identity of the house against the identities of its individual brokers. While it is important for each broker to be given the room he needs to cultivate his own market, an umbrella must be created by the organization under which a clear image and set of standards is established for the whole.

Determining the direction of an organization is ultimately the responsibility of its core leadership. However, the process through which a marketing plan is developed is one of the most powerful vehicles an organization has to not only address such pivotal issues but also to act upon them on an on-going basis.

To protect the value of its marketing plan as a firm initiative through which the direction of the firm may be defined, JHA ensures that every marketing effort in which the firm invests its resources advances the marketing goals of the entire organization not just one or two individuals.

Step Two: How Long Will It Take?

To ensure the success of any marketing plan, a firm must be willing to make a long-term commitment to marketing as an integral part of its business plan and daily operation. Although each new brochure piece or tombstone ad may have a short-term impact on the visibility of a firm in the marketplace, it takes a highly consistent approach over the long-term to build a strong position for any organization.

Although emphasis on particular tools may vary over time, the success of the marketing plan will depend upon the firm's ability to deliver the same message to the market on a continuous basis. For example, having made a concentrated effort in the past year to focus the firm's attention inward on the development of collateral materials and the infrastructure required to support the firm's marketing function, JHA will focus its attention in the upcoming year on building a pro-active public relations and advertising campaign around our 20th Anniversary and strong deal activity.

Step Three: Do I Need a Map to Get There?

To successfully deliver its message, a firm must be willing to work all of the angles by shaping a rich combination of marketing tools that includes: collateral materials, public relations, advertising campaigns, promotions, seminars and direct mail pieces. Although the balance of tools utilized will shift according to the message being sent, as well as to the audience to which it is being sent, a firm cannot afford to disappear on any one front.

Among the identity pieces JHA has developed in the past year to reflect our goals as an organization are: a new logo, name and letterhead; a commercial real estate map of New York City; a firm brochure; corporate advertisements; a leasing manual; and subleasing flyers.

In many ways a firm identity piece, whether it is a map or a brochure, should be regarded as a type of "bigger, better and more expensive business card." Even if a prospective client doesn't sit down to read each line of the brochure - and most of them won't - the appearance of the brochure including such particulars as the weight and texture of the paper will set the tone for the manner in which he will regard the firm from that point forward. In many instances, the firm's collateral materials are responsible for creating the first and often most lasting impression on the client as to the organization's image, message and manner in which it conducts business.

In creating collateral materials for a firm, it is critical to build a family of graphic and contextual themes that run through each piece. Marketing rule number one: repetition is good. Repetition is also necessary, when you are laying the groundwork for a comprehensive, long-term marketing effort. Rather than re-invent the wheel each time someone sits down to develop a piece -even if it is a simple flyer - build upon the previous themes that have been established. Redundancy - when used appropriately - ensures the biggest bang for your buck and your message.

Step Four: Who's Job is It, Anyway?

Marketing by committee is seldom successful and frequently dangerous. Without question, a ground-swell of support in all ranks of a company is necessary to ensure the long-term success of a plan. However, responsibility for the development of the plan and its implementation is best placed in a marketing professional working in tandem with one or two leaders of the firm.

A comprehensive marketing campaign is a serious undertaking and a full-time job that cannot be put on hold for six months because the person responsible for it is completing a transaction. Instead, the marketing effort must be spearheaded each day of the week by someone accountable for leading and coordinating the multiplicity of marketing tasks.

At JHA, it is my responsibility as the Director of Marketing to shape the marketing plan - paint the picture, if you will - in response to the firm's goals as defined by JHA's leadership. Once the picture is complete, Joe Hilton, Mariyon Robertson and I step back and evaluate it to ensure that it is consistent with the direction of the firm.

It is then my responsibility in conjunction with our marketing coordinator, David Platter, to develop the tools, and implement the marketing plan on a daily basis. Although JHA uses consultants to assist in areas such as graphic design, the marketing program possesses a strength that only the involvement of a full-time, in-house marketing team can offer.

Step Five: Is Anybody Home?

Any firm has three target audiences to which to market its products or services: the business community from which a firm hopes to draw clients; the professional community of which the firm is a member; and the in-house community of the firm itself. While priorities may shift with respect to the balance of the three communities, the overall success of any marketing plan will be contingent upon sending a message of consistent character, quality and presentation to each audience.

Although often ignored, addressing the in-house audience should be a central component of any firm's marketing plan.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Focus on: Real Estate Marketing: Technology and Specialties Are Key to Marketing in the Nineties
Author:Habian, Joy Fedden
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Nov 15, 1995
Previous Article:Positioning your firm for success.
Next Article:Technology brings marketing revolution to real estate.

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