by Rebekah Carlson

The HOW'S of Marketing

As American author Maya Angelou once said, "People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you made them feel.”


Last week we welcomed back Bekah Carlson for a second webinar, called the HOW’S of Marketing. Bekah is the Founder & CEO of marketing consulting firm Carlson Integrated as well as the Immediate Past President of NICAR, the Northern Illinois Commercial Association of Realtors®, an organization for which she was named 2017 Realtor® of the Year. This webinar is a sequel to her last webinar, The WHYS of Marketing. Thank you Bekah for sharing your marketing expertise and tips with us. The following are excerpts from the transcript: 

If you asked 10 people what the definition of marketing is you would get 10 different answers. And, if you asked the same 10 people HOW to do marketing, you would get another 10 different answers. I am going to share with you today my philosophy behind the HOW’S of Marketing. 


How we choose to market has the ability to create impressions of our credibility, our professionalism, and our relevance to our marketplaces.

When I did the first marketing webinar with Quantum Listing last year, I focused on the broad reasons that we do marketing, which sets the groundwork for this conversation today.  It was the WHYS of Marketing

Okay, yes, I will admit to liking acronyms – all the better to remember and implement – right? 

Have a plan.

For me, this includes two primary elements: a calendar and a map.  You need both. Having a calendar ensures that you have your scheduling taken care of. Even when you have a client in town from out of state or a pandemic hits your country and your kids are home from school (and hanging from the rafters, like mine are), the calendar ensures that you are staying on track of change and interruptions that happen to every schedule. The map involves determining your voice and your flow, what you say and how often you say it. 


Starting with a calendar gives you the opportunity to look at things from a big picture on a multi-level scale. You can market your programs on various platforms in different ways – and see it all on your calendar. Your calendar also enables you to have what you need when you need it.

Here are the categories on my March company marketing calendar.  I selected the categories Social Media, Eblasts, Events, and Conferences.  I have other clients who have additional lines for public relations, giveaways/client engagement, specific acquisitions initiatives or whatever.  Each client’s plan is tailored to the scope of our engagement and their active initiatives.  

For social media, in addition - or as part of - our daily feed, I wanted to include some specific promotions, including the promotion of this webinar.  For eblasts, our quarterly newsletter needed to go out as well as regular property eblasts. We have a collaborative team, so we did ours in google sheets. You could just as easily do it in an online calendar program or Microsoft Teams or even a paper calendar. Whichever method works best for you is what you should use. The process can grow and change as you grow and change.  It’s just incredibly helpful to get a yearly perspective and then break it down to view a month at a time.

Prior to CI, I was able to work for years with the family that started the Sportmart sporting goods chain.  It was a publicly traded company in the 1990’s, with stores in the US and abroad. I met them after they had sold the company, but the legacy of their success as merchants and marketers still permeated our office environment.  The founder and patriarch, Larry Hochberg, used to say “the road to hell is paved with unfinished newsletters.” He’s not wrong. It’s hard to start something like that and keep it going.

It takes intentionality.  And that’s why a calendar is crucial.



The other piece that is vital is a map.  It is going to guide you on your marketing journey. What is the map going to do for you? It is going to determine your voice and flow. Many of you know what voice and flow are but let’s take a minute to discuss their definitions. Voice is how you say things. Even on print there is a voice that we lend to our company. The voice ties back to the company and what its brand is. 

Flow is how am I going to convey my voice through my marketing. Am I going to post on social media every day? What time am I going to post?

 How do you want your company to SOUND.  What are your goals? Where are you going?  We include it in our social media schedule – where our goals are brand awareness, promoting clients, professional & credible presence, and our clients following us.  What characteristics make up your mission? Take the time to write them down and develop them. Does everyone at the company know what your mission is?

At Carlson Integrated, we determined that we want to share our knowledge – from articles to marketing tidbits to brief case studies, we have a sharing mission.  This is not just because we want clients. In fact, enabling internal teams to facilitate their own marketing is incredibly important to us. So, if you follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or sign up for our newsletters, or even talk with us at an event, you’ll find a consistent mission – to help people.  Now, for many of us in commercial real estate, and as a managing broker with a team under me, the language is very professional. Matter of fact transaction reporting, with not a lot of enthusiasm or exclamation points. That’s okay! The most important element is authenticity. The flow is simply marrying the voice with the calendar to determine how often you want to provide your messages to your audience and what you want to say.  


I created a sample map for a fictional company, Successful Realty.  They have three goals to articulate – Success for Clients, Success for their Team, Success for their Community.  Each one of these has some key elements – and there is a lot of crossover between the categories, but this will help you get an idea of how this company can be positioned.  The messaging style should be consistent in all of the marketing – print materials, website, social media, press releases, etc.  


Operationalize your plan.

Who should be hearing from you – and who should find you?

What should they be seeing about you and from you?

When are they looking?  You must assume that people check you out online before they ever call you.  Because there is a strong reality that you may not know exactly when your prospects are looking, staying front of mind is of the utmost importance utilizing social media.  

Where are they looking?  Google and LinkedIn can and should be places where you are easily located and tell your story. Keep in mind that people can and will search for you and your company on social media.  Another small but important thing you can do for your own website is to make sure you have an SSL certificate – this tells the browser that your site is “safe” to visit. Because so many roads lead to your website, this costs about $100/year and sets instant credibility.  You can also develop relationships with connectors and referral sources within your network. Never discount the importance of building your network.

Why are your clients – past and present – working with you?  Tap into these whys to develop your messaging.

How can you improve what you’re doing now, and take it to the next level?  Your end goal is always to appear a professional, credible organization.

Now you can dedicate the appropriate resources to follow your calendar and map.


Where your customers and prospects are, there you shall be.

Where are you going?  Is there a geographical or product specialization that you are chasing?  Have you identified the niche that fuels your passion and your pocketbook?   Where is your experience credible? Where do you network? Where is your organizational involvement aligning with your company’s mission?  Pulling together all of these facets is extremely helpful in streamlining your approach.


Last year, we worked with a couple of incredible Chicago real estate companies to develop vivid vision statements.  We were given the pages of notes, handwritten by the CEO’s, detailing their goals for each department of their company.  After a couple of weeks working closely with their executive teams, we were able to quantify each set of notes into concise and actionable vision statements.  These included how their stakeholders – both employees AND clients - would perceive the companies long-term, as well as defining the scope and quality of the services they provide.  I encourage you to take some time to develop your vision and your strategy to make sure those are in alignment with your customers and prospects.

And when it comes to marketing, the logical next step is to be there.  Market to the right audience. If not, you will be spending your time, energy and resources marketing to a group that is not your market.   Define your target market audience and analyze their behavior.

Be active in those locations, industries and markets that will feed your pipeline.  Make sure the language you use resonates with them. If your clients are not highly technical, don’t speak in jargon.  If your business is based on relationships with real estate professionals all over the country, connect through social media (especially LinkedIn) and get active in a national organization.  Utilize a dashboard that connects all of your technology in one place. I use CRE Collaborative (, which connects everything together. It holds listings but also allows me to promote them to social media and to connect with brokers outside of my geographic area. And, I can even connect my QuantumListing profile on’s so it’s certainly something that expands my market and my presence far beyond my geographical boundaries. 


Why an apostrophe?  This one is super important, actually.  It’s a gut check. It’s a reminder to take a breath and remember why you are doing it.  Why does marketing matter to you, to your business, to your clients? Are you looking at pieces that should be investments into your business (such as web presence, public relations, and general social media) as advertising pieces and calculating a completely inaccurate ROI and getting frustrated?  Are you overwhelmed with all the pieces? One good decision, one step in the right direction at a time. Just give yourself some deadlines to ensure it comes together, and it will. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – it’s okay to do it imperfectly and piecemeal a bit.


Stay consistent.

Algorithms matter.  Infrequency affects visibility when it comes to social media.  We don’t get to pick who sees the various posts that go on social media.  Did you know that? There are complex algorithms that change on a regular basis and are intrinsic to the various platforms that determine who sees your posts. There are factors that are outside of the user’s control when it comes to perceived effectiveness.  

There are times of day that are most effective for posting – times that your network is most likely to be checking their social media.  There are also graphic preferences that social media has – like not including your logo on every post because it then thinks it is just advertising.  Instagram doesn’t allow active links other than the one in the bio. Facebook doesn’t like it when you post article links that send people outside of Facebook.  LinkedIn doesn’t like square pictures. Twitter now considers posts as spam if they have multiple hashtags. We do our best to keep up with the algorithms and modify our clients’ feeds accordingly.  Posting regularly tells your social media platforms that you are an active user, which they like and makes them include your post on your contacts’ feeds. So when I say algorithms matter, it’s an overall recognition that keeping current on the various platforms will enable your content to be seen by more people.

Some people open eblasts.  Some people do not. People who NEVER open them are probably being filtered by a spam filter and may not be actually seeing them.  This is a sad but painless scenario. People who occasionally open them are people who know you, like you, and actually care about what you have to say about your business. As most people who do social media know, audiences and consumers have changed their behavior over the past number of months, doing fewer “likes” and engagements with their feeds, and more plain old scrolling.  The desired analytics of “clicks” have accordingly dropped.  

Analytics are incredibly helpful but they can also not tell the full story so it’s really important to make sure that using our ongoing, consistent activity we are harnessing the engagement of a much larger population than ever.  Tracking the right stuff is crucial to be able to understand the effectiveness of what you are doing.  

Staying consistent is easy - not always seeing results in the manner you thought you would can be challenging. Have a holistic approach and stay the course.


Thanks for participating in the HOW’S of Marketing!

This probably goes without saying, but my final recommendation to develop your own marketing program is to have fun.  Don’t let the awkwardness of never really marketing before get in your way. Don’t let the articles and the hints and the overwhelming amount of helpful-yet-confusing information out there on best practices distract you from your clear purpose.  Calendar, plan, audience and consistency are your goals.