The real estate business is notorious for its highs and lows. Realtors are either too busy to think, or in a slump.Working on your business instead of just in it is a way to smooth out the peaks and valleys and have steady business all year round. That means planning and marketing. Or planning your marketing.Most Realtors wait to market until a slump begins, and that’s how the problem is created. It’s understandable – when things are hopping you’re doing well to keep up with all the appointments and are lucky to write a hurried ad for a new listing.This year, why not put your planning and marketing at the top of your list? Then you won’t feel obligated to take every single listing and every buyer that comes along. You’ll have steady work, which means steady income, and you won’t be under the kind of pressure that makes you work seven 12-hour days for several weeks each year.Start with choosing your target area, or your target buyers, or both. Then market toward those people.Think how much easier your life would be if your listings were all in the same geographical area. Do you really like it when a seller 20 miles from the office calls to tell you the flyer box is empty and you’re negligent for letting it get that way?But more than that, wouldn’t it make work simpler if you were able to really know every listing in your area, so that when you got a new one you’d know exactly which comps to choose for your market analysis – and know if they really did compare well because you’d seen their interiors?Knowing the entire real estate inventory also helps you with buyers. If they have 6 kids and need over-sized bedrooms to fit them all in, you’d know which houses to show.Then, the actual real estate marketing. Decide on a schedule. Once a month is good, but if your finances won’t allow that, mail every other month.You can alternate what you send. One month it could be a postcard, the next month your newsletter, the next month a letter in an envelope, then back to the newsletter, etc. If you plan ahead, you can prepare your mailings far in advance and have them ready to go when the time is right.Yes, your newsletter will need something timely, so you can leave one article to write at the last minute.Rather than do all your real estate marketing “when you have time,” set aside a few hours every week to work on it. If you don’t have a mailing to go that week, use the time to re-vamp each flyer you put together in a hurry the day the listing came in.Go back to your MLS listings and make them more appealing. Take an hour to write attention getting ads for each of your listings and give them to the person in your office who places your ads in newspapers or Homes magazines. (Maybe that’s you?)If you put this planning and marketing time in your day planner as an appointment with yourself, you won’t be tempted to let it slide.I know – there are times when a buyer comes from out of town and you can’t choose your own day for showing. When that happens, you have two choices. First, think what you would do if you had already set an appointment with another customer for that time. Then treat the appointment with yourself with similar importance. OR immediately re-schedule the appointment with yourself and write it in your day planner.Consistent marketing will give you a consistent supply of clients and customers – isn’t that worth taking a little time to work ON your business?