Over 35 years ago as an active agent, I was trying to figure out how to stand out in my local marketplace. I had been sending out Just/Listed and Just/Solds as well as the standard free CMA coupons consistently for close to a year, but it was not working like I had hoped it would. I realized that I was sending out information that was similar to other agents. My mailings were higher quality and more personally branded than my competitors, but I realized that was not enough. I was new to the area and did not know a lot of people. I realized I needed to make a connection with the people in my farm so that they saw me as a person, not just a salesman. I knew that if I could build a relationship with them, it would increase my chance of becoming their agent of choice.
In my brainstorming as to how to stand out and connect with people in my farm, I came up with the idea of sending out a “Merry After Christmas” a card. I knew that would be different, draw a smile on the recipient’s face, and it would create an emotional connection. However, I could not find one in any store, so I hired an artist to draw an image of Mr. & Mrs. Claus relaxing with the words “Merry After Christmas.” On the inside, I put my name and a friendly picture of me and a fun message that I hoped who make a connection.
When I mailed out the cards, it generated a few thank you calls from people saying how clever the card was and how much they enjoyed it. But no one called me after I sent out the Merry After Christmas card and said come list my home. It had been pretty expensive to send out, and if you asked me a week after I sent it out if I thought it was a good marketing piece, I would have probably said “No.”
But then I would be in the grocery store or a restaurant, and a stranger would come up and say, “Hi, I liked your Merry After Christmas Card.” Then I mailed out a Market Update Card, and some calls with questions about the market came in, and one person asked me to give them a CMA. When I meet with them, it went well, and they listed with me, and I sold their home. During escrow, I dropped off some paperwork for them to sign and they had some friends over. They introduced me as their agent and turned to their friend and said, “This is the agent I was telling you about that sent out that Merry After Christmas Card, it was so clever that I knew this was the agent I was going to list with.”
Over the next few months, a number of people who called from Just/Listed or Just/Solds commented about how much they liked my Merry After Christmas card. I realized that it truly had made me stand out and it had built a personal connection with me.
When I started doing marketing for other agents, I started to do some research. I took agents in similar markets both running similar marketing campaigns. Once each quarter with one agent I would substitute one of their branded Just/Listed or Just/Solds with an off-beat relationship building card like a Love Your Realtor Day or April Fools Day Kard. Consistently the agents who included three to four of these offbeat cards generated between 15% to 20% more business than the agents who did not include them. I ended up calling them PersonalKards.com, and they have been used successfully in a wide range of businesses.
My research shows that adding three or four relationship building pieces a year into an ongoing campaign produces the best results. I also found that they worked only when they were part of an informational rich marketing campaign. I knew this worked and I thought it was because it built that human connection. Then I read Robert B. Cialdini’s new book “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade,” and he actually provides the scientific proof for how and why these type of fun connection building cards build relationships and influence behavior. It also explains why relationship building personal brochures are so effective and are becoming even more important today as we spend more time-consuming data from the internet. Remember, it’s all about standing out, making a strong impression and building an emotional connection. The Personal Kard and the Personal Brochure are designed to do just that. The bottom line is that building relationships is still the key to successfully building your real estate business. That is a fundamental principle that will never go away. It’s a shame that so many agents don’t understand the value of investing in relationship marketing.
I would appreciate your comments and feedback about this post.
High-Performance Branding & Marketing
PS This coming Wednesday at 11:00 PST I am conducting a free live webinar on How To Build a Successful Marketing Plan. If you would like to join me Press this Link.