All Things Being Equal
There is a wise old adage: “All things being equal, people do business with people they like. All things being unequal, people still do business with people they like.” After the past few years of recession and the turmoil it has placed on the real estate market, this adage resonates now more than ever. Today, homeowners are wary about venturing back into the real estate market and are looking for people they can trust and feel confident they working with someone who is looking out for their best interests.
In the world of practitioners of marketing and advertising, the idea of people doing business with people they like is the core concept behind “Relationship Marketing,” or “Personal Marketing” For businesses large and small, it’s all about finding ways to retain existing clients in addition to attracting new customers, to get people to like you, know what you stand for, connect with you and keep doing business with you.
Personal Marketing Core Concept
This emotional, relationship-building approach to marketing is the core concept driving every Hobbs/Herder marketing campaign we create. It’s all about creating a brand or an image, establishing what you stand for–in other words, giving “them” a real sense of who you are, who I would meet, if we were face to face with you, that helps you build a “relationship” with the people you market to, whether that’s through your farming with direct mail, via television commercials, print ads, your website or email marketing. They receive your materials, read your brochure and they form a connection, an emotional bond. As they receive your message over and over, it reinforces that relationship.
Proof is in the Pudding
Over the past 20 years, Greg Herder has had so many clients thank him for their successful campaigns that transformed their business. One phrase that our clients tell us they hear over and over from their prospects they’ve mailed to is: “we knew we were going to call you when we were ready to sell.” The idea that your marketing campaign–based on a quality, emotional message–causes people to pick you as their agent long before they need one is at the heart of what relationship-building, or personal marketing is all about.
With these unprecedented times and challenging economy, people are more discerning with whom they entrust their real estate dreams. I don’t have to tell you what you go through day in and day out trying to get sellers to price their homes correctly, to stop being in denial. That is a tough position, and the more trust you have, the more inclined they will be to seeing things your way and feeling like you’re the expert who has their best interest at heart and who wants only to help them price their home correctly. Trust comes from building that relationship.
Where Relationship Marketing Pays Off Most
Where a “relationship approach” to your marketing will pay off most is with your past clients and your sphere of influence. This is a “no-brainer” that not only agents, but many businesses tend to overlook. With past clients, you’ve already done the heavy lifting, you’ve marketed to them, attracted them, earned their business–formed the relationship. They connected with you, they trusted you and decided to do business with you. After the sale this relationship shouldn’t disappear, it’s imperative that you maintain and nurture it.
As the market has tightened, and become more competitive, your past client base and working your sphere of influence is more critical than ever. It’s time to get more personal with your customers and strengthen that relationship.
Get Personal With Past Clients
How do you do this, you ask? By keeping in touch, by keeping it personal, whether that’s by phone, mail or email, you should be in front of these important people one to two times a month. The basic plan is to mail to them one to two times a month. While you should be sending them market updates such as just solds and just listeds, you don’t want them to receive the same mailings as your farm. They will begin to feel you don’t care about them if you don’t acknowledge the special relationship between the two of you. Be sure to send them a mix of pieces that does acknowledge that relationship, builds on the “friendship” you’ve fostered with them.
Twice a year, you should send a “What has been going on with my personal life” letter–you know the letters some of your close friends and relatives send you during the holidays sharing what great things have happened to their family over the year (Billie won MVP for his little league team, Susie is taking AP Latin, Bob went on a fishing trip to Alaska, etc.). It’s a “catching up” letter that bonds the reader to the writer of the letter by allowing them a glimpse into their personal life. We also recommend sending a mix of Personal Kards, fun (and often offbeat) greeting cards. (Visit http://www.hobbsherder.com/marketing_products_personalkards.asp)
Build a Personal Data Database
Savvy marketers and salespeople keep “dossiers” on each of their customers, noting their birthdays, number of children, when those children are slated to graduate from high school or college, their anniversaries, groups they belong to, etc. Not to spy on them, but to provide them with strategic points to connect with them and build and maintain that relationship. Agents who attend our Gateway marketing conference receive in their complimentary marketing binder a Buyer’s Questionnaire they can have their clients fill out that provides lots of this information.
High Tech/High Touch
Taking it one step further, clients with a MegaAgent website can upload that information and set up a drip campaign that automatically sends clients and their spouses and children birthday e-cards and seasonal e-cards. How powerful is that when you “remember” to send your client, their spouse and their children these emotional “touches?” It’s incredibly powerful.
As you strengthen that relationship with that client, you can then “mine” it for referrals and repeat business. When a client who you helped buy a house doesn’t call you when they sell years later, it stings. It’s not always a slam dunk to get that business. But if you stay in touch with them and keep that contact personal, you greatly increase the chances they will contact you when it comes time for them to move.
Mining For Referrals
You’ll be surprised at the increase in referrals when you keep that relationship strong and personal. However, don’t assume that people are always thinking of you and who they can refer you to–it’s not always automatic. So don’t be afraid to ask for those referrals! Twice a year, send out a letter to these past clients and sphere of influence (and include three or four of your personal brochures) asking them to refer their friends and associates your way. Ask them about their friends and family and let them know you’re looking for “more great people just like them that you can help buy or sell a home.
You may even consider a touch base plan that includes periodical phone calls to these important people. Just a short call touching base with how things are going, but also reminding them that you are happy to answer any questions they might have about the current market or other general real estate questions. It’s just keeping in touch, at top of mind awareness.
If your farm is large, one way to accomplish this that’s not quite as personal of a touch, but is effective, is to use phone technology– voice broadcast. It allows you to record a “personal” message and send it out to your database of client and sphere of influence phone numbers. It is designed to leave a message on answering machines (it’s programmed to say “sorry, wrong number” if a live voice answers). To your client this “generic” message feels like you took the time to call them personally, but it’s the same message that is delivered automatically to the entire database. Definitely something to research as a powerful tool for your business system.
Nothing can replace the human touch. Getting face to face with both your past clients and prospective clients is still the most powerful way to establish or maintain a strong relationship. You should also go out and “mix it up” with that client base. Go to the soccer games their children are playing at, the church functions they attend, the charity and civic events you might find them at. Speaking directly with these people AMPLIFIES your other marketing pieces, it’s like putting your marketing campaign on steroids. It really makes all your other marketing and contact systems that much more effective.
These are unprecedented times, both in the economy and in the real estate marketplace. You can wring your hands about the business that is not available–or you can find ways to grab more of the precious market share that is out there right now! If you are smart enough to focus on the latter, I urge you to look at your marketing efforts across the board and find ways to make them more personal, search for ways to build and strengthen your relationships with past clients as well. It will pay off in dividends. Happy relationship building!