Scott Newman is broker-owner of Newman Realty, a family-run brokerage in Chicago focusing on short sales, foreclosures, and buyer representation. He has been a top-producing real estate agent in Chicago since 2008, is vice chair of the education sub-committee for the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, and is an original member of the Chicago Young Professionals Network. For more information, visit www.newmanknowschicago.com or follow him on Twitter at @newmanrealty and @newmanknowschi.
Marketing 101: Bird in the Hand
If you’re caught up in gimmicks, you may be missing out on business opportunities right in front of you.
January 1, 2012
I’ve heard plenty of complaints lately from other real estate professionals about the dearth of business opportunities and the expense of marketing to find clients. I’ve also seen many practitioners who don’t put in the time to properly build a database of contacts and farm their sphere but will spend thousands of dollars a year on a gimmicky marketing tactic that yields few results.
What a waste. My marketing philosophy is to do more with what you have. My company, Newman Realty, maintains a database of people we know, many of whom we’ve worked with in the past. We send mailings to the people on this list at particular times of year. This puts us in the minds of people who already know us and may be considering a real estate transaction or can refer us to someone who is. The result? We’re constantly bringing in new business, without spending a lot of time and money doing so.
What we’re doing isn’t hard. I’ll bet you have tens of thousands of commission dollars a year waiting for you in your sphere of influence right now. Here’s how to tap those dollars.
First, make a simple spreadsheet with headings for name, contact information, addresses, occupations, family information, pet information, and any other characteristics that you could sort electronically. (Tip: Nothing is more powerful than sending someone a card on their dog’s birthday. They will love you forever.)
Start your list with family and close friends, but then move into past and current clients, neighbors, business contacts, and anyone else with whom you have a positive, solid relationship. Make sure all the information is accurate and up to date.
Next, come up with a plan to farm your database. Your goal should be to “touch” everyone in your database in various ways eight times a year. For starters, I recommend setting up automated quarterly mailings centered around major holidays, so there’s a reason for the mailing beyond just saying, “I want your business.” (For us, nonreligious yet important holidays such as the Fourth of July, Halloween, and New Year’s Day work best, as recipients are unlikely to get cards from many other people on those days.)
Then, come up with an approach for the rest of the year’s “touches.” We schedule two phone calls at equally spaced intervals during the year for each person, setting reminders to make sure each call is completed. These phone calls consist of a simple hello and some small talk and conclude with asking if that person knows anyone we can call who may be interested in our services now or in the future.
The remaining two touches are a matter of personal preference, but examples would be stopping by people’s homes to say hello when you’re in the neighborhood, sending them a $5 Starbucks card with a handwritten note on their birthday, or inviting them out for a lunch or coffee.
There’s no wrong way to do this. It’s all about connecting with the people who support you and reminding them that you are in the business, you are doing well, and they should continue to refer new people to you.
Once you start properly farming your sphere of influence, you’ll be amazed at how much business has been slipping through the cracks. With a systematic, organized approach, you can continue to grow your volume, despite the challenging market.