John D. Mayfield, ABR, CRB, e-PRO, GRI, is a sales coach, author, and broker/owner of Mayfield Real Estate in Farmington, Mo. You can contact Mayfield through his Web site, www.BusinessTechGuy.com.
Marketing Impact: 5 Groups You Should Contact Monthly
Don’t underestimate the power of consistent communication. By contacting these five groups once a month, you’ll achieve a steady stream of referrals.
October 1, 2005
The vast majority of consumers — 66 buyers and 63 percent of sellers — say they would “definitely” use their real estate practitioner again or recommend that person to others, according to the 2005 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, published by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
Yet only 11 percent of buyers and 28 percent of sellers say they used the same real estate practitioner that they worked with for their previous transaction, the same survey shows. Why is there a disconnect? One reason, undoubtedly, is a lack of consistent communication.
Consider the NAR survey results a wake-up call. To keep your business pipeline flowing with repeat business and referrals, there are five groups of people that you should communicate with at least on a monthly basis:
- Past clients
- New leads
- Sphere of influence
- Residents in farm area
- Local business owners
In this article we’ll discuss why these groups are so important to your business, and provide some ideas on how you can communicate your message that will result in a healthy stream of business.
Past Clients: They Already Know You
Turning past clients into repeat clients is critical for a long and prosperous tenure in the real estate industry. You’ve already navigated them through a home purchase or sale, and you’ve built credibility. Why let that work go to waste?
Most buyers and sellers will appreciate a phone call, an in-person visit, or mailings from you throughout the year. Simply telling them “Happy Anniversary” on the purchase of their home can keep your name and your services on their mind. Let them know that you appreciate referrals, and that you’re always available to answer their real estate questions.
Develop a “past client action plan” to plot out when and how often you will stay in contact with this important group. Add them to your monthly mailing list and make sure they receive annual holiday letters and cards.
One good idea for contacting past clients: On the first of the year after the transaction, send them a copy of the closing statement. Include a note to tell them that they may need the closing document when preparing their tax returns — and, of course, that you appreciate their business.
New Leads: Be Patient, Yet Consistent
Many sales professionals fail to realize the importance of staying in touch with new leads. Patience is required; practitioners must remind themselves that most buyers will not buy within a week or two of your first meeting.
Learning to stay in touch with new leads through e-mail, U.S. Mail, or by phone is important if you want them to remain loyal to you. Provide information that will be valuable as they prepare for their next transaction. For example, set up a search through your local MLS and e-mail them listings that match their criteria.
Some other communication ideas: Mail notes on your stationery just to check in and let them know you’re ready to help; mail ideas or clipped articles on buying/selling a home in your market; e-mail tips on how to secure a home mortgage and check their credit score; distribute newsletters; and e-mail information related to their personal interests, such as playing piano or traveling.
Sphere of Influence: Stay Top of Mind
When asked how they found the real estate practitioner they used, 44 percent of all buyers and 43 percent of all sellers say they were referred by a friend, neighbor, or relative, according to the 2005 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers.
It’s of the utmost importance to maintain a consistent form of communication with friends, friends of your friends, family, and coworkers. Provide information about what’s going on in the real estate market, offer free reports for buying or selling a home, give tips on when to refinance and how to build home equity. Whether you make these contacts through mail, e-mail, or a quick phone call is up to you.
If you do choose to use e-mail to contact your sphere, make sure your contacts have “opted-in” to be a part of your e-mail marketing campaign. Same goes for phone calls; make sure that you don’t violate any Do-Not-Call" /> rules.
Farm Area: Become the Familiar Name
Repeat business and referrals are essential, but don't forget to cultivate your new leads, too. One good way to develop new business is to set up what a farm area in your marketplace. It can consist of 100, 200, 300 or more properties in a local geographical area such as a subdivision.
Contact residents within that area once a month to become the name they know in local real estate. When they’re ready to make a move, you want to be the first person that pops into their head.
Marketing ideas for your farm area could include mailing tips on selling or remodeling a home; articles about when to refinance; news on local community events; and statistical updates about what properties are selling for in your particular farm area. You can create a neighborhood Web site, with local news, garage sale listings, and your real estate information; and prepare an end-of-the-year report on average days on market, average sales price and list to sales price ratio.
Make sure that if you set up a farm area, you try to develop a personal relationship with many these contacts by making a visit periodically so your names match the correct occupancy. If you are using the tax records as your source of information for names and addresses in your farm area and one particular piece of property is rented by someone the mailing piece may not carry as much clout. Remember, rental tenants may be future buyers.
Local Business Owners: Great Source of Referrals
One often-neglected communication group is local business owners. Incorporating a good communication channel between you and local businesses, and keeping them informed of local real estate conditions, can win big points for you — especially for future referrals.
Most local entrepreneurs are eager to know the status of the local real estate economy, as it often has an indirect impact on their current and future business. Many of the business leaders are the first contact with new families moving to the area, as well as with new employees going to work for their company.
Ideas for contacting this group include providing updates on the average sales prices, days on market to sell a home, and other important real estate data, residential and commercial. Send a monthly or quarterly newsletter to this group, and make a point to visit your local business contacts in person to ask for future leads, references or testimonial letters. As fellow businesspeople, they’ll appreciate the follow-up.
Steady Communication = Good Business
Remember, contacting any of the above groups in person or by phone is a key to the success of getting referrals; don’t just rely on mailings. A personal visit can go a long way for building relationships with these groups.
Staying in touch with these five groups correctly and consistently can keep your sales pipeline full of referrals and future business transactions for many years to come.