It takes time to develop long-term relationships with your sphere of influence. So be patient. Soon enough, your extra efforts will reach a critical mass, and peoples’ loyalty to your business will swell. Some of the best ways to generate that goodwill include:
Check-in with your network on a regular basis
When you check-in with your sphere of influence on a regular basis, it lets them know that you’re thinking about them (and who wouldn’t appreciate that?). Every six months or so, consider sending an email or making a phone call with the message, “I haven’t heard from you in a while.” Or, simply, “how’s it going?” Something like, “Can I be of any assistance?” works well, too. If you want a more business-like reason to make contact, just say you’re checking to see if the contact information you have on file for the person is up-to-date.
Send handwritten notes
In this day and age of all-electronic communications, sending handwritten notes (thanking clients for their business and referrals, congratulating them on any personal / professional successes, or just checking in to see how they’re doing) can make a real emotional impact. It shows you genuinely care, and that’s something that will foster long-term business relationships for a long time to come. The best part: It only takes a few minutes to jot a note and pop it in the mail.
Consider this a list of business resolutions – five things you can easily do that are guaranteed to make a difference for your business in the coming year.
- Add 150 new people to your marketing mailing list
The Xpressdocs blog posts are packed with great ideas for expanding your marketing mailing list. But the ideas require extra effort and a long-term commitment. Make this the year that you commit to really bulking up your mailing list. Having a growing, up-to-date mailing list is the most important element of any successful marketing campaign.
- Determine what sets you apart from the competition
If there’s nothing that makes you different from every other real estate professional, prospective clients have no reason to choose you over them. Even worse: If consumers think you and your competitors are all the same, they’ll simply go with the cheapest option.
Forget about the basics: attributes like “friendly,” “experienced,” “ethical” or “knowledgeable.” Those are things all your competitors can easily claim as well (and usually do). They don’t set you apart from the pack, and they’re so basic that prospective clients expect them.
You need a trait that really makes you different. Once you discover what that special something is, start promoting it in all your marketing materials.
Thanks to social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), it only takes a couple clicks for someone to share something special with their friends. And if those friends share it with their friends, who share it with their friends, who share it with their friends, you suddenly have a “viral” campaign.
But getting hundreds or thousands of people to turn your advertisement, video or publicity stunt into a viral marketing campaign is extremely difficult. The idea is very attractive to most small businesses (free advertising on a large scale), but making it happen requires real skill and savvy. Five secrets to success are included below.
#1 It has to be unique
If you want your ad, video or publicity stunt to go viral, it has to be unusual, different, new, unique. The “content” (the video, photo, message) and the idea have to be things people haven’t seen before. Simply copying another viral campaign won’t work.
For example, in a very unusual YouTube video campaign promoting the kitchen blender Blendtec, the company’s chief executive put random items into the blender. The blender reduced an iPhone to dust in one of the videos. More than 12 million people watched the videos – leading to a 700 percent increase in Blentec sales. See the Blendtec YouTube video.
You’ve sent press releases and made follow-up phone calls, but your ideas for featuring your company in news articles aren’t getting any attention. Sound familiar? Included below are the most likely reasons:
You’re targeting the wrong reporter
Reporters typically work “beats” – which means each of them covers a specific type of news issue. If you’re targeting the wrong reporter, chances are very slim that person will forward your idea to the right reporter. Sending your story idea to an editor or the general “news tips” email account means it will have to clear a number of gatekeepers before reaching the right reporter.
You could call the front office and ask which reporter covers your issue. Or, sometimes the information is listed on the news outlet’s website. But, even then, the details can be vague.
By far your best option is to monitor the publication/broadcast and see for yourself which reporter tends to cover issues/businesses like yours.
College marketing professors spend their days researching which promotional techniques and strategies work, and which don’t. They’re unbiased sources of information with a deep understanding of what drives sales, referrals and bottom-line profits. So we searched out some of the collegiate world’s most respected marketing experts and gathered their best advice below:
Tip #1 – from Philip Kotler (Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management):
Stop soliciting everyone and anyone and instead identify a specific category of clients you want to acquire. Figure out what that target audience really wants, then build a reputation for doing that better than anyone else. Write articles, give speeches and send marketing materials that all position you as the best of the best in those key areas.
Tip #2 – from Jeffrey Pfeffer (Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford):
Too often, sales people view networking as something uncomfortable and inauthentic; a marketing effort cloaked in personal friendship. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Before trying to network with someone, use social media to learn as much as you can about them. Once you find something(s) you both have in common, it will be far easier to strike up an honest, heartfelt conversation that could lead to a long-lasting and productive working relationship for the both of you.
There’s a reason why semi-trucks, city buses, delivery vans, work trucks and even some passenger cars are covered with advertising: Moving vehicles make good billboards.
But what if your work vehicle is also your family car? How can you leverage your vehicle’s advertising capability without your children – and spouse – needing massive-embarrassment therapy?
Magnetic door signs are passé
The magnetic door signs people slapped on their cars in the 1980s and 1990s are old-school. While the easy-on/easy-off nature of the signs was supposed to make it simple to switch between your work and personal lives, few people ever took them off. Then they became popular with construction contractors and lawn-mowing services. Once every beat-up work truck in the city was sporting a pair, magnetic door signs eventually came to symbolize the fly-by-night operator.
Use vinyl lettering instead
It used to be that custom, vinyl-lettered vehicle advertising was only an option for big companies. It was too expensive for independent real estate agents. But as the technology took off, the prices came down. Today, you can transform the rear window of your vehicle into a vinyl-lettered ad for about $50.
Public open houses are an ingrained part of the real estate business. Sellers love them. They’re ideal for getting feedback. And, of course, they’re one of the best means for meeting prospective clients.
The trick is to maximize the business-boosting elements. Included below are some dos and don’ts.
Have three types of handouts on-hand
In addition to the listing sheet / flyer for the house, you should also be ready with targeted marketing materials you can hand out to prospective clients. Handing those folks a business card with an encouraging “call me” comment is weak. It doesn’t set you apart from every other agent at every other open house. What you really need are two separate marketing flyers/brochures: one highlighting the advantages of listing with you; another highlighting the advantages of buying with you.
Why not combine them into one brochure and save money? When these marketing materials are separated, it allows you to focus on the things these two very different kinds of clients really want to hear.
If you really want to save money, use marketing postcards as your brochures. Postcards are much cheaper to print, faster to produce, easier to handle, and still capable of making a big impact on your target audience.
Too often, real estate agents and other professional-services providers write things in their marketing materials that very few people beyond their office walls would honestly care about.
For example, it’s not uncommon to see marketing statements that read something like, “Over the last three years, business at our brokerage has been growing by leaps and bounds. In 2013 alone, we managed more than 1,100 real estate transactions for our clients.”
The One Question You Should Always Ask Yourself: "Who Cares?"
If that sounds like a statement you might like to include in your next marketing brochure, keep reading (because it’s a bad idea).
You could argue that boasting about the number of sales completed shows you’re running a successful brokerage. But to many potential clients, a statement like the one above will come across as unimportant. It doesn’t resonate for the reader. They won’t care enough to keep reading.
They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. And when it comes to marketing, many small- and mid-sized businesses are all too happy to imitate what their competitors are doing … which means they often wind up copying the mistakes, too.
Copying a marketing idea simply because you see someone else doing it is not a smart way to run a business. Borrowing ideas makes sense. But you need to know they’re winners before moving ahead with something similar. And that calls for some diligent monitoring.
Start systematically monitoring your competitors
Choose five key competitors (maybe even choose a different group each year), then “Like” their Facebook pages, follow their tweets, sign up for their mailings, subscribe to their customer newsletters, and regularly check their websites. In other words, act like an interested customer.
There are also online services that can help:
- Sign up with Google.com/Alerts, and you’ll be notified via email whenever something new about a competitor appears on the Internet.
- With WhosMailingWhat.com, you can see actual samples of your competitors marketing mailers, marketing email and more.
- Use Moat.com to see the ads your competitors are placing on the Internet.
Separating the hits from the misses
With all the so-called marketing experts making spectacles of themselves online today, it’s harder than ever to separate the marketing strategies that really do work from those that are duds, lies, scams or repeats of ideas spread by people who have no business offering marketing advice.
So instead of letting the loudest voices lead the way, we decided to search out some of the most successful small businesses, and investigate the marketing strategies they use to pump up sales and attract more clients.
Some of the businesses using these ideas are real estate agents and longtime Xpressdocs’ clients, some are from outside the real estate industry. But they all have one thing in common: they’re proven winners.
If you’re on the hunt for marketing strategies with true breakthrough potential, follow the examples set by the leading small businesses:
They ‘integrate’ their marketing
Instead of relying too much on one method of marketing (direct mail, email, social media, public relations, etc.), the most successful small businesses combine a variety of those mediums into an integrated marketing campaign.