For almost 30 years, I have developed an annual marketing strategy for my real estate practice. This includes “touching” my client, sphere of influence and friends on a weekly basis. The reason for this “touch” plan is to create brand awareness, so when any of them think real estate, they think of me as their trusted adviser.
A typical “touch” marketing plan might include:
- Postcards sent out for every listing taken and sold.
- Handwritten notes to select members in your audience.
- Quarterly drop-offs to your “Top 100″ clients, sphere of influence and friends.
- Invite members of your audience to join you and participate in community service projects such as the Food Bank and One Warm Coat.
- And many additional “touches.”
We do these things with the rationalization that we will continue to receive referrals from our networks for those who have expressed interested in doing business with us. Many of the most successful home service professionals I know use a similar game plan.
The ignored referral source
After many years of practicing real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area, my team and I have developed an enviable and invaluable list of trusted vendors that are available to our audience any time they call asking for a specific service: contractors, painters, landscapers, roofers, inspection companies, alarm companies, audio systems, attorneys, CPAs and dozens more. Do you get the picture as to why someone would call us for a referral from our list? This list is gold to us, our clients and those vendors to whom we send a great deal of business.
Up until last year, our vendors were not a part of our touch marketing plan. This is a group we work with on a regular basis, and other than a phone call to them when we need their services, we have no other regular contact with them. Are you starting to see where the “blind spot” is within a service professional’s practice when it comes to a big untapped referral source?
You guessed it: our trusted vendors.
How our vendors have become key referral sources
Since we were introduced to the simply brilliant concept of LATCH last year, we have now added all of our vendors to our “audience” marketing game plan. We want them to be in the loop as much as our clients, friends and sphere of influence are when it comes to what we practice and who our ideal client is.
We regularly refer business to them, but we wanted to be sure to engage with each of them individually to explain how they can benefit if they refer prospects to us, and we’ve found a whole new, untapped growth opportunity unfolding for our real estate practice. After 30 years in the business!
Let me share an example. I had never sat down with the painter we use for almost all of our clients’ home needs. I wanted to get to know him, but I also wanted to see if there were opportunities for us, so I shared with him what we do and how we would take care of anyone he sent our way.
I learned our very successful painting contractor is contacted on a regular basis by homeowners who are quietly preparing their home for sale before they ever speak with a Realtor. In other words, this vendor is on the front lines with people we want to meet.
We asked the owner if he would help us meet these potential homeowners by just alerting us when he discovers one of them is using his services to help prepare their home for sale. He said, “Of course I will. You provide me with so much business that it would be my pleasure.”
It was that easy. Just asking a question we have never asked one of our vendors.
Now, with LATCH as the platform, we can have all of our vendors be a part of this peer-to-peer referral network and also help them expand their own local businesses. We are spreading the word within our real estate community and our vendors that it is time to join together within a community committed to growing each of our practices by connecting to those professionals at the top of their game, no matter what services they provide.
We have missed this obvious sector of growing our business for over 30 years. Now our “blind spot” has been removed.
Reposted with permission from LATCH.com.
Jim Walberg is a real estate agent with Pacific Union — Christie’s International.