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Agent Challenge: Maximizing Your Rolodex

April 13 2012

rolodexWe heard from a gentleman who had very recently transitioned from insurance to real estate. He explained to us that he had a long list of people that he had developed relationships with through his insurance business. For these people, he has addresses, phone numbers and (in some cases) email addresses. He now wants to leverage this list of contacts for his new real estate business. How does he do this?

We had a few ideas of our own, but decided to turn to our "communication experts" to see what they had to say. Here's their advice for our new agent:

Eric Stegemann, Director of Strategy at TribusTribus
"First of all, I'd avoid email. I'm not an attorney, but I believe that the CAN SPAM Act would prohibit your agent from using emails gathered through one profession (insurance) to send email correspondence about an unrelated field (real estate). True, people do it all the time, but is it worth the risk?

"What I would recommend is to send out a direct mailing to his list. Include a call-to-action sending interested people to something of value on his website. Have an email sign up form there to collect emails that have opted-in to communications. In my opinion, print should always be part of the marketing mix for REALTORS®. But be sure that, whenever you send something to your contacts, they are able to get some value from it. If there's no value, they won't follow through and you won't generate any leads."

To learn more about Tribus, visit our product directory.

Dan Stewart, CEO and Co-Founder at Happy Grasshopper
"This career change is definitely a marketing opportunity for your agent. The key, however, is going to be finding a connection between what he was 'known for' in his previous role and how that will translate to his new career in real estate. What were his special skills? His strengths? He needs to leverage those to generate leads.

"Of course, all of this depends upon how he has been curating his relationships. Has he let his connection to the people on this list grow cold? If he hasn't kept in touch, the efficacy of any campaign is going to be questionable.

"Assuming that he has done a reasonably good job of fostering these relationships, a few options he may want to consider are: a phone campaign (including a recorded voicemail) and a direct mail postcard. I would recommend that, whatever method he chooses, he finds a way to capture each contact's email address as well.

"Once he has email addresses, Happy Grasshopper can help him keep in touch with people without always talking about his products and services. This ongoing conversation is much more effective if he's not always talking shop."

To learn more about Happy Grasshopper, visit our product directory.

Brandon Wise, CEO at Wise Agent
crm image"Your CRM is the best place to start when you're building a new business. If your agent just has a list, his first step should be to enter all of his contacts into his CRM. However, he needs to understand that being an expert in insurance isn't as geographically specific as real estate. He has this big database, but many of those people are probably going to be outside of the geographic area he will specialize and work in. His first step should be categorizing and organizing his database properly so that he can make wise decisions on where it makes most sense to spend his time and marketing money. This will also make it easier to decide what type of marketing to use for each category of people he has in his CRM.

"With Wise Agent, your agent could then add these contacts to his 'call list' and start contacting them by phone, the most personal way to reach out to anyone. Wise Agent is integrated with RE Phone Burner, which offers the option of a pre-recorded message. A postcard campaign is also a good idea. Wise Agent is integrated with Express Copy, so we could help him out with that as well.

"However, phone contact is time consuming and direct mail can be expensive. So, he should attempt to get email addresses for everyone. I'd also recommend reaching out to people on Facebook. Social media is a great way to keep in touch without being too invasive."

To learn more about Wise Agent, visit our product directory.

Dereck Overbey, Senior Social Media Manager at VerticalResponse, Inc.
social media"What's true of any sales position is that you can't try to 'control' your customer's actions if you want to garner positive results. It sounds like this agent has a hodge-podge of different contact information, so he should use whatever he's got. If you've got some email, some direct mail, some phone – reach out in the medium that you have. Of course, the next step would be to get them all in a uniform database with complete criteria.

"I'd also advise this agent to take each relationship individually. By that, I mean that he should make sure he has a close enough relationship with these people that a call won't be intrusive. If that level of 'closeness' isn't there, he should consider direct mail or email.

"I should also mention that social media might be an easier, softer way to make connections with these people. If he hasn't already, your agent should create a professional real estate Facebook page. At VerticalResponse, we could help them send out an email announcement, lead people to his Facebook page, and also share information on Twitter. Roost (recently acquired by VerticalResponse) created a social platform that would allow him to create a social campaign (similar to drip marketing, but for social media) that allows for the posting of consistent content to keep his connections engaged and interested."

To learn more about VerticalResponse, Inc., visit our product directory.

Kevin Hawkins, Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing at IMPREV, Inc.
"My advice would be to narrow down your list to your REAL sphere of influence, the people you have a personal relationship with, and most importantly, are local to your community. Once you have, don't start off by just cold-calling people to ask if you can have their email address; I would first set the stage. Real estate is a local business and your local visibility in the community is crucial. Attend every community event you can to let as many people that you have worked with in the past learn face-to-face that you are now a real estate professional and need their help. You'll be amazed that when you ask people for help, they'll help you, especially when they have a personal relationship with you and they know you are starting a new venture.

"We are not in an opt-out world. We live in a world where we need people to invite us in. We don't just need permission, we need an invitation. If you meet people face-to-face before you start sending out digital or print postcards/brochures/newsletters, they will gladly give you their updated contact info, their personal email, 'like' you on Facebook, and accept your LinkedIn invitation. The marketing arsenal agents have at their fingertips may be easy to personalized and impressive to receive, but building a local business must start with a personal touch.

"Two statistics I'd like to share: first, research shows that most people know at least 4 or 5 real estate agents and they choose to work with an agent that they most recently interacted with face-to-face. That's why it's vital to be visible and involved locally. Second, at Imprev we surveyed registrants for the 2012 LeadingRE Conference and we found that top agents typically do not send out mass mailings nor do they send out mass emails. In fact, the survey showed that only one of ten agents typically mail to their entire contacts. One-third typically will only contact half their list and one-third typically will contact 25 percent of their list or fewer. My point with these stats is: be local, find out how your sphere of influence wants to be communicated with, and make sure that what you communicate is relevant to them."

To learn more about IMPREV, Inc., visit our product directory.