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How to Boost Referrals - Part Two

April 16 2013

Yesterday, in Part One of this article, we learned the "who, what and how," of boosting referrals. Today, we'll discover additional ways to drum up referrals.

Drip Campaigns

handshakeOne of the best ways to grow your farm and stay top of mind with your network is by reaching out to each person, consistently, over time.

Many agents swear by drip email campaigns, where automated emails go out to selected contacts in their CRM database. How frequently you contact these people, however, sits on a fine line between reaching out and spamming.

Some experts claim that dripping on these folks once a week is going to eventually get your emails tossed in the trash or blocked from delivery to your contacts entirely – especially if they don't plan on moving for a year or so. A monthly email is more appropriate – even longer is fine. Just making the contact without annoying people is what's most important.

I live in a city that is home to a certain local home-oriented magazine. The first time I received one of the glossy publications, I read it cover to cover only to learn that it is completely void of relevant content and full of advertising. Now, every time I receive one, it goes directly into the trash.

You have one chance to lure your email recipients into actually reading your drip campaign, and that occurs with your first email.

Depending on how large your database is, you may have to create several focused email campaigns. Some of the categories to think about include quick (the operative word here) information for:

  • Homebuyers.
  • Sellers.
  • Investors.
  • Short sale or distressed property sellers and buyers.
  • Condo buyers.

To stay top of mind with past clients, think about sending information on their interests:

  • Gardening.
  • Interior decorating.
  • Green living.
  • Food.
  • Birthday, anniversary, new baby and other greetings.

Whatever you choose to send, make it count. Wow them – make the recipients look forward to the next one.

Face-to-Face Contact

While email drip campaigns are an efficient, inexpensive way to keep in touch with people, sometimes a face-to-face encounter is called for. Many successful agents plan client-appreciation events periodically throughout the year or one splashy annual event.

One California agent classifies her clients according to how big their sphere of influence is. Those with a huge network of contacts she calls her "A" group, and those are the ones she tends to go a bit above and beyond to maintain relationships with. Her preferred method is to never miss a birthday by issuing a lunch invitation for birthday week. Pricey? Perhaps, but memorable and tax deductible as well.

Zephyr Realty San Francisco's Wes Freas holds an annual event that his former clients never miss: a holiday wreath decorating party. This is a highly planned event that he begins preparing for weeks in advance. Held in his oversized garage, there is food, a bar and tons of baskets, laden with various decorating tidbits. Oh, and wreaths to decorate, of course.

When Kathy Broock Ballard with Max Broock REALTORS® in North Oakland County, Mich. found out that the local women's shelter was in dire need of bras for their residents, she came up with an idea to mix fundraising and client retention. Named The Annual Erin Go Bra(gh) party, she invites her "A" list clients, friends and colleagues to a buffet lunch and cocktails each St. Patrick's Day, asking only that they bring new bras or other undergarments for the women's shelter.

Then there's the soirees made famous in Bethesda, Md. thrown by Steve Israel of Buyer's Edge. He and his wife and business partner Wendy think nothing of holding a catered cocktail and dinner event for over 500 former clients. With music by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra amidst the sophistication of a historic ballroom, it's an event clients will not soon forget. And, best of all, guess who will be top of mind when asked about real estate agents?

Your "A" group – and maybe even your "B" group – is who you want to maintain face-to-face contact with during the year if at all possible.

Follow Up With Industry Colleagues

Stick all those people you do business with on a regular basis into your database, too. Begin building relationships with them by attending networking events or even holding your own, for title company representatives, escrow people, lenders, contractors, plumbers, home inspectors and electricians.

Give and Take

How do you repay those who give you a referral? Even a simple "thank-you" lunch is appropriate and will keep the referrals coming. Some agents offer rewards in their pitches for referrals. This can be something like, "Refer me to a friend or family member and I'll pay to have their house staged," or, "I'll pay for a home warranty plan for their first year in their new house." Incentivize the pitch. Make it attractive for them to talk about you to others.

Client retention is business promotion at its subtlest. While letting people know you value them, you plant a seed that will hopefully blossom into a pipeline full of referrals.

To view the original article, visit the Market Leader blog.