There are a number of theorems that marketing professionals treat as gospel. One is that it’s easier (and cheaper!) to keep a client than to get a new one. Another is that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising.
When those two maxims collide, we’re talking about loyalty marketing. In real estate, it’s not the exact terminology that comes up in everyday conversation. You might be more familiar with a couple of other phrases that have great impact on your sales: repeat customers and referrals.
In a National Association of Realtors study, referrals and repeat business accounted for 70% of the initial contact. The study lists the top 10 ways, and surprisingly, the things REALTORS® spend the most money on, aren’t necessarily the most effective.
Ways to build loyalty marketing
Cultivating repeat and referral business isn’t rocket surgery, and it isn’t expensive. It just takes some time and a little effort to generate leads in a cost-effective way. Truth is, you’re probably doing some of these things now.
Maintain personal contact
There’s nothing wrong with calling periodically to say hello and see how a client is doing. You never know when their life will change and necessitate selling their home.
Thank those who send you business
As stated previously, referrals account for a great deal of business – almost 40 percent. If your client has had a good experience and recommends you to a friend or relative, take the time to send a card or a small gift (if it is allowed).
Networking your network
Make recommendations of professional services and businesses in the area. New homeowners, especially ones new to the city, always appreciate information about home-related service professionals such as handymen, interior designers, plumbers, and landscapers. One caveat: Make sure you know and trust the service provided by those whom you recommend.
Acknowledge your clients
It’s small, but it goes a long way. A birthday card or a thank you on the anniversary date of their closing will have them saying “I can’t believe they remember that.”
There’s any number of things you can do, but a simple way for your top-tier clients is to schedule an annual homeowner’s check-up. This could include an update on the local housing market, quick inspection of the house, review of their current mortgage, talking about their home goals, and more. It’s one hour a year well-spent.
Add Value, Part Two
Offering informative seminars is a great way to add value and network. You can talk about financing options, trends, the current situation in the industry. Make sure your customers know that it’s OK to invite friends. You don’t necessarily have to talk about real estate. Invite one of the business owners that you recommend to talk about home improvement.
Leverage Social Media
You can add value to your clients AND get important referrals by engaging in social media. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are all areas where you can offer your expertise. For more in-depth subjects, a blog is a great venue to share. Invite others to write guest columns. It’s a great way to drive traffic to your website.
Client Appreciation Events
These are a lot more involved, require some planning and effort, and probably are more costly than anything else we’ve discussed, but they can be both fun and effective ways to network, add value and show appreciation, all at the same time. They can not only help you maintain existing relationships, they can help you make new contacts as well. The great thing is that when it comes to these events, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and budget. Some of the more common ideas for client appreciation events include BBQs, pumpkin carving, bowling, fireworks and other neighborhood events.