What do you think of when someone says "referral marketing letters", in terms of marketing ideas? Want to bet that you think I'm talking about getting letters of recommendation from your past clients?
That's not a shabby marketing tactic for Realtors either. Although, I'm referring to you getting a career-long flow of clients from other well-thought-of professionals in your neighbourhood. And the only thing you'll need to do is jot down a nice little letter, written by the greatest real estate agent (you!).
In a nutshell, referral marketing letters for Realtors can be summed up like this: get a list of other professionals in your "farm area" that will have the type of clients and prospects you're searching for. Then you have to to jot down a personalized letter about yourself and mail it, by regular mail, to your list of professionals.
Be sure you get unique and use an envelope that stands out from every other white, stock envelope in the mail. Be consistent about following up with each professional by telephone, regular mail or email at least 1 time each month.
You'd be surprised how lots of successful Realtors use this marketing plan for their entire careers, almost eliminating marketing expenses to produce clients.
First, let's create a list of professionals that in fact have the clients you possibly could work with...
- Loan Officers (probably goes without saying, true?)
- Financial Planners
- Remodeling Companies
- Certified Appraisers
- Residential Electricians
- Residential Roofers
- Tree Cutting Professionals
- You catch the idea...
That list should get you off and running but there's many more you can add in the future.
So how can you get a comprehensive list of all the professionals you'll want to work with? No worries, it's straight forward. You have a couple of options, depending on how much money you have in your marketing budget.
Searching through the yellow pages, online, is a cheap option. I'm certain you already have a selected area you work in, as a Realtor, so it'll be best to adhere to that. With the yellow pages alternative, the downside is that it can be time consuming.
You have to go through each individual listed and find their name, phone number and mailing address. This alternative is totally free of charge but undoubtedly more time consuming than several Realtors might like.
The other option for you is to just purchase a list of these professionals that you desire to advertise to. In the indentical way you're probably on one or more Realtor or agent lists being sold out there, just about every profession has their own list for sale also.
This isn't some kind of "black market" or illegal list, don't worry. These kinds of compiled, professional lists are regularly for sale since professionals (like us real estate agents) voluntarily sign up for random subscriptions, associations, events, etc.
When it comes to purchasing this list of professionals, you have a cluster of list companies to choose from. Try to pick a list company that has all the professions you're searching for, rather than going to different list companies for each profession. Buying your list will cost you some marketing dollars but you'll salvage yourself a pant load of torment and working hours.
Whether you prefer to purchase your list or accumulate it yourself, as soon as you have it, you can start off crafting your referral letter for these professionals. Unfortunately, copywriting is a topic of its own and we simply can't get into it right now, or else you'll be studying a novel today. That's a matter all by itself.
What you need to grasp for right now is that this referral letter can not be the same kind of "sales" letter that you would send out, trying to get listing prospects.
You can replicate and re-use your letter for each professional however the referral letter itself needs to make each professional who gets it, to feel like they're the sole one in the world that you sent it to.
The trick is writing your letter as if you were speaking to each professional in-person. I'd suggest that you don't apply the boring, "professional" language style that you read in the letters you get from your bank. Draw their curiosity with your letter and talk to them as a genuine human being, not like a boring bank or credit card company.
This is off topic but this manner of "real person" marketing goes for all your marketing pieces: classified ads, emails, postcards, etc.
What the heart of this letter needs to tell them is that you wish to refer business back and forth, not just take and take and take from them. The big plan is for you to become these professionals "Realtor on-demand", so to speak, and get all their client referrals for the rest of your career. Emphasize how they'll gain without trying to "sell" them on it, you know?
If you know something personal about their company or the field they work in, drop it in the letter. If a professional has helped a client you know, feel free to write that in your letter as well. Unless you talk about their momma, for some reason, it's almost inconceivable for you to get too personal in your letter.
I'd strongly advise that you compose your referral letter yourself, rather than employ anyone else to do it. Although, if you're the kind who can't stand penning any kind of letter to anyone, you can just look for a solid independent writer who can write it for you.
Just type in "independent writers" on Google and you'll see many people to pick from. With a number of companies, they even let you to screen through their writers from across the world. The great thing is a number of of these companies allow you see reviews on each writer, how much they charge and even contact them with "consultation questions". On various sites, you can place an opening for the project you need written and have freelance writers apply to you. really slick.
Okay, you've got your marketing list of professionals and you've written your referral letter, now we need to send it out thru the normal mail, not e-mail. Just whatever you do, please do not send your letter in a simple white envelope like we see everyday of our lives... pretty please!
Look for a mailing box or another envelope that will stick out among all the mail these professionals will be sorting through. Your goal is to stick out similar to a sore thumb, in a good way, from all the mail your list will be getting. I would also hand-write the address and return address, as it'll come across more personalized to the recipient.
When you collect your mail, which pieces do you open right away and which ones do you toss without a 2nd look? The precedence goes to letters where the sender hand-wrote the address, everytime!
Next, you need to include a marketing piece, other than only your letter. A fun marketing piece to enclose might be a video you create with Animoto and copy onto a DVD (easier than it sounds).
A friend of mine used poker chips as his marketing gadget when he sent out a mailing for his life insurance business. His slogan on the poker chips was "Don't Gamble on Your Life".
Isn't that superb? That's the type of creative juice you want to have flowing if you desire to be the top dog Realtor or agent in your area.
By the way, and this is critical, you'll want to aim these professionals to both your website and your telephone number, inside your marketing letter. It's crucial to offer them the choice of how to contact you. You can never tell who hates talking on the phone and who hates looking at websites.
Your last step is unquestionably the most crucial of them all. The mother of all keys to marketing is "repetition". Statistics from the marketing industry show that a future customer needs to be exposed to your message at least 7 times, on average, before they are comfy enough to answer.
So it's obviously important to keep following-up with these professionals on your list. After your initial mailing, I'd tell you to follow up with them by telephone or another letter about 1 time a month. Emailing them would be an alternative also, if you have it.
As it is with dating, you want to be careful to not smother and irritate them or else you can bet on never receiving referrals from them, ever. It's a fine line but you need to tell them why you should be their "go-to" Realtor without coming across in a rude or annoying way.
One final tip, if you want to save yourself a pant load of time, pay your teenager to stuff these envelopes and mailers. I'd still tell you to pen your referral letter yourself but feel free to pay somebody else to address the envelopes and stick the letters inside.
It's inexpensive labor, just like US companies do when they employ overseas workers for their customer service call centers (did I just throw in a cheap shot?).
Seriously, this is just one of the better, long-term and short-term marketing tips for Realtors. In the long-run, you can see yourself with a constant flood of client referrals from these professionals, as long as you devote yourself to forming these relationships.
Focus on helping them as much as you want them to help you and the funds will flow in!