One of the best ways to get leads is probably the most obvious: referrals from your sphere of influence. But it’s not enough to just say, “Go get referrals.”
Let's talk about some ways to stay in touch with your sphere of influence, communicate with them, build relationships and prevent them from going dormant.
Interact on Social Media.
Social media is probably the easiest and fastest way to connect with your clients. Chances are, most, if not all, of your clients use social media, so the groundwork is already there.
However, no one — including your former clients — wants to be constantly bombarded with personal messages asking them for referrals. Social media is all about casual interactions. You can comment and “like” content your former clients post, but don’t go overboard.
Try to maintain friendly, engaged, yet low-pressure interactions. You can message former clients once or twice a year to see how things are going and offer to help them resolve any issues or answer any questions they may have about their new homes. There are many times a personal update is appropriate and very much appreciated. For instance, if a former client finds out she’s having a baby, you can message her your congratulations.
Mail a Monthly Postcard, Letter, Newsletter, or Magazine.
When you're expecting a package, you can’t wait for the mailman to drop it off so you can tear up the box and get to the contents, right?
Your clients are also part of the 79% of consumers who act on direct mail immediately, compared with 45% who act on email communication.
Mailing your former clients a monthly newsletter of some kind is a great way to maintain contact. Depending on what kind of newsletter you send, it doesn’t even have to be that expensive. You can send a monthly letter for pennies.
Email Useful Resources, Information, or Tips.
Statistics show that 91% of people check their emails daily. That’s why email presents a huge opportunity to maintain engagement with former clients and offer them entertaining and potentially valuable content.
However, a great email blast isn’t as simple as writing a message and hitting “send.” Here are just a few pointers when you’re creating or sharing content with former clients:
- Connect on a local level. People want to know about upcoming events, unique places to visit, and general happenings in their towns. If a former client happens to attend a great event you recommended, they’ll remember you for recommending it and remember you if a friend asks for a referral.
- Offer low-pressure real estate advice. Home improvement ideas, gardening and lawn tips, and decorating advice are great topics that are relevant to the services you offer but won’t come across as an attempt at a sales pitch.
- Include photo and video content. People love to look at photos and watch videos. Spruce up what you share with multimedia content or link to existing content.
Blog and Promote It to Your Sphere
The beauty of creating a blog is that you can create an awesome post and then use that content in multiple ways.
You can create a post with similar information — like the topics suggested above (home tips, photos, advice, etc.). Once posted, you can then email your blog posts to your former clients and promote them on social media. You could even print them out and mail them.
The bottom line is that you can create helpful content once and redistribute it in multiple ways. It’s a great way to get value out of any work you do.
When you're running a blog, an editorial calendar can help you keep track of your posts. Publishing your posts on a schedule helps you stay organized and can help former and potential clients keep up.
Writing and publishing your real estate blog content may be an effective strategy in the short term. But if you’re not tracking the topics you cover and the types of articles you produce, along with the frequency at which you publish these posts, you won’t manage to provide the greatest value to your audience.
Use Facebook Custom Audience Tools
Another method a lot of people don’t know or think about is creating a Facebook custom audience. If you set up an advertiser account with Facebook, you can even go in and import your leads using their email address or phone number.
Here is how to create an audience.
- Go to your business page and click at the top where it says “Ad Center.”
- Click on where it says “Audiences” on the left side.
- Once you’re under Audiences, you can edit “Audience Details” to suit your preferences, narrowing items such as age, location, and even interests.
Once you have it all set up, you can spend a really small amount of money to boost your content to those leads. The content you boost doesn’t have to be anything extravagant — stuff to stay in touch, information about a new listing, or even a new review you received.
By paying that small amount of cash, your name and business are constantly in front of people whom you've already done business with. It's a fast and simple method that ensures they don't forget about you.
Call and Have a Conversation
Another really old-school method that is still effective is calling and having a phone conversation.
Once a quarter, for example, you could call all the people in your database who are likely to refer you and just touch base with them to see how they're doing. This doesn't have to be a complicated script — it's all about being natural and keeping it personal.
Conversation examples could be: “How are you enjoying your new home?” or “Do you need any help with things around the house? I can put you in touch with a good local contractor.”
You can also reference things you previously discussed or that you recently saw on social media, such as a new employment opportunity or recent graduation.
Chances are, they won’t ask for any assistance from you, but the communication lets them know you care and are available, which is what you’re going for.
Drop By to Deliver a Gift or Helpful Resource
This is another old-school method a lot of people don’t do as much anymore, but it’s still a powerful gesture. Maybe once every six months or so, stop by a former client’s house and deliver a pumpkin for Thanksgiving or Halloween, or drop off sweets for Valentine's Day.
There are so many holidays and so many cool ways you could do this. You could buy flowers, some succulents, or even teddy bears. You could get them all in bulk, drop by the former client’s home, and then deliver the gifts and tell them to stay in touch. Little gifts like these could go a long way, and they don’t have to be expensive.
If your budget is really small, you could forego the gift route and instead just deliver resources. One idea would be to find a reputable florist in the area and get a bunch of their business cards. Stop by your former clients’ homes and speak well of the florist and give out the business card. The florist will certainly appreciate the potential business and could hook you up with discounts or freebies in the future — and you’ve spent no money at all.
Something to keep in mind with this method is that you shouldn’t do this with every client you’ve ever had. When you're going after referrals, you should set up some kind of grading system for your clients: Which clients are very likely to refer you, and which ones are likely never going to refer you? Obviously, you should spend your time and money on the ones who are going to give you the most business and send you the most referrals.
Parties, Events, Networking & Social Functions
Most everyone enjoys parties and gatherings, so go ahead and throw an event and invite your former clients. You could even do this at one of your open houses.
If you belong to a local club, that’s an easy way to get your clients into a social gathering. If you’re a golfer, have a golf outing.
Even if your former clients don’t attend your events, the invitation is what counts.
Break Bread Over Coffee or a Meal
Events and parties described in the previous point might be too extravagant or large for your business. That’s OK — you can throw a dinner party instead. This won’t cost you much and can be done in your own home, or even a friend’s home, if needed.
Even if that’s too much for you, you can always offer to catch up with former clients over coffee, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The core idea here is to involve your clients in no-pressure gathering that will show you care about them as people and not just as clients.