Sunday, October 7, 2007

Word of Mouth for a Realtor

Case Study: Sandra Daniels, realtor for John L. Scott Real Estate in Beaverton, Oregon.

Challenge: Increase referral business in a very competitive and close-knit market. She currently gets a large portion of her business through referrals, but says that there's always room for more.

Idea Wanted: A new strategy to create referral buzz.

Background: Sandra has been doing real estate in the Beaverton/Portland area for ten years, eight of those years as a realtor. She wants to create some buzz and get more referral business. Her advertising has been minimally effective and she gets virtually no qualified leads from the yard signs in front of her listings. Her current slogan is "The first step to your next home."

Sandra is originally from Hawaii and actually knows how to hula. She also active in the community doing volunteer work for her church, a women's and children's shelter, and the Red Cross. She prides herself on no BS, straight talk. Current marketing efforts are an email newsletter and inclusion in her Broker's ad in the Oregonian. Sandra has been thinking about starting a blog.

Advice: To get some buzz, people have to have a topic worth talking about. You need to stick out, or say something out of the ordinary.

Our Ideas:

  1. Develop an image that is out of the ordinary that gets attention. Our suggestion is to drop the current slogan and become The Straight-Talking Hawaiian. Sandra should embrace her heritage and use it as a differentiator in most of her marketing efforts.

  2. Get some attention by being a little controversial. Start a blog called "Straight-Up Real Estate" or "No BS Real Estate." Reveal some realtor secrets. Post case studies (where did we get that idea?) of actual sales of anonymous people and a major lesson learned from that sale. Then promote your blog to local TV & radio stations and volunteer to do a Straight Up segment for them.

  3. Create a talking point with every sale. Each homebuyer receives a Hawaiian themed welcome gift when they arrive at their new home. Remember the scene from It's a Wonderful Life where George and Mary welcome a family to their new home with salt, wine & bread? Do something similar with Hawaiian gifts such as as a ukelele, hibiscus flowers, and traditional Hawaiian food. The homebuyers will be sure to tell that story when they tell their friends about their new home.

  4. Throw an annual luau customer appreciation party for your past and current clients. Ask the broker to share the cost with you. It keeps customers involved and gives you a chance to visit with them in person. The event will remind them about you and spur them to give referrals.

  5. Get customers involved with a cause. Conduct an annual fundraiser with former customers for the women & children's shelter where Sandra volunteers. Send out a fundraising letter with a donation envelope and invite customers to work with you to raise money for this worthy cause. People like to do business with businesses that share common values.

  6. Give away some valuable information. People love lists. Create a Top 10 list such as Top 10 Mistakes Homebuyers Make That Cost Them Money. Then print it on a flyer with your picture and information on it. Hand it out to all customers and mail it to phone inquiries. Then write a press release from the Straight Talking Hawaiian and send it to the local television, radio, and print outlets. As well as creating some buzz, you may also get some media coverage.

The Lesson: Don't be afraid to step out with a bold image. If you want to create buzz, you have to be different and you have to get noticed. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because you work hard and do a good job, that you will get noticed. People need an image to convey and something unique to say about you.

Say or do something out of the ordinary, in a positive way. People rarely talk about the ordinary. Combine your bold image with memorable actions. Then remind them to talk about you by staying in communication with them.

Word of Mouth referrals are powerful, but they don't just happen. They are created not just by hard work, but also with a carefully crafted plan.

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For more small business marketing lessons and advice, please see our other blog: The Marketing Spot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

story is very nice and funny



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