Word of mouth marketing seems almost ancient when compared to the various modern ways of marketing that are so easily accessible.
But what is easily accessible also means there is a very low barrier to entry.
With social media channels being easily available to every single real estate agent out there, this also means you will need to stand out in a highly competitive landscape.
Your base of existing customers is actually your own "unique barrier to entry" - only available to you. And it is quite a waste if you do not tap on this network first when entering this industry.
After all, people whom you are acquainted with in your current or previous jobs and extra curricular activities are most likely to trust and support you in your new venture!
So, here are 5 ways you can get started on leveraging your own network and existing warm market.
#1: Adopt the Correct Mindset: Relational vs Transactional
In our real estate business, we have to understand this key concept.
We are not selling trinkets or physical items.
To extend this concept further, consider that we are not even selling houses or properties.
On the surface, yes it seems that we are selling physical homes and apartment units.
But if we just examine this one layer deeper, what we are actually selling is ourselves and the idea of engaging our services as a realtor.
What exactly does it mean that we are selling ourselves?
Well first, do we have the knowledge and better judgment to guide our clients in what they wish to achieve?
If we do, do we adequately communicate our expertise and reliability to the people we work with? Clients obviously cannot read our minds and what we can do.
Next, can clients feel that they can trust us? How do we bring this important intangible element out in our interactions with them?
Our relationship with clients who engage us might end as a transaction.
But the reason they even engaged us was because it started off as a relationship where they felt they could trust us enough to disclose important and sometimes, sensitive information.
From total strangers to people whom they feel they can trust and believe in to execute their plans for them.
The relationship becomes more and more valuable to the point where the next natural step is to simply engage our services.
Do you remember the name of the crew who took your order at McDonalds?
No. Because that is a transactional relationship.
But will you remember the person who guided you in your property search? And then bought you your first housewarming present?
Yes, you will remember who they are.
Because it is relationship that was built on a shared experience of countless hours that both of you went through together.
#2: Deliver an Excellent Customer Experience
Have you sat down and defined what will be a great customer experience for your clients who engage your services?
Find out what key moments in the journey that you can replicate again for different clients.
The idea is that so you can create a repeatable process that is memorable and becomes a key talking point - something they can narrate to their friends and family members.
And when they narrate the journey and stories regularly, it becomes memorable and imprinted in their minds.
What are examples of key moments you can replicate?
For example, there is an agent I know who has the ability to look out for blind spots in a property search on behalf of his buyers.
He can spot a wide range of issues ranging from difficulties in exiting a potential investment, signs of loan shark activities to ceiling cracks and water leakages and even potentially difficult neighbours.
He educates his buyers on these issues, whether they occur or not, and walks them through his thought processes so that they too are aware of his judgment and analysis of potential blind spots in their search.
They feel good knowing that they are well-protected in his hands.
That is a key moment and experience that he replicates naturally after awhile which helps clients feel safe with him even if they can't point a finger to exactly why they feel so sometimes.
#3: Commemorate Special Events and Festivals
How do you further reinforce the idea of engaging your services?
There is an agent in my team who keeps close track of his clients' birthdays, special occasions like their anniversaries and/or children's graduation dates and milestones.
He has a personal CRM (customer relationship management) tool where he keeps track of his client's important details so that they know that they mean something to him through his greetings and surprise gifts.
At the same time, during important festivals like Lunar New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali and Christmas - he takes the time to become a personal courier where he delivers small gifts to commemorate these special events.
Could he have just outsourced this to a delivery or gift hamper company?
Yes he could.
But he would rather do it himself and use the chance to keep in touch and be regularly updated on what is going on in the lives of his customers.
It provides the additional personal touch which is more important than any tech tools can offer.
While he began with less than 5 customers, his database has now grown to more than a hundred clients receiving yearly gifts from him.
During one of our top achievers sharing sessions, he was once asked whether it was worth it to take up so much time to do this.
I am prospecting in a way, aren't I?
But more importantly, I believe there is a time and season for everything.
There is a time to make money.
There is also a time to just sit back and enjoy the relationships built.
Meeting old clients who have become good friends is never a chore.
His "unscalable" efforts of planting seeds has borne fruits.
He is a regular top producer and clients still seek him out even 5 to 10 years later and encourage their children to work with him.
Imagine doing the transactions for his clients, his clients' children, their in-laws and their friends.
He does not need to do a lot of cold leads generation marketing when his base of referrals keeps getting larger and larger.
#4: Keep In Regular Contact
The truth is we have to regularly be on top of their minds.
With so many agents reaching out with digital marketing, knocking doors and distributing flyers, you have to the be one that remains a priority so they are not distracted by others.
Regular communications equals to a better relationship and nothing else can supersede that.
Some strategies you can consider:
A WhatsApp broadcast list where you share your thoughts on latest property news and your insights about them
An email mailing list where you send out useful property content that you curate or pull from other sources that are relevant to them
A personal website where you can share quality articles and invite them to subscribe or follow. It also serves as a nice reference for existing clients to promote you to their network too. It is easier to promote you when there are digital footprints that point to your credibility and capabilities.
Your competition is not really fellow agents but what else competes for their attention.
Things like family, work, social media and even Netflix - those are the main consumers of their attention.
Find out how to keep their attention, and you will keep their business.
#5: Be of Service
One of the best ways to keep the attention of your clients is by being of service.
For this agent, he noticed that his clients were getting struck by Covid-19 in an earlier wave.
Initially, his plan was to buy some medication for his family.
But in the end, as he wanted to be of service, he actually went out of his way to buy TCM products for all his past clients who were stuck at home as they nursed the illness.
His clients will eventually recover and their illness will pass.
But I am sure they will never forget his kindness the next time they need to do something with their property.
The intention was to be of service and help.
But usually, the end results are far more priceless.
Never underestimate what being helpful and thoughtful can mean for those whom you serve. This is at the heart of it, a people business.
Agents are always finding ways to improve their business and yet many times, the simplest acts of showing people more sincere attention and service can result in their success from clients' who express their gratitude and appreciation through referrals and repeated business.
As a realtor, we have many numbers that we can generate a business "report card" from.
Our ranking in our company, the commissions we earn, the number of transactions we did, the awards and trophies we bring home.
Here I like to add another number for you to consider:
The number of meaningful client relationships you have built over the years.
We can learn to derive the meaning of success from the number of meaningful client relationships.
Clients who keep coming back to us, who do not hesitate to provide referrals or suggest our names to their own circle of influence.
It starts by acknowledging the power of generosity and goodwill in building bridges from our hearts to their hearts.
Always be generous with your knowledge, experience and expertise.
But most importantly, be generous to this group of people who have once supported you when you first started out your business.
I sincerely believe people who help others (with zero expectation) experience higher levels of fulfillment, live more happily, and naturally attract more success and money.
This is a lesson that I have experienced myself on many occasions and a philosophy of life that many realtors in my team hold on to.
If you are a new or experienced RES looking for help in improving your business and lead generation efforts or develop your online brand, let's have a chat.
Our team support and environment might help you achieve that sooner.
Make an appointment with Stuart and his team leaders.
Stuart Chng, Executive Group District Director of Huttons Asia, is a renowned leader and personality in the real estate industry.
He adores music and can play a few instruments decently without upsetting his neighbours. When not doing so, he enjoys pillow fighting with his son and coming up with silly puns which barely amuses his wife.
Professionally, he is a licensed real estate agent, an avid stocks, options and real estate investor, multiple businesses owner, team leader, speaker and columnist for several property newsletters and blogs and is often quoted in media interviews on 938FM, Channel 8, PropertyReport, PropertyGuru and other publications.
- Find out about a Property Agent's Career Path with Huttons Group.