With a hundred emails a day, a schedule full of tasks, three listing presentations, a showing and a training class, how is a modern real estate agent ever supposed to keep up with her marketing plan? Simple, if you let technology do the work! Regular readers of this column know that there is no way to do it if you’re still generating postcards, labels and postage. But transfer your prospecting to email and follow up becomes simplicity itself. Let’s see how.
From a technology perspective, follow up marketing should take no more than 15 minutes a week. If that sounds too good to be true, read on. If agents and brokers are going to get their money’s worth from their web sites, search engine marketing and banner ad campaigns, they have to ensure follow up marketing takes place aggressively enough to maximize the potential of every lead. Even with the variety of wireless tech tools – from email-ready cell phones to mini-tablets like the Samsung Q1 – that simplify managing email on the go, too many REALTORS lack a systematic approach to converting the leads they already received last week, and the week before, and the week before, and the week before?.
And that’s why the cost of marketing never seems to pay off.
To overcome this cyclical problem of maximizing every prospect, you need a technological perspective. Fully 55% of consumers tell researchers at Doubleclick.net that they expect email to replace direct mail and telemarketing; that’s good news for agents who implement an email-based marketing strategy. And while there are all sorts of automated programs and online campaign tools to do email marketing for you, you may already have everything needed to start the process today.
Let’s construct a basic email marketing plan. There are three components: a folder of prospects, a weekly task reminder and a quick mass message. First, create a contacts folder in Outlook called “prospects” by clicking File/New Folder and choosing the Contacts type; name it prospects and it will be listed in your folder tree. Now every time you reply to a new prospect during the day, you drag a copy of that prospect from your inbox into the prospects folder. Do this by holding the control-key while dragging the message from the inbox to the prospects folder. Outlook will automatically analyze the message, extract the name and email address of the contact and create a new record for that person; just press Save. Now you are free to work with the new lead from your inbox, while having an extra copy in a general prospecting folder.
Next, set a reminder to send a mass email every week. Do this by opening the Outlook calendar. Click New/Appointment and title it “General Prospecting” in the subject line. Click the Recurrence button, check off weekly and select Monday; the default is for No End Date which means you’re going to have to deal with this activity every week you’re trying to stay in business. Save the appointment into your calendar.
Each week, when the appointment pops-up, here’s what you do. Open a new email message and write a short follow up message. Don’t make it complicated or too wordy. A short message on market conditions, a quick description of a new listing or some helpful advice for new buyers is all it takes. Don’t get too fancy or concerned about fonts, graphics or logos. And be sure to include a signature file with your web site and phone number so your prospects can contact you for more help. Click on the BCC: button. Select the folder marked prospects in the drop-down list under the “Show Names” box. Highlight all of the entries in the list and add them to the BCC: line. This will quickly include every prospect – new and old – on your weekly message.
Now press send.
Here’s what’s going to happen: Nothing. That’s right, mostly nothing. It’s the same thing that happens with all of your marketing – mostly nothing. Maybe a couple of replies – but that’s no worse than 1% response rates from expensive postcard mailings. But that’s not the point, really, is it? Marketing isn’t about response rates – it’s about consistently reaching out to prospects. If you do it every week, over time, even those long-term leads will come to recognize your name and remember your willingness to help them. When they are ready, they will remember the agent who has been consistently providing them with helpful ideas all those months – and that’s you!
At the same time, the cost to reach out to your prospects drops to near-zero, and stays there no matter how large you scale the group. Whether you email to 40 leads or 400, the cost is so low to do it by email – just 15 minutes of your time to compose a short weekly note – that it’s absurd to consider any other form of direct-campaigning for future business. Since you don’t have to write long articles or worry about complex desktop publishing, your email campaign should help you reduce costs by eliminating wasteful design time, costly printing and outrageous postage bills – none of which is as scalable as email (check with your accountant).
Which brings us back to our original problem: following up on leads. For every email you receive, the key to success depends upon maximizing the potential to convert that consumer into a deal. Keep in mind that leads aren’t free – even email ones! Every single prospect comes with an “invisible” cost attached to them – the cost of your website, the cost of your banner ads, etc. Without a plan to follow up every lead until they absolutely, unconditionally surrender (or tell you to stop), you aren’t helping your business by going online. In fact, you may be hurting your business: moving your primary marketing efforts online without a secondary campaign to follow up each lead, new prospects represent unrecovered expenses. It is only an integrated, two stage plan – one that attracts leads online and one that follows them up later by email – that can maximize the potential to convert and recover your investment in online advertising.
Finally, remember this: there are lots of products out there to simplify the process of follow up email. But for starters, keep it simple. Don’t overdo it by constructing more databases and complicated email designs. Just drag the emails in a folder, drop them into a BCC line, jot a few lines and move on. Even if you’re not writing award-winning copy, the effect of putting your name into their inbox every week helps you take advantage of email as the cost-effective solution to simplifying your prospecting.
This article was authored by Matthew Ferrara of Matthew Ferrara Seminars Inc.
Reprinted with permission of Matthew Ferrara Seminars Inc.