The 4th quarter is here – already! In just 3 months, the holidays will be history and we’ll be in January, 2019.
What does that mean for you as real estate professional?
It means that you have less than 3 months to reach your goals for 2018 – and you’ll need to overcome an age-old misconception to do it. That misconception is that “Nobody wants to buy a house during the holiday season.”
Back when I was an agent and then a broker, I watched as most of the agents in our small town shut down for the season. They “knew” no one wanted to buy or sell, so they made no effort. That was OK in a way – it left more business for the rest of us. Of course, when I was the broker, I didn’t love seeing my agents ignore business, but that’s another story.
Those agents complained a lot about not having income in December and January, but they persisted in believing that it was out of their control.
The truth of the matter is, if you want to keep working through the holidays, the business is there.
While people who have a choice might not want to move during the holidays, others either don’t have that choice, want to become homeowners as soon as possible, or are eager to sell and move on to another of life’s adventures.
Among the possible reasons:
- They need to buy or sell in order to relocate.
- The house they were renting has been sold and it’s time to become homeowners.
- They’re getting married and want a home of their own.
- They’re retired and have found another community where they’d like to live, but need to sell here first.
- They have a house in probate they can’t afford to maintain.
- They’re divorcing and need the house sold.
- They’re behind on payments and want to sell before the house is foreclosed upon.
So how can you market yourself to gain your share of that 4th quarter business?
One of Active Rain’s September challenges was all about 4th quarter marketing. I read all of those entries and have put them together in a summary for you. Some are for agents with some serious marketing dollars to spend. Others can be accomplished by agents on a tight budget.
And why should you be doing it?
Much of what these successful agents are doing at this time of year is designed merely to keep themselves “Top of Mind” with people who can and will send referrals. They are building their brand and cementing their relationships.
At the same time, some of the people they connect with at this time will be ready to list – or even to buy. Others will know someone who needs an agent immediately.
That said, 4th Quarter marketing has three purposes:
- One is to keep business coming in during these last 3 months of the year.
- One is to set the stage for business in the coming year.
- The third is to maintain those valuable connections that you already have.
If you’ve been prospecting, either through postal mail or email, don’t slow down! I’ll come back to that later, but for now, consider that all of these holiday marketing ideas are things to do in addition to whatever you’re already doing.
EVENTS: Some agents hold monthly events for past clients and those in their sphere of influence – not just during the holidays, but every month of the year. Some focus on only one holiday, such as Thanksgiving.
These events range from BBQ’s in their own back yard, to open houses at the office, to catered events, to wine tastings at a local pub or winery, to fund raisers for their favorite non-profit.
Starting at the beginning of the season: Halloween…
Some join with others, such as a title company or mortgage lender, to host a Spook House for Halloween. Some organize a hayride and/or visit to a local pumpkin grower for the children.
One agent organizes a pumpkin carving contest in cooperation with local grocers, who donate pumpkins to children to carve. Of course there are prizes.
One year when I had a brokerage, I purchased two bins full of small pumpkins, and we gave one to every child who visited the office with his or her parent. (Of course I did end up sending a few home with parents who didn’t have their children with them.) The local newspaper covered the give-away with both a story and a photo on the front page.
Also for Halloween: Many agents hand out candy in imprinted bags, candy in imprinted packaging, or candy bars with their business cards attached, but what if you went “Trick or Treating” yourself, but were on the giving end?
Considering that most of us never really grow up, if you happen to live in (or farm) a senior housing development or condo, why not dress up and go door to door, giving those seniors a Halloween treat? One year my husband and I carved a pumpkin, then went to our elderly neighbor’s home on Halloween to give it to her, along with some chocolate treats. She loved it.
At Thanksgiving, these events are generally billed as “Customer Appreciation” parties, as the agents show their gratitude for past business, referrals, and friendship.
One agent hosts a “Happy Hour” with snacks and beverages, and asks that participants each bring a new or used blanket to be donated to a local animal shelter. The event also includes a drawing for a gift basket, which she provides. Since most of her clients are pet people, this is a big hit.
Quite often, agents begin activities more associated with Christmas during the first week or so of November. This includes pop-bys with gifts, and mailings, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Pictures with Santa is a choice for many. Unless they are experts with a camera, agents hire a photographer to take the photos of Santa with children, with pets, or with the whole family. Of course the photos are presented in a folder with the agent’s (or agency’s) name and contact information. These events are sometimes open to everyone, so part of the plan is getting new names and addresses to add to their mailing lists.
Gifts. The possibilities are endless, limited only by your budget.
Many agents give calendars – either wall or pocket sized. Do remember that if you start this practice, many of your past clients and those in your sphere will expect you to continue it year after year. I gave pocket calendars one year, then switched to wall calendars – and some people were disappointed. I ordered the same two wall calendars every year: one was Rockwell prints and the other puppies & kittens. I loved it when the toughest looking loggers would come in asking for their puppy calendars.
Some hand-deliver small poinsettias to a select group of past clients and people in their sphere. Others give candy, baked goods, or wine. All of these can be ordered with your branding.
Some who love to bake use the holiday season to deliver home-baked goodies while others invite people to come into the office to get them. One agent who gives away home baked pies said he adds a can of whipped cream for those who “whip up” a referral.
You can, of course, order branded items in everything from key chains, to coffee mugs, to coffee beans, to t-shirts and ball caps, to wine, to bottled water, to – you name it.
Before you choose, stop and think about which items might remain visible throughout the coming months. Which will they use and which will be tossed in a drawer – or tossed altogether?
Notepads are always a good (and inexpensive) choice, and they give you plenty of options. One year I made a big mistake – and ordered notepads that were 4” X 6”. They didn’t fit in a standard sized envelope. People loved them, but I had to buy special envelopes to send them to those who didn’t live close enough to come into the office for them.
A better choice was smaller notepads attached to a magnet that could hang on the refrigerator. The top had a peel-off area where we could attach our business cards.
Branded gift items, such as notepads, are good for giving all year round.
Mailings and email: Some agents send promotional postcards or greeting cards year round. Some create a card on the computer and send it as an email, while others believe in using postal mail. Some focus only on the holidays.
Many send a letter of gratitude in November. This thanks their past clients for their business and for their referrals. It thanks their sphere for their referrals. It thanks everyone for their ongoing friendship and support. While this can certainly be an email, many believe that a printed, hand-signed letter is more effective in relationship-building.
Many send Christmas greetings – depending upon the makeup of their clientele. With that in mind, some stick with “Happy Holidays.”
What about prospecting during the 4th quarter?
Don’t stop! Successful prospecting depends upon consistency. When you stop for any period of time, the hard work you did to become “known” to those people will slide right down the drain. So keep right on letting them know you’re there for them.
Keep on sending them prospecting letters offering tidbits of good advice, market reports, your newsletters, and of course your just listed, under contract, and just sold cards.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb
“Do or do not; there is no try.”
What if you’ve lost touch with past clients?
The one thing I wish my first brokers had taught me was that it is vital to maintain contact with past clients. I shudder to think of the business I lost because of that oversight.
If you’re in that position right now, get busy working on your database, then use the holiday season to reconnect. Take the time to write a short “Thinking of you” note on a Thanksgiving card. Thank them for having done business with you and let them know that you’re there to answer questions about the market or help in any way you can.
Then begin staying in touch. Reach out monthly if you can, but no less than quarterly.
Wishing you a happy and productive 4th Quarter!
Ghost image courtesy of Dreamstine
Thanksgiving Image courtesy of Becris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Gift Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net