In this new business environment, technology has changed the way companies do business with their customers, and there is no turning back. As part of the new revolution in consumer interactions, the typical customer has taken on a new persona. This new persona includes a higher level of sophistication as a buyer and increased interest in personal attention.
What is Relationship Marketing?
Regardless of the industry that is being analyzed, competition for consumer dollars has never been higher. Every industry is filled with brick and mortar companies trying to compete with online companies. There is a distinct advantage that online companies have, with easy access to customers through extensive databases with advanced analytical tools. Relationship marketing is the process of cultivating long-term relationships with customers/clients, and using their past/present/future activity as a prompt to react in an appropriate manner. If the process is customized, it makes the client feel valued and informed. While the concept of relationship management has been around for a while, the use of technology has increased the ability to incorporate it quickly and efficiently.
Relationship Management for Real Estate Agents
The real estate industry is unique from a transactional standpoint. Most transactions are for large dollar amounts and the customers aren’t likely to purchase again for several years when they are ready to move again. These characteristics require that real estate agents use initiative and creativity in order to build that all important long-term relationship.
Relationship Marketing 101 For Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents must find creative ways to stay in touch with clients during times when the client is not in the market to buy. They also need to be flexible enough to approach each client as a unique entity and customize their relationship marketing efforts to each client’s persona and needs. Here are some concepts that can be used to form the basis of an effective relationship marketing program..
- Building Trust – From the moment a real estate agent encounters a prospective client, the trust meter is already in play. The client is looking to make a significant investment and they need to trust the individual charged with facilitating their transaction. For real estate agents, the two key components to building trust are honest communication and follow though. Honest communication involves telling the client exactly how it is without regard for some predisposed notion of how it should be. When clients feel they are getting the most reliable information available, trust is enriched. As for follow through, this amounts to nothing more than common courtesy. When a real estate agent says they are going to do something, it is critical that they follow through and make sure they meet self-prescribed tasks and deadlines.
- Personal Interactions – In this modern era of electronic communication, it’s still important to have a little face-to-face time with clients. Even after a real estate transaction has been completed, it’s a nice touch to schedule a follow up meeting to make sure the services were satisfactory and to assure the client that the agent is prepared to remain accessible for the foreseeable future.
- Staying in Touch – Follow up calls in subsequent months/years will signal to the client that the agent hasn’t forgotten them and remains interested in continuing a relationship. Giving a client “news they can use”, such as current trends in the real estate market is a great method for maintaining the trust and remaining a good resource.
- Using Technology – Aside from personal interaction and staying in touch, the use of modern technology as a relationship marketing tool is an easy and efficient way to fill the time gaps in-between transactions for a specific client. Here are some ways to enhance relationship marketing via the Internet.
- Reacting to Customer Activity– Using analytical tools built into phone systems and websites, it’s now possible to track the activity of clients and prospective clients. If you see a client showing some interest, it might be a great time to initiate contact and issue some baseline information is order to elicit further actions. The best time to react is when the client is in the mood to make inquiries.
- Formulate monthly newsletters and send them out to past, current and prospective clients. Newsletters can be used to let large numbers of individuals know where current real estate trends are pointing in a given area.
- Send out open house and listing alerts letting clients know what’s on the market, including what properties have recently sold. This often works as suggestive selling to clients who might not have been aware they were ready to enter the market.
- Send out customized Comparative Market Analysis, which helps clients get a feel for the value of their property at any given point in time. This is a wonderful value added feature that serves to show clients continued involvement.
Reacting to Customer Activity– Using analytical tools built into phone systems and websites, it’s now possible to track the activity of clients and prospective clients. If you see a client showing some interest, it might be a great time to initiate contact and issue some baseline information is order to elicit further actions. The best time to react is when the client is in the mood to make inquiries.
Real estate agents who make one sale to many clients will most likely carve out a decent living. Agents who cultivate relationships that generate repeat business and referrals will be among the most successful realtors in the industry. By using relationship marketing techniques, both agents and clients stand to gain immeasurable benefits.
Jonathan Ensey is the Managing Director of ARedStore.com, a website dedicated to providing real estate marketing collateral and services to Keller Williams real estate agents a Senior Partner at GoThink!, a retail marketing and business consulting company. I’ve been fortunate to work in several industries, diverse in their environments, which have given me a specific skill set. The culmination of these experiences has equipped me to manage and operate every aspect of a small business, with specialties in business development and sales, team management, product and service deployment, and marketing campaigns. My goal is simply to provide value to everyone I meet.