I frequently participate in forums on Alignable, asking and answering marketing questions. I occasionally bring bits of the forum here to the blog. Today, I’ll be expanding on a conversation I had with a bookstore owner about how to generate referrals.
Bookstore Owner : Looking for advice as to how best to market my audio bookstore to the local neighborhood and online. Here’s my issue. Our business model, that makes us unique to bookstores, is that we offer audio books for Rent. I believe we give a great value to our customers for the price we charge. But I have tried everything including radio ads, print ads, Facebook Ads and writing articles. Yet, most people find the store by accident. After 9 years in the same location, people still walk in and say to me “Wow, I didn’t know this place existed”. Thanks in advance.
Brianna at One Step: Do you have any sort of referral or rewards program? Often the best marketers are those clients who already love your business. Maybe you could offer a free month’s membership or a free book rental if they share your Facebook page, bring a friend to an event, tell a friend about your business, etc.
Bookstore Owner: We have tried several types of referral plans. Giving $5.00 credit for each referral. Offering a 1 Free month to our customers if they get a customer to sign-up to a plan. We usually advertise these referral programs for three months in a row. Out of the 300 customers we sent the offer out to only less than 1% referred anybody. That’s not say that we don’t get referrals from our customers, because we do. They just happen to be given organically. I don’t think our customers which skew in a older demographic care so much about getting a free month or receiving a dollar amount for each referral. Plus our business is so unique, I don’t think most people are thinking about it when they are out with friends.
Brianna at One Step Services: Rather than trying 3 month plans, I recommend thinking of ways that you can consistently and constantly remind your clients to refer you. You may be right that they aren’t interested in rewards and that organic referrals are best for your clientele. However, there is nothing wrong with reminding them to make those organic referrals. Many studies show that the more you remind or ask people to do something…refer you, like your social media post, write a testimony, etc…the more likely they are to do it.
So to increase those organic referrals, consider including a referral card in every book you mail out. Just a little something that a client could pass on to a friend with your info. Keep those same handouts near your cash register so people can grab them on their way out. Every time you send an email, make sure there is an obvious link so they can forward it to a friend. If you’re on social media, about once a week make a post asking for referrals or asking them to share your post/page with their friends. Here at One Step, we send out handwritten welcome notes to new clients and we include referral cards. We also send handwritten notes to our most consistent and loyal clients, people we think would speak highly of us.
It may sound obnoxious, but keep in mind one single person will probably only pay attention to one of these touch points. And it’s critical that you constantly stay top of mind to get those organic referrals. This is not a three month program, but something that is part of your long term marketing strategy. And I do think that you are off base in saying that your service is so unique people don’t think about it when out with friends. Media is a very popular topic amongst friends and movies, music and books are easy conversation starters. Your clients will refer people if you tell them to.
As a real estate agent, the holidays provide quite a few unique marketing opportunities. Unlike retail businesses, this probably isn’t going to an incredibly busy time for you as far as listings go. So instead of pushing deals, sales and freebies, you’ll want to use this time to build and maintain relationships within the community and with past and current clients. If you aren’t busy with listings, focus on increasing your brand awareness and engagement so that when people decide to sell, you’ll be the one they go to.
Say “thank you.”
If you’re still in business, you have your clients to thank for it. So thank them! It’s important to touch base with all clients – whether it’s through email, direct mail, phone calls or in person – and let them know how much their business and referrals mean to you. We always release a variety of beautiful and uniquely designed postcards and holiday cards which are perfect for communicating with your farm or social list. We can also convert these designs to email headers and social media images.
For clients that have been particularly loyal, or given quite a few referrals, you may want to consider giving them a gift. We’ve found some truly unique client gifts over the years and shared them in a recent holiday giving blog post. You can also find more ideas by visiting our Pinterest page.
You can double your impact by partnering with a local nonprofit. It’s best to contact the nonprofit and ask how you can best support them this holiday season. Common partnership ideas include donating a portion of your profits, collecting donations on their behalf, or sponsoring one of their events. This increases your brand exposure, demonstrates your company values and, most importantly, helps improve the local community and benefits residents.
Engage the community.
There are so many opportunities for engagement during the holidays. Take advantage of the many community events to get to know fellow residents. This isn’t the time for a hard sell, but it never hurts to mention what you do and hand out a business card. Here are some specific engagement ideas:
- Hand out branded treats to trick or treaters
- Sponsor an HOA holiday party
- Hand out a holiday schedule of events while door knocking
- Go Christmas caroling
- If your neighborhood does Christmas lights, set up a hot cocoa station in the driveway
Don’t forget lead generation.
While fostering relationships will be your primary focus this holiday season, successful agents are still going after those listings in very specific ways. Many unique life situations could force a homeowner to put up a For Sale sign instead of Christmas tree, and you should be the one they call. Try some of these lead generation tactics specific to the holidays.
- Send a postcard or email detailing the benefits of selling during the holidays
- Make holiday open houses extra special with holiday cookies, hot cocoa, carols playing in the background, and some subtle holiday decorations.
- Call past clients to wish them happy holidays, update their contact information, and ask if they have any real estate needs.
- Follow up with leads and let them know about any special promotions or partnerships with nonprofits you have at this time.
- When you send Christmas cards to clients, tuck in a few referral cards that they can pass out to friends and family.
Need help creating a detailed marketing plan for the holidays? Call 949-587-5301 for a free consultation with One Step Services.
Want to make the most out of the holidays? Download our 2017 direct mail marketing schedule. We tell you what to mail every week, taking into account deadlines for holidays. Our schedule includes our content ready postcards as well as full custom content. Pick and choose what you want, or simply give us a call and ask us to set up weekly mailings based on the schedule. We’ll handle everything for you!
Download 15 Weeks of Holiday Mailing_OSS
Sometimes buyers are hesitant to sell because they don’t think buyers are interested. This postcard lets them know that you have interested buyers and motivates them to give you a call.
Download Buyers and Boxes Postcard order form
Many homes in Southern California have more equity than owners realize. This postcard encourages recipients to contact you to find out the value of their home.
Download Money Tree Postcard order form
Summer is over and we are speeding towards the holidays. Every year, I make the mistake of waiting too long to come up with client gifts and at the beginning of December there is great snarling and gnashing of teeth as I curse last minute shipping costs. But not this year! This year I am determined to have the gifts picked out and bought and landing on clients’ doorsteps before Thanksgiving.
If you’re trying to get ahead of the game as well, here are some client gift ideas for you. All of these are ones we’ve bought in the past and they’ve been a big hit. Got another idea? Share it in the comments below.
- A giant fortune cookie with a customized fortune from Fancy Fortune Cookies.
- Champagne gummy bears from Sugarfina
- Customized desktop notepads and notepad holders from One Step Services
- Decision paperweight from Uncommon Goods
- Branded reusable grocery bags from 4imprint
Here are few more gifts that are a bit more expensive and personalized. We’ve sent these to consultants, vendors, even our boss.
- Jerkygram from Mancrates
- Custom Bobblehead (can’t remember which company we used, but there are lots of different ones).
- Custom tie from Zazzle
- Personalized lifetime artwork from Your Memory Lane
The preseason starts August 12th! Football schedules are sticky pieces, meaning recipients are likely to keep them around for awhile and get repeat exposure to your name! Plus, they are relevant to a wide variety of audiences. Order today.
Download Football Schedule order form
It’s time to motivate homeowners to SELL! These postcards were created to do just that. The “Hire an Agent” series encourages owners to hire an agent instead of selling it themselves. And the “Buyers are Coming” postcard is a fun nod to Game of Thrones that encourages owners to get their house on the market before the competitive spring market hits. If you’re looking to generate leads, send one of these cards.
Download the order form January Lead Generation Order Form
Hire an Agent
The Buyers Are Coming
2017 4×9 Folded Calendars
Great pieces for farming and direct mail campaigns
Download 2017 Calendar Order Form
8.5×5.5 2017 New Years Postcards
If you missed our Christmas postcards, you’re in luck. These New Years Postcards are appropriate to send out any time in January. A great way to reconnect with old clients or send a personal message to your farm or direct mail recipients.
Download the order form New Years Postcards
Mother’s Day is Sunday May 8th and we have several Mother’s Day postcards you can use to reach out to your farm, social list, clients and leads. Download the Mothers Day Order Form and either email it to email@example.com or fax it to 949-452-0381. Order by April 19th and receive 10% off printing costs.
Mother’s Day 1 & 2
These two postcards can be used for real estate agents or small business owners. They’re sentimental message is perfect for connecting with your audience on a personal level.
New House for Mama
This lighthearted, real estate centered postcard is perfect sending Mother’s Day wishes and generating leads in the form of buyers and sellers.
These 8.5×11 calendars are perfect for mailing or walking and dropping at the beginning of the year. Because of their practical use, calendars are likely to stay in recipients homes for months, giving them repeated exposure to your brand. Choose from four design themes: A Year At The Beach, Happy Chinese New Year, Home Sweet Home and Winter Wonderland. Each design gives two choices for written content: market update or testimonials. We’ve written the call to action, you provide the market update or testimonials.
Are you looking to start or continue a direct mail marketing campaign in 2016? These calendars are a great start. We have several other content ready pieces and can set up a mailing schedule with reminders for you. Give us a call at 949-587-5301 for more information.