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.
The Challenge: The Chanje Movement needed help promoting their first ever golf classic and gala. Previously, their big fundraising event had been a charity run which required very different promotional materials. They came to us with a vague idea of what they wanted, but didn’t know the details. Specifically, they needed guidance on their invitations, programs and signage.
The Solution: At One Step, we’ve created and printed marketing materials for several charity galas, including American Heart Association, so we had several different ideas for Chanje. We pulled out our stack of samples and discussed content ideas, design ideas, paper types and budget. Once we narrowed down the details, we brought in a designer who created a look for the event by expanding on the logo they had already created.
The Surprise: Two weeks before the event, we were discussing signage and the founder, Dave, expressed a desire for a sign that encouraged people to participate in child sponsorships. Their One Step account rep, Brianna, suggested printing on a white board sign so that the team could use markers to track progress.
The Result: The whiteboard sign was a huge hit. One Step printed a simple thermometer design on white board material, and the Chanje team wrote their goal and tracked their progress with erasable marker. They’ll be able to reuse this sign to future events. In addition, One Step created elegant invitations, event programs, sponsorship banners and signs for each golf hole. The Chanje Movement was incredibly pleased with the result.
The Testimonial: “Working with Brianna at One Step Services makes it easy for our small organization to increase our impact. When we need help with graphics & design or fresh ideas for our content or marketing, she is available – and they’re affordable and fast! We planned our first ever golf & gala fundraiser and their support made it possible to focus on sharing our vision and connecting with people. Knowing they are there for us gives me a confidence we have the support we need.” – Dave Brodksy
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 an answer I gave to a landscape design business about generating leads.
Can anyone recommend good lead generating tools/techniques for a custom home building and landscape design business?
My boss got her backyard completely remodeled a few years ago. Just a few months later, the next door neighbors also redid the backyard. About a year later, the neighbors across the street revamped their front yard. Typically, when one neighbor does something to upgrade their home, it inspires others in the neighborhood to do the same. Therefore, if you work with homes, either as a contractor, landscaper, real estate agent, house cleaner, etc, your BEST place to find leads is in the neighborhoods where you are already working. So, here are some ideas for generating leads from the neighborhood in which you are working.
Numero uno is signage! Stick a sign in the homeowners lawn to let ALL the neighbors know who you and what you’re doing. If they want similar work, they know who to call. You can do a simple coraplast sign, or you can do a large sign with an attached box for flyers or business cards.
Do a direct mail or walk and drop campaign. I recommend doing one at the beginning of the job and one at the end. I once received a mailed card from a solar panel company. They told me they were going to be in the neighborhood installing and that they’d love to stop by and give me an estimate. This was an incredibly effective message, especially since I had been under the impression my neighborhood didn’t allow solar panels. Another effective mailing would have been if they had gathered a testimonial from that client and sent it out once the job was done.
Introduce yourself. You may not have time to walk the entire neighborhood, but you can take an hour and just walk the street. Even if you don’t consider yourself a sales person, you’ll be surprised how far a casual introduction and a business card can go. You don’t have to make hard sell, just introduce yourself, chat with people about their needs, and leave them with a card or brochure so they know how to contact you.
Give your client a referral discount. Your customers are your best sales people. Do a great job on their house, and they’ll naturally recommend you when asked. But if you offer some sort of incentive, they’ll talk about you even when they aren’t asked! And their personal testimonial will go a long way in convincing neighbors to pick up the phone.
Do you have any other tried and true lead generation strategies for people working on homes? Let us know in the comments below. And if you need signs, postcards, business cards, brochures, flyers or ANY other print marketing to promote your real estate business, landscape business, or home contractor business, talk to us! We offer free consultations, competitive pricing and high quality custom design products that cannot be beat.
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
Our Halloween postcards are fun and festive, with carefully crafted messaging to generate phone calls or drive traffic. They are an eye catching relevant way to tell people about your real estate business.
Here are 5 ways to use Halloween postcards:
- Send to your real estate farm.
- Send to list of past and current clients.
- Having an event? These can easily convert to invitations
- Hand out with candy to trick or treaters
- Use digital versions in emails and on social media
Plus, if you place a mailing order of 300+ before by September 29th, you’ll get 100 free print and return postcards. Download the order form Halloween Postcards fill it out, and email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Whether you are a real estate agent thanking clients for their business, a nonprofit asking for donations, or a small business promoting a sale, holiday mailings are crucial for client/donor relations.
Chances are, you don’t want to send the exact same holiday cards to everyone. There are some people you may want to send handwritten, very personable cards too. There are others you may want to send a postcard to, with automated personalization using variable data. And there may be a good chunk of your list that is going to a beautifully crafted email.
Also, keep in mind that you can change the list based on the holiday. For example, if you want to touch base on Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can save money by sending everyone an email on Thanksgiving but doing cards and postcards for Christmas (or vica versa).
How you divide your list will depend on your sales goals and your budget. But it’s a vital first step when planning your holiday marketing strategy.
The direct mail pieces that stick out the most are those that have a handwritten addresses and a colorful envelope. While it does cost extra than a regular mailing, it’s actually one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to make your mailing stand out. And you can save even more money by hand addressing yourself.
One Step Services does offer hand addressing and hand stamping as a service. Just make sure you get your order in early (like, October) so there is plenty of time to get everything set up and sent out.
Variable data allows us to customize any piece quickly. This is a great tool for those who want to customize their big mailings printed on our digital press. Perhaps you are a nonprofit wanting to thank a donor. We can create a template letter and insert individual names and donation amounts. Or maybe you are a retail wanting to give different discounts depending on buying patterns. Simply give us a spreadsheet with the person’s name and the discount they should get, and we’ll insert that variable data into a templated piece.
The way you send over variable data is extremely important. Be sure to talk with one of One Step Services’ customer reps before placing an order to be sure everything goes smoothly.
It can be something as simple as a coupon or store credit, or something a little more elaborate like a gift basket. Check out our recent article about client gifts we’ve given for more inspiration.
It’s a good idea to choose gifts that will remind the recipient of your company. Include a handwritten note and business card with food gifts. Put your logo on office supply gifts. Or send a free product or sample to entice them to order again.
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