By NICOLE MURRAY
The goal with any holiday marketing plan is to create connections and remain top of mind with the hopes of gaining future business, but how can professionals do that during one of the most chaotic times of the year?
Industry leaders say it’s important to start by realizing that one of the most predictable marketing tactics seen amongst real estate agents and loan officers is to send gifts to previous and current clients.
While Rob Jensen, broker/owner of the Rob Jensen Company, has seen many successful agents utilize this tactic, he warns that the time and money spent may go unnoticed and offer no return on investment. “Gifting during the holidays is the least memorable time for your gesture to stand out.”
“If you want to send gifts to clients, they need to be creative and personal for them to have any effect,” continues Jensen. “Anything that has to do with tradition will always resonate. I’ve seen people send pumpkin pies or Christmas cookies because it is playing a supporting role of what they will need during the season.”
When agents do reach out, there has to be a balance between business and pleasure.
“People don’t always want a market update so think of ways you can remain in touch that still offers value,” says Jensen. “Mix up why people hear from you so there is some positive conditioning in there. You don’t want their reaction to be, ‘Not him again,’ when your name pops up on their phone.”
Jensen also suggested that industry professionals avoid hosting client-related events. He said, “You don’t want to add to their chaos by putting another thing on their calendar.”
Shant Banosian, EVP of sales at Guaranteed Rate, advises people to be cautious over-inundating consumers with holiday-centric messaging because it tends to get lumped in with every other company utilizing the same strategy.
“We acknowledge the holidays but they are not front and center for us because it comes across as generic marketing. Addressing the holidays doesn’t change that consumers are looking to me for information in real estate and that is exactly what I will provide no matter the time of year,” Banosian said.
Banosian said that Guaranteed Rate hosts some type of fundraiser every year. However, its main purpose is not for marketing, but to give back to local communities which shines through with consumers even more.
“Whether it be for Toys for Tots or the Greater Boston Food Bank, we are collecting some type of donations every year. We want everyone to get involved and contribute because that is what you should do and people find that refreshing,” Banosian said.
Choosing how to reach out can be tricky because the goal is to remain personal but not overly intrusive with clients.
Jules Zaphire, real estate professional at The Pantiga Group, recommends handling each client on a case-by-case basis based on former interactions.
“The form of communication depends on the person,“ says Zaphire. “You want to cater to their schedule and what is easiest for them. If I know someone is always on the go, I send a text message. If I have a more solid rapport, I give the client a call because I genuinely want to hear how they are doing.”
Zaphire said it’s important to take the time to personalize these interactions.
“Make your clients feel like you are speaking directly to them,” adds Zaphire. “Address them by name. Ask them how their partners, kids or pets are doing. Make your clients feel seen and heard.”
Real Estate agents should also invest time in having a strong social media presence. While things may slow down during the holidays, the goal is to remain top of mind for when business resurges after the new year. Posting photos showing one’s personal life – family, friends, partners and pets – will always garner more engagement than a generic holiday design.
“I realized it only benefits me to show the human side of me as a realtor because people do business with people,” Zaphire said. “Personal photos showing me as a husband and a father perform tremendously better than any holiday message I’ve posted. I encourage other real estate professionals to show their personal side because that is what will resonate with others.”
One form of communication that can easily get lost in the clutter is email. For day-to-day business, sending an email is efficient and direct. However, it can come off as impersonal and spammy during the holiday season unless a personalized video is included.
There are ways technology can help.
Bonzo has CRM software for loan officers that assists with outreach and client retention through personalized communications.
Jason Perkins, co-founder of Bonzo, said that a text message has a 98% opening rate and therefore is one of the most reliable forms of communication people should use to get their messages read. However, it can take hours to individually reach out to all contacts with personalized messages addressed by name, so using their broadcast feature helps.
Loan officers who want to go beyond that can.
“We are really good at starting conversations at Bonzo. You can blast out personalized videos, emails, and even phone calls to hundreds of people in under an hour with just a few clicks. This previously would have taken days,” Perkins said.
Perkins says there is one specific question professionals should ask during the holiday season to be remembered.
“The golden question is, ‘Is there anything that I can help you with?’ A few years ago, I heard from my realtor who asked me this same question; I just so happened to be running a winter coat drive and needed donations. He helped to spread the word within his community and helped blow our goal by 500 jackets. These are the types of moments consumers will never forget,” Perkins said.
The most important thing, though, is to show consumers you genuinely care.
“Follow the rule of reciprocity – if you show them you care, you are more likely to get a response. You do business with people so being yourself will go a long way,” Perkins said.
Perkins also advises people to keep the marketing up year-round, not just during the holiday season.
“Think about how you would respond to someone you haven’t spoken to all year who pops their head out during the holiday season,” Perkins said. “Keep in touch with your clients because that is the best way to build a solid business relationship. Reaching out during the holidays should be the cherry on top.”
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