Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool to spread the word about your real estate business.

According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, WOMMA.org, there are 11 primary ways to spread the word about your business. How many of these strategies are you using in your business?

1. Buzz marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool to spread the word about your real estate business.

According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, WOMMA.org, there are 11 primary ways to spread the word about your business. How many of these strategies are you using in your business?

1. Buzz marketing

According to WOMMA.org, buzz marketing refers to “using high-profile entertainment or news to get people to talk about your brand.” The Prudential agent who had the listing on convicted murderer Scott Peterson’s house in Modesto, Calif., found a knife in the backyard. Is this knife the murder weapon that killed Lacy? This created a huge, national buzz. To create a positive buzz about your business, host a special event for people in your referral database. Rent a bus and take your guests to the most important away game for your local high school or college. Provide plenty of food, ice cream, souvenirs and other goodies. Arrange for a photographer and post the pictures to your Web site. Send out the link to everyone who attended as well as to any alumni you happen to know. Whether your team wins or loses, hopefully everyone will be “buzzing” about the great time they had.

2. Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is “creating entertaining or informative messages that are designed to be passed along in an exponential fashion, often electronically or by e-mail.” For marketing to be considered “viral,” it must motivate receivers of the marketing piece to tell other people about it. For example, if you sign up for a Realtor’s newsletter that has money-saving tips, e-coupons, and how-to-avoid-scams tips, and you like the newsletter so well that you encourage your friends to sign up, this is viral marketing.

3. Community Marketing

According to WOMMA.org, community marketing is based upon “creating niche communities that are likely to share interests about the brand.” It also references “providing tools, content and information to support those communities.” One agent created a community Web site for his homeowner’s association. On the site, the association can announce upcoming events, post election information, provide warnings for neighborhood watch groups, etc. He also lets the association use his toll-free 800 number. Visitors to the community who may have real estate questions can leave a message, and he returns the call. Since he hosts the site at no charge to the association, he is now perceived as “our Realtor.”

4. Grassroots Marketing

WOMMA defines grassroots marketing as “organizing and motivating volunteers to engage in personal or local outreach.” This can take a number of different forms. For example, if you hold a charity fundraiser where you go to the community to collect items for needy families, you are using a grassroots marketing approach. By being of service, you are simultaneously marketing your services.

5. Evangelist Marketing

This is the term that references working with referrals. Your goal is to develop a group of angels who will actively spread the word about the services you provide. An angel is anyone who sends you two or more referrals per year.

6. Product Seeding

Product seeding refers to placing the right product into the right hands at the right time, or providing information or samples to influential individuals. Clearly, you can’t give out samples of houses. What you can do, however, is to prospect by letting people experience your level of service. For example, if property owners in your area can qualify for a property tax reduction, you can offer them information on how to lower their taxes.

7. Influencer Marketing

According to WOMMA, influencer marketing refers to having key opinion leaders talk about your services. This is slightly different from the “angel” approach referenced in evangelist marketing. A good example would be representing the mayor of your city on the sale of his or her home and receiving a strong testimonial from them about how well you handled the transaction.

8. Cause Marketing

Many real estate agents are actively involved in supporting Habitat for Humanity, women’s shelters, medical research, and a host of other important causes. Being involved in a cause is an important way to give back to your community. It also attracts higher quality of clients as well.

9. Conversation Creation

In the fall of 2005, the Inventables began distributing “squishy magnets.” These magnets feel like a piece of foam rubber and can be used to close doors without the doors slamming. Distributing these to your geographical farm or on your open houses will make a great conversation starter. According to WOMMA, you can stimulate conversation creation through fun advertising, e-mails, catch phrases, entertainment or promotions.

10. Referral programs

Many agents use the term “referral program” to reference that they ask people to refer leads to them. A full-blown referral program does more than just asking for leads. Instead, it uses a systematic approach that allows satisfied customers to refer their friends. The best programs usually offer some sort of reward for participating in the program. For example, if you contribute $20 to a client’s favorite charity when they make a referral to you, they are much more likely to send you business than if you did not.

11. Blogging

Blogs are one of the hottest trends for the real estate industry. A blog is a series of quick observations that the blogger posts to a Web site. The primary goal of blogging is to share fun and useful information with the blogger’s readers. For a great example, See Brad Inman’s blog at //www.inman.com/blogger/bradinman.aspx.

Want to know more? See next week’s column, “Unleashing the Power of Testimonials.”

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com, has written a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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