All industries recognize the power of the testimonial. Are you putting this valuable tool to work in your business?

The last two columns have looked at how to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing. Testimonials from raving fans are a powerful way to build your business. On the other side of the coin, negative word of mouth about your business can wreak havoc within a very short period of time.

Many real estate professionals focus almost exclusively on marketing and advertising. Spending money will make the phone ring.

All industries recognize the power of the testimonial. Are you putting this valuable tool to work in your business?

The last two columns have looked at how to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing. Testimonials from raving fans are a powerful way to build your business. On the other side of the coin, negative word of mouth about your business can wreak havoc within a very short period of time.

Many real estate professionals focus almost exclusively on marketing and advertising. Spending money will make the phone ring. The real issue few people address, however, is the process that takes place between the time the consumer sees your advertising and the time they pick up the phone to contact you.

Most real estate advertising focuses on properties for sale or on the agent’s accomplishments. An open house visitor may like you, but how do they know you are the best person to represent their interests? A visitor to your Web site may use the content and tools you provide and then turn to one of their friends to ask for a referral for an agent who has a proven track record. 

Testimonials provide a powerful way for potential clients to make the decision to use your services without consulting another party. Referrals from past clients are often the highest quality leads an agent can receive. When you obtain a testimonial, you can use your past referrals to generate additional business. The more testimonials you obtain, the easier it is for leads to decide to do business with you. For example, if you have 50 or 100 glowing testimonials about the services you provide, the person reading the testimonial already knows that you provide outstanding customer service. They also recognize that you have a strong record of accomplishment in terms of both listing and selling property.

KudosWorks, a new service by Genuosity Inc, allows agents to completely automate the process of obtaining testimonials. Realtors simply place a link in their e-mail communications and/or display a KudosBoard seal on their Web site. This allows clients to click and comment. The testimonial is automatically posted to the agent’s personal testimonial Web page. Once the client writes the testimonial, the Kudosworks service allows them to share their testimonial with friends, family and co-workers.

Until now, agents had to rely on written testimonials. An entirely different approach is to use an “audiomonial” or “videomonial.” The Kudosworks service allows agents to upload audio clips and video. For example, many of the new cell phones can record up to 90 seconds of a video. If your clients are happy, turn on your camera and capture their 30- or 60-second testimonial. Upload it to your Web site using the Kudosworks service. A slightly different alternative is to use any of the video e-mail services that are currently available. Have your clients come to your office, sit down in front of the camera attached to your desktop, and record their testimonial. You can also capture their comments with a tape recorder or by using the record function on your computer.

Most agents work with obtaining testimonials from their angels or raving fans. Word-of-mouth marketing specialists recommend that you also seek out “amiables.” These are people who liked your services, but are not going to proactively promote your business. Most of these people will provide you with a testimonial, provided it is easy for them to do so. You can increase the probability of them giving you a testimonial or a referral by offering a referral reward. KudosWorks enables you to establish referral rewards to motivate client referrals. Choose to offer a gift certificate reward, a raffle draw or a donation reward to your client’s choice of deserving causes in exchange for their referrals. For example, you may benefit your neighborhood school with a referral rewards program. Give a reward to the local school in the name of your clients who take the time to share their testimonial with friends.

One other huge benefit of obtaining testimonials occurs when there is a problem after the transaction has closed. If you have your client’s testimonial in writing or on audio or video, an attorney will have a much harder time proving you have done something wrong or that your clients were dissatisfied with your services.

Word-of-mouth information exists about every business. If your clients are happy with your services, they will share their experience with others. Sadly, if clients are unhappy, however, they are much more likely to complain about their negative experience than sharing a positive experience. Consequently, it is important to address potential problems quickly. Do what’s necessary to make sure your clients are satisfied with the services that you provide. Be proactive in capturing your clients’ testimonials and put word-of-mouth advertising to work in your business!

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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