Advertising is out. Viral marketing, where someone else says how great you are, is in. If you’re ready to get people buzzing about what you’re doing in your business, here’s how to do it.

Humans have always engaged in word-of-mouth marketing. Most people happily share their favorite restaurants, the places to get the best deals online, and oftentimes, the name of the Realtor who did a good job for them on their transaction.

The old model for real estate marketing was to rely on advertising. Advertising is making others aware of your services using print, radio, television, or Web advertising. There is no interaction and no way to really track how many people saw your newspaper ad or television commercial. The advertising model fails abysmally on the social media.

Advertising is out. Viral marketing, where someone else says how great you are, is in. If you’re ready to get people buzzing about what you’re doing in your business, here’s how to do it.

Humans have always engaged in word-of-mouth marketing. Most people happily share their favorite restaurants, the places to get the best deals online, and oftentimes, the name of the Realtor who did a good job for them on their transaction.

The old model for real estate marketing was to rely on advertising. Advertising is making others aware of your services using print, radio, television, or Web advertising. There is no interaction and no way to really track how many people saw your newspaper ad or television commercial. The advertising model fails abysmally on the social media.

The new model for 2011 is personal engagement online, coupled with providing services to your clients that are so powerful that they become your raving fans. They actively recruit people to contact you and do business with you.

If you would like to virally market your real estate business, here are eight ways to do it.

1. The secret to 97 percent approval: The post-closing survey.
Many companies and agents have built reputations for excellent customer service through one simple technique: a post-closing survey. To implement this powerful tool in your business and reduce your risk of litigation, ask the following five questions:

  • "What motivated you to hire me?"
  • "What did I do well?"
  • "What could I have done better?"
  • "Do you know of anyone thinking about buying or selling a home?"
  • "May I use you as a reference?"

2. Help homeowners stay in their home
One of the best ways to get people talking about your real estate services is to help distressed sellers stay in their homes.

Three ways to do this are to share the "ask for the note strategy," where the lender must produce the original note in court to proceed with a foreclosure. You could also put sellers in contact with HopeNow.com or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s housing counselors.

3. Help them lower their property taxes
Prices are still down in many places in the country. If this is the case in your market area, many of your past clients and members of your sphere of influence will qualify for a reduction in their property taxes. Supply them with a detailed comparable market analysis as well as the forms they need to file an appeal.

4. Do a video testimonial exchange
For your clients who have their own businesses, one of the best ways to get them saying good things about you is to say good things about them. You can post a positive review about them on Yelp.

If they have a travel-related business, you could post your review on TripAdvisor.com. You can also post your video testimonial on LinkedIn as well.

5. Community marketing
There are numerous types of word of mouth marketing. To take advantage of a community marketing approach, host a website for your local homeowners association. If you set it up as a blog site or a fan page on Facebook, you can invite owners to share important community information.

Use a toll-free call-capture number for watch groups and meeting announcements. It’s also the perfect place for you to post what is going on in their local market. Over time, you no longer are a pesky Realtor. Instead, you become "Our association’s Realtor."

6. Grassroots marketing
Realtors have always been engaged in fundraising for charity, collecting food for the needy, as well as working to improve the community. Grassroots marketing can include raising money for a local school, going door-to-door to conduct a coat drive, or collecting toys for a local women’s shelter.

In each case, you meet people in your local community. They know you not just as a Realtor, but also as someone who contributes to your community.

7. Cause marketing
One the most widely known types of cause marketing is Habitat for Humanity. Other examples include people who raise money for medical research, who support political causes, or the environment. In each case, people are attracted to those who share their interests.

8. Buzz marketing
Buzz marketing is usually about something that is innovative or unusual that causes people to tell others about it. For example, Butch Grimes, host of "We Talk Real Estate," has a 30-foot-tall inflatable open house sign that he uses when he holds an open house.

The first time he uses it in a new neighborhood, it definitely causes a buzz. He also sends a limo to pick up his clients when they are going to the escrow to sign their final closing documents. Needless to say, his clients tell everyone they know about his services.

Viral marketing is hot for 2011, and best of all it only takes a little bit of effort to have people buzzing about how great your services are.

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