When I joined my first networking group, I got to see firsthand how relationships have more to do with growing business than traditional marketing does.
Everyone who attends the weekly meeting gives a 30-second elevator pitch, and one member gives a 30-minute presentation. These moments tend to trip up one member in particular. In fact, the more he prepares beforehand, the more he tends to fumble through it.
Here’s the thing, though. He gets more testimonials than anyone in the group. These people heard him stumble through his prepared pitch and hired him regardless.
Why? Because of the relationships he built. Getting to know him, they have complete confidence in him.
That’s when it hit me — relationships are more powerful than marketing.
The statistics support this idea, too. According to the latest National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:
- Of home sellers, 70 percent choose the first agent they contact — without continuing their search.
- Two-thirds of recent buyers interviewed only one agent before choosing whom to hire.
These facts mean that people don’t want you because of your expertise or abilities. I suspect that most people view agents more as commodities. So if they find one they’re comfortable working with, the search is over.
That might be discouraging to read, especially if you pride yourself on your marketing. Nobody wants to think that all the time they spent developing a strong value proposition is wasted. (It isn’t, by the way. You still need to instill confidence in your prospective client.) But this is actually good news.
You don’t have to be a marketing guru to be successful. And you don’t have to spend a fortune either.
Focus on building relationships to grow your business.
The takeaway from the statistics above is that you need to be the first agent a prospect reaches out to — or at least the first one to build a comfort level. There are a couple of ways to do that.
Your first option is to advertise regularly, and in as many places as possible, so that people remember your name and can easily find your contact information. However, this requires a huge budget.
People are inundated with over 5,000 ad messages a day. That’s too much for anyone to register more than just a fraction of them, which is why ads need repeated exposure before they become effective. This is known as effective frequency.
The second option is more feasible for most agents. Build relationships with your clients and sphere of influence to generate referrals.
When your friends and neighbors recommend someone for a service, aren’t they at the top of your list to call? It’s no different for anyone else.
And don’t forget that those people might be moving again at some point. If you have a good relationship, they’re going to come back to you.
The best part is, it’s not that difficult or expensive to do. Just find ways to keep in touch. Make an excuse to call your contacts on the phone.
Share ideas, inspiration and resources you think they might like. Or simply check in to ask how they are doing. Then let them know you appreciate their business and the referrals they can provide.
It works. If you don’t believe me, just ask the guy from my networking group.
Sean Kirby is copywriter for ReminderMedia, a relationship marketing company that helps businesses solidify their key relationships and generate repeat and referral clients. Follow them on Twitter and connect on Facebook.