Picture this scene: Friends are dining together at a local restaurant, and one friend asks another if she knows a good real estate agent because she is looking to buy a home.

  • Whether it’s a referral, a recommendation or a simple mention on social media, word-of-mouth marketing is valuable because people believe in it more.

Picture this scene: Friends are dining together at a local restaurant, and one friend asks another if she knows a good real estate agent because she is looking to buy a home.

If it’s been a while since she purchased her home, and she hasn’t heard from you since, chances are you won’t come to mind.

On the other hand, if you’ve nurtured the relationship long after you helped her close on a home, the friend will be far more inclined to suggest your services. After all, she just heard from you, so of course, you are top-of-mind.

Most importantly, given that word-of-mouth carries so much weight, you’ve likely just gained a new client.

One of the most powerful sources for leads remains word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). Regardless of whether it is a referral, a recommendation by an influencer or a simple social media mention, WOMM is extremely valuable because people assign a heavier weight to WOMM then to other types of advertising.

Though the digital era has changed the way that we share and obtain information, it has not reduced the significance of a referral.

In fact, you could argue it has made them even more essential. According to Nielson, 92 percent of consumers trust the recommendations of friends and family above advertising, but this area of marketing tends to get ignored because it can’t be fully controlled.

Needless to say, this is the wrong approach. Instead, you should focus on what you can do to encourage clients to sing your praises.

Here are some tips to help you grow your business through WOMM.

1. Leverage social media

Social media takes the restaurant example to a whole new level. Rather than seeking a referral from a single friend over dinner, social media users can pose the question to an entire audience online.

Facebook even has a feature specifically for requesting recommendations from friends. To make the most of this, forget about collecting data, and focus on connecting with your audience regularly on the platforms they’re already using.

Engage with them, listen to what they have to say, and be an active part of the conversation.

By monitoring online mentions, you can easily take notice when your services are recommended and ensure that you’re validating your customers’ opinions and opening yourself up to business from their inner circle.

2. Don’t forget offline connections

Just because technology makes it so simple for us to collect referrals, doesn’t mean we should throw offline connections by the wayside.

One great way to make the most of in-person interactions is to host an event.

With Halloween coming up, consider throwing a stellar Halloween party and inviting past and current clients. Connecting with them while face-to-face is a great way to keep yourself top-of-mind when someone your clients know is in search of an agent.

But you don’t have to have an event to show your appreciation and meet with clients in person.

Being involved with the community is sure to bring you together with those you’ve worked with in past, so attend local events as frequently as possible.

When connecting with clients in person isn’t a viable option, a great direct mail campaign can work wonders for keeping your relationship strong in the months and years following the purchase or sale of their home.

3. Know your influencers

Do you know which local bloggers, Instagram users or YouTube personalities your target audience is turning to for advice? If you don’t, it’s time to do some investigating.

These individuals are known as influencers, and they already have an audience that is receptive to their recommendations. You should pinpoint which accounts are popular with your target demographic, particularly those whose areas of focus align well with real estate markets you serve.

If his or her following is composed of homeowners in the oceanfront condo market but you are looking to attract clients who are searching for single-family homes, you might want to look elsewhere.

Once you’ve identified key influencers, start laying the foundation for a relationship.

If you can get an influencer to suggest your services, that’s powerful stuff. Of course, you’ll want to be able to offer something in return. You may be able to trade off by sharing his or her blog or social media account in your monthly newsletter or on your own social media accounts.

To really take this a step further, consider becoming an influencer yourself by regularly sharing valuable content that your followers can’t get elsewhere.

As a fellow influencer, your offer of sharing another influential person’s content on your own accounts will be more substantial.

4. Collect online reviews

Always make it easy for clients to leave online reviews.

For starters, you should have a presence on Yelp, Google, Facebook, Zillow, Trulia and any other website where your clients, in particular, might go to share real estate reviews.

Once you have profiles in place on these sites, you can encourage clients to leave reviews there by having links on your website, in your email blasts, in your email signature and on social media.

Additionally, you might also consider adding a testimonial form to your website, where visitors can leave a review without having to go elsewhere. You can even make this request in person at the end of a successful transaction.

The best way to do so is to provide a nice closing gift and thank you note upon closing, along with simple instructions for reviewing their experience online.

Once you have reviews, don’t forget to spread the word on social media to make the most of them.

5. Nurture your fans

One of the most common marketing mistakes in real estate is devoting all of your energy to securing more leads and forgetting about the people who already like working with you.

Keeping in contact with your fan base should be a top priority, both online and offline.

When you work with a new client, be sure to get his or her email address so that you can add them to your monthly newsletter list. Also include these individuals in direct mail campaigns, so that they don’t forget about the positive experience they had working with you.

Online, encourage past customers to “like” and “follow” you so that they can keep up with what you’re doing. Once they have, engage with them on a regular basis.  

By staying top-of-mind, you increase your odds that they’ll give you a call when they need real estate services again, as well as readily recommend you to their social circle.

As word-of-mouth marketing is increasingly being delivered by the fingertips of past customers, evolving your strategy is essential for securing referrals from clients you’ve worked with in the past.

With these tips, you’ll increase your chances of being recommended in all situations, whether friends are sharing a meal or a Facebook status.

Laura Ure is the CEO of Keenability, a marketing agency specializing in lifestyle marketing that targets the affluent buyer. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Laura Ure

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