Teresa Boardman is a long-time columnist with 400-plus Inman columns under her belt. She writes about her real estate observations and experiences as an officeless indie broker in Minnesota.
Generally, I enjoy the holidays except for the cold and snow and those horrible holiday movies that feature some twisted idea of what Christmas is supposed to be.
It is hard to imagine, but I don’t spend the holiday season thinking about how I can use the holidays for marketing and I don’t see the season as I time when I should be focused on my clients. I do spend the week after Christmas kind of closing out the old year and setting my systems up for the new year.
Why I think this way
For me, the holidays are more about friends and family and not much about business at all. Our traditions include talking, enjoying hot drinks spiked with alcohol, going for long walks in the cold, a little shopping and a lot of cooking and eating.
Sure, there are a few times when I’ll buy lunch or drinks or something for people that I work with or who are clients because we need to meet or want to meet during the holidays.
On the day before Thanksgiving, I got so many text messages and calls from people trying to sell me stuff that I put my phone on silent. It is as if the day before Thanksgiving is “black Wednesday” and people who sell to the real estate industry are calling all day.
I was so thankful that the calls ended on Thanksgiving. It felt like a holiday. I have blocked so many numbers that there should be fewer sales calls on the high telemarketer and robocall days of December 23, 24, 30 and 31.
On Thanksgiving, someone had a real estate emergency and needed to know how to buy a house. I’ll admit I totally ignored that one and then for some reason forgot to get back to them, so they called again at 11:30 p.m. on Friday.
Count me out of anything “real estatey”
Instead of working on Thanksgiving, I spent hours cooking and eating with family and friends. We had an amazing time and I did not touch my phone or look at it all day. The topic of real estate never came up. No one expected me to recite market statistics or to say anything remotely “real estatey.” It was as if there is a whole world out there that isn’t just about work and money.
For brick-and-mortar retail and internet-based retail, the holidays are a business opportunity to depend on. My business doesn’t depend on the holidays.
My business and my clients are important to me, but I don’t see the holiday season as a special business opportunity that I need to exploit for more marketing. The season is commercial enough already and all channels are filled with advertising. No one is going to notice if I don’t contribute.
Charities like to take advantage of the holiday season and ask for money. Giving Tuesday is a special day for giving. There are so many requests for money from charities that people feel passionate about. Some of the money helps victims of natural disaster, some is for animals and for the arts and some of it goes to Africa.
Everyone has a favorite charity, but I would rather give to my own favorite charities. Judge me all you want when I say no to your charity. I make no apology for ignoring the many requests for donations from people I know and from people I don’t know.
I won’t add my voice to the holiday noise. I won’t ask my clients to do anything and I won’t be sending out branded greeting cards. There may be some holiday related posts on my blog and social media because what I post comes from my day-to-day life and from what is going on around me.
Go all out for Christmas — if you can
Real estate agents who are overworked or stressed or who have families to care for need to know that their businesses will do just fine if they don’t have a client holiday party. For people who have the time, money and the desire to entertain clients and colleagues, I say go for it. Christmas is a golden marketing opportunity made for businesses.
Give your clients Christmas trees. Rent a bus and take them on a holiday light tour. Have parties at your house or rent out space and invite your clients. Send them cards and small gifts. Put your face on a billboard dressed in an ugly sweater. Who knows you may end up on a most innovative list somewhere.
Brokers go ahead and have that office party. Invite the agents and their spouses have music and food, dancing and presents. Just don’t make a big deal out of it if some agents can’t make it.
I have seen brokers shame their agents into participating in various activities. Some of those agents need time away from business and clients. They have more work than usual because holidays mean more work for caregivers and for parents too.
Just remember what we celebrate, when we celebrate or if we celebrate at all the holidays are a personal choice and joining the “fun” shouldn’t’ be compulsory and it isn’t required for success in real estate sales.
One of my favorite ways to celebrate is to silence my phone, ignore my email and enjoy that small part of my life that isn’t related to business. I won’t be responding to the person who happens to be in town on Christmas and wants to see a house before they head back home.
I don’t think my business will suffer in 2019 because I didn’t take advantage of holiday marketing opportunities. I can think of several reasons why it might suffer and that isn’t one of them.