The winter holidays are always ripe for some of the best marketing opportunities of the year. So before you book that flight to the Caribbean or ski-country, consider how you are going to tackle the two areas of marketing that never stop needing your attention: your business and you.

The winter months often bring a respite from the hectic pace of real estate. Back-to-back major holidays plus the wait for first-quarter bonuses often lead to a seasonal market slow-down — but not always.

After the market crash of 2008, for example, winter buyers gobbled up price-slashed properties faster than turkey at Thanksgiving. This year, resourceful real estate agents might also see more activity than usual as buyers chase interest rates and sellers react to the volatile stock market.

Even if the holidays give you a breather from the frenzy of listing and marketing properties, smart agents use this time of year to their benefit. The winter holidays are always ripe for some of the best marketing opportunities of the year.

So before you book that flight to the Caribbean or ski-country, consider how you are going to tackle the two areas of marketing that never stop needing your attention: your business and you.

Marketing your business

Deals are always made during the seasonal slowdown. In fact, some of the best deals are made during the winter hiatus precisely because buyers believe they can get more value due to reduced inventory.

Whether sellers are willing to negotiate prices below market obviously depends on individual circumstances. But during the holidays, hesitant buyers are often emboldened to submit offers. A unique opportunity exists here to conduct price negotiations without the distraction of competition.

Stay online

Many sellers and agents opt to go “offline” during the winter holidays, which is a viable strategy depending on the product. The sellers who stay online, however, are the ones who will receive offers from motivated buyers.

There are always buyers and sellers who need to move due to job relocation, family expansion or other life circumstances. When you forget this fact during winter, you risk losing opportunity for your clients.

Buyers who have lost out on bids in more competitive seasons should always be encouraged to engage during the winter months. Plus, “New year, new home,” has a great ring to it, don’t you think?

Marketing yourself

Regardless of whether your clients have hit the pause button, you have incredible opportunities to connect with your them in meaningful ways during the holidays.

For years, I rushed to send wine and gift baskets during the two weeks before New Years. Gifting is effective because personal outreach is always the best strategy in a referral-based business.

Make it personal

Over the years, I have learned a few tricks to streamline and improve the quality of my holiday marketing. First and foremost, a personal touch beats expensive or media-savvy every time. If algorithms could replace real estate agents, they already would have. The winter holidays are your chance to prove this.

Get out there ahead of the pack. December is stressful for your clients. Their jobs, families and schools go into hyper-holiday mode. Cards, parties, bottles of wine and food and toy drives over-saturate December and focus the month around “stuff.”

Differentiate yourself by offering an experience to your clients.

Invite your VIP clients to a lunch before things get too crazy. It need not break the bank, just make it fun! Partner with an up-and-coming local restaurant. Don’t focus the event on business.

Make your clients feel like they are on a break from the day-to-day grind. Send individual thank-you notes with a market update the next day.

Invest in VIP clients

Second, cut your gift list down to your core clients, and make the gifts thoughtful. Your core clients are those who unflinchingly give and refer business to you. They are the folks who you know will write you a testimonial for your website without hesitation.

Food is better than booze. Everyone can share food with colleagues and families. When you send your gift early, you also ensure that it is not lost in the December rush. If you know that your client abhors material gifts, make a donation in their name to a non-denominational and non-political charity instead.

Go the old-fashioned route

Third, send a printed card that does not include real estate messaging to everyone else on your contact list.

Source an attractive visual, add a personal message of gratitude and send this via snail mail. Not only will your card make it to your clients’ “holiday wall of cards,” but this is a great opportunity to make sure your snail mail list is up-to-date.

Make it digital too

Finally, do digital, but don’t be unoriginal. Mimic your snail mail card in your e-blast and cross-brand it with social media. Most agents’ digital messages are not personal enough. Beautiful images and simple words of gratitude for those who follow you on social media will go a long way in keeping them engaged.

Your digital holiday message should not include a market report or update about you. Those updates come all year.

Remember, your latest testimonial is your greatest strength in marketing during any season. Make January better by building goodwill over the holidays. Remind your clients that some of the most motivated sellers and buyers are active during the winter months.

Smart agents lead the pack by marketing earlier and more thoughtfully. Kick off the season by giving your clients something different, and they will come knocking on your door when their winter hiatus is over, or even sooner.

Maggie Ross is a New York-based licensed associate real estate agent with Compass. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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