Joe Nelson

Keller Williams agent Joe Nelson was mingling with neighbors Sunday near the Santa he had hired, and as kids munched cookies and drank hot chocolate, a mom walked up and thanked him.

“She said ‘thanks so much for doing this, my oldest daughter was starting to have some doubts, and you really put the magic back into Christmas for her,'” Nelson recalled. “That’s what I wanted.”

The moment was the culmination of an unconventional, holiday-themed lead generating strategy that Nelson had orchestrated in his Kansas City, Missouri, neighborhood.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Nelson told Inman that he moved into the neighborhood about a year ago and had been looking for “something that would get me out of their mailboxes and in front of their faces.”

And so he hit upon a holiday event in his HOA’s clubhouse.

“We just hired Santa,” he said. “I bought a bunch of cookies from a local cookie shop. The kids could decorate cookies, and we had some coloring sheets.”

A flyer Nelson’s team created for their holiday event | Credit: Joe Nelson

Nelson and his team promoted the Santa-themed afternoon on Facebook, creating an event and regularly posting about it so that invitees got reminders that it was coming up. He also created flyers that he distributed in the neighborhood.

And in addition to his neighbors, Nelson invited past clients and others in his sphere of influence.

The response, he said, was great.

“We had a total of about 60 families,” he recalled. “I was actually really surprised by the response that we got. People kept telling us how much they loved it.”

Credit: Joe Nelson

Nelson estimated that about 10 percent of his neighbors attended and that the crowd was about evenly split between former clients and people living in the area. The event was free, though attendees were asked to bring food to donate to a local charity.

Food donated during the event | Credit: Joe Nelson

Nelson described his strategy during the event as somewhere between a hard sell and no sell at all.

“I introduced myself,” he explained. “I didn’t put up my banner, but I wore my shirt.”

All told, the event cost Nelson about $1,500, which paid for the Santa, the decorations, refreshments and the HOA clubhouse. Though it just happened two days ago and hasn’t led to any sales yet, Nelson did describe productive conversations with people in the area who were thinking about moving. He described the cost as money well-spent and believes it helped establish him as an expert in the area.

“It was definitely worth it,” he said. “I’ll definitely do it again.”

Attendees at the holiday event Sunday. Credit: Joe Nelson

Nelson’s advice for other agents considering similar events was to get to know the target audience.

Other Realtors in his area have held similar holiday gatherings, for example, but targeted a different demographic and had an open bar. That worked for those agents, he said, but Nelson’s target demographic was different, so he went with cookies and cocoa instead.

And, he said, hiring a quality Santa is key.

“If you’re going to do it, do it right,” Nelson added. “I wanted people to feel like this is the real deal.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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