There's a lot of things in business, including real estate, people feel they have to take on faith. But time and again we're told to measure, measure, measure when choosing what, where and how to spend our marketing and capital investment money. Which is a truth not to be trifled with. But if you can't get a good measure on the value of something, does that necessarily mean you don't do it?
One of the things Christine and I have enjoyed doing tremendously, since starting in the real estate, are public seminars for buyers and sellers. They don't always attract big crowds, they don't always lead directly to business - though on occasion we have in time done very well by the people we have had at our seminars. Often in fact, virtually every attendee has met us previously and would have likely worked with us already. So, did we make any more money or improve our business as a result. Not that the numbers would tell us - but I firmly believe we have, yes.
When we hold these seminars we advertise them heavily throughout the region. We are about the only people doing them at this time. We have door prizes and good food available, we bring in experts to speak about a variety of real estate related topics - we aren't just two talking heads with some chairs in a room we rented at the mall. It's a special event to us so we treat it as such and put forward a face of professionalism we want to be recognized for. But sometimes it feels as though it's a waste of time... but we keep doing them anyhow.
Why? Because we hear about them later from other people who didn't go but who heard how good it was from someone who did attend. Or we hear people talking about how they saw the ad in the paper and had clearly noted it in their memory. Holding these seminars separates us from the pack, we are seen as slightly more expert, slightly more professional, just slightly more altogether. Not necessarily true, but that's the perception, and perception is reality in many cases.
So these aren't events designed to get clients signed up at the time, and we even get other Realtor's clients showing up, (which we respect and accommodate as well as plan for to ensure we aren't going to be offering advice that may conflict with their advice - we keep things fact based). But they are very valuable nonetheless, building public profile beyond those who are actively looking at buying or selling right now. They help put us top-of-mind with people when it comes time to become active in the market for them.
Consequently, along with attending local home shows, being highly visible on-line and maintaining less but higher profile advertising than many others, we almost never have to explain to anybody who is looking at buying or selling real estate locally who we are. They've seen our web site, met us at a home show, heard about us through a friend, or attended a seminar. So three years into the business we now get phone calls that, instead of asking for a home evaluation, simply state they'd like us to come and list their house.
That change in initial contact, where we are no longer having to sell ourselves at the front door, is a different kind of measure, anecdotal though it may be, and it's one that makes the growth and success of our business much more likely, smoother and longer term. So we're going to keep up with the seminars even if they do occasionally get poor attendance, or are populated exclusively by people we've already met. Because without knowing the precise mechanics of how they benefit our business and reputation, I do know that they do.