So, you work in a resort community where most of the buyers and sellers live somewhere else. It's not likely you'll run into them at the grocery store or local coffee shop, and they probably won't be having a housewarming party you can finagle an invitation to (or even offer to host!). And unless their friends all decide they want to keep up with the Jones's and buy a vacation home, too, your past clients probably won't be a good source of referrals, no matter how deliriously happy they are with you.
CAN you rely on your Sphere of Influence (the people you know) to keep you in business? Here are my thoughts.
First, obviously, there are people who do live in the community, who know you and know that you sell real estate. You should definitely apply the principles of SOI to them. Remember that they are the gatekeepers to everyone they know, which may very well include some out-of-town homeowners or future homeowners.
Second, you will likely need to do some marketing to strangers, both directly to absentee owners as well as local advertising to attract buyers. I'm not an expert on that sort of marketing at all, but see what other successful agents are doing... and do it more creatively (that shouldn't be hard).
When I worked in a resort market, the top producers prospected heavily to expired listings, and there were plenty of those. Perhaps you can create a better, more creative expired listing campaign and incorporate it into your prospecting plan (again, the bar is set pretty low).
Obviously, a local blog is a must. People buying second homes will almost certainly begin their search online. BE THERE.
If you decide to reach out to strangers, I believe you can still apply the principles of SOI to your efforts. For example, make your advertising interesting, relevant and non-salesy. Create a website that reflects YOUR personality, not just a boilerplate REeee-la-tor site. Use your blog to demonstrate your familiarity with your area as well as to showcase your sparkling personality.
Consider doing a postcard mass-mailing to absentee owners with a fun blurb about your blog (and definitely make sure your local sphere knows about it). If you advertise in local real estate magazines, don't just showcase listings; create a fun, attractive ad for your blog. Create an online referral directory for out-of-town homeowners.
Return phone calls and online leads promptly - and when you get online leads, pick up the phone instead of simply replying via email.
Spend time learning even more about your market so that when A Stranger Calls, you are able to speak intelligently and confidently about the market. Be particularly conversant about the more desirable properties - be familiar with and KNOW how much it costs to live on the beach, the slopes or the river. But also know how much you can save by buying a block or two away.
When you're out and about, have your antenna up and a smile on your face, but keep your business cards to yourself unless asked. Don't risk being that annoying real estate agent who always seems desperate for business.
Any other success strategies for Resort Markets?