Recession-era marketing for real estate agents

By
Home Stager with Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc.

Real estate calendarsThis recession has a bright spot. One of the things I really appreciate is that I'm not getting deluged with real estate agents' calendars for 2010. You know the kind, filled with stunning homes that only a millionaire could afford and imprinted with the agent's contact information. I got one from my mortgage broker but that was it. Thank goodness!

These calendars always go straight into the recycling bin and I've never understood why so many agents normally send them out.

If I've bought or sold a house with you, then a calendar is kind of an insulting gift. Kind of like the Starbuck's Christmas salt and pepper shakers I got from one agent who had made over $30,000 in commissions with me that year. They're so bad I wouldn't even consider re-gifting them.

Now, don't accuse me of being ungrateful. I don't expect gifts and do appreciate a thoughtful gesture. But I digress.

My real point is, if you're going to spend money on marketing, which is what year-end calendars really are, then think outside the box and stop doing what 95% of other agents do. It doesn't mean it's a smart strategy!

I'm curious what real estate agents and others in this industry think about sending out calendars to prospects and clients at Christmas. Are you still doing it this year? Have you ever had a client say, "I called you because I see your name every day on the kitchen calendar."? Has anyone done anything different?

Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Inc. Home Staging

A compulsive home buyer, Debra Gould took her passions for real estate and decorating and turned it into an internationally recognized home staging company featured on CNNMoney, MoneySense, HGTV, The Wall Street Journal and more. Since 2005, she's been teaching others how to become successful home stagers in the Staging Diva Training Program. Debra's latest book is the Home Stager's Guide to Twitter: Building your home staging business one "tweet" at a time.

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Ambassador
838,216
Charlie Ragonesi
AllMountainRealty.com - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

I send holiday cards wher I have hand written a message to those I have done business with. I hand write the enevelope as well. This personal touch seems to be very appreciated

Dec 02, 2009 05:07 AM #1
Rainmaker
342,754
Elizabeth Bolton
RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA - Cambridge, MA
Cambridge MA Realtor

Hi Debra ~ Sorry, but I love my calendar mailing. I do the table tent style and - yes - I've had many people tell me when they called that my calendar is sitting right by their phone and I always get a flurry of referral when the calendar is first mailed.

When a local business person, company or store sent a calendar I just never made that calculation in my head about what I had paid for their goods or services and what sort of remembrance I expected - it wouldn't occur to me - ever - I just liked getting the handy calendar.

Not to get personal but since you brought it up - are you referring to commissions an agent earned from you referring business or from the house that she helped you buy or sell? Since it would be a very expensive house. That's really talking about two different things - clients vs. someone you refer business too. But if it's someone you refer business to I would imagine she's referring business to you too.  So why get hung up on the value of the token?

Liz

Dec 02, 2009 11:05 AM #2
Rainmaker
401,521
Debra Gould
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc. - Toronto, ON
The Staging Diva

Charlie, I agree that hand written messages offer a personal touch (that is so often lacking in our instant message/email era).

Elizabeth, I'm glad calendars have worked for you. I'm sure the success of them would differ by market and by how many a person might get in a year. Perhaps because I deal with so many agents, I get more of them than the average client. To answer your question, I bought and sold a house with the realtor I mentioned. In fact I found the house I wanted to buy thru an open house, had her present the offer and bought it that night. Within two weeks my own (well staged) house was sold. I was not talking about listings I referred to her (though I do that too). Also to clarify, I was not getting hung up on the dollar value of the token so much as the amount of thought that went into it. To be honest a handwritten thank you card would have meant more to me than something she picked up while she was getting her morning coffee.

Dec 03, 2009 11:11 AM #3
Rainmaker
118,112
Barrie Clulow
My Time Is My Own - Uxbridge, ON

Debra - From our House to Yours

A verry Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Dec 24, 2009 01:07 AM #4
Ambassador
417,779
Jo-Anne Smith
Oakville, ON

Debra,

I use the magnet calendars so that my clients have my number handy (on their fridge or whereever) in case they want to call me or refer someone to me. It's mainly a matter of convenience for them as my business card is attached to it. I do know what you mean though about the big calendars with the nice pictures and I agree.....they're a waste of money and how many people want those tacked up on the wall?

For closing gifts I usually give a large cash amount and a large basket of goodies that I've put together myself....clients love those kinds of gifts and are impressed with the care and thought you've put into it.

All the best in 2010 to you!

Jo

Jan 07, 2010 12:38 AM #5
Rainmaker
401,521
Debra Gould
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc. - Toronto, ON
The Staging Diva

Jo, Those both sound like good ideas. I especially think a closing gift is a nice touch. I'll always fondly remember the agent who gave me a set of windchimes on closing for a country home I purchased 12 years ago. She was the only agent who did anything at closing and I've purchased 7 properties and sold 6.

Thanks Jo and Barrie for your holiday wishes. Best to you in 2010!

Jan 09, 2010 10:08 AM #6
Rainmaker
114,835
Sheila Kennedy
J29 Project - Rochester, NY

Debra - I am a stager and actually sent out calendars to people this year.  I ordered enough though to have on hand when I do my classes or have "homework" deadlines for clients.  I presented at a women's conference yesterday and talked about baby steps when organizing.  I handed out the magnetized calendars with my card on it and showed them how to set up little goals when they start a big organization project.  They were thrilled with the easy way to recall what I had said at the conference and were very eager to use them. 

I reaizie that they may be overused, but I have had a good response from them.  I will probably not send them out in Christmas Cards next year, but I have really been happy with how frequently I can use them as an extension of my business.

Jan 17, 2010 11:59 AM #7
Rainmaker
401,521
Debra Gould
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc. - Toronto, ON
The Staging Diva

Sheila that's a great way to use calendars because you've linked it to what you are teaching them and you've given them a way to use them to help follow thru on their organizing goals. This makes total sense and much more effective then just sending them out with a holiday card, where it becomes "just another calendar."

 

Jan 19, 2010 01:01 AM #8
Rainmaker
246,930
Jackie - computer-training-atlanta.com
770.498.7333 - Atlanta, GA
Learn to leverage technology to get more done.

Debra - I love receiving calendars. I think a "tips calendar" is a good way to go. For example, a mortgage professional could send a calendar to real estate professionals with 1 business building tip for each month. I also have a colleague who is a tax accountant and her customers DEMAND her calendars.

Aug 07, 2010 05:22 AM #9
Rainmaker
401,521
Debra Gould
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc. - Toronto, ON
The Staging Diva

Jackie, I agree a tips calendar is much more useful! My complaint was with all the generic calendars that many real estate agents send out filled with pretty pictures of homes that are beyond the means of anyone but the top 1% of the population.

Aug 30, 2010 11:05 AM #10
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Debra Gould

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