NO! Sending out "Cheese" Is NOT "Better than Nothing" - at least when it comes to your Sphere of Influence

Education & Training with Sell with Soul


At the end of last year, I went on a rampage about cheese. Not the edible kind (heavens, no!), but rather, the prospecting variety. As in, promoting yourself with dorky, pitchy, predictable material that you bought off the shelf or copied and pasted from some free online resource (or egads, maybe you even paid for the krap!). Y'know. Prospecting cheese.

It is my opinion that if you're going to spend your time and your money promoting yourself to your adoring fans, it's far more effective if you actually create the material yourself to ensure that it's not dorky, cheesy or boring. Everything you send out, whether via snail-mail or email, should be done with the intent of inspiring the recipient to smile and think of you fondly.

And yes, that might just take a little more time than you're used to devoting to your mass-prospecting efforts.

Well, seeing how "time" is usually in short supply, many agents read my stuff and say "Okay, I agree in principle, but at least I'm sending out SOMETHING! I figure that's better than nothing, right?"

Nice try, but no. It's not. Especially when you're sending out that SOMETHING to your Sphere of Influence - aka your friends and acquaintances. If you must, go ahead and send out cheese to strangers, but PLEASE don't do it to your Sphere.


Your Sphere of Influence contact database is precious and should be treated as such. In fact, it may be the most valuable tool in your arsenal for getting good business and bringing in juicy paychecks. Treat it with the respect it deserves. Let me rephrase that. Treat the PEOPLE who make up your contact database with the respect they deserve.

Every single person in your Sphere of Influence has the potential to bring a $10,000 check your way. More than one, even. That's a fact. So, it's well worth the effort to MAKE an effort to, as above, inspire those special people to smile and think fondly of you every time they hear from you. Don't do anything that sends a message that the person is simply a name on your list, someone worthy of your prospecting efforts, but maybe not your personal attention. And that's exactly what canned, boilerplate, cheesy marketing material does. It sends the message that the recipient is just a name on your list.

Frankly, I'd rather take the chance that my Sphere of Influence (which remember, includes my social network) forgets I sell real estate, rather than take the chance that they roll their eyes every time they hear from me. If I'm not willing to take the time to create interesting, relevant, non-cheesy promotional material to send to my precious Sphere of Influence, then a Sphere of Influence business model may not the right model for me.

So, no, Prospecting with Cheese is NOT Better than Nothing. At least not with your Sphere of Influence.

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Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

LOL You have no idea what I'm going through right now.  LOL!  My office offered us this contact management system, part of which includes a drip campaign program for us to use w/ current customers and past clients.  Fine....

I don't like the way the letters are set up - such as including both the first and last name of a contact...we don't write letters "Dear Jennifer Allan."  If we don't know the person we'd say "Dear Ms. Allan" but if we know them, we'd say "Dear Jennifer."  So I'm working on tweaking these letters - some of them are quite good, some are TERRIBLE - but every single one has to be altered so it will say "Dear Jennifer" not "Dear Jennifer Allan."

I did not know, when I loaded all my contacts into the database, that it was set to "Auto Enable" campaigns, and it ended up making ALL of my contacts BUYERS and some of them got letters before I knew it.  The best ones were the ones in my address book w/o first last names specified.  They got letters addressed "Dear Unspecified Unspecified"  LOL!!!

Needless to say, an apology email is going out to everyone - hopefully they'll laugh, and forgive me for treating them, ever so accidentally, like a name in a database, rather than a real person who is important!

Jan 28, 2010 11:23 PM #5
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Karen - That's the sort of thing that drives me NUTSO! I hate looking stupid or yes, cheesy with the people I know. However, sometimes these slip-ups give you a perfect opportunity to reconnect with an apology! You probably got my email yesterday about the Spam situation - and I can't tell you how many people wrote to me THANKING me for being upfront about it! Very cool.

Lenn - Indeed. I'm not sure what you said, but it was beautifully written!

Suzanne - Oooooh, I know. I've done it ONCE, too - and never again. As soon as the krap left my mailbox I was miserable!

Ginevra - Thank you!

Dorie - You're welcome! It does take a little more time, but it's SO worth the effort.

Jan 28, 2010 11:32 PM #6
Dennis Duvernay Broker/Owner
Hillview Realty - Northbridge, MA

Over the years I have found that nothing works better than a hand written Thank-You note....Even with my horrible hand writing I have found that this is much more appreciative than sending a calender or pens etc...nothing wrong with sending thanks ( hand written ) for the future referrals that past clients ( or sphere ) are going to send you.

Jan 28, 2010 11:37 PM #7
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate


Now, what the heck am I going to so with all these promotional tchotchkes laying around here?

Anybody need 100 gross "MikeJaquishKELLERWILLIAMS®OfficialShoeHornsEtchedWithIWillNeverTreatYouLikeAHeelAndIAmNeverTooBusyForYourReferrals?"

Jan 28, 2010 11:45 PM #8
Dick and Dixie Sells
Sells Real Estate, LLC - Trinity, FL
Realtors, Tampa Bay Florida Homes For Sale

I have never really seen the worth of some of the advertising specialities that some will spend big bucks on. But a good Brie or some aged Cheddar well that is a different story!

Jan 29, 2010 01:48 AM #9
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

JA, Thanks for another great post. You are the best. To all of you who have not followed "Sell With Soul" check it out. I have been in the business just about a year. It has been hard to put it mildly. If I had not found JA and her books, blogs, newsletters ect. I would have quit. Jennifer THANKS for saving my new career. Keep it up. Also. thanks to AR, that is where I found Jennifer.

Jan 29, 2010 02:28 AM #10
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

Not to mention that they may be lactose intolerant and might just throw your cheese away! 

Have a great weekend Jennifer!

Jan 29, 2010 02:47 AM #11
Ellie McIntire
Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate - Ellicott City, MD
Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville

Jennifer- Personally i have never subscribed to a automatic drip campaign because I am too much of a control freak!  I spend a lot of time personalizing everything that "touches" my data base and my source of income.

Jan 29, 2010 04:34 AM #12
Lisa Stafford
Broken Arrow, Tulsa, McGraw Realtors - Broken Arrow, OK
Broken Arrow OK Homes For Sale

Jennifer, Hand written notes are a huge hit with my old, new and future clients.

Jan 29, 2010 12:53 PM #13
Clark Hitchcock
Re/Max Nyda Realty Inc - Chilliwack, BC
Realtor - Fraser Valley

I am finding that so true. They want to hear from you with what you have to say not a canned appoach.

Jan 29, 2010 03:03 PM #14
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Clark - When you send out canned stuff (and only canned stuff), it totally takes away from any credibility you have as a friend or acquaintance. And, frankly, your credibility as a creative professional! The goal of self-promotional material is to make the other guy think more fondly of you and there's no way the krap that's marketed as "relationship-building" material is going to do that!

Lisa & Dennis - I'll admit, I'm bad about hand-written notes, although I agree they're effective. I think much better thru my keyboard - somehow my mind doesn't work any more with a pen in my hand!

Mike - Sorry, buddy. Maybe you can hand 'em out at open houses?

D&D - Indeed! So, maybe you CAN be cheesy as long as it involves yummy stuff shared with friends!

Robert - LOL!

Tom - Holy Moly, thank you!!!! What a great testimonial! That's a keeper for the file...

Ellie - ME, too! That's exactly it!!!! Nothing wrong with control freakiness!

Jan 29, 2010 11:51 PM #15
Jill Schmidt
Aurora, CO

Yes, don't be cheesy with your friends - except on those RARE occasions when it's funny and you can play it up (and people know that about your personality).  Notice I say RARE.  I don't like auto drip campaigns, either.

Jan 30, 2010 01:22 AM #16
Walter Grewe III
Long and Foster Realtors - Roanoke, VA
Realtor, SFR, A-REO, Roanoke Homes and Real Estate


I couldn't agree with you more. People are more sophisticated now than ever and sending out cheesy junk more than likely alienates them.

I try to make sure when I contact a previous client, prospect, or farm area prospect I provide them with something of value that they can use to improve their knowledge of our local market, industry changes, etc. ( And I'm not talking about a recipe for pumpkin loaf.)

Thanks for the positive reinforcement.

Jan 30, 2010 02:16 AM #17
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Jennifer, I am not kidding. Your book and posts gave some direction to my new career. Without them I most certainly would have quit. One of the biggest problems with this business is lack of training. I do not blame anyone. The people in any other industry who might be training new people have to make a living themselves. Thanks again for all you do. How about a book on creative writing for those of us who are writing challenged.

Jan 30, 2010 10:13 AM #18
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Tom - Thank you so much - that's my mission - to assure agents that they can succeed even if they don't fit the traditional stereotype of a natural salesperson AND if they make the effort to become Very Good at what they do.

Sorry, I probably can't help much on the creative writing bit... just be yourself - don't "try" to write a certain way, just WRITE as if you're talking.

Walter - Isn't it funny how stuff that may have worked 20 years ago is still being promoted as the latest and greatest thing? And I agree about the recipes UNLESS it's a recipe that's truly yours and you really do make it! Then... MAYBE.

Jill - that's TOTALLY correct! Cheesy can be great if you're laughing at yourself!

Jan 30, 2010 11:01 PM #19
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

I would probably include a recipe or two every now and then for something that's a favorite in my house, like ravioli soup in the dead of winter.  But it would be my OWN recipe with my own photo, not something copied and pasted from or something.

Jan 30, 2010 11:04 PM #20
Lois Kubota
Keller Williams, Walnut Creek, California, DRE#01865028 - Walnut Creek, CA

Jen, great reminder of how important our SOI is.  And how right you and Walter are about the old stuff.  Just because it worked 20 years ago or even two years ago doesn't mean it works today.

Feb 01, 2010 03:33 AM #21
Linda Jandura
Raleigh Cary Realty - Apex, NC
Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist

So many of those letter in the drip campaigns are cheesy that I ended up redoing them all myself.  If we serve a little wine with that cheese, maybe it 'll go over better.

Feb 01, 2010 08:03 AM #22
Bob Dunn
Sutton Group West Coast Realty - Abbotsford, BC

I have had very good success with my own newsletters and contact letters over the years. I recently developed a drip campaign using my written material and the assistance of a graphic designer. Completed my first mailing 10 days ago and have two ends already. Good materials and dedication works.

Feb 01, 2010 02:51 PM #23
Brenda Carus
Century 21 Zwygart Real Estate - Monroe, WI

I agree completely with this.  Prepackaged cheesy materials are not worth it. 

Feb 15, 2010 04:39 AM #24
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