Are you thinking about gifts for your real estate or home staging business clients and prospects? It’s tricky figuring out the best approach. Get it right and you can actually boost your business for 2013.
Get it wrong and you might inadvertently offend the people you want to impress, or send the wrong message altogether.
Like anything else you do to connect with clients or potential clients, business gifts are part of your arsenal of real estate marketing or home staging marketing. Here are 3 steps to getting it right:
Step 1: Decide on your business objectives for gifting
Before you can choose the right business gift strategy, you really need to sort through your objectives. You don’t want to spend too much money overall. And you want to thank real estate or home staging clients appropriately while reminding them of the types of services you offer.
Step 2: Set a realistic budget for your real estate or staging business gifts
Your calculations should look something like this:
- Overall budget for business gifts this season is $ _________ .
- Gift value per client is $ _________ .
- Gift value per prospective client is $ _________ .
- (Number of clients x gift value) + (Number of prospects x gift value) = $ ________.
Is this over your budget? If so, be more selective about who you give a gift to.
Maybe some people on your list should only receive a holiday card? If you send a card, take time to write a personal message. Just sending a card with “Best wishes” and your signature does not increase your bond with real estate clients or build your home staging business relationship and will be easily forgotten.
To get back within your overall budget, you can also lower the dollar value per real estate or home staging business gift.
From experience, I’ve found it’s better to be very selective about who you send a gift to rather than including almost everyone and then spending so little per person that you send the wrong message.
For example, the 10 real estate agent calendars I get at this time of year go straight to the recycling bin because everyone has been using this strategy for the past 20 years at least! It seems like such an outdated idea when everyone has a phone in their pocket to tell them what day it is. And the larger ones with photos often don't match my decor and they take too much space.
Step 3: Choose the appropriate business gifts
Once you’ve sorted out your budget, it’s much easier to start thinking of gift options. For many, the default will be a gift card to a coffee shop like Starbucks or Tim Hortons. They’re easy to tuck inside a greeting card and mail so you don’t have delivery costs to worry about. Plus most people use these services.
The problem with giving a gift card to a particular establishment is that you’re associating your business image and positioning with theirs. There’s a big difference between Tim Hortons and Starbucks, for example, because it’s actually "not about the coffee."
You won’t find construction workers and hockey players in a Starbucks ad, but Tim Hortons features them all the time. Before giving a gift card to any store, think about whether they'd likely want to shop there.
The other problem with a gift card is it has a specific dollar amount. So you’ll get clients who might be offended rather than appreciative of your generosity. Once money enters into it, you trigger all kinds of preconceptions and emotional baggage.
In my case, after I found my last house myself, hired a real estate agent to handle the purchase for me and then gave her the listing to sell my previous home (which I staged), she earned over $30,000 in commissions from me within 3 weeks.
Considering she didn't even have to show me any homes before I chose the one I wanted to buy, and I gave her the listing for a professionally staged home in a hot neighborhood, that was pretty easy work!
To say thanks, she gave me a Christmas-themed salt and pepper set! Not only was it cheap and tacky, it was completely not anything I'd have in my home and she should have know me well enough to know that.
This is exactly what can happen to home stagers too when they choose the wrong item.
Your client might think, “Wow I spent $2,000 on her home staging services and she’s sending me a $10 gift card!” Meanwhile, you were hoping for something like, “Isn’t that nice that she thought of me this season. It was great working with her to stage my house. I really must call her to see if she can help me with my new house.”
On the other hand, let’s say you dropped off flowers or a plant. Then it’s not so much about the dollar value of the gift. It’s more that you thought of them and took the time to give them a gift. Plus, it’s an item to enhance the look of their home. Isn’t that what you're all about as a real estate agent? Helping people find their dream home?
And if you're a home stager, adding clutter to someone's life is inconsistent with what you do. Attractive flowers are a much better fit for what your home staging and interior redesign services are all about.
What do you think about the business gift giving conundrum? Please share what you’ve done in the past or what you’re thinking of doing this year!
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Voice Of Possibility Group Inc.
Debra Gould is a serial house buyer, entrepreneur and marketing expert. She developed the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program to teach others how to earn a living decorating houses to sell. There are more than 7000 Staging Diva Students in 22 countries. Debra is frequently profiled in the media for her expertise and is the author of 5 guides for home stagers.