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Name? Check! Face? Check! Town? Uh-oh

by Susanna Madden

Susanna Madden check_article_march2011

In years past, dollars spent on marketing real estate services appeared to be free flowing in the form of large corporate parties, oversized moving vans with company logos and thousands of direct-mail pieces touting who's the best REALTOR® on the block. Well, these days we are all tightening our belts with regards to marketing. So here's an often-forgotten tip for getting referrals from our real estate peers, and it won't cost you a dime. 

There's still plenty of extravagant marketing around. However, we’re seeing less of it today, likely due to our "challenging market conditions." (No doubt you've heard that phrase ad nauseam.) Well, it's crunch time, folks. 

We need to reduce our expense, but our clients still need to hear from us. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is for lovers, not business contacts. The expression "Out of sight, out of mind" is more applicable in real estate.Here is an idea that warrants the expression, "If it's free it's for me!" Marketing to our real estate peers for referrals is the focus. We see many of our old "buds" at networking and educational events, and we’re quick to run up and give them a hug, exchange cards once again and promise a referral the next time we get a chance. 

A couple months later, we have a buyer transferring to a city in Texas, for example, and we're sure we must know a bunch of REALTORS® in that town or the surrounding area. Of course we can look it up in Women's Council's Referral Center, but we should be able to pop off some names without looking, right? 

We know so many REALTORS®. We see them all the time. Yet, why can't we name even one, on the fly, without having to look it up? This has happened to me. I know an agent but forget what town she or he is from when I need it fast. I don't want to lose valuable referrals, so I decided to do this: Use my name and my town as my tag line every chance I get in social networking. 

This is how it works. Many of us use Plaxo. In fact, we get inundated with Plaxo birthday cards from our buddies on our special day. Instead of signing just my name at the end of my message, I sign "Susanna Madden in Tampa" I do the same thing when I wish them a happy birthday on Facebook. I'll post something like: "Warm birthday wishes coming at you from your pal in Tampa" to remind them and anyone who reads it that Tampa is where I'm from.

It's a not-so-subtle form of personal marketing, but when it comes time for a referral to Tampa, I don't want the referring agent to have to stop and think too long, "Who do I know in Tampa?" Of course, this applies to Active Rain, LinkedIn and any of the other online networks.

Former Women's Council National President Gail Hartnett is a visual and vocal genius at this. Who hasn't heard Gail say, "When your clients say Boise, Idaho, you say Gail Hartnett," as she hands out cute potato lapel pins. 

"I've marketed myself and my town as a package deal since 1996," Harnett says, "and it has helped me get referrals. People remember me and where I'm from."

Gail is correct. I never have to stop and think, "Who do I know in Boise?" I still have several of her pins and, to this day, when I purchase a bag of potatoes, I think of Gail!

Also, look at your business card and your e-mail signature. More than likely they display your town, but I received a referral recently via e-mail, and no place in the long signature line was the sender’s town of origin displayed. I had no clue where she was from, not even the state. Her seven-line signature listed her accomplishments and awards, and it even mentioned selling properties on the beach. So I took a wild guess that she was from my state. 

After numerous correspondences, I finally asked where she was from and she told me. Guess what? She was not from my state at all. The point is I shouldn't have to ask. We can still be "in mind" even when we're "out of sight" if we brand our town with our name whenever possible with free social networking opportunities.

Susanna Madden, ABR, CRB, CRS, GRI, PMN, SRES, is broker associate with RE/MAX ACR Elite in Tampa, FL. Madden is a RE/MAX Hall of Fame Member and was Florida’s 2006 state president for Women’s Council. She can be reached at 813-610-6789, and her Web site is www.TeamMadden.com.

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