Are you ready for business? When you’re ready to build your business, you’ll need the right tools in your toolbox to build a strong foundation, and to make the job go smoothly. There are literally hundreds (if not thousands!) of marketing tools available to the Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) REALTOR® entrepreneur, but fortunately, there are some that are nearly universal in their usefulness. While not every one of these tools might be the most efficient for you right now, they make a great default list until you develop a list of tactical tools tailored to your unique talents and personality.
1. A ‘Sound Bite’. This is a seven- to nine-word phrase that distills the essence of your value to a specific client base. When used with your name, company name, and your title, you’ve got a great introduction. Used by itself, it succinctly and clearly answers the question: What do you do?
2. A business card. Your business card shows that you are serious about your business. At the very least, it includes your name, title, company name, email address, phone number, and mailing address. If you don’t include one or some of these, you are showing the world that you are either unprofessional or not to be trusted. If you’re worried about stalkers, get a Post Office box and a generic email address, but don’t make your phone number the only contact point. It makes you looks like a drug dealer or a prostitute.
3. A web site. No matter what you’re selling, be it your time, expertise, or your apple pie recipe, a web site demonstrates your understanding of your core market, and enhances your credibility, as well as providing a 24/7 selling tool.
4. A picture. To be more specific, YOUR UP TO DATE picture. People like to put a face to the name or voice on the phone. Your picture (with your smiling face) helps develop the relationship with your client with absolutely no effort on your part. You can put this picture on your business card, web site, brochure, or just have it in your press kit to accompany any speaking engagements you book.
To be clear, this ‘picture’ thing has been an issue with me for years. I’ve heard the argument that ‘my attorney and CPA don’t put their picture on their business cards, why should I’? Sorry, WE are in the people business. Today, with My Space®, Face Book® and all the other internet sites, people connect with people using pictures now more than ever. Unless you are marketing to CPA’s or Lawyers only, use the picture.
5. Talk about your fees upfront and/or menu of services. You don’t want to make your clients guess what type of services you offer, or how much they cost, unless you’re one of those people who believe that if your client has to ask the price, she can’t afford you. Even if every sale is completely customized, at least having a baseline established will give your clients (and you) a place to start talking about prices. Remember, a sign that they’re ready to buy is asking the price. If that’s the first question you’re asked, the good news is that you’ve got a live prospect. But if you can’t provide a good answer, you’ve just lost the sale.
6. Contact (note) cards. Use contact cards to follow up a first meeting, thank for a sale, congratulate on a milestone, or just stay in touch. Remember, people do business with people they know, like and trust, and what better way to build a relationship than with charming hand-written notes?
7. An annotated signature line. Your email messages are one of your best marketing opportunities. Be sure that you always include your contact information, and while you’re at it, add something else of value, such as info about your specials, upcoming programs, or a link to your web site. This is especially important when your message gets forwarded to someone who is excited about what you do, and may want to get in touch with you. Make it easy for your prospects to find you.
8. Letter templates. Are there people you need to communicate with on a regular basis? Perhaps welcoming new clients, or communicating with vendors? Save yourself some time by creating letter templates for your most frequently occurring communication situations. You’ll save time, and never have to rack your brain wondering if you included all the necessary information.
9. Scripts. Is there anything worse than making a call, and not being prepared when you get voice mail? Know what you want to accomplish before you pick up the phone, and decide how you want to say it. Being prepared for either a live interaction or leaving a message will reduce your nervousness, and make you sound relaxed and professional.
10. Client testimonials. One of the most persuasive tools you can have is a written testimonial from a satisfied client. It makes your prospect feel more comfortable about buying from you, because someone else has done so and is apparently happy about it. Not that people are sheep, but a personal recommendation from a client is far most compelling than your own good opinion of your product or service.
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