Marketing is more than just advertising. It's the process of building trust relationship with your potential customers. It pays off when you ask them to buy your product, usually through advertising.
The major airlines spend billions of dollars a year on huge advertising budgets. Yet, have you ever had a bad experience at the ticket counter or dealt with a rude flight attendant? What's your overall impression of that airline? Does it matter how many millions they spent last year on advertising? One bad impression invalidates everything they spent.
Since almost everyone you come in contact with is a potential client, it's best to consider the impressions you make any time you interact with the public. Whether it's an informal conversation, the recorded greeting on your voice mail, the look of your business card, or even how clean your car is - it's all marketing. (pq)
Everything we do that leaves an impression with a client, contact, or potential client is marketing. What kind of marketing are you leaving with your clients? What impression do they have of you?
Considering the differences between advertising and marketing, let's look at what to expect out of your marketing and advertising. Obviously, when you're farming, you don't plant seeds on Monday and harvest the next day. In other words, you shouldn't expect an immediate result. By the same token, don't be discouraged when good, consistent marketing doesn't produce immediate results. Instead, expect consistent gains over time, and better responses to your "harvesting" direct mail pieces and calls as a result of consistent marketing. It's a daily task. Marketing is work, but it will pay off down the road - giving you real control over your business.
Differentiation is a vital part of marketing. To find your differentiation, put yourself in your client's shoes and take a look at other appraisers. What would make you choose them or you? That reason is your differentiation. Do you strive to have the most convenient ordering, competitive turn times, personal service or a wide coverage area? Regardless of what you choose, make sure it addresses a pain that your prospective clients feel. When you help them cure a pain, they will pay you again and again.
Once you've decided to consciously start marketing and you have a differentiation message, you're ready to start systematically acquiring new clients and getting more repeat business.
Build your contact list and treat it like gold
Your marketing message isn't effective until you actually get the word out, so you need to start thinking of your list of prospects. Instead of waiting for clients to pick you, turn it around and pick them. Yes, you can choose your clients using marketing. So, if you're looking to get away from being so dependent upon a few lender clients, but say you love working with homeowners on pre-listing appraisals, tax challenges and helping them determine their current estate value, you would need to get a list of homeowners. You can obtain your list from list vendors like infousa.com or other sources. Just make sure to make it very targeted (i.e. a neighborhood who has seen a price decline) to keep your costs down and message specific.
However, one of the most effective lists is one that you're already sitting on. How many completed appraisals are there in your
WinTOTAL File Cabinet right now? Hundreds? Thousands? How many lenders are in your contacts database? You likely have a decent list of names and property addresses in your computer, no matter which formfilling software you use.
This list of names and property addresses is your starting point for a powerful strategy. Marketing companies spend vast amounts of time and money building lists that meet a target demographic, but yours is ready-made, and perfectly tailored to your market.
If you have hundreds of property addresses in your WinTOTAL File Cabinet today, isn't it reasonable to assume that a few of them are in need of a current appraisal now? With markets fluctuating, homeowners want to know the value of their investment. And you're uniquely qualified to give the best appraisal. After all, you know more about that property than others since you've appraised it before. That's a real advantage.
Take that hot list and get all of the addresses together in one place to start reaching out with an automated XSellerate marketing campaign, or a manual marketing campaign of your own.
Ongoing e-mails to current and future clients
E-mail is more affordable than direct mail or print ads, easily measured, flexible and the preferred method of communication by many. Appraisers can use e-mail in all three phases in the transaction - 1) to cultivate prospects into clients; 2) for transaction information such as status updates; and 3) after the close to generate referrals and repeat business. These types of e-mails are great for building long, profitable relationships.
XSellerate and an XSite will help in all three phases. Your XSite gives clients automatic status notices while you've got the assignment. Before that point, XSellerate will send out e-mails on your pre-determined schedule to turn them into clients. (For instance, you can set your attorney contact list up with a 90 day pre-written and multi-piece campaign about why you're the appraiser to choose for divorce work.) By far the easiest way to manage appraisal e-mail campaigns is with XSellerate. It automates everything so you can concentrate on face time and print marketing. But even if you don't use XSellerate to automate your marketing, just make sure you're always sending something that sells to the pain of that potential client. And don't forget a call to action such as "click here to order an appraisal now".
Build a good rapport
We all know that we should be making an effort to talk to current clients. It's easy to put on the back burner though. However, most of your clients are salespeople that appreciate it when you go out of your way to meet them for lunch or call to see if there's anything you can be doing differently. Try stopping by their office to drop off donuts and coffee once a week. It's inexpensive and you'd be surprised how much good it will do. After all, if clients like you, they will probably be more respectful, pay you faster and spend more money with you.
It's also important to pick up the phone to call past customers and prospective customers. You don't have to be a telemarketer, but do pick a goal. For example, make an effort to call 10 old clients that ordered from you at one time and 10 prospective clients (maybe FSBOs for instance). When you get them on the phone, simply say that you're calling to check in with them. In the FSBO example, see if you can help them sell their home by providing them with an appraisal as a powerful marketing tool.
In addition to a great list, consistent e-mails and valuable face time, we know that door hangers, postcards and flyers are also very effective. Look for tips on how to get the most out of those in the next issue of AppraisalPress. Until then, start thinking about what makes you the appraiser to depend on and what kind of clients you want to target with your marketing. I also strongly recommend you check out XSellerate. It will help take some of the weight off your shoulders by doing all the tedious e-mail work for you and the ads are written to really sell your services.
Click here to learn more about the XSites, XSellerate and WinTOTAL.