What do you think of when you hear the marketing term “Referral Letter Marketing?” I’ll bet you $20 you think I’m talking about getting letters of recommendation and testimonials from your past clients, right? That’s a good marketing idea for Realtors too but I’m talking about getting a constant stream of client referrals from professionals like CPA’s, mortgage brokers, financial planners, attorneys and contractors; all with just a personal letter written by you, the world’s best Realtor.
Here’s the referral letter marketing idea for Realtors or agents in a nutshell: Generate a list of professionals that are likely to have clients that could potentially be your clients too. Put together a very personalized letter to mail to these professionals (regular mail, not email). Get creative on the envelope or package you send it in as well at some type of additional marketing piece, like a DVD you make using Animoto. Follow up with each professional by phone, if possible, and continue to mail/contact them once per month.
Many savvy Realtors and agents use this single marketing method to fuel their real estate businesses for their entire careers! There’s nothing wrong with following the leader.
First, let’s start a list of professionals that actually have the clients you could work with…
- Certified Public Accountants
- Mortgage Broker and Lenders (obviously)
- Financial Planners and Advisors
- General Contractors
- Interior Designers
- Real Estate Appraisers
- Title and Escrow Officers
- Tree Service Companies
- You get the idea…
That list should get you off and running but there’s many more you can add in the future.
So how do you generate this list of specific professionals to market to? Great question. You have a couple of options, depending on how much money you have in your marketing budget.
One option is to search the yellow pages online. You should already have a geographic area you stick to so you’ll want to stay within that region, for the most part. The time consuming part about this option is the manual labor. You have to go through each person listed and find their name, phone number and mailing address. It could take you a while but if you have more time than marketing dollars, this is the way to go.
Another option for building this marketing list of professionals is to simply buy a list. In the same way you’re probably on one or more Realtor or agent lists being sold out there, just about every profession has their own list for sale too.
This isn’t some kind of “black market” or illegal list, don’t worry. These types of professional lists are out there because professionals (like us Realtors or agents) will sign up for various publications, organizations, events, etc. and their information gets compiled and sold. Surprised? Well, now you know where all that junk mail and spam comes from.
There are quite a few list companies out there but one of the largest that I’d recommend would be InfoUSA. You should be able to go to them for just about every profession out there, rather than going one company for a CPA list, another company for an attorney list, and so on. It’ll cost you a few bucks but it’ll save you a pant load of time!
So once you have this marketing list of professionals (however you chose to get it), it’s time to write your VERY personalized “referral letter”. I’m not going to get into how to write sales copy here though. That’s a topic all by itself. For now, you need to know that this letter can’t be a general “sales” letter that you’d mass mail to a farm area to generate listing leads, OK?
When one of these professionals gets this referral marketing letter, they need to feel like they’re the only one who got it, even though you may copy most of it and send it to other professionals.
It’s all about writing the letter as if you were talking to the person face-to-face. Don’t use a bunch of “salsey” clichés and standard “professional jargon” you read in the letters you get from your bank. Talk to them like a real person and capture their interest. (by the way, this “personalization” goes for just about all your marketing pieces: postcards, flyers, ads, emails, etc.).
The “meat and potatoes” of the letter needs to explain that you want to build a professional relationship with them where you can refer business to one another. You want to be their “go to” Realtor or agent for the rest of their career. Emphasize how they’ll benefit without trying to “sell” them on it, you know?
If you know something personal about their company or the area they work in, throw it in the letter. If you know of a client who’s worked with them, throw that in there too. Unless you start talking about their mom, there’s no way you can get TOO personal.
I would highly advise you to write this letter yourself, in your own words. But if you just hate writing this type of marketing material, you can take a look at http://www.elance.com. At Elance, you can sift through freelance writers from all over the country and world. You can check reviews on them, see what they’re charging for prices, contact them to ask questions, etc. You can even post the job you’re looking to fill and have writers come to you. It’s great.
OK, so now that you have your marketing list and referral letter written, it’s time to mail it out. But please don’t just send it in a plain white envelope like everyone else……please.
Find another unique mailing package or envelope with some color or size to it. You want that letter to stand out from all the other mail this guy or gall is getting that day. I would also hand-write the address and return address, as it’ll appear more personalized to the recipient. Think about how to prioritize your mail? Hand-written addresses go to the top of the pile, every time.
Next, you want to include a marketing piece, other than just the letter. One marketing idea would be to put together a video with Animoto, burn it on a DVD and send it with the letter.
One of my friends, a life insurance salesman, sent out a similar mailing and included poker chips with his contact info on them. His theme was “Don’t gamble with your life”. Genius! That’s the kind of creative juice you need to have flowing if you want to be the top dog Realtor or agent.
By the way, in this referral letter, I would direct them towards your website and phone number. Give them the option but make sure you give them both. You never know who hates talking on the phone or who hates looking at websites.
This last step is probably the most important. Repetition is king when it comes to marketing. Marketing industry statistics show a consumer needs to see or hear from you at least 7 times before they become familiar enough with you to act.
So keep following up with these professionals on your marketing list. I’d say shoot for once per month, either by phone or another letter, after you make the initial follow up phone call after your first mailing. If you have their email address, you can start using that for the follow ups too.
Just please be careful about not smothering them. Be courteous and give them space but at the same time, don’t let them forget which Realtor or agent they should be sending clients to.
As a side note, if you have the money but don’t have the time, think about hiring a teenager or college kid to stuff these mailers. You can write the referral letters yourself (or have someone from Elance do it), but have your hired-hand address the envelope, stuff it with the letter and marketing piece and have them mail it out. It’s cheap labor, just like US companies do when they hire overseas workers for their customer service call centers. (did I just throw in a cheap shot?)
Bottom line, I just think this is one of the best marketing ideas for Realtors or agents out there. Eventually it can give you a free stream of leads and prospects that can make you a top producing Realtor or agent, as long as you stick with it and build these referral relationships right. Focus on helping them as much as you want them to help you and the money will flow in.