When I was selling real estate, back in the Pleistocene Era, agents all had their ‘Sphere-of-Influence.’ In the 90’s, as computers became more and more a part of the equation and CRM programs moved to the forefront, agents started to referring to their ‘Client Base.’ The idea was the same: these were people who had done business with you in the past and/or might do business with you in the future.
Being the anti-realtors* we tend to be, we never used that language. Instead, we used the term our founder, Don Taylor, taught us: Centers-of-Influence, or CI.
There is a subtle but significant difference between a CI and a Sphere-of-Influence, and it has to do with marketing. We believe the most powerful form of marketing is word-of-mouth. We believe that consumers put more faith in the recommendations of other people just like themselves than they do in slick advertisements on television, radio, in print or on the Internet. When you look at ALL Help-U-Sell marketing, it is clear that we have a very specific and provocative message we are trying to install into our target markets: that we are here, we are very different, people use us, it works and they save money. The message is so powerful that it ‘sticks’ in the mind. It hovers there.
Even if the person receiving the message has no need for our service, they are apt to remember the message when they talk with someone who does: ‘Oh, hey, I saw an ad from this Help-U-Sell company the other day. Looks like they might be able to save you some money. I think it might be worth checking out before you do anything.’ And, Bingo! Our marketing has worked. It has caused one person to tell another person about us. And that’s what we want to be happening with our CIs: we want them talking about us with the other people in their lives over whom they have some influence.
While the typical Realtor is hitting their Sphere-of-Influence with, ‘Wanna buy? Wanna sell?’ Help-U-Sell folks remind their CIs they have a great program that saves people money. All we are trying to do is build and maintain credibility with our CIs and keep our message in the conversations that occur day in and day out.
All of this brings me to a very important development. Working with the Help-U-Sell Home Office and with Jack Bailey (the undisputed KING of CIs), Excel Print/Mail has developed an automated CI followup program. It is a series of 8 beautiful cards that go out at specific times of the year. The messages are informative, not sales-pitchey, and are designed to build credibility for your program and to keep your name in the forefront. Cost is about 41 cents a card, including postage, and there is no contract (you may opt in or out at any time). For about $100 you can reach a CI group of 250 people – and that’s pretty darn good!
The whole program is automated via OMS, is easy to set-up and use. Without going into tedious detail, here’s what you do:
1. Log into OMS and go to Setup-Office Details, and click on the ‘my office’ tab. About a third of the way down the page, click ‘yes’ to opt-in to the CI program.
2. Now, return to the menu on the left, select Contacts and My Office Contacts. Note there is now a column with check boxes for CI. Tick off the contacts you want to include in the program. Make sure you have mailing addresses for them by clicking the ‘View’ button. Add any other contacts that are not already in OMS. AND: if you have your CIs already on a separate spread sheet, you may get that over to Robbie and Kendra in Sarasota and they’ll get them in there for you.
3. Again, back in OMS, select Marketing and Content, then Center of Influence. This will take you to the page showing the cards and allowing your customization. Set it up and you’re good to go.
You’ll notice on the card page, there is a Movement Mortgage Template button at the top of each card. Introduced at Success Summit, Movement Mortgage has agreed to fund part of this new CI program if you so choose. Cards will then include their Logo and RESPA required language. It will be an optional feature and – it’s not ready yet. So if you’re getting setup for this today, just keep that option set to No. More information will be coming as the Movement Mortgage program is readied.
I can’t guarantee anything . . . but I can promise you this: if you will take the couple of hours required to set this program up, get your CIs in, customize your cards, and then let it run for 2015, you’ll experience at least a 10% increase in closed sides next year. I think this program is that good. Go ahead, do the multiplication and see what impact a 10% increase would have on your bottom line. And then get crackin’! Excel will be collecting the mailing list on Dec. 29 for the first card, which goes out on January 15.
*Let me explain what I mean by ‘anti-realtors.’ It’s not that we hate Realtors or anything like that. Heck, we ARE Realtors. And it’s not that we always do the opposite of what Realtors do. It’s just that Realtors in general are so off track, so far away from the essence of our business that, in an effort to remain relevant and viable, we often do things differently than they do. We make choices based on what’s good for the consumer. They say they do the same (some of them even believe it), but all you have to do is look at the commission line on a typical HUD-1 to know who they are looking out for!
The heart of our business is the consumer – the buyer and seller facing a big financial transaction. It’s not the real estate agent. Unfortunately, the contemporary business is structured around the agent. It’s all about the agent. Whole companies – big ones – focus their business plans NOT on selling real estate (and helping consumers with their property transactions) but on recruiting more and more real estate agents. It’s completely upside down, and so deeply ingrained that the industry will collapse and evaporate in a cloud of irrelevance before it changes.
Help-U-Sell is a brilliant re-invention of the real estate business. It’s as if a group of really smart people with a big pile of money examined every aspect of the business and reworked it to make sense to buyers, sellers, agents and brokers. It is real estate without all of the lunacy that results in consumers paying tens of thousands of dollars to sell their homes.