As a consumer, what influences your buying decisions more — an advertisement, or a referral from a trusted source?
We’re betting that a first-hand recommendation beats a clever ad any day (it actually does; according to Nielsen, 84 per cent of consumers find recommendations from people they know to be the most influential).
But you can only have so many glowing word-of-mouth reviews from friends and family.
In order to make referral marketing work for you, the realtor, you need to create and maintain a warm referral network.
But First: What’s a Referral Network?
Glad you asked. A referral network is different than word-of-mouth marketing, which happens ad hoc and without much strategy.
A referral network is a collection of relationships you build with like-minded business people who have all agreed to help each other land new business by way of leveraging their own clients.
Notice we said like-minded, not like industry.
Your referral network is made up of business people from a variety of industries whose current customers are likely to have a need for your service (in this case, the services of a realtor).
It’s a win-win for the referrer and the referred: the referrer typically receives a small percentage of the value of the deal, while the referred signs a new client without much legwork.
How Do You Grow a Referral Network?
Start with the low-hanging fruit: people in business that you have existing relationships with.
This could be the salon where you get your hair cut, an interior designer you’re friends with from the industry, or the landscaping company that’s been maintaining your yard for the last 10 years.
You like their work and they know you personally; two-way referrals wouldn’t be a stretch.
Next, think about successful businesses that are a) likely to have a clientele that would likely be interested in your services (for realtors, that’s a pretty big pool) and b) likely to have close relationships with the clientele, where a genuine referral (not just your business card on a bulletin board) can be made.
To move forward, you and your network partners will need to discuss how successful referrals will be rewarded, and you’ll need to make sure you both have a thorough understanding of one another’s business.
How Do You Maintain a Referral Network?
First and foremost, you stay connected. You need to ensure that you and your real estate business are top of mind for your referral partners.
- Call to say hi and check in on how things are going.
- Invite them to events.
- Email when you have a big news.
- Engage with and comment on their social media updates.
It’s also key to keep your referral partners motivated. If you don’t have their logo on your site, add it. Find a way to mention them, with a link to their site, in your content marketing. Work hard to send referrals their way.
And be sure to support their business, beyond referring your own clients. Attend their events, support their charitable activities and offer them free or discounted services of your own, if they’re in need.
Have you found that a strong referral network helps grow your real estate business?