Marketing, Reviews, and Social Media:
How Mindy R. Began Focused on Marketing, but Veered onto the Ramp of Adding Value
Mindy R. was still fairly new to real estate when she signed up for RAMP, before it became Market Maker. Only two years before she had gotten her license, and as it often happens with the most coachable NAEA members, she was fairly ambitious, and her restlessness occasionally made her seem edgy to those around her. Mindy was now glad finally to be getting the sort of “common sense, but not common knowledge” direction NAEA is known for providing. In the suburban area of Houston, she was starting to close more transactions, by converting Expired and FSBO leads, in addition to nurtures obtained through Expert Data. She was making all the calls she needed to, working on the follow-up, and was closing enough transactions that she was happy with her investment in Home Value leads, when it came out. But she felt there was more she could be doing; she wasn’t yet at 15% of market share in the three zip codes she chose.
Mindy spoke with her Success Coach, who gave her a few ideas on how to market her services locally on a shoestring budget. She made a list of local small shops, restaurants, and other businesses she often frequented, which she felt she could conscientiously write raving reviews online. She dropped by her local print shop, created more business cards, complete with NAEA’s unique selling point, and picked up a few business cards holders. That evening, she wrote a few reviews, posting each of them on all the review sites she knew. The next day, when she went to her tailor, Charlie, to have a new pantsuit altered. Before leaving, Mindy pulled out her phone and showed him the review she had written and posted online:
“Over the last year, Charlie’s worked on quite a few pieces of my clothing. The turnaround time is very reasonable. He’s sort of pricy, but I never question it because he does super quality work! I’ve never been disappointed. I don’t know what I would do if not for him. If you need any of your clothes worked on, go to Charlie, for sure.”
Charlie was curious. Apparently, he had never looked at his online reviews. There were a couple of five-star ratings, and phrases like, “great service”, but no one had written a review as glowing as Mindy’s. He smiled. Then she asked whether he would be so kind as to allow her to leave a business card holder at the desk of his shop. Charlie obliged her. He also thanked her for the review as she left.
For dinner, Mindy went to a new Greek restaurant, Statis, not far from her house. Although the company was a growing chain, the restaurant still did not have the kind of name recognition it needed to draw a larger customer base. It looked sort of empty, for a new restaurant. She had eaten at one in Dallas, and heard the company had sent two of the shift managers directly from Dallas. She had been there a few days before, and could write a very positive review. She posted it on every online review site she knew. So in between bites of her Moussaka, she asked to speak with the manager. Allessandro came around and introduced himself by name, and asked her how she was enjoying everything. Mindy told him how much she appreciated the food, the service, and other aspects of her dining experience. Then she asked Allessandro whether he was from the Austin area or had been transferred. He responded that he had been transferred, but was enjoying being in such a great area. Mindy bantered with Allessandro, asking him to double-check her pronunciation of Greek food items. Again, Mindy pulled out her phone, and showed him the review she had written, as it now appeared on various online portals. She watched him smile at the following:
“The absolute best gyro I’ve ever had, bar none, and I’ve tried more than a few! Their Ouzo is amazing, too. The restaurant is kept very clean, the service is tiptop, and I’m looking forward to going back to try the Lamb Souvlaki next. Next time you feel like Greek food, try Statis!”
When Alessandro thanked her for writing such a nice review and even a not-so-subtle call to action, Mindy smiled and told him she was a real estate agent, so she knew a bit about marketing. As she offered him her business card, she suggested if he were interested in buying a home in the area, she’d be glad to talk with him about her system for negotiating the best price on the perfect home for him. He thanked her, and asked for a second card, for one of the other managers.
Mindy made a regular practice of this personalized kind of marketing in the neighborhood areas where she was most active, writing positive online reviews for her mechanic, the dog trainer who was working with her German Shepherd every Wednesday at the pet store, her florist, and other similar businesses. Mindy waited, but nothing she had done seemed to bring her any new business. She told herself, at least I’ve tried and I’ve done a few good deeds. When she spoke with her Success Coach, he reminded her that no great developments in real estate business come overnight.
Over the next several months, she began to see a few benefits resulting from her marketing. She helped Alessandro find a condo in the area. One of Charlie’s customers contacted her, hoping to sell his home for more money than what a traditional real estate agent could get him. When she got face to face with the woman, she remembered when she had been at Charlie’s, and asked for one of Mindy’s business cards, Charlie had spoken at length about what a wonderful person Mindy was. Mindy tried not to look as though she was taken by surprise; she was not used to hearing of people speaking about her in such terms. And while Charlie was nice, she was used to thinking of him as a man of few words. Mindy helped Charlie’s customer and her husband sell their home, when he decided to take a new job in Cleveland, and recommended an Expert Advisor in his new location. Then she helped her local mechanic sell his home and purchase a step-up home. Gradually, as she spoke with more and more people, she began to notice the small businesses around her truly appreciated how her positive reviews had added value. Her mechanic even told her he felt obligated to choose her as his realtor, since she had done so much to help. When Mindy heard this, she smiled kindly, and fought the urge to correct him – she was an Expert Advisor, not just a realtor. But his choice of words was not nearly as important as his thankfulness toward her. Mindy was becoming a pillar in her community.
After speaking with her Success Coach, Mindy decided to use her practice of reviewing local businesses in a new way. Using social media, she created a page full of information about what was going on in the community. This page included all the information anyone in the community would need for practically anything. It included school calendars for all area schools. When local churches participated in food drives, Mindy helped get the word out. When construction projects were planned, she knew when they would start and end, and she posted information at least once per week. When ozone levels were high during summer, she posted that warning. Whenever a new restaurant came in, Mindy was the first to review it. And she found a way to place all the reviews she had already written there, too, with the dates of her original postings. More and more social media users in her community started to tune in for free content about what was going on in their area. Likes started to appear, then positive comments, many of them from local business people expressing gratitude for the way she advocated for them online. As for her own business, she began to receive many more referrals, and started to get up to 30% market share in her area. She finally had to hire help. As she sat down to think about the questions she would ask when she interviewed, one was “Tell me about a time when you did something nice for your community.” Mindy knew her positive review writing about other businesses served her own business all too well.