If you grew up in the 1980s like I did, you’re probably singing along to the theme of Cheers, one of the most popular TV series of all time. Cheers’ theme song pretty much laid out what the show was all about. Cheers was a Boston-based bar that had such intimate relationships with its patrons that it felt almost surreal. Growing up in the ʼ80s, almost every neighbourhood had their local version of Cheers, where friends regularly gathered to eat, laugh and share stories.
Fast forward 25 years. Places like Cheers have been replaced by the usual cookie-cutter coffee shops or bars where the chances of someone remembering your name or favourite drink are slim. Customer intimacy and relationships have been replaced by apps, loyalty points and databases that are doing a mediocre job at best. Just like the era of Cheers has faded away, so has the holy grail of customer loyalty. Traded in for scale, volume and systems. Today, businesses are losing an estimated $1.3 trillion a year from customers who are defecting to the competition.
Selling real estate is no different. A dismal 17 per cent of homeowners actually use their agent again, according to a consumer panel at Inman Real Estate Connect San Francisco. Why only 17 per cent? Were they not happy with their agent? Was the experience bad? Not at all. In fact, 85 per cent of buyers and sellers surveyed after a transaction indicate they would they would use their agent again. So what gives?
The top reason for this “gap” will probably not make sense at all. Homeowners do not rehire their real estate agent because they simply cannot remember their agent’s name. The same person, who helped them make one of the largest financial decisions of their lives, has his or her name faded into the oblivion. How is this even possible?
We live in a world that’s never been noisier. From social media bombarding us with endless Facebook feeds, to the dozens of new tools and ways to communicate. Attention is a scarce resource – a person has only so much of it, and eventually, everyone forgets. The bad news is that it’s only going to get much harder to be remembered. While social media has empowered the average person to reach clients in ways that only massive businesses could afford to in the past, realize that you’re competing on a whole new playing field with millions of others. Consumers are drinking information from a firehose and we’re all competing for the ultimate prize – a client’s attention.
So you’re probably thinking, what’s the good news here? How can I begin to cut through all this noise? Before you start thinking about increasing your marketing budget or sending more holiday cards, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s going to take a trip down memory lane to the 1980s, or watching a couple of reruns of Cheers.
Think about why you buy from a particular brand or establishment. There are many factors that could impact the purchasing decision, but first and foremost, we are conditioned to choose businesses and brands that make us feel good and give us a great experience. There’s a good reason why the Apple store is always packed, or why Starbucks does $21 billion in annual revenues with less than $250 million in marketing. Everyone has a story or two about a great experience that they tell all their friends about. Your role is to deliver and create memorable moments that not only have your clients remembering your name, but also telling their story to others.
Whoa, that sounds hard, right? Actually, it’s much easier than you think. Often, it’s the small things that are most memorable. The lunchtime meal you had wasn’t that great, but you sure remember those nice chocolates they brought with the bill.
Reality is that your client is not going to remember that you negotiated until you turned blue to get them an extra $10,000 on their home. They’re not going to remember the fancy $300 gift basket you got them on closing. What they will remember are the little, unexpected things.
What’s the secret sauce to create something memorable? You have to make it genuine, valuable, and unexpected.
Here are some examples:
- Michael nearly doubled his referrals by making it a practice to show up with a pizza on his clients’ moving day. Thirty minutes of time and $20 worth of pizza go a long way when Michael’s clients are having a long and super-stressful day. That’s something they remember and you can almost bet that story will get mentioned at his clients’ housewarming party.
- Jeanne noticed her clients were complaining about how dirty the windows were when she first showed them their new home. A day after they moved, Jeanne took the initiative to schedule a window cleaning for her clients. Jeanne helped her clients when they didn’t expect it. Seven months later, the same clients used her to purchase an investment property.
- Joel sends every prospect he meets a hand-written card. While that doesn’t sound like a big deal, he recently visited a past client who was a man of incredible means. Six months after Joel sent the handwritten note, his card was still on his client’s desk.
The majority of your clients will choose to do business with you based on how you made them feel. We are human after all. The gut is always faster than the mind when it comes to making decisions.
Staying memorable takes more than running creative Facebook ads, fancy closing gifts and postcard mailers. It takes a traditional, human approach to building relationships and being genuinely helpful when your clients need you most.
Now is the time to become the local “Cheers” in your market. Where everybody knows (and remembers) your name…and they’re always glad you came.