Many of my Realtor friends are adamant Brian Buffini-ites or Joe Stump-ites who are committed to the referral model of lead generation (I don’t say marketing because it is not as pro-active as real marketing-marketing).
For those of you who aren’t aware of Joe Stumpf and By Referral Only or Brian Buffini and his Referral System are based on the premise that if you have a core group of advocates in your database (I seem to remember that 600 was listed as a good amount), you can communicate your value proposition (that you work by referrals) and get a six figure income without ever having to sell or market your real estate business.
I am not sure that this works for me personally (I am an introvert and marketing peep) but I think it bears looking at the pros and cons to ignoring marketing to the masses and simply communicating with people who are already in your sphere.
Here are some of my impressions about by referral only marketing….
It worked better when there was less noise
Years and years ago (like in the early 2000′s) I worked for a gal who was a huge Buffini fan. She worked his system religiously, sending out 100 flyers each month to her “A” people and making her phone calls. I found it telling that she skipped the email part because she was technologically challenged and so was missing communicating with people who were less talky-talky and more business oriented.
Fast forward to today. Not only do we have email to bother us, we have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, texting and about a million other things trying to get our attention. I have LOTS of Realtor friends that I communicate with on a daily basis and so would not be a great candidate for a referral based system like these (I would not think of someone who had sent me a newsletter, I would jump on Facebook and ask if anyone knew a good Realtor where I had a referral).
Referral based lead generating is great for social people
I love my Mary Kay lady. She is actually a friend-friend and she is sorta-kinda doing the referral based or relationship based marketing thing. I am on her call or text list once per month and I am always happy to hear from her, BUT it doesn’t make me buy Mary Kay or think of people with a burning makeup desire because I am not a makeup person, nor am I social, nor do I like talking on the phone for “catching up”. I have a family that takes time, work that takes time and without a specific reason to chat, I am a schmoe.
That said, there are people in the world who LIKE to talk about their families and friends, what they are up to and how their jobs are going. If I was going to do referral based selling I would fill my database with social people who appreciate frequent communications.
People are bad at selling their own businesses, why do you think they can sell yours
Being in marketing, I spend lots of time talking to business owners who are trying to figure out how to market their businesses effectively. They are not comfortable with doing a 30 second elevator speech for their own businesses so I have to think that they are not going to be rock star sales people for someone else’s business.
But, talking about who to have in your database, if I was only marketing to 600 or so people I would DEFINITELY target connectors. These are the people who know everyone and who cannot help helping. For example, if you ask my husband about which computer to buy, he will send you a detailed email about the top three choices you could make, pricing structures and features and then he would never tell another soul about it. On the other hand, we have a friend who is a connector! She is constantly on the lookout for who she can hook up where and is a referral giving machine. SHE would be in my database along with about 599 just like her!
It is kind of a cop out
Having worked with hundreds (almost 1,000) small business owners and Realtors, I can tell you that the lure of being able to grow your business effortlessly working with just friends and socializing to grow your business is a strong attractor! I do a questionnaire when I get a new coaching client and if I see that they are only interested in relationship marketing and helping people, I can almost guarantee that their business is not making much money.
Having clients who love you and helping others is a great goal, unfortunately as a Realtor your job is not to help. It is to represent your clients in a professional manner with integrity AND MAKE MONEY. There I said it! If you are in business, your job is to make commissions! If you are commission based sales person (like most Realtors are), your livelyhood depends on being able to sell (sell yourself, sell properties and sell your buyers’ offers).
Some people are ROCKING this type of lead generation
Now, all that having been said, there are people out there who are working the system. They are making calls, sending emails, mailing their newsletters and basically just have committed 100% to this style of lead generation. I am an all-in kind of gal and it makes my heart sing to hear success stories from agents who are working the system. If this is you, please drop me a comment and let me know how it has worked for you!
Ignoring progress at your own risk
While I am not anti-referral based marketing, I am anti-referral based marketing ONLY. Having watched many systems and sites come and go, I am never comfortable with a “put all your eggs in one basket approach”. If you are doing the referral thing AND hooking up with them on Facebook AND making awesome videos that talk about local areas AND using your database in the crazy obsessive manner that it is intended AND sending birthday cards, etc. then you should be busier than a one-armed paper hanger. If you are not and just sending out newsletters with a “I am never too busy for your referrals” sticker, my guess is you might want to consider branching out!
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