They say word of mouth is the best source of new clients. I’ve said it too. And it’s true… to a point. But here’s the thing. Everyone gets referrals. Even the most unreliable, unprofessional business person will occasionally satisfy a client. Those satisfied clients will gladly recommend them, because their experience was pleasant. Try this – put out a call on Facebook or Twitter for a professional they’d recommend. (It will be more interesting if you experiment with a trade or industry where you know some of the professionals and their reputations.) You’ll get all kinds of names. The funny thing is, you won’t know any more about those businesses than before you asked. You’ll still need to look them up, do your research, and make a decision. As a business person, how will referrals set you apart then?
Let me share a story. I recently hosted an open house in Niverville, when this young couple came in. We had never met, but as soon as they slapped eyes on me, they said, “You’re Tina!”
It’s a weird feeling when people do that by the way. For a half second I feel like I might be in trouble. I said something clever like, “Yeah…?” and tried not to look too confused.
She smiled and continued, “You sold the house adjacent to our back yard. We see your name and face everywhere – and you blog too!” They were complete and total strangers, and are not on my list of Facebook friends. I wondered how they’d seen my blog posts. She said a friend of hers had shared a post on her Facebook page. “Do you remember the subject?” I asked.
“Yup – For Those Who Smoke After” she smirked.
At this point her husband piped up, “What?”
“I’ll tell you after…” she leaned over to him, and winked at me before continuing, “In one of the last posts you talked about working with crazy people”
The husband joined in, “I’ve seen your ads in the Property Guide. It seems like your advertising is more… upper class.” I thought about a recent ad I’d put out that had this picture of a shrub mooning a neighbor. The caption read, “Time to Move?” I wondered if he had seen it.
“Ah, thanks. It looks professional because I hire professionals to help me with my marketing.”
This couple was considering hiring me before we ever met, and it was not because someone referred them. It was because of what they’d seen in my marketing, and on my site. And this happens all the time. People come over from China and choose me. When I ask other clients – complete strangers who hired me out of the blue, “How did you get my name?”, they often answer, “I did a Google search.”
Here’s the deal – whether or not people are given recommendations, 68% research real estate agents online. When your potential client arrives at your site – and they will come – what will they find? What they hope to find is who you are. They don’t care about salesy photos and impersonal how-to tips. Tips, tricks and hacks can be found anywhere. They want to know about YOU. Are you trustworthy. Are you successful. Are you professional. Are you real. Will you treat them with respect. And they want to find this out online.
The most overlooked source of referrals is a real estate agent’s website. Most don’t have one, and of those who do, few blog. Nearly three quarters of potential clients research agents online. You need to be as personable and friendly and professional there as you would be in person.
Whether they’re coming to your site because of word-of-mouth, or because of Google rankings, potential clients are looking for you. …Are you there?