College marketing professors spend their days researching which promotional techniques and strategies work, and which don’t. They’re unbiased sources of information with a deep understanding of what drives sales, referrals and bottom-line profits. So we searched out some of the collegiate world’s most respected marketing experts and gathered their best advice below:
Stop soliciting everyone and anyone and instead identify a specific category of clients you want to acquire. Figure out what that target audience really wants, then build a reputation for doing that better than anyone else. Write articles, give speeches and send marketing materials that all position you as the best of the best in those key areas.
Tip #2 – from Jeffrey Pfeffer (Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford):
Too often, sales people view networking as something uncomfortable and inauthentic; a marketing effort cloaked in personal friendship. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Before trying to network with someone, use social media to learn as much as you can about them. Once you find something(s) you both have in common, it will be far easier to strike up an honest, heartfelt conversation that could lead to a long-lasting and productive working relationship for the both of you.
Tip #3 – from Dr. Christian Belz (Professor of Marketing at Switzerland’s University of St Gallen):
Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools are good for keeping your name in front of past clients and referral sources, but they’re not going to replace direct marketing. Direct marketing is far more successful when it comes to the most important thing of all: actually inspiring the prospect to move forward with a purchase (or at least a business relationship). History shows that new marketing strategies are good at complementing the established strategies, but they rarely replace them.
Tip #4 – from Jim Brown (Executive Director of the Russ Berrie Institute for Professional Sales at William Paterson University):
Warm calls work better than cold calls. Send prospects an introductory marketing postcard or email, wait two days after they’ve received it, then make a warm call (tell the person you’re following up on your mailing).
Tip #5 – The authors of the book “Roadside MBA” (Kellogg Associate Professor of Management and Strategy, Mike Mazzeo; Paul Oyer, Stanford Graduate School of Business; Scott Schaefer, University of Utah David Eccles School of Business):
Focusing your business on a subset of the market (a couple specific neighborhoods instead of a whole city, for example) is one of the best ways to make your business and services different from your competitors – especially the big companies competing against you. Large companies are good at doing things on a large scale, but their size makes it very difficult for them to understand the nuances of sub markets.
Tip #6 – from Jennifer Aaker (General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business):
Using industry jargon, acronyms and superfluous words is bad for business. These things not only confuse your audience, they bore them. Instead, set yourself apart from other real estate agents by finding a way to talk about complex subjects in ways anyone can understand.
Tip #7 – Thales S. Teixeira (Assistant Professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School):
Every sales person with a Facebook presence would love for one of their posts to go viral (like the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge). To accomplish that, you need to provide something that not only makes your business look good, but also makes your referral source look good, too:
- Make your referral source the center of attention (like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which encouraged participants to share a video of themselves pouring freezing-cold water over their head).
- Offer your referral source the chance to see (and share) something not available to the general public (e.g. an industry study, a property that hasn’t officially been listed yet, etc.).
- Take a stand on an issue that you think your target audience will agree with, and want to share (e.g. funding for local parks, the preservation of historic homes, a cure for ALS, etc.).
- Celebrate the accomplishments of your target audience (e.g. parents who help their kids with homework at the end of a long work day, homeowners with beautiful gardens, etc.).
- Provide something so unique and engaging that recipients will want to share it (e.g. time-lapse video of a house being constructed, photos of the childhood homes of famous people, etc.).
Tip #8 – Rob Petersen (Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University):
Your clients and prospective clients are desperate for answers and relevant information. While the Internet is bursting with real estate information today, people don’t know who to trust, and they don’t want to spend hours reading all the available resources. They want you to provide them with the insights they need to make better decisions. If you include those facts in your newsletters, postcards, Facebook posts and other marketing efforts, people will reward you with their trust, business and referrals.
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