When I was a new agent, one of the first marketing ideas I tried was “sphere of influence”, or “SOI” marketing. If you are not familiar with the term, it is marketing to your personal network — those people who know you, like you, and would do business with you or would refer business to you. Seems simple enough, right?
The experts all say that if you have a SOI of fifty people, you can stay busy doing nothing but referral business from your personal network. Maybe once upon a time that was true, but I don’t know of a single agent who stays busy from just SOI business. In fact, I’ve written an article that explains why that is true.
But I do think that your sphere of influence is important and that it is a great source of supplemental business. I think of it as more the icing, not the cake. But I digress. The reason I backed off my aggressive SOI marketing was because the way I was doing it — the way I was taught to do it — was actually hurting my relationships with my friends and family.
I was doing it exactly the way we are all taught: Take your database of contacts (your sphere) and divide them by 22 (the number of work days in an average month). Then, every work day call two or three of them. The call is basically asking about their FORD (not their car). F-O-R-D. Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams.
You call them up and small talk about those four areas for 10-15 minutes and then you get around to the “all important” closing statement that goes something like this: “Oh, before I go, who do you know who might be thinking about buying or selling real estate right now?” Hopefully, they give you a lead. Generally they don’t. And, being a new agent, I did it right by the book.
Then one day at church I saw one of my SOI out of the corner of my eye, but I had not yet made eye contact with him. He saw me and immediately made a beeline in the opposite direction to avoid having to talk to me. My heart dropped. I was mortified. And I vowed then and there to never again do that phony SOI marketing like I’d been taught.
Sure, I still wanted referral business but I didn’t want to be “that guy” — you know, the uncle that just signed up for the latest multi-level marketing scheme and is hitting up everyone he knows to come join his business. I wanted my friends to still like me. So I did very little in the way of SOI marketing for years. If business came, it came. If it didn’t, oh well. No big deal.
Then last year when I was developing my Ultimate Website and was testing different parts of the system, when I made an alarming discovery. I realized there was a perfect way to market to my sphere of influence that was not phony, manipulative, cheesy, or time-consuming. In fact I loved it. And it did more in a few months to position me as an expert than all my books, articles, press releases and media appearances combined.
So how does it work? Simple, that’s how. My website has three important elements that allow me to be seen as the expert and go-to guy for real estate in my market without my having to make a single phone call or “blow my own horn” in any way. The three elements are 1) my personal blog; 2) my local market statistics; and 3) my social media integration. Let me explain.
My Personal Blog. As you know, I’m a writer and syndicated columnist. I’ve authored 11 books and hundreds of articles. I write prolifically. But here is my true confession: For whatever reason, I can never seem to find time to post content to my personal real estate blog. I decided to fix that. I began to syndicate content into my blog automatically through our sister company NewsGeni.us.
I never have to write a thing, and yet every week a few new blog posts appear on my behalf. Sure, I look at it. If I don’t like some post, I simply delete it. If I feel particularly inspired, I might even post something of my own. Almost too easy, right? You’re jealous aren’t you?
My Local Market Statistics. Once a month, I log into my local MLS and I pull exactly four data points for each of the market tiers that I’ve set up. I find out how many active listings there are for each tier, how many sold in the last quarter, the average sale price, and the average listing price. I enter those four data points into my website and save.
Behind the scenes my website makes hundreds of mathematical calculations and generates a very impressive spreadsheet of data that my clients love. It calculates average days on market, absorption rate, list-to-sale ratio, average discount, and price trend for each of the tiers I have set up. Then it displays them in a very user-friendly format on my website. People buying and selling real estate absolutely love it!
My Social Media Tie-in. Here is where it gets really powerful, and this is what I discovered by accident. Every month, after I’ve updated the four data points for each tier in my website, I click the Facebook share button on my webpage. When I do, it posts to my personal Facebook Timeline (my FB page) and all my Facebook friends see it in their news feed. No phone calls. No hassle. No manipulation.
And some of them share the information on their own timelines as well. And when people who are interested go to view the information, they are captured by my LCM gateway and the leads are sent to me by email and text, and placed into my client manager for follow up. Now I know exactly which of my sphere of influence are actually thinking about buying or selling real estate.
Better yet, I haven’t wasted any time with up to an hour a day making cheesy phone calls, I haven’t made my friends think I’m the pushy Realtor® they know, and all the while I have begun to position myself as a true market expert. And it takes a total of 10-15 minutes a month to do! I have my life back, my friends back, and without fail, when I post the market stats, I get half a dozen people who go to my website to view it and I get them as leads. How cool is that?!
And the social media function works the same with my blog. About once a week I scroll through the various articles that have been posted on my blog for me and I select one that I particularly like. I then click the Facebook share button and it is posted to my Facebook wall, and just like my local market statistics, I have interested people in my sphere of influence follow the link to my website where they are captured and I’m notified.
To me, this is the ultimate way to do sphere of influence marketing. You put great content out there, and those who are interested, come to you. No phony calls, no waste of 20 hours a month, and meanwhile I’m silently building my credibility as the area expert. Sphere of influence marketing just doesn’t get any better than that!