Building a business using Events is a strategy that works like a charm.
The most important asset in your business is your database and having one enhanced will result from your success in event building. Your database is the people you know, and should include every single person who fits into that category, including your family and friends. It should also include your SOI or Sphere of Influence — if you’re not sure what a Sphere of Influence is, it basically means anyone that you’ve ever “touched” personally or professional in your lifetime. This can include past clients, current clients, client prospects, and pretty much anyone breathing. Your babysitter, veterinarian, grocery store clerk, nail technician, garbage man, children’s teacher, and even the guy that washes your car can all be within your sphere of influence.
A lot of agents resist adding people to their database because the person is not looking to buy or sell at this time. This is a huge mistake. It doesn’t make a difference if they are buying or selling now or not. For starters, the majority of your database is not filled with people that may ever buy or sell, but they each know about 200 people they will become comfortable in referring you to. For those that do buy or sell, it is likely they will have multiple transactions with you by keeping yourself top of mind. So, to put it another way, 15 % of the people that you know will buy or sell this year, and 100% of the people that you know will know someone else who will buy or sell this year. Don’t discount anyone’s value or delete them from your list simply because you’re assuming are without value.
The best way to reach people is in a way that makes them “stick”. A top way to pull this off is to have events.
Events are an amazing way to build your business database. Here are a few ways to make your event the best business builder possible:
Build your Brand — Do you know what Kleenex is? How about Ziploc bags? What about Styrofoam? What if I told you that every single one of these was a brand name, and not a product name. For example, most people will say “binder”, “hole-puncher”, “pizza”, or “can opener” because those are products that do not have very strong brand recognition. But if someone says “Sharpie”, you know that they mean a permanent marker that comes in a variety of colors and sizes. If they say “Velcro” you know that they mean a type of fastener. These brands have dominated the market so thoroughly that people reference their name and instantly everyone else knows what they’re talking about. You need to strengthen the daylights out of your brand so that you’re the “Cindy Bishop” of real estate agents in your market. I’ll have future posts on how to build your brand if you want to read more about this topic.
Invite Everyone – There are all types of events so you should have no problem picking one that fits your style that a variety of people would want to come to. You can even have multiple events. The most important thing is to invite every single person you know and encourage each person to bring guests, so that you can expand your network and meet people you don’t already know. You can also invite local businesses as well. A friend of mine has “appreciation parties” for people in her area that are often not thanked enough for their jobs and service to the community. She has had events for the military, teachers, nurses, and other such first responders and school and hospital support staff. These people love to attend her functions because it makes them feel welcomed, appreciated, and important.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff — So many people get so caught up into the details that they sweat the small stuff and don’t plan their party. Don’t become overwhelmed, don’t worry so much about the appeal of the event that you’re unable to start executing it. Just start doing something, take an hour or so each day to devote to the planning of your event, and the rest will fall into place. The most important thing is to just make it happen.
Make Your Brand Luxury – Your network is going to become a Fan Club if you do this thing right. Whatever events you have need to be top shelf. You shouldn’t spare any expense because this will be how you are remembered (or how you are not remembered). People will think more highly of you or more poorly of you based on how you made them feel at this event. Plan it out and estimate the cost high, then find sponsors to pay for it. You shouldn’t have to put a dime into it, your contribution is your time that it took to organize and plan each detail of the event. Collect the sponsor fee’s in advance of committing to anything. Make sure you are giving them their money’s worth with a program guide, a displayed banner, or some other kind of mention of their name and services. Be careful here, if you’re promising someone that they can display or present at your event, that’s all you can do— you cannot promise them that your clients will use them for services, as that is unethical and illegal in many states. Check with your broker if you have any questions about what you can and cannot do regarding “trades” and “marketing.”
The cost for an event can be anything. Some of the events I have had were as little as $500 to upwards of $15,000. Regardless of the cost, I had it paid by sponsors. Plan the event, figure the cost, and get it covered. This is about doing as much as it takes to make the right impact.
Sponsors are your real estate team; title companies, lenders, termite companies, financial planners, etc.
If your event is done well and everything is presented right, you will have the event filled with people instead of having to pull teeth to get people to show up. The more attendees you have, the more impressed people will be, but the fewer the people that show up, the less impressive you are— and people will remember that when it’s time to find a Realtor® to sell their home. Because event planning involves much of the same coordination, planning, personality, and determination as real estate does, many people will use your event as an indication of how good of an agent you will be.
Be an Amazing Maestro — To have a good business, you have to be a leader. So, lead your team just as a maestro would lead his orchestra. Share the event with several agents to cut the cost down and gather their sponsors as well. Do not have more than one sponsor for a particular field. They feel used and the value of the event for them diminishes. You want your sponsors to be excited and want to be active in many of your events. Treat them like royalty. If you have volunteers or a team helping you throw the event, delegate responsibilities to each person and make sure they pull their own weight.
Pick a Fun & Appropriate Event Theme – Event Themes are endless. Your party can be held in a local concert hall, arena, bar, reception hall, restaurant, friend’s house, or other venue. You can have a traditional party where people walk around, drink, and mingle, and try choosing a fun theme. Some examples would be a garden party, circus party, costume party, mystery spy party, roaring 20’s party, holiday party (Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter), or a masquerade party, just to name a few.
You could also choose a local facility to rent out to capitalize on the theme they already provide. This could be an amusement park, paintball center, laser tag arena, movie theater, night club, botanical garden, zoo, park, or even a party bus.
Make sure that your theme is appropriate and classy, and reaches the desired demographic of people. For example, if the majority of your buyers and sellers are young families with children, you may consider having the party at Chuck E. Cheese. if the majority of your buyers and sellers are elderly folks that are empty nesters and downsizing, you may want to consider having Bingo or Shuffleboard as events, for example. If you cater to young professionals in the city, a nightclub might not be a bad idea (as long as you don’t pick anything too scandalous), or if you’re trying to target farmers or rural areas, maybe you’d be better off with a barbecue.
Finally, make sure you have some good “activities” planned. Many people often confuse an event with activities. You don’t want to have a fabulous party with beautiful costumes and decorations and then nothing for the guests to do! For example, you would never rent out a movie theater and not pass out popcorn or play a movie. Make sure to get some performers for a circus party, horses for a ranch party, or anything else that’s theme appropriate.
Here are some more ideas for activities: Photo booth or holiday specific photos, karaoke, cookie creation, ice sculpting, historic tour, ghost walk, horseshoes, bobbing for apples, or hay rides,
And ideas for entertainers: Jugglers, clowns, princesses, cartoon characters, people in costume, singers, actors, celebrity speakers, and face painters. Activities that can be done in rented spaces are endless.
Finally, here are some ideas for “themed” foods: Popcorn, apple cider, pumpkins, chocolate fountains, ice cream bar, cake, cupcakes, cookies, cake pops or balls, or any other appropriate food (ribs for a barbecue or caramel apples for a Halloween party, for example).
Make Sure Your Event is Safe – Make sure you have a team in place to help you out to screen each attendee at the door (especially if your event is open to the public). You’ll also want to have whoever is required by the venue or by law. If it’s a bar, for example, you’ll need to have a legally trained bartender as well as a bouncer. Most other venues will require that you hire an off-duty police officer or security guard in order to be able to rent their space. Finally, be sure to get a release signed by each and every one of the attendees, and include a photo release on that document as well. If you don’t have an attorney that can draft this, you can find some amazing (and free) templates online, or through legal subscription sites.
Don’t Slack on the Marketing During Your Event – The entire point of this event is to build connections, so don’t blow it. Make sure you talk to each of the guests and make notes if you have to for who is who. If you need to enlist your team’s help, it might be a good idea to ask them to help you write down each person’s name and keep notes of who everyone is, where they work, the spelling of their name, and their contact information. Get plenty of photos of everyone including you and your sponsors with attendees. This will also serve as a wonderful thank you and tool for the sponsors to be able to use to share and post and connect with the attendees down the line. Try to encourage your helpers to get each attendees name right, even if they have to write it down, so that you can post each person’s name with the pictures as well as send out some kind of follow up or thank you. Also, do a Facebook Live or some other kind of live video so that you can post the crowd’s reaction to show how much fun everyone is having. Make sure to upload these videos to your page so that the people who did attend will be able to watch them again later, and share with friends.
Follow up with your Guests after the Event – This is the fortune…. the follow up! The entire point of having this event was to network and add people to your database, so if you miss this step your event was for nothing.
Initially, send a thank you to each and every attendee within 3 days of the event. Let them know that you’ll be sending something special to them by the end of the year. A calendar is an amazing idea for a gift, you can use the pictures from the event and caption each picture accordingly. It’s something that everyone can use, and it will help your guests relive your party all year round. Second, make sure to connect with each guest via all of the social media channels — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A lot of people prefer to keep in touch via social media now than through e-mail, as it becomes a digital rolodex. and is an easy way for them to keep track of contacts. Third, make sure to get the pictures and media from your event up on your personal Facebook page, your business page, and your website. Everyone needs to hear about this fabulous event so they can comment while those that failed to attend will probably never miss another event.
This is how you create a fan club. Work hard on your business to build that Fan Club Tribe, then have fun watching it grow and flourish.
Cindy Bishop is the Managing Director of Cindy Bishop Worldwide, a real estate education company specializing in Continuing Education and Business Development to the Real Estate Community. Cindy is an active coach specializing in real estate agent business development.cindybishopworldwide.combestrealtortraining.com