How to Define and Market to Your Sphere of Influence
Whether you’re new to real estate or you’ve been at it for a little while now, you’ve likely heard quite a bit about the importance of your “sphere,” “sphere of influence,” or “SOI.”
Seasoned veterans have probably told you that marketing to your sphere of influence is integral to your business. And they’re right! Your sphere gives you referrals, and according to Realty Times, 42% of buyers in 2016 chose to work with an agent who was referred to them by a friend, neighbor, or relative.
But before you start marketing to your sphere of influence, you need to define it.
Define Your Sphere of Influence
Your sphere of influence is essentially a list of people. This list could be quite substantial. It consists of all the people who know you, both professionally and unprofessionally, and who may present an opportunity for word of mouth marketing, a referral, or even direct business.
Typically, you should include people who like and respect you as well as people who know you as an acquaintance. This could include family and friends, professional colleagues, your neighbors, your old teachers or professors, or even your plumber and your yoga instructor.
You may be tempted to exclude some people because you’re hesitant to contact them or you don’t know them very well. That’s perfectly understandable, but don’t discount any of your relationships! If you do, you could be missing out on opportunities for new business.
Organize Your Contacts
Once you’ve made your list, you should organize it and record everyone’s contact information. The easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one real estate CRM. A CRM acts like a living, breathing contact database. It helps you keep track of all your messages and follow-ups. It also helps you score your leads, conduct marketing activities, and manage your work.
If you don’t have a CRM yet, you should consider obtaining one. But for now, a spreadsheet will do!
Names, phone numbers, and email addresses are the most important pieces of information you’ll need. But don’t be afraid to go deeper. The more you know about your sphere of influence, the better your position will be to find new opportunities.
Here’s some of the information you should look for:
- First & Last Name
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Celebrated Holidays
- Family Size
- Hobbies & Favorite Activities
- Favorite Restaurants
Some of this information may seem extraneous, but it will be a lifesaver you when the time comes.
For example, knowing someone’s birthday and anniversary means you can send them a card on those dates. The same is true of holidays. Knowing their interests and favorite restaurant can help you choose an ideal place to meet.
Once you have some of this information, you should organize your contacts into lists or groups. These lists will help you segment your contacts so you can send messages that speak to them. For example, a contextual email that is sent to a specific list will be much more effective than a mass email sent to all of your contacts.
Here are some lists you should consider making:
- Professional Contacts
- Website Visitors
Each of your lists can be broken into more segmented lists if you want to be more precise. For example, “Acquaintances” could be broken up into “Workout Group,” “Friends from Church,” “Home Service Contractors,” and others.
Market to Your Sphere of Influence
Once you’ve defined your sphere of influence and organized your contacts, you’re ready to start marketing! It’s important to keep your sphere of influence warm if you want to continue to get results.
Keep in mind that not everyone in your sphere of influence is looking to buy or sell a home, but they are engaged with the community and actively meeting new people. Keeping your relationships alive means they are more likely to recommend your services to people they know, thus expanding your business.
There are a few ways to engage your sphere, but five of your most important tools are email, social media, direct mail, face-to-face meetings, and the old-fashioned phone call.
Email a necessary tool for maintaining relationships with a large volume of contacts. Create a regular newsletter to engage your email contacts and keep your business top of mind. Make sure it’s appealing and contains accurate, enticing copy. An all-in-one real estate agent CRM makes this easy and even lets you schedule out emails in advance.
You can also create marketing emails for special events or send targeted emails to your specific lists of contacts.
Social media lets you reach your sphere of influence where they spend their time, but it can also get you engaged with business groups and amass new followers. Create business pages on the most popular platforms and reach out to your contacts to connect. Post a mix of relevant content, from articles that might interest your contacts to your own materials.
When using social media, stay authentic. Craft your own messages. Post updates on homes you’ve sold and new homes that are currently available. You don’t just want to blast people with messages, you want to turn your page into a valuable resource.
Digital may be the way of the future, but that means snail mail is now a niche marketing opportunity. Small things like Christmas cards, postcards, and written invitations can go a long way when most people are glued to their screens.
Nothing beats the art of the conversation. If some of the people in your sphere are local, make sure to have face-to-face meetings with them every once in a while. Something as simple as grabbing lunch could lead to your next big sale.
Any real estate agent will tell you that phone calls are the most important part of obtaining consistent business. Most will tell you to make phone calls to your sphere of influence every day.
Set aside time during your day to make phone calls. Rely on the information you’ve collected about your contacts to inform your conversations and keep them friendly.
Life can get busy and frantic, but keep your sphere at the top of your list. If you work your sphere regularly, you’ll be able to expand it, get consistent leads, and grow your business.