It turns out the business value of a client event isn't measured in how many people show up; it has more to do with how many conversations and touch points you have in the weeks leading up to (and following) the event.
Michael Hellickson, founder and president of the real estate coaching company Club Wealth, joined Realvolve + Firepoint's Gabe Cordova for a webinar to discuss why client events are important and how to get them just right. He shared Club Wealth's step-by-step checklist and explained the technology his agents use to automate the process.
In this blog post, you'll get a sneak peek into Michael's webinar. For even more, check out the full webinar recording and download his event process checklist.
"Your clients need a little touchy feely."
Michael begins by explaining the importance of client appreciation events:
One of the best ways you can do more business by referral is by taking better care of the people that you have in your database now and deepening those relationships. One of the ways we do that with an automated process is through client events.
We’ve done ice cream socials, which I know sounds silly. Look, I'm a high production guy. I don't like touchy feely stuff. I'm a 'let's get it done and make some money together' kind of guy. But your clients need a little touchy feely. There's a segment of your database that needs to have that.
When you allow yourself to use automation to tell them about the events—to remind them about the events, to follow up with them after the events—all of a sudden, they're getting touch after touch after touch after touch. They think it's all you, but in reality, you did it once [and programmed it into your workflows], and now it's easy to apply to all of your database.
You have to show up, but it doesn't matter if your clients don't
The agent needs to show up on their event. Yes. You need to go to your own event. I'm laughing but I literally have had clients say, do I have to go? Yes, you have to go to your own event. That being said, no, I don't care if the client shows up or not. It doesn't matter because the value is not in the event itself. The event itself is an excuse to reach out to them with value for them and nothing expected in return for you.
Host 4 events = do business with 10% of your database
Let's talk about the numbers really quick here. The average agent right now has about 250 people in their sphere of influence. If all you do is 4 client events per year—1 per quarter—you should be able to do business with a minimum of 10% of your database.
And it doesn’t have to be 250 past clients. This can be your mom, dad, brother, sister, the dry cleaner, whatever. Just anybody you know. With 250 in your sphere, you should be able to do a minimum of 25 transactions per year by referral if all you do are those 4 client events per year.
There are some other things you can do to add to it. With a little bit more contact throughout the year, you can very reasonably get that number to 20%, or 50 transactions per year.
Why nurturing your sphere is important:
Six years ago, the average agent got 61% of their business from their sphere of influence. That includes anybody they know, their past clients, all that stuff. In 4 years, that number dropped to 41%. That's a scary number, right? The transactions the average agent was doing by referral drop dramatically in a 4-year period, during the best economy we've ever seen in our careers.
Why is that happening? Why is that dynamic changing? Because 92% of homebuyers start their search, where? Online. Of those, 72% work with the first agent they come in contact with. What's happening is the relationship that agents have with their database is waning. That's not a good thing. They're not going as deep as they were. They're not getting the referrals that they should, because they're not doing the activities that need to happen
Ideas for events:
First, the number one event of the year that agents get the most traction on every time is photos with Santa. That draws the biggest crowds and gets the most response, and it's very simple. You always want to do it the first Saturday in December. Don't ask me why that's the right day. It just is. You just do it the first Saturday in December at 10:00 am.
And the Santa photo op isn’t just for families with kids.
You’ll see literally a 50% increase in the amount of people that will show up to the event if you tell them to invite their pets as well. Just make sure Santa doesn’t have a phobia or dogs or cats or squirrels or whatever people’s pets are.
Other ideas: Thanksgiving pie giveaway. A Halloween hoedown. Easter egg hunts. Baseball games for your top clients.
With baseball games, I would take my best clients, my A plus clients, people that are sending me multiple referrals or doing multiple transactions with me, I'd take him to a baseball game and let them get to know each other. Let them kind of develop a culture within your sphere of influence and have that start to take on a life of its own, and you'll start really seeing the numbers go up.
What if your region's COVID restrictions don't allow for gatherings of people?
While some events won’t work, there are plenty that will!
For the Thanksgiving Pie Giveaway event, it’s not everybody coming to one place at the same time. You can spread it out over a day or a week. You say to people, “Okay, we have your pie ready, can you come to our office on this date at this time?” and they come to your office to get the pie. And now they get the bonus of experiencing your office. So it’s much more convenient for you, because you don’t have to deliver, and you get all of these touch points with clients.
And if restrictions mean clients can’t even come to your office?
Let me tell you the difference between agents that have had their best 6 months ever these last 6 months and agents that have struggled these last 6 months. It's what Sun Tzu said in the Art of War: "Where there's chaos, there's opportunity."
What are you focusing on? Are you focusing on the danger? Or are you focusing on the opportunity? You can find ways to make it work. If you can’t meet in the office, maybe you could do a Zoom client event, right? We have people right now that are literally doing buyer seminars, seller seminars, investor seminars on Zoom and offering those to other clients. They're doing other seminars, with tax professionals, you name it on Zoom and inviting all their sphere of influence. That's a client event, you guys, that's the same thing. That's what we're talking about.
The Event Process, part 1: Before The Event
Michael’s entire event process is built out in a Realvolve + Firepoint workflow. Below, you'll get a sneak peek at his process (watch the webinar for the full process). Keep in mind that all of this is automated—you can set this up to remind you when each task needs to be completed, and much of the content can be pre-created as templates.
Here’s what to do 6 weeks before the event:
First, you need to select the time, date, and location.
Next, identify who on your team will be responsible for the event. Who’s going to make sure the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted and that we don’t drop the ball on things? It’s important to identify this person and let them know, “You’re in charge,” and hold them accountable. We want to inspect what we expect so that we get the results we’re looking for.
Friend every single one of your clients on Facebook, and post your event on Facebook 3 three days. I know that sounds like a lot, but understand that most people aren't going to see it the first time you post it or the second time or the tenth time, right. It's not going to necessarily show up in their feed so you have to keep posting in your feed all the time.
I'll tell you, if you really want to put gas on the fire, do it with video, right? Have some candid video of just you on your cell phone just talking about it. Video gets ranked higher in the algorithm on Facebook. If it’s a Facebook Live video, Facebook will show it to even more people.
Next is remarketing. Retarget your ads to the people in your database. You can do retargeting through Facebook and Google. Ideally, you want them to see it 33 times a week. I know that sounds crazy. But here’s the thing: just because they see it doesn’t mean they’re engaging with it or that it’s resonating with them. Until they see it 10 times, it’s not even going to click in their minds. Everywhere your clients go online, I want them to see you.
Post a video blog about the upcoming event on your website. This can be the same as one of the videos you posted to Facebook; I’m all about repurposing.
Finally, make sure you email that link for the blog post to your entire database. I know that sounds simple, but you’ve got to have that built into the workflow or it gets forgotten.
One month before the event, call through your entire database. Your script should sound something like this:
“Hey, Gabe, it’s Michael Hellickson. I haven't talked to you in a while. How’ve you been?”
Gabe will say something like, "Oh, it's been great, Michael, family's good. The house is great."
You say, "That's great, let me know if you need a handyman or anything like that, if there's anything wrong with the house. Hey, I was thinking about you, I'm having a party. We're going to do a little barbecue in my backyard and I just wanted to see if you'd like to come down and have a burger on me."
“Oh, Michael, that sounds great, but we’re not going to be able to make it. Thank you so much for the invite.”
“Okay, no problem Gabe. Hey, let me know if there’s anything I can ever help you with. Have an awesome day.”
If the majority of the people you call say they can’t come, that’s fine. The goal of the call is not to get them to come to your event. The goal is to offer them something of value, and to have a conversation with them and see how they’re doing. The point of this whole process is to get you in conversation with people that are in a position to refer you or use you.
"Technology shouldn't be used as a replacement for agent effort; it should be an augmentation for it."
One quick note on using technology (Realvolve + Firepoint) during the phone call part of the process:
Firepoint has a rapid dialer that allows you pull up a list of contacts and call them one after another—no dialing the phone in between, no time for hesitation or procrastination. As Gabe pointed out, “we’re taking out that analysis paralysis—that, ‘What am I going to say?’ We already know. We’ve identified who we’re calling. We’re not exactly automating it, because this is one step I don’t think you should, but we can make it happen a lot faster with our technology.”
Michael added to that:
That's the thing you have to understand about technology, too. Technology shouldn't be used as a replacement for agent effort; it should be an augmentation for it. Technology should be used to get you voice-to-voice and face-to-face with people faster and more efficiently. That's why you need to make sure that your technology has these workflows. These workflows are so important because they ensure that you do things the same way every single time, and no one ever drops the ball, so you get a consistently world-class result for you and your clients every time.
To learn more about Michael's proven event process and how you can use Realvolve + Firepoint technology to automate the process, watch the full webinar recording. And don't miss the free download of his event process checklist, which includes ideas for the event, what to do before the event (from 6 weeks out all the way to 3 days before the event), what to do at the event, and how to followup after the event.
Sammy Harper is a content writer at Firepoint & Realvolve. Her nine years of digital marketing experience include SEO, email marketing, social media, and blogging. Fascinated by the real estate indust...Read More