Prospecting and marketing is a continuous effort for those of us in the real estate and finance industries. Successful marketing, followed by a positive transaction and client experience, results in customer referrals and database creation. We all understand that marketing will always be an ongoing priority in our transactional-based business even with these passive referral sources, but how do we maximize the quality and number of client and business partner referrals? Target marketing is a word we hear often as entrepreneurs and business owners. The term is typically used when researching or developing a business plan for a specific geographical area. Since many of us in the industry carry state-specific licensing and specialize in somewhat broad areas around our homes and place of business, I’ve always carried a slightly different view with regards to target marketing. I call it “Influence the Influential.” Like most people, I prefer to maximize the little time I have each day and be as productive as possible. I do this by having a plan in place and focusing on the tasks that carry the highest demands and provide the most positive results. I follow these same guidelines when developing a marketing plan and narrowing my target client. What type of person should I market my services to that will result in the highest quality referrals? What type of clients do I primarily work with that provide the most favorable outcome? The answer to these questions will mold the future of your database and business. I have personally found that spending time with the most quality prospects and those in a position of influence provides the most successful outcome and the highest quality referral. Others trust their opinion and counsel when referring peers, friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, I am open to helping all people regardless of income, credit, net worth and social status, and will always provide the same quality of service to each client. However, if you are spending time and effort developing your marketing plan than it’s important to think about who you are marketing to. Indications you might need to revise your target market: ►You feel like the majority of clients responding to your efforts are unable to qualify. ►Your business primarily requires Federal Housing Administration (FHA) financing in order to qualify, thus putting a heavy influence on your database which could use more diversity. ►Post-closing client referral quality or quantity could use improvement. ►Business partner referrals are hard to qualify or never pan out. ►You find that the type of client your marketing produces is difficult to work with or tries to take advantage of your time. ►The average credit score or application-to-closing ratio is below where you feel should be acceptable. You can also use the same marketing guidelines toward business partners and colleagues. If you find that you receive referrals from others who are either difficult to qualify or few in quantity, you might consider their position of influence and number of transactions closed annually. Also strive to be an influential professional yourself. Partnering with like-minded and ethical colleagues can be rewarding for your business, but more importantly, rewarding for your clients. The prerequisite before influencing the influential is to have confidence, supreme skills and a heightened level of service that automatically generates referrals post-closing. If these things are in place, then narrow down your target market by influencing those who can influence as many other qualified candidates as possible. Doing this in your marketing plans will bring more success to your business and quality to your referral database. Andy W. Harris, CRMS is president and owner of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Vantage Mortgage Group Inc. and 2010-2011 president of the Oregon Association of Mortgage Professionals. He may be reached by phone at (877) 496-0431 or e-mail [email protected] or visit AndyHarrisMortgage.com.