It’s a common theme that runs through any “winning at selling” course: People buy from a person, not a company. It’s a solid theory, and as a consumer, I fully embrace it as truth. I want to know who I’m dealing with, and I expect most of you do as well. Let’s face it, if we’re not buying something at the lowest cost as we would at Wal-Mart or Target, we want to know and like the person who is getting our hard-earned dollars. When we purchase a home, the best that many of us can do is work with a broker who has earned our trust and our money.
The same is true for political candidates. So often, people will go to the polls to vote and just pick the name they recognize, most likely the incumbent. Whether they believe that’s the best choice or not, that is what they know. The burden on any candidate running against a long-time incumbent is to ensure that the name most recognized—and most trusted—is theirs. What they do that works and what doesn’t, makes a difference at the polls … and it will make a difference in your business as well. While there are many tactics that candidates can employ, the following four marketing ideas are simple, yet can make the most impact when building relationships and your business.
Signs may not be the first thing a candidate uses during a campaign, but it is often the first thing we notice. As colorful signs begin appearing in residential yards, business lots and along well-traveled roads, we start learning the names. We may not know what they’re running for, but we see their names in big, bold print. That’s how it begins for most of us.
Strategically, it makes sense for political candidates to initiate a focus on name recognition. It can be hard to justify economically, but it’s still a prudent move. Now for the mortgage industry, yard signs are just a metaphor. Of course it wouldn’t make much sense to spend thousands of dollars on yard signs, but for brokers and loan officers seeking to increase business and revenue, name recognition is very important. Your “signs” are all the things you do to put your name where it counts. Begin with promoting your business through your own customized Web site, but make sure you also have a presence where millions of potential clients are hanging out—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
The biggest “sign” for your business, however, is the tried and true method of “word of mouth.” Your past clients can be your biggest fans and cheerleaders. If you want name recognition and the potential for exponential growth, you’ll need to get on the phone or e-mail. You already have a consolidated database of contacts and personal information—use your LOS to make contact. If you are pressed for time, use your LOS to create and send e-mails either asking for referrals or repeat business. That puts the ball in their court and you have time to focus on other activities.
Candidates spend countless hours walking around neighborhoods knocking on doors. It’s the most personal way to discuss their platform, explain why they are the best choice, and ultimately ask for votes. Here you have several options. The concept is the same, but your neighborhood selection isn’t tied to a voting district and you don’t really have to walk door to door. The equivalent for business owners is the important activity of networking. Network via e-mail, phone calls, face-to-face interaction and attend local events.
Here’s where your LOS will come in handy again. Pull up some of your past sales and check out the neighborhoods. This is a great time to pull up some of the personal information on your past clients from your LOS and use it to select the perfect time to get the e-mails flying out the door and the phones ringing off the hook. You can time your activities near the borrower’s birthday or even a child’s birthday or event. Documenting this type of information in your LOS builds up the type of database you can use for all of your marketing needs.
Door-knocking or networking, is very effective for political candidates and is definitely worth looking into. If you are introverted, begin by working your way out of shyness by joining Toastmasters or another similar organization. It’s also a great way to get to know other business owners in your area. Have fun with it—and leave something behind for whomever you meet. You just never know when they’ll decide they need you!
They’re called a myriad of different things: Brochures, flyers, leave-behinds, bird-cage liners, etc., but whatever you call them, you need to have them. It does little good to talk to people without giving them something to remember you by. You don’t need to spend money on house-shaped keychains or imprinted tape measures. Those are great; however, saving money whenever possible is the goal here.
You also don’t need expensive graphic programs to design your own creative materials. You can easily find free templates for Microsoft Word or any other Microsoft program you like to use. If you choose a template from Word, you can also use your LOS to customize with your company information and even use the two to create a mail merge document you can send to your database contacts.
You need to build your arsenal of literature to leave with potential clients and even with businesses willing to support your efforts. As your networking activities take you by local stores and restaurants, make it a point to go in and build relationships there. Many small businesses are more than happy to support other small businesses in the area. It’s a good way to become more involved in those communities.
Besides learning the local routes and businesses, you can churn up interest by participating in various community events. Just about every town in America has at least one special day that allows businesses to promote their wares in inexpensive ways.
Spend the money to have a booth or table at your local fair, trade-days, Founder’s Day or whatever comes up next. I know a local insurance agent that always has a table at the National Night Out (for safety) in our town. She buys herself a place on the event t-shirt and make sure she has plenty of materials to hand out. She gets involved in all community events and her name is well-known.
Just like the insurance agent, our local political candidates are shaking hands and handing out literature at every event they can. They’re doing everything they can to get their name front and center in the minds of everybody they meet, wherever they go—community events, social organizations, trade organizations and chambers of commerce. That’s what you should do too, if you really want to build your name recognition—and your business.
Get those votes
Business owners can learn a lot from political candidates. It’s all about marketing yourself to the public and using the tools you have at your disposal for optimal exposure. That’s how they get votes, and that’s how you can grow your business.
Candidates are hungry, and they’re willing to get beyond their comfort zone to earn votes. Challenge yourself to talk to strangers in the grocery store if you are shy. Hand them your business card. It’s actually easy to engage customers standing in line with you; just do it! Use your LOS to find old clients, business partners, applicants that dropped out, anybody you can approach for referrals.
When your database is tapped, build a new one by marketing yourself. Your database of LOS contacts should be in constant growth mode. Get personal information from everybody you meet and you’ll always know the right opportunity to approach them with your marketing tactics. Be one of the hungry ambitious candidates that are ubiquitous in election years, and build your relationships to get those votes!
B.J. Bounds is senior marketing communications specialist for Calyx Software. In addition to media relations and copywriting, BJ is a contributing author to the Calyx Software blog, CalyxCorner. She has more than 10 years of experience in sales and corporate marketing with a focus on technology that spans several industries. She may be reached by phone at (800) 362-2599 or visit www.calyxsoftware.com.