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  Don't Forget About Relationships
 
In this fast-paced world of e-commerce, e-trading and e-business, it's all too easy to get caught up in the technology. You can send a letter to someone across the country or around the world in a matter of seconds by e-mail. Many of us use a cell phone to call clients in between appointments. Web sites are the latest way to sell everything from software and toys to cars and now even real estate. Electronic communication is without a doubt, a tremendous time-saver. After all, one of the most precious assets a real estate professional has is time. But it is important not to overlook the basic fundamentals of Personal or "P"-marketing - developing personal relationships.

P-marketing is at the very foundation of sales and marketing. In the old days, the only way to do business was with a handshake and a personal relationship. Prospecting meant knocking on doors, sending letters and notes and meeting people for lunch. It took persistence and a commitment to spending time developing relationships with people.

P-marketing is also Permission Marketing. It means asking prospects for their permission to share your marketing message. Unlike interruption or mass marketing, permission marketing asks the prospect to participate in the sales process. With their permission, you can count on their undivided attention and interest. An example of this is with the online bookseller, Amazon.com. When a customer purchases their first book with Amazon.com, they are asked to provide their e-mail address. If the customer joins any special interest groups or makes purchases in a particular category, Amazon.com uses that information to create unique marketing messages of interest to that customer. Through permission marketing, Amazon.com sends regular e-mail updates on upcoming books and motivates past customers to visit their site again. Their targeted e-mail messages are personal, relevant and anticipated.

Developing personal relationships, like many things, requires a huge investment of your time and energy. It also demands an unwavering commitment to your beliefs. E-mail and mass marketing should be a part of your overall plan, but they should not replace personal contact. As a real estate professional, you're not selling a commodity. You're selling yourself. Personal marketing is the best way to communicate the value of your unique services to prospects and clients.

Many times, we turn to shortcut methods to achieve our goals. You might send e-mail instead of writing a personal note or seeing someone in person. You might run a display ad rather than sending your customers a personal letter. It is important to focus on building relationships. That requires planning, effort and time. You are not only trying to sell your services to your prospect, but also to their friends and family. You want to grow one relationship into many.

Technology should play an important role in your overall marketing program. But it should not work exclusively. E-mail is an excellent vehicle for delivering daily MLS listings to prospects. Your Web site is also a valuable tool for communicating your services, values and current property listings. But all these things must work together with Personal and Permission marketing activities to maximize your sales efforts and grow your business.
 

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