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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   March 2017

Business Begins Outside the Office

Leverage events to build partner relationships and fill your pipeline

Have you ever wondered why some mortgage originators seem to grow their business every year despite the ups and downs of the market? Constant growth requires a mix of strategies.

One often-forgotten strategy is leveraging events to give potential partners an opportunity to see your brand and provide you with valuable warm leads. These events can be seminars, lunch-and-learns, coaching sessions and even large-scale community events that attract hundreds of potential business partners.

This strategy is an example of how partnerships can keep your pipeline consistently full. Mortgage originators are in the business of servicing other businesses, and events help attract agents and other professionals who can bring you clients that need your services. Be sure to utilize your database and all marketing channels — dialers, mailers and social media — when promoting these events.

Start small

When planning your first events, consider starting small to gain confidence and build consistency. Organize neighborhood events with a Realtor like a dog-photo day or a shredding event after tax day. Sponsor ice cream trucks in the summer, pizza parties before Halloween, food drives at Thanksgiving and toy drives during December. Participating in these neighborhood events will bring a smile to your face and help grow your brand within the communities you service.

When you’re ready, add more events on a regular schedule. Small seminars or lunch-and-learn events held at a local restaurant can be marketed to your database of partners and held monthly at the same location and time. Keep lunch events at 15 to 25 participants to create a sense of scarcity and utilize a valuable teaching topic that relates to your partners and helps them grow their businesses.

You can educate your partners on how to generate leads, for example, or how to manage their time or set goals for the next year. Include guest speakers, presentations, handouts and promotional items for participants to take with them. Make these events fun and exciting, and choose a venue known for quality food and a relaxing atmosphere. You want to leave a lasting impression on all attendees.

Be creative and try not to call these events lunch-and-learns. If you have an event at a local Mexican restaurant, for example, call it “Sizzling Seminars” and market it as “Hot Topics for Real Estate Partners.” The idea is to create interest so attendees can see the value in spending their time with you. Provide valuable education at these events while making them entertaining. Don’t forget to block enough time to answer questions and spend one-on-one time with those attendees who want to connect afterward to discuss business opportunities.

Build on success

As you get more comfortable planning events, consider adding a regular social mixer at a fun and relaxing venue. This is your opportunity to get to know your partners on a more personal level and meet any friends or colleagues they may bring along, who could be potential new prospects.

If your mixer only attracts five partners, don’t fret. This gives you a chance to spend some intimate time getting to know everyone who attends. It’s not always about the quantity of attendance but the quality of the time you get to spend with these professionals.

Again, try having these mixers at the same venue each month, and schedule each one on the same day and at the same time. Consistency will be the factor that will eventually lead to social events that can garner 20 to 30 attendees. You also can consider co-sponsoring a mixer with an industry ally, which can reduce your costs and attract professionals you might not otherwise have the chance to meet.

Evening mixers are an excellent way to explain your programs and team structure to potential partners, or get feedback on what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. The more face-to-face time you get with agents, the more you can leverage those relationships and grow your business with them.

Go large

As your brand and name recognition grow in your market, you may want to organize one or two large events during the year to attract the entire community of partners in your area. You can host an Oktoberfest party, a casino night, a barbecue competition or a carnival, for example. Tying in a local charity and donating sponsor proceeds or having attendees bring nonperishable food items for a local food bank will help raise awareness for the event.

One of the best ways to make large events successful is to invite your vendors — and even your competition — to participate as sponsors alongside you. Taking the lead on organizing these events will show you are committed to the local real estate community and all who work in it.

Invite escrow companies, printers, home movers, financial planners and even other mortgage professionals to help sponsor, but keep these events free for real estate agents. Think about who brings value to the partners in your market and explain the value they will get from participating: The exposure they receive from the event is sure to increase their business.

If done right, you can ride the exposure from these events throughout the year by creating a social buzz with your brand attached. Social media is a great way to promote these events, and you can help build that buzz by posting live feeds, video and photos both during and after the event.

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When you put all of these events together, you will build brand recognition that will lead to business partnerships with agents. It is important to not just organize the events, however. You must leverage them afterward. Using leveraged events to grow your business while partnering with other industry professionals can provide you with knowledge, skills, assets and relationships you may have never considered.


 


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