When Jon Byler wanted to feed his Realtor business, he knew that the way to a Realtor’s heart is often through their stomachs. Byler, branch manager of Countrywide Home Loans in Santa Cruz, Calif., provides goodie-filled Realtor Survival Kits to his real estate contacts. While he uses them primarily during open houses, he has also used them at office meetings and other events. “Morning tour boxes consist of a bagel, cream cheese, jelly, juice, utensils, aspirin, hand wipes, and promotional Countrywide information. The afternoon lunch box is slightly different. I hand make sandwiches, add cookies, chips, and bottled water, plus all of the utility items listed above,” he explains. “Walking into an open house bearing gifts, you have something that is very different than the rest of the marketing crowd,” he says. Byler cleverly fills the boxes with more food than the Realtors could eat at one time, so the boxes end up going back to their offices. He also includes a card at the bottom of the box inviting them to call for a “free refill.” Byler adds, “When they call to take me up on the offer, that’s when the real marketing begins.” The boxes are printed by Bullseye Boxes at a cost of $200.00 per 100, and Byler spends $10 to $15 to fill them.
Looking for the recipe for success? Try just a recipe itself—for Mexican teacakes, sweet and savory chicken, or any other dish that is sure to spice up your clients’ lives. Andrew Cardina, an originator with First Horizon Home Loans, Lancaster, Pa., sends these monthly recipe cards to all B2B contacts, closed loan customers, and new prospects who have been pre-approved. The cards offer a comprehensive, creative recipe each month, and credit the individual who sent in the recipe at the bottom. “These are tangible pieces that can be given to friends or acquaintances if they are looking for a mortgage,” says Cardina. Cardina subscribes to the cards through his company and is responsible for the $.44 each payment. Included on the back is Cardina’s picture, accompanied by a friendly reminder of his home financing services, and complete contact information. Besides being a cost-effective means of keeping his name in front of customers and referring partners, “the piece itself is functional,” says Cardina. “Since it is a recipe card, customers get other use from it than just the mortgage contact information.”
Hold the phone! Shawn Portmann’s unique “Cellmate” will really give the competition a hang-up. The Cellmate is a thin grip pad that “magically” holds a cell phone in place on a car dashboard. “My clients love it,” Portmann says. “They always want more.” Portmann’s name, company, and phone number are conspicuously, yet unobtrusively printed along the bottom. “It keeps my name in front of them at all times. Repetition and consistency is the name of the game.” The idea of placing your name on an everyday item isn’t new, but unlike pens or key chains, this marketing piece grabs the client’s attention because it’s something out of the ordinary—something they probably don’t already own. In the past, Portmann, a loan officer with CityBank Mortgage, Puyallup, Wash., has also sent out such novel marketing items as water bottles, lunch boxes, and Frisbees. He distributes about 1,000 Cellmates per year to customers and 200 to Realtors as part of a larger thank-you package after closing a deal. The Cellmates cost approximately $3.00 a piece, with an initial set-up fee of $45.00.
While many originators strive to capture the renter’s market, few may create a way to stand out from the crowd. Michael Gambatese, an originator with Pillar Financial LLC, Palatine, Ill. (a suburb of Chicago), used a catchy, distinct slogan to print on his renter fliers: “Renting is Hazardous to Your Wealth!” The text makes a bold statement below a photo of the Chicago skyline, since most of these fliers target high-rise condo renters in the downtown area. Gambatese prints these fliers in a co-marketing effort (shared costs) with one of his Realtors, and they are mailed to renters paying at least $1,000/month. The lower half of the flier displays the options to buy for people paying anywhere from $1,000 to 1,750/month. The dollar figures are annotated with details of the loan program used to calculate the numbers. Gambatese sends out about 200 fliers on a bi-annual basis and says that he just came up with the idea “when thinking of creative ways to target renters.” The flier is also incorporated with a first-time homebuyer seminar given with the Realtor. Fliers are generated in-house using PowerPoint, and then printed at Kinko’s on nice stock paper. The cost is approximately $500, including postage. “It has been successful because it’s different,” says Gambatese. “And because this market is saturated with renters paying ridiculous amounts per month in rent.”