Early this year I got the chance to do some online marketing and training work for Great Lakes Tourism (NSW). Travelling from Canberra to Forster on the mid North Coast was an easy task when the temperature one morning I was there was -4 back in Canberra and Forster was 12 – I figure that was 16 good reasons to go.
I presented a number of online marketing training sessions for local businesses and tourism members and after one session got talking to one of the participants – Vicki Bidner who runs a local real estate agent in Forster. After a short chat and discussion about online marketing and how she markets her business, we parted company and I was on my way back to Canberra.
A few days after I got home I got a package in the mail. In this packahe were some chocolate brownies and a personalised thankyou card from Vicki. I read the card that featured a photo of one of the best spots in the Great lakes and also the personalised message. on the card there was also a QR code that linked to a short video I had shot in the session. See the card below:
So at this point I was thinking:
(a) mmm…. brownies
(b) Wow – what a great idea to send a thankyou to someone
(c) I am suitably impressed with Vicki Bidner
So always having my marketing mind ticking at a million miles an hour – I called Vicki and said thanks for the thanks. Then spent the next 10 mins discussing the value of this type of thankyou to her business, the program she uses, past examples and her story. Vicki wrote it all down for me and you can read Vicki’s story below with her examples.
For me the lessons out of this encounter were:
1. People value a thankyou,
2. It’s take time and something special to be remembered,
3. Innovate your message – Vicki uses Send out Cards,
4. The simple things in life are often the best – does a thankyou on facebook or Google plus have the same impact as a personalised card and a packet of brownies?!
5. Make your marketing personal and make it mean something – because your competitors probably aren’t.
So will Vicki’s card turn into 100’s of house sales? Probably not, but what they do lead to is fantastic word of mouth, great customer loyalty and a personal sense of satisfaction in Vicki’s business that people knows she cares. Good to see someone breaking the Real Estate agent cowboy stereo-type.
Here’s Vicki’s story and thankyou to Vicki for sharing it.
The Value of a Thankyou from Vicki
I looked into the SendOutCard (SOC) program initially as a marketing tool for my real estate business and also as a very efficient and inexpensive way to keep my relationship ongoing with my current clients, friends and family.
Previously I diligently spent many hours handwriting a lot of “thank you” cards etc to many clients however SOC offered a tool where I could create cards using my own handwriting font, photos, QR codes etc, in a much, much more cost effective (about 1/5th of store price) and productive manner while still maintaining that personal touch. (and they are printed, stamped, enveloped and posted for you by SOC!)
I do not like receiving e-cards, e-newsletters, etc and I certainly don’t like getting a generic card or flyer that has obviously been produced to the masses and is not in any way personal. Infact it is usually a company telling me how good they are (boring ….) and before I have finished reading I have efficiently filed it in the bin! My e-cards etc get filed exactly the same way in computer land and I haven’t even opened them! My marketing and relationship maintenance obviously steers away from everything I have just complained about.
I like to send cards to all my clients on special occasions and make them about the person, not about me or my business. I will give you a few examples :
Our last Christmas card was received with a many a fantastic comment, but my favourite story is a elderly lady (who actually didn’t buy her home from me, but was lovely and I wanted to keep in touch).
She told me this story ……. Her children (who are in their 60’s) called around in April and said, “Oh Mum why have you still got that Christmas Card up? It was Christmas 4 months ago and it should have been taken down!” She replied “I will tell you why, because every morning when I come out to make my cup of tea, I look at those 6 smiling faces and it brings me joy, every single day!”
She also told me that she has now taken the card down and replaced it with the Easter card, however she stressed that she had not thrown it out, she has infact kept every card I ever sent her. I love the impact we have had on her life, and I would imagine that when she does move on – her children may well think of me to sell her home.
On Anzac Day last year I sent a poem I had read about a little girl who had lost her father in the war. It took me 5 minutes to create the card but the response was amazing, people were touched in a very personal way and the many phone calls I received made me feel proud and about 10ft tall!
On Valentine’s day this year I sent a card celebrating the ones you love, whether it be a partner, an ex, a romance, your family or just yourself. It was funny and thought provoking. I got cards back and also many, many calls particularly from older people who reminisced with me about their romance/marriage proposals etc in the war years. Very humbling and very touching that so many people wanted to share their lives with me.
This Easter I sent a card that was pretty plain, yet I got numerous calls, Easter cards in the mail and one lady also bought in 3 bags of Easter Eggs for me, saying that she really appreciated the effort I went to, to include her in my card list. She felt special (as she should) however that card went out to hundreds, but because it was addressed specifically to her it felt like a one on one.
With the phenomenal response from my clients, friends and family who also slowly became curious and wanted to become involved, I realized that the business aspect of SOC was also very appealing. It is a get rich slow business which creates a hell of a lot of fun and pleasure on the journey. I can honestly say “even if I didn’t make a cent on the business, the amount of direction and joy it has brought into my personal and professional lives has been priceless”.
(UPDATE: Here was a follow up note from Vicki)
The local Commonwealth Bank revamped their site and invited everyone in the street to the opening party. I sent a card purely to say “thank you”.
A few weeks later I received a call from Commonwealth Bank HO and said I had been recommended to list 3 x mortgagee-in-possession properties. HO were dumbfounded when I told them that we did not bank with the Commonwealth Bank and said it was highly unusual for the business not to go to a client in real estate, but said I obviously had a great rapport and great respect from that branch.
The truth is, they appreciated my card (at a cost of .93c I might add!) and in return I got potentially $30,000 in commission!
I would love you (and any/all of your networking friends) to check out my website : www.sendoutcards.com/vicki_bidner
Watch the video and send some cards for free (my shout!)
Cheers – Vicki