The Advertising Agency
for Today's Serious
Real Estate Professional

Back to Basics: The Power of a Personal Letter

Real Estate MarketingOld-fashioned personal letters add a powerful punch to your marketing campaign. Don’t overlook this proven method to build rapport with your prospective clients.

In today’s world of customized web pages, graphic-rich e-mail, social media posts and myriad high-tech marketing options, most real estate agents have dropped good old-fashioned personal letters from their marketing arsenal.

It is so much more impressive to show your manager the multimedia flash program you are working on that has pictures, sound and things twirling on screen that mesmerize all who watch, versus showing her the tenth draft of a personal letter to your farm you have been working hard on. The reality is a good personal letter to your farm will probably help you make more money and build stronger relationships with your clients than the very best multimedia presentation. It’s just not nearly as sexy and exciting to actually write one.

Two A Year is All We Ask

First, it is important to understand that a personal farming letter by itself will not make your phone ring. Personal letters ideally should be sent out to your farm area, your sphere of influence and your past client base twice per year in support of your regular monthly mailings of Just Listed and Just Sold cards that show you are an active agent in the area. Good Just Listed/Sold cards establish your professionalism, credibility and name recognition as a Realtor. What they don’t do is establish a personal relationship between you and the people in your farm – that is what a personal letter can do for you.

It’s a Personal Letter, Not a Salesperson Letter
The key to creating an effective personal letter is first and foremost to make it personal. That is why there is not a template letter that you can simply copy. You need to share something about your life that gives people a brief insight into who you are as a person, your values or your personality. Remember, a personal letter is not designed to sell, it is designed to build a relationship that makes the reader feel like they have a connection with you, so that whenever they have a real estate need, they will feel comfortable picking up the phone and calling you. Most consumers are not excited about picking up the phone and calling a salesperson, so don’t come across like one.

Think about the values of your marketplace and tell a story about something that has happened in your life that you feel will have a strong overall appeal to your client base. I know it’s a little scary, but the more meaningful it is to you, the more it will resonate with your clients. The secret is to be yourself. Resist the temptation of trying to simply share a great inspirational story because it pulls the heartstrings. People pick up on whether you are truly emotionally invested in what you are sharing.

Share Your Story

About a year after my son became a full-time firefighter and was absolutely loving his job, I wrote a personal farming letter that talked about the joy my wife, Janet, and I felt knowing that our son was doing something that he loved and was truly happy with his life. I was amazed at the number of people who responded to the letter with stories about the joy and frustration that parents feel about their kids long after their kids are grown. A good personal letter should be written like you were writing to your extended family – cousins, aunts and uncles etc. – updating on them on what’s happened with you and expressing interest and concern about what is going on with them.

The first letter your farm receives may strike them a little strange, but over time as you keep them updated on you and your family’s journey through life they will start to feel like they know you and have a relationship with you. Most importantly, when it comes time for them to buy or sell a piece of real estate, they will feel very comfortable picking up the phone and calling you to talk about their real estate needs because they feel like they know you. What’s even more powerful is that when you arrive they connect to you as a person, which gives you a huge advantage over your competition.

Short & Sweet

A couple of key suggestions: keep your letter to a page or a page and a half. Keep it interesting and readable so that it draws the reader through the letter. Do not draw any conclusions – let the reader draw their own conclusions. Also resist the temptation to turn your letter into a sales pitch, remember your goal is to establish and build a relationship, not make a listing presentation. Make sure you print your letter on nice stationery – use your own personal stationery. If you don’t have your own personal stationery, use blank high quality writing paper. Never use company letterhead. It will instantly make you look like just another salesperson.

Finally, if you are sending this letter to your farm, your sphere of influence and your past clients, make sure you make the little adjustments for each group so that it connects with them fully. For example, to past clients you could simply start out by saying, “John and Mary, as friends and past clients, I just wanted to keep you up to date with what is going on with me. My wife and I just…” By making this little adjustment, your past clients and sphere of influence will feel more connected with you and it will communicate that you truly do care about your clients.

Building Strong Relationships
I know it does not sound exciting and in reality sitting down and writing a compelling personal relationship building letter is hard work, but the pay off is significant. If you will send out a personal letter twice a year as part of your overall marketing campaign to your farm area, sphere of influence and your past clients, you can establish a strong personal relationship with people you have never met, and keep a much stronger relationship with the people that already know you.

It may feel like an outdated marketing tool in today’s technologically driven world, but in fact, the personal letter is a great complement to your ongoing social media online relationship building. Sending two personal letters a year, along with your consistent marketing push, will lead to a steady flow of new clients from people with whom you have already built a base of rapport and trust, as well as an increase in the level of referral and repeat business.