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This article was updated 9/20 to include Internet marketing.
I regularly write about appraisal business marketing issues
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59 Ways to Market Your Appraisal Services
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This article was previously published in Appraisal Today and was written by Ann O’Rourke. It is copyrighted. For reprint permission, Contact Us.
For more business management tips, go to Business Management Tips for Appraisers.
Internet marketing is critical for the success of your business. You MUST have a web site. Get a free Google business listing. Half of my non-lender business comes from my web site and Google listing.
If no one knows how to find you, they can’t give you business. Some lenders and AMCs use Google searches.
I write about appraisal marketing a lot in my monthly Appraisal Today newsletter and have given seminars and speeches all over the U.S. and Canada.
- Brainstorm and put what makes your company different from all your competitors into one sentence. To make it in today’s market you must have a clear, client-oriented message.
- Leverage your time and resources by spending the most time on what has the greatest payoff. Don’t waste time on non-productive marketing activities.
- Workshops and seminars on marketing for service businesses are good sources of new ideas and inspirations. Take one that applies to your needs.
- Write separate brochures, letters, or other marketing materials for every market, and, if necessary, for different clients. Tailor your message to the recipient.
- Make a commitment to set aside time each week for marketing, even when you’re very busy.
- Small mailings with follow-up works. Mass mailings are seldom as effective as the personalized smaller mailing. Target your mailings to your best prospects.
- Cold calls are difficult to do well. Instead, “warm call” by sending out an introductory letter or brochure and following up.
- When speaking before a group, be sure to hand out written materials, including, of course, brief information about your company, including your phone number.
- Use wasted TV time to write personal notes to clients or prospects. Include a copy of an item they might be interested in.
- Always ask for the assignment. Many professionals have difficulty with this. Practice, if necessary.
- Develop a comfortable and professional way to ask for referrals. Let potential referral sources know what you do.
- Don’t beg for business. It just makes the prospect uncomfortable. Practice how to phrase your request.
- When networking at a meeting, don’t just stand around talking with people you know who aren’t good sources of referrals or assignments. Ask the person in charge to point out, for example, real estate attorneys or loan officers.
- When writing a sales letter, include a P.S. that grabs the readers’ attention. For example, “We can do your evaluations. Call us.”
- When selling your services, let the prospect talk. Try to find out what they’re looking for. Let them feel as though you care about what they think.
- Practice your presentations with a video camera to improve your physical presence, voice, gestures, etc.
- If you’re new to personal selling over the phone, practice standard phrases, using a tape recorder to record and playback.
- Always, always, always promptly return phone calls, no matter who is calling. If you don’t really want to talk with the person, return the calls during lunch or after business hours, and leave a message on voice mail.
- Respond to letters as soon as possible. If you don’t have time for a full reply, send a brief note acknowledging the letter, saying you will respond more fully by a certain date.
- Don’t knock your competition. It doesn’t make a good impression.
- Go to a good local business library and “wander around” for a half-day, looking at publications, newspapers, directories, books, etc. to give you new marketing ideas.
- Make your Web site reflect the market you’re interested in to screen out all the wasted-time calls (for example, only commercial or only residential). Don’t run a “generic” appraiser ad. If you’re not listed now, get listed. It’s cheap advertising for non-lender work.
- Set up a system for following up on prospects or referral sources you haven’t contacted recently. For example, use a card file separated by months. Each month, you call whoever is in that section. Just call to say hello and give them some information they might be interested in.
- Focus on the client, not your company. Let the client know how you can make his or her job easier. The client wants to know “What’s In It For Me.”
- Immediately acknowledge receipt of a referral, preferably in writing, or at least a phone call. Then you’ll be more likely to get another one. Lunch is a possibility.
- After meeting a possible referral source or prospect at a mixer or meeting, promptly send a personal letter or note to the person. Refer to something in your conversation (take notes on their business card so you don’t forget).
- Don’t take work from “clients from hell” that make your life miserable. Instead, work on developing new clients. Turn down the assignment, referring the prospect to someone else.
- When business is slow, take on assignments in new areas that were too time-consuming before, such as rural/suburban or distressed properties for residential, or types of commercial properties you haven’t ever appraised. Get assistance, if necessary, of course.
- Add material to your invoices to make them mini-advertisements, such as “Call us for your evaluations,” or “We always meet deadlines.”
- Design and print different business cards for different markets, with the image and messages you want to convey.
- Personally deliver your appraisals; one of the best indirect marketing methods we know for appraisers. While you’re there, maybe you’ll get an assignment, or at least they’ll remember you for the next assignment.
- Always dress appropriately when doing an inspection or client call. It’s always better to overdress than to underdress. Business casual is often okay, but don’t ever dress too casually, such as a t-shirt and jeans. It signifies a very unprofessional impression. This also applies to any associates or subcontractors.
- Always, always be polite during an inspection, no matter who is there (tenant, secretary, relative, etc.). You never know who they know, and what impact they may have on your future business.
- Being rude on the phone is unacceptable. If you feel like you’re losing it, just say “I can’t hear you. I think there’s something wrong with the phone.” Call back when you’ve calmed down. Or, have someone else call back.
- Develop a phone etiquette class for your staff and yourself. Send one person to a seminar and have that person help everyone else.
- Get sales training. It pays off, if only by making you more comfortable when doing personal selling. Or, get a book on techniques for selling services. One book is Selling Your Services by Robert Bly. Selling services is very different from selling products.
- Use testimonials in your marketing materials. They can be very effective, and only require getting permission from the person quoted.
- Offer to do inspections during extended business hours, such as evenings and weekends, particularly for residential work during slack income periods.
- Take credit cards for CODs and private individuals. This could be a way for them to finance their appraisal. Talk with your bank about setting up a merchant account.
- Get a separate landline or cell phone for business calls.
- Give free or low-cost seminars or workshops to prospective clients or referral sources. If it’s for real estate agents or professionals such as attorneys, get approval for continuing education credit.
- Rent a booth at a trade show where prospects are likely to be present, either as exhibitors or attendees, for example, a lender convention or home show. The networking opportunities are excellent. You’ll probably be the only appraiser.
- In your established market niche, spend most of your marketing efforts on 80% (your current clients or previous clients), and 20% on new clients. Most of your business will come from your current clients.
- Decide who you want and go after them. Don’t try to get every possible client. Don’t get sidetracked and waste time with “tire-kickers” or the aforementioned “clients from hell.”
- Talk with your contact person at your current clients and ask them what other departments in their organization need appraisals.
- Think of yourself as a real estate professional, not just a real estate appraiser. What non-appraisal services could you provide? Be creative. Some are property management, teaching, writing, leasing broker representing the tenant, property inspections, environmental inspections, tax consulting, alternative uses for a property, etc.
- When bidding for an assignment, if you don’t get the bid, always call back and see how your bid was in relation to the others. Even if you do get the bid, check out the other bids.
- Every time someone calls about a possible assignment and you don’t hear back from them, call back after a week or so to see what has happened. They may have lost your phone number.
- Set up a systematic method for following up on contacts with current and new clients. You can use a manual system, such as writing it on your calendar or tickler file or use a contact management software program. It’s a waste of time to prospect if you don’t follow up.
- Train your office staff and appraisers in basic phone sales techniques. For example, ask for the order, when appropriate. They only have a few minutes, if that long, to make a good sales presentation.
- If you’re having a problem reaching a client or prospect, ask what is a good time and day to call. Schedule an appointment. Try email also. Everyone has a different preferred communication method. Find out what they prefer.
- Get on bid lists for the city, state, and county government agencies. Take the time to learn how to write a proposal or fill out the forms.
- To break into a new market, offer to take your first assignment for a greatly reduced fee, for example, government and legal work. You can always find someone who is price sensitive.
- Turn your phone hold time into an infomercial. Write an interesting and snappy ad and have it professionally recorded, or record it yourself for a more personal touch. Ask your phone company for information.
- Become active and visible in your appraisal association. Appraisers do give referrals, and some of your best clients are probably appraisers.
- Join your local chamber of commerce or service clubs such as Rotary. They are excellent sources of regular business, so say appraisers who are long-term members.
- Send letters to the editors of local newspapers and trade periodicals. It’s a no-hassle way to get your name in print.
- Along with sending out a press release, always include a photo. It will greatly increase your chances of getting in print. Get professional photos made. It’s worth the cost.
- Write a bimonthly or quarterly email newsletter; two pages is okay. Post it on your website. Then you’ll have something to send to all your clients and prospects. Don’t forget the press if there is some news material.
Previously published in Appraisal Today. Written by Ann O’Rourke.