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Getting Personal with Consumers

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Marketing evolves to target the individual, not the masses

By Maria Patterson

RISMEDIA, August 9, 2007–From the iPhone to YouTube to MySpace, one thing has become perfectly clear in today’s world; it’s all about the individual. The days of a
singular marketing plan with mass appeal are over. For today’s consumer to stop and pay attention, something must speak to them directly. Otherwise, it’s on to something—and someone—who will.

Things are no different in the real estate market where segmenting consumers with targeted messaging is the new game in town. Successful brokers and agents must appeal to the individual needs and preferences of the consumer groups they serve in order to succeed. The recently released My Personal AdvantageSM Marketing System from the Lenexa, Kansas-based The Personal Marketing Company was designed expressly with this in mind.

Giving Clients What They Want, When They Want It

“What we continue to see is people who want to interact one-to-one with prospects,” says The Personal Marketing Company President John Wendorff. “They want to stop treating prospects like this herd where you send the same marketing piece to all of them and hope some of it applies.”

According to Wendorff, the Personal Advantage system—launched in beta mode in November ’06 and officially hitting the market this past spring—allows agents to manage each prospect the way those prospects prefer to be managed. By utilizing unique content, customizable timeframes (every month or every day, for example), and preferred delivery methods (print or electronic), agents are able to segment their databases and target those segments with marketing that will appeal to their individuality.

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Personal Advantage is truly a one-to-one marketing system. When working with the contact data base, users can set up individual marketing plans for each contact by specifying the delivery method and frequency for each campaign for that specific person with just a couple of clicks.

“The idea is that sending something more relevant strengthens the agent’s relationship with that prospect and answers the consumer value question, ‘What’s in this for me to make me take a look,’” Wendorff explains. “It makes the agent look more relevant, too, by sending business data to a business person instead of recipes.”

In the age of consumer frustration with SPAM, providing consumers with relevant information is central to effective marketing. As Wendorff explains, “If you have information going to them that’s relevant, you’re building a bond of trust and they’re much more likely to use you when the time comes to make a moving decision. This program allows you to stay connected over that huge period of time until they need your services.”

Six Clicks and You’re Done

While the Personal Advantage Marketing System boasts a high degree of technical sophistication on the back end, for users it’s extremely tech-friendly. And that’s by design, says TPMC CTO Bob Fulton. According to Fulton, all the system requires from users is “literally half a dozen clicks.”

A wide variety of campaigns are available for prospecting, client follow-up and special occasions, making it easy to stay in touch with prospects and clients. Users can view all materials within a campaign with one click, before making their selections.

Through the Personal Advantage system, agents can set up their database and categorize prospects and clients according to their various interests—young married couples, empty nesters, second-home buyers, investors, etc. This information can be changed at any time. “If someone moves or gets married,” explains Fulton, “You can easily update their information, make a notation or completely change your marketing plan—just for them. The system provides the opportunity to really tailor your marketing program to every individual you touch.”

One of the most significant benefits of the Personal Advantage system is that it’s Web-based, says Fulton. “It’s not a piece of software you have to install and maintain,” he says. “As such, we take on the responsibility of keeping track of their information assets—their pictures, their choices—we execute the management of the process completely.”

Once an agent chooses a pre-designed campaign for a particular client or group of clients, The Personal Marketing Company takes over. “Once that decision is made, we go about the process of scheduling and fulfilling all components of the campaign,” says Fulton. “We’re asking agents to make the decision about what topic and what frequency—that’s the end of the decisions they’ll need to make. We take care of the fulfillment.”

The Personal Advantage System also offers a unique alternative to agents in its one-stop functionality. Says Fulton, “There have always been a lot of options for producing print materials in bulk and there is a cadre of e-mail marketing providers, but our research tells us that we are the only provider using a single, seamless solution that does both, and where you can make the selection on a contact-by-contact basis.”

“When I did my research, I found that some companies specialized in e-mail marketing, some in direct mail marketing,” says Gail Nagele-Hopkins with Coldwell Banker Hearthside, serving the central and upper Bucks County region of Pennsylvania. “This was the only company that offered direct mail and e-mail.”

The ability to change delivery methods at any time is of particular importance to agents in today’s marketplace. Many choose to court new prospects via the less-intrusive option of e-mail. When they feel the time is right, when they have established an appropriate connection to the prospect, they can switch to print. This feature allows agents to connect to each consumer in the method the consumer most desires.

“A lot of the leads I get are Internet leads,” explains Nagele-Hopkins. “E-mail marketing is very high touch but low impact in the sense that you’re not getting in someone’s face, yet you can have continual exposure.”

Already Working for Agents

Lori Scott, The Personal Marketing Company regional sales manager for New York and Pennsylvania, has had clients live with the Personal Advantage system since the launch of the beta mode last year. The response since the pilot program has been highly favorable.

“It’s really easy to use and agents can keep all their mailing lists in one location—they can do a direct-mail and an e-mail marketing campaign all from one place and have the ability to change the personalization online.”

Eddie Hurt, a Realtor for nine years with ERA Shields Real Estate in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was one of the beta test participants. “I’ve beta-tested things before where there were tons and tons of things that needed to be fixed. For the most part, this system was really complete. It’s pretty user friendly. It’s incredibly easy to download the database right into the system.”

One of the biggest advantages of the program is the ability for agents to track their marketing and generate reports on their own. “I like the way it gives reports,” says Hurt. “I can see how many mailings have been sent out and when. That allows me to keep control and see what’s going on.”

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Marketing Plan Detail Report shows all campaigns currently in use, the number of contacts subscribed to each campaign and the budget dollars forecasted for the next 3 months. With the roll-over function (balloon insert) users can also see the contact count by delivery method for each campaign in a particular month.

The Personal Advantage Marketing System was also designed to be a powerful tool for the new agent as well as the veteran. “Veterans realize it’s hard to maintain multiple lists in multiple places,” says Scott, “and brand new agents have the ability to control their budget right away.”

“The new guys coming into the business don’t have 200 or 400 prospects and they often feel they can’t get started with marketing until they achieve critical mass,” explains Wendorff. “With this program, if you have $9.95 for the monthly fee, you can do even just one e-mail to one prospect.”

The simplicity of the system, says Scott, keeps agents from putting off their marketing efforts. “A lot of agents have the right intentions at the beginning of the year, but maybe because they have a great big list that they have to clean and get fixed, they put it off because it’s such a large task. With this system, they can get started one at a time.”

Staying Out in Front

In a day and age where consumers and competitors are savvier than ever, the Personal Advantage System allows agents to stay ahead in the race to the consumer.
“Colorado Springs has so many Realtors who are mail savvy,” explains Hurt. “This is something that I have to do if I want to stay in that top tier. I’m using a product that no one else is using and not spending too much time on mailing. This allows me to concentrate on things that are more important.”

Nagele-Hopkins had been looking for a newsletter and marketing program for several months. “I had spent the previous five years trying to be creative and come up with a creative card or mailer every month,” she explains. The cost in time and money, however, led Nagele-Hopkins to explore another option. She decided upon the Personal Advantage system.

“It was stressful coming up with a new marketing piece every month,” she explains. “Realtors are expected to be a marketing person, a salesperson and a psychologist. A program like this is reasonably priced and takes the responsibility off of me. The overall look of the newsletter is very high quality and there are a number of choices in terms of content. The buyers and sellers I work with are very sophisticated and need something that has information of value, not just fluff.”

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Sample of an e-mailed newsletter showing agent’s personalization area.


“In Bucks County we have thousands of Realtors,” concludes Nagele-Hopkins. “If you’re going to succeed you have to do something to stand out and offer some information of value.”

For more information, visit www.MyPersonalAdvantage.com or call 800-848-1522. For more information about The Personal Marketing Company, visit www.TPMCO.com

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