Follow these simple steps from BUILDER blogger and public relations expert Jeff Bradford to help increase sales.
This article originally appeared in BUILDER.
Public relations can benefit all aspects of a home builder’s sales process. For one, it is a great way to raise overall awareness of a business – that is, generate buzz, get people talking, position the business as having momentum – so that when you make a sales call, the prospect is predisposed to listen and believe. Thus, it helps in closing a sale. On the other end of the process, PR can also be effective at generating sales leads.
Here are five proven ways that public relations can generate sales leads:
1. Blog Regularly
The best way to drive traffic to your website, where you can capture leads, is through a keyword-driven, regularly updated blog. The key is “regularly updated” and the data supports it. Companies that publish 11 or more blogs per month generate more than four times the leads as those that blog four-to-five times each month.
As opposed to advertising, a blog does not interrupt potential customers to get their attentions. They are seeking you out when they visit your blog. Blog posts also have a long shelf life as a valuable lead generation tool. Hubspot, a cloud-based marketing and sales software provider, found that 75 percent of its blog views and 90 percent of blog leads came from old posts.
Blogging can be challenging if you’re not comfortable writing. But remember, you’re not trying to win literary awards with your blog. The goal is to provide relevant information to help potential customers in their buying journey. Just focus on getting the facts straight, speaking plainly and then shutting up. There are few things more numbing than a long, rambling blog. A blog is a great avenue to build trust and credibility that will benefit you and your company in the long run.
2. Get Social
Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube have become ingrained in everyday life for many people. In the U.S., 68 percent of adults regularly visit Facebook and 73 percent visit YouTube. It’s estimated that 86 percent of home buyers view online videos in their journey to find a home, and 69 percent of real estate agents use Facebook for their business. (Maybe if 86 percent of them did they’d sell more homes!)
In public relations and sales, establishing and maintaining relationships are crucial to success. Similarly, social media is all about connecting and establishing relationships. But connecting with potential customers is just the first step. To nurture those relationships you need to keep your social media profile active and the content interesting, informative and entertaining.
3. Generate Publicity
Getting mentioned in the news media is a great way to raise your company’s profile and attract sales leads. It works because publicity implies a third-party endorsement. Unlike advertising purchases, being included in a news or feature story requires that people whom you did not pay – such as the writer and editor – believe what you say is worth sharing. Readers know this, which is why they are more likely to believe a news story versus an ad about you.
Pitching a story to the media about your company is like pitching anything else. Most of the sales rules and tactics you already know apply. But don’t just try to sell journalists your product – help them solve their problem, which is providing their audience with a truly compelling story. When working with the media, focus on what is most unique and noteworthy about your company, your people and your products.
4. Speak In Public
Speaking opportunities are another effective public relations tactic for business owners to raise awareness about your company and to position yourself as a thought leader. Share your expertise by speaking at professional conferences, civic clubs, chambers of commerce and other gatherings. It’s a sure-fire way to generate sales leads on the spot. Audience members will approach you afterward and ask for information about your company and products, which will often lead to new clients.
In public relations and sales, establishing and maintaining relationships are crucial to success.
Organizations are always looking for good speakers. If your presentation hits the mark, it may lead to more opportunities. One final thought on public speaking: Make sure you post on your blog and social media any upcoming appearances, then follow-up with pictures on social media and a blog post highlighting the event.
5. Form An Advisory Council
Everyone knows word-of-mouth is the best marketing. When someone hears about your business from a friend or family member, they invariably become a warm sales lead. You generate word-of-mouth marketing by identifying people whom are likely to influence your potential clients.
One good way to do this is by forming an advisory council, in which you honor 10 to 15 influential people by inviting them to attend a regular meeting during which you share information about your business and ask for advice on how to better serve your customers. Treat them like a real board of directors by paying them (it doesn’t have to be much) to attend these meetings.
When you pay someone for their opinion, provide them information about your company that you don’t share with just anyone (not company secrets, but marketing plans and other non-proprietary operational information) and remind them how important they are, it is virtually guaranteed they are going to tell others what you told them. Before you know it, you’ve created your own word-of-mouth lead generation machine.
Lead generation is a never-ending process. But an integrated public relations plan will help you connect with potential customers and, ultimately, generate new leads.