Affinity Marketing by Jeffrey Dickinson

Working with corporate employees is a fantastic way of generating a consistent source of real estate clients. Get involved and learn how to diversify your client generation with Affinity Marketing!

In 2005, after spending 23 years building resort communities, I reinvented myself as a residential agent. Looking out the window at a Starbucks around 1 pm one day, challenged to find a niche to generate clients, it dawned on me that the clients I wanted to serve were at work. So, why not find ways of generating clients at the workplace?

From my resort career, I knew that no matter what sales industry I choose, I AM IN THE CLIENT GENERATION BUSINESS, not the real estate business.

A week later, I happened to be playing golf and was teamed up with the HR Manager for a company called Boeing…maybe you’ve heard of them? A couple weeks later, Boeing was my affinity partner and to this day, has been a key to my success as a top producer in real estate. Let me explain how and why affinity marketing works.

What is Affinity Marketing?
Affinity marketing is a way of creating exclusive relationships with small- to medium-sized companies to provide education for their employees.The concept is to generate clients at the workplace and serve them with the mentality of giving. Human resources managers have financial health and personal health and wellness at the forefront of their interests and you have to be able to provide that. Everyone wants education, but affinity marketing IS NOT all about real estate. It’s about including real estate education as part of financial and personal wellness!

The average worker makes $2 million in their lifetime, yet saves an average of $60,000 for retirement! American workers and their families, now more than ever, need help with making good financial choices:

  • Homeownership
  • Debt reduction – credit cards, student debt
  • Retirement Savings

Likewise, the hidden pandemic of stress, poor eating habits, and diabetes cost trillions of dollars a year, unnecessary deaths, and compromised lifestyles. Through affinity marketing real estate agents can help educate workers to make smarter choices for a brighter life.

How is Affinity Marketing Used Successfully?
Start by connecting with professional partners, like financial advisors, mortgage reps, attorneys, CPAs, and chiropractors, to bring financial and health and wellness education to the workplace. You can help make a difference and sell real estate at the same time by designing a benefits package, delivering vital sought-after information from yourself and all of your professional partners. Implement your benefits package through lunch-and-learn events, posters, online self-paced education, newsletters, and so on and you can generate a transaction rate of 1 for every 100 employees.

So, where do you start? Begin by developing your offering, including what your professional partners can provide. Then, make a list of who you know that is a key employee, business owner or manager who might help you get a meeting with the company decision-makers to approve your program.

Think about who in your database and sphere of influence works in an HR department or at a large- to mid-sized company. I have the key employees that work for the company do the heavy lifting for me. They’re the ones that are going to make the appointment with the HR manager. I’m not picking up the telephone and calling the HR manager. They don’t know me from Adam. So, we’re really leveraging off the employee to help us bring it home.

Second, you’re going to implement your package through periodic lunch-and-learns. Typically, in a 300-person company I’m giving a lunch-and-learn every other month. Twice a year the topic will be real estate and I’ll bring my mortgage partner as well for an hour-long presentation on buying and selling in today’s market. The other sessions would be on various financial and health wellness topics like how to save $5,000 or more a year. There are local experts who can offer ways to cut expenses. So, when presenting to HR, reiterate that your program is designed to save each employee $5,000 or more a year. Added up for a 300-employee company that’s a million and a half dollars a year. You’ll hear the HR manager saying, “We’d love to have you do this. Where do we sign up?”

My full program includes a dedicated website for each company. The employees can go on and take self-paced online education on financial and health wellness, real estate, mortgage, and more. In addition, periodic newsletters are sent via HR through their intranet site. The key to success is to find ways of making employees aware of your valuable program and that you are the exclusive provider of financial and health wellness within that company. The more that you can get involved within the companies, the more transactions you’ll get. Employee’s eyes will literally light up when you say their family, friends, and neighbors can also use your real estate program. You’ll find you’ll do a lot of business with just family members and relatives.

By targeting companies with a sweet spot somewhere between 125 and 400 employees, you’ll really get results over a period of time. You’ll walk through the front door and they’ll know you well. Your rate of transactions will go up a little bit higher than that 1 for every 100 because they’ll get their friends and family involved and employees will recommend your services to other employees.

It is beneficial to find single site businesses. When you can go into one location and there are 300 employees in a three-story building and the HR manager says, “Hey, every other month on the third Thursday this conference room is yours,” that’s gold–especially if it’ll fit 30-40 people at a time.

Target an appropriate average employee salary range for your area to ensure the average employee of the company you’re targeting can buy, sell, or finance in your market. The companies you select must allow you to do lunch-and-learn sessions. If they will not let you do those then it is not the company for you and you should just pass them by. Favor progressive HR managers that are passionate about their employees. Not all of them are. You want HR managers that will allow you to put your program posters in the lunchroom or hallway, distribute employee brochures, and distribute a periodic newsletter.

Why is Affinity Marketing a Good Approach for a Real Estate Agent?
When I got started, I had no idea that there were so many benefits to generating clients at the workplace. You’ll be working with stable W-2 employees. In late 2007, when the wheels started falling off the economy I was the only one in my office of 43 agents whose numbers actually climbed all through the economic downturn. This occurred because I was working with stable W-2 employees. A real estate business based on affinity marketing is virtually recession-proof. W-2 employees are “teed up” and ready to buy or sell or both. They call you with a list of MLS numbers and are ready to go. No chasing leads! They have low to no credit problems and are easy to finance.

Other benefits include:

  • Access to company employees during the day
  • Instant credibility – their company gives you the credibility
  • Exclusive access to company employees – no competition from another agent
  • Business regenerates each year
  • Predictable transaction to employee ratio: 1 transaction per 100 employees
  • Very low cost to generate clients – cost of a hoagie roll!
  • Your value is through having an educational modality
  • Can be implemented in almost every town or city in the country or international
  • Quality of the client is only second to client referrals
  • Local and cross-town moves – THIS IS NOT RELOCATION!
  • Most employees make real estate decisions by consulting their co-workers

With this strategy, I have been able to do about 75 transactions a year without a team. It’s all generated from my database and the workplace. An affinity marketing approach can work for you too! Find professional partners, define your benefit program, determine the businesses you want to target and get GIVING!

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