Inman Agent Connect: How to host the best community event ever

August 4, 2015 by Gina Thelemann in Articles 

While Inman’s Agent Connect event today offered a lot of tech advice, some of the most interesting ideas came from panelists who were boasting about the fantastic ROI of their community events.

If your first-time homebuyer seminars have grown sleepy (or are empty), consider some of these innovative event ideas from leading agents across the country.

Brian Bair, the owner of the Bair Group in Phoenix, hosts quarterly events that focus on whatever he sees trending across his local community. Bair has hosted events about paleo diets, real estate investing, and 401k savings strategies for his prospective and past clients. We liked that Brian branches out of what he wants to talk about to drive in new faces. While he may not personally be interested in a new diet craze, he doesn’t want to miss out on a large group of people who live in his area are all bound by that trend.

Debbi DiMaggio, an agent at Highland Partners in the Piedmont/Montclair area of Oakland, California, takes advantage of a 4th of July parade route that goes right past her company’s office. They invite the entire community -- not just past clients and prospects, but truly everyone -- to meet at their office for coffee and a gathering before the parade begins. (Their Italian espresso cart doesn’t hurt when luring in tired parents and candy-happy kids!) The benefit of an annual experience like Debbi’s is that people begin to relate you and your business with a great tradition that means so much to them. In 15 years when their children are grown, Debbi’s parade attendees will have photos of their children enjoying the parade from her office’s front lawn. You can’t pay for that kind of emotional connection, it has to be earned.

Debbi also used to host “Workshop Wednesdays,” where she would invite local professionals and specialists to teach about their line of work to members of the community. For this seminar-style event, you could invite anyone from an interior designer, to a professional stager, to an architect, to a landscaper. Attendees may vary from workshop to workshop, getting you more contacts for your database. Best of all, you can start a reference guide of community specialists that you can promote on your website, or one-to-one with clients and past clients.

Vicki Monteagudo, the broker/owner of Century 21 Tri-Cities in Washington state, works with a more traditional market but has hired an events director who runs three events per month on behalf of her brokerage. The events vary from wine tasting to meet-ups at the mall, and everything in between. Vicky’s team first invites each contact via email, then follows up in some way with a personal invite. The final touch is to add the invitee to the Facebook event, which also makes them more likely to attend. Vicky says that events can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. But by tracking the ROI of who attends and who eventually converts, you can determine which event pricing strategy is best for you.

Pam Blair, who co-owns YogaBug Real Estate Estate with her husband Bruce, has built her brand on her love for yoga and wellness. While that wouldn’t work for every market, it’s the perfect hybrid for their “artsy, hipster” neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Pam and Blair believe in giving something of value before asking for any business, so they host nights where vegan restaurant owners or acupuncturists speak, and market the event heavily to their area. Pam says this drives in a lot of leads. “I get a lot of clients out of it. We meet them by offering something they want to hear about,” she explained.

No matter where you live, your community is waiting to meet you in a natural way. Whether the events are tailored to your brand or an unrelated trend that doesn’t really affect you, the kicker is to create a professional, organized experience that you can promote and leverage.

If you have other event ideas, we’d love to know! Drop them in the comments and we’ll share your tips in a future article.

Looking for sellers?

Community events are a great way to connect with prospective sellers -- but how do you identify who is most likely to sell? At SmartZip, we put big data to work for you by predicting who is most likely to sell in your area and marketing to them online and via direct mail. Get sellers on the hook with the leading seller solution for agents and brokers.

To check if your territory is available, reach out today.

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