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All in the Name

Instant name recognition doesn’t happen overnight, but three Florida Realtors® know how to win the name game. Their formula: Craft a marketing plan that generates universal goodwill and warmth, and positive rewards will follow.

You too can create name recognition by coming up with your own creative attention-grabber and thinking outside the box.

Here’s how:

Chocoholic Caramello
Janet Caramello always plays off her last name when giving holiday presents to her kids’ teachers or the mail carrier—she distributes Cadbury Caramello chocolate bars.

Three years ago, the sales associate with Charles Rutenburg Realty in Clearwater decided to take the idea a step further and use it as a name recognition tool. She spends about $1,000 per year on Caramello bars and other gift-related items, which leads to two to three sales (average price: $800,000). She buys the bars in bulk in cases of 500 from Walgreens or CVS stores, and uses about 2,000 bars annually.

“I wait until [the stores] have a sale and then buy five to 24 cases at a time,” says Caramello. “They usually honor the sale rate for the entire purchase, and if I need a whole carton they special-order them for me, and they’re in [the store] three days later.”

Caramello takes the bars to open houses, and she mails them to expired listings, people who give referrals and new listings. At Christmas, she wraps them in small gold boxes and sends them to about 100 past and present clients. Some higher-end clients also receive gift certificates with their boxes.

“My clients joke with me and say, ‘I called you with this listing because I wanted more candy bars,’ or, ‘I gave you this referral because I want my candy bar.’ So it does help them remember the name!” Caramello says.

Rescuers of Lost Pets
When people in West Jacksonville lose their pets, the first place they call is the team at Florida Sky Realty Corp. That’s because the firm pays for mailings and fliers to help furry friends find their families.

Broker-owner Birgit Grafe credits office manager Bruce Whalen with the idea. When one of the firm’s clients lost her cat, he sent out postcards with a picture of the cat to the neighborhood. So far, Florida Sky has done about six lost-pet campaigns. One cat was reunited with its owner within a single day.

Grafe assembles a postcard on her computer, featuring the pet’s photo, the owner’s contact information and her firm’s address. She sends it to Express Copy (www.expresscopy.com), an online company that mails it to about 200 houses in the vicinity of the pet’s home. Express Copy even provides the addresses and charges a $100 flat fee.

Grafe creates fliers for veterinarians’ offices. And, she posts announcements on her company’s Web site. She also puts an ad about the pet in a local real estate magazine where she promotes her listings.
Because the campaign is so new, she hasn’t seen a direct correlation between it and new listings or sales. But, Grafe notes that she meets two goals: providing a valued public service while gaining instant name recognition.

“People get a lot of postcards with photos of just another house,” she says. “With our postcard, we hope they’ll take time to look at it. They may be able to help someone find a pet while remembering that we were the ones who sent [the postcard].”

Fisherman’s Friend
Denise Oyler combines her fishing expertise and love of the waterways near Sarasota to build relationships with people who share her hobby. She derives about 30 percent of her business from marketing listings that are geographically suited to fishing.

“Fishing is a common hobby. When I go to a listing presentation or am talking to a client, I always lock in on the topic of fishing. The majority of people love it, so it creates a natural bond,” Oyler says.

Oyler is a licensed charter captain who also is a sales associate with RE/MAX Properties in Sarasota. She’s fished the Sarasota waterways for years and knows where to find certain species.

She pays about $500 each for booths at fishing and boating shows. While there, Oyler passes out coasters designed with a photo of a fish caught near the featured listing. The coasters cost about $250. She also pays about $1,000 per year for postcards that highlight fishing-amenable properties.

“The message is, ‘If you like this type of fish, look at the house where you can live and catch it regularly,’” Oyler says.