Launch a Magazine to Capture Repeat Business Consumer magazines have never been more popular. Alexis “AJ” Fischer has tapped into this trend and generated $18 million in real estate sales.
A banker had to unload a $1.45 million home belonging to a client who had just died. She opened her mailbox and found a glossy home-decorating magazine, bearing the name of Realtor® Alexis “AJ” Fischer. Right away, she was so impressed, that she called Fischer and offered her the listing.
It wasn’t the first time that Fischer, a sales associate with Aadvisor Realty in Naples, saw an immediate positive response to her innovative marketing approach.
Instead of spending thousands for traditional advertisements, Fischer sends 650 of her previous customers the 52-page publication, personalized with her face on the cover and special messages to them inside. The customers are eager to pass her name on to their friends and family—tothe tune of about $18 million in closings—37 percent of her $67 million business in 2005.
Fischer buys the services of Twenty Two Five Publishing Inc. in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, parent company of Home by Design Custom Publishing. The company provides the editorial content, photos and layout, and then tailors the cover pages to Fischer’s specifications. She pays $47 per customer for a one-year subscription, which may sound pricey at a total cost of $30,550. But she says that’s pennies, considering the commissions it’s generated during the last three and a half years. Here’s how it works: 1. Carefully Select Readership
Fischer targets only people who have purchased a home from her in the past. “I found that because I was able to keep in touch with them, they’ve kept us alive in the down market,” she says.
Fischer justifies the cost by equating it to the price of a closing gift. “Why buy a bottle of wine that will be gone, or something that they won’t remember? [There’s a line on every magazine that] says, ‘Compliments of AJ.’ That’s the beauty of it,” she says.
Fischer found the magazine because the owner, Brandon Lee, had a booth at a real estate conference she attended. She persuaded him to update the front-page format. It previously featured a home interior photo, with a small square headshot of a real estate professional in the corner. Fischer asked if Lee could incorporate a head-to-foot photo of her into the décor backdrop. She says it worked so well that Lee now uses the format for all his customers. 2. Vary Your Content
Fischer can change the photo for each edition. Sometimes she features her entire staff (for one Christmas issue, they all dressed in tuxedos and black-and-white gowns). On the inside cover is a personalized letter from her, as well as photos from parties that she’s thrown for clients and customers. The inside back cover has her listings, including her “pick of the month.” The top half of the back page has team member photos and photos from properties that she is selling in North Carolina, where she has another office. The bottom half is for the recipient’s address and postage. Lee’s staff handles the rest of the content and pays for the first-class mailing. 3. Supplement Your Efforts
In the off months, Lee’s staff mails postcards to each customer, which feature home décor tips and Fischer’s contact information. Customers also receive an annual calendar. All items are included in the $47 per person fee.
The magazine has spurred business from customers with whom Fischer otherwise would have lost contact after closing. One “ornery” customer, in particular, let her know up-front that he didn’t like real estate sales associates and that he was using her services out of necessity.
After closing on his property, he started receiving the magazine. By coincidence, a photo of him, his wife and their children at one of Fischer’s customer parties was featured onthe second page. The family came into the office requesting more copies, and the customer informed Fischer that he’d be referring a lot of business to her, which in fact, he has, she says.