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Small Board: Consumer Outreach on a Shoestring

October 25, 2013

One major thing I’ve learned since coming on as executive of my association in 2006 is that even though we may not have a lot of financial resources available, we do have time as a resource.

That’s not to say I sit at my desk all day just waiting for something to do. Certainly not. But I’ve learned that time, as in face time, is a more effective outreach tool in small communities than any large association’s million-dollar public ad campaign.

Most small associations are in small communities where everyone knows one another. Locals grow up together and families are friends for many years.  Face time is something that works in small communities and in small associations where in-person communication is valued as more genuine. 

There are many low- or no-cost ways for AEs and their members to positively promote the REALTOR® brand and the importance of the association by spending a little time in the community.

First, when you spend your time on charity events, be consistent. The folks in Abilene, Texas, know what to expect from their local association annually. The Abilene Association of REALTORS®’ “Walk with Pride” program started 30 years ago and has been providing shoes for children in need every fall ever since.

When you spend your time on community beautification, be inclusive. The 400-member Guam Association of REALTORS®’ “Adopt a Bus Stop” program, in which members repaint local bus stops, touches every village as a sign of support to the entire territory, says Peggy Llagas, executive officer. “We do our best to adopt two bus stops per project schedule, and we complete up to four bus stops a year,” she says.

Through her work with the Lt. Governor’s Beautification Task Force, Llagas has added many new projects to her small association’s volunteer schedule.

When you spend your free time on community boards or task forces, be aware. By encouraging members to spend some of their free time serving on local boards or planning committees, transportation task forces, or even public groups that have little to do directly with real estate, such as the PTA, you create valuable opportunities for them to influence public opinion about the association and what REALTORS® bring to the community. Remind members that every public appearance is a chance to promote REALTORS®—and remind them to wear their REALTOR® pin.

When you spend time talking to the media, be reliable. Although print media isn’t face-to-face with the community, spending time responding to the press or initiating contact with reporters on a regular basis is a no-cost way to promote the value of REALTORS® communitywide. Make sure your local print and broadcast media outlets can reach you—or a volunteer spokesperson—in an instant and that you’re fair and consistent with your responses.

Putting one more thing on the to-do list may seem daunting, but face time within your community is crucial.  Plus, it’s great to give back to those in your marketplace, and it’s very important for them to know how wonderful REALTORS® are.

Free tools from NAR make consumer outreach easier

“The biggest challenge in our consumer outreach is developing and maintaining relevant and timely content with a small staff and limited time to invest,” says Joe Kras at the Michigan Association of REALTORS®. “So NAR’s widgets are an excellent resource,” he says. Free weekly HouseLogic consumer content feeds to MAR’s site (www.michiganhomeownersalliance.com) automatically via the HouseLogic widget, which, along with free feeds from “Real Estate Today Radio,” ensures that consumers find updated and relevant content every time they visit. Download free content widgets at: http://members.houselogic.com/association-executives and http://retradio.com/forrealtors.