Imagine you are searching for a residential apartment but don’t know who to call.
You flip through the Yellow Pages and talk to some friends and everyone suggests Matt at ABC Properties offers the best service.
You dial ABC and ask for Matt.
You: Hi, I’m moving to the area next month and looking to put a down payment today on a property. It needs to match such and such criteria. Can you help me?
Matt: I’m sorry. I have nothing in my listings that matches that criteria. Are you willing to live 5 miles away where I have a wonderful brownhouse?
You: Nope. I really need it in such and such location. Can you refer me to someone else to call?
Matt: I wish I could. Best of luck. Goodbye.
Maybe Matt does know other brokers in that area and refused to refer you to his competition. Or maybe Matt was sincere and couldn’t help. But keep in mind you called Matt specifically because your friends said he offered quality service.
Upon hanging up the phone, you recognize that word of mouth marketing has failed. Matt lost not only your business but any word of mouth you tell your friends. Instead of continuing the organic viral marketing of Matt and ABC Properties, you now talk about Charles at XYZ Properties who enabled you to spend your money.
As Joe Loong of domain registrar Network Solutions writes about promoting business to your competition:
Sure, you want to promote your own events. But by including what’s going on outside of your place, you’re showing that you know what’s going on outside your walls (and you should know what your competitors are doing, right, particularly so you don’t schedule against it?), and you’re being useful to people by providing a comprehensive list of resources. And as a bonus, you’re using your competitors for content.
If I was Matt, I’d refer you to my competition every day and twice on Sunday. I’d be confident that you would tell your friends about me BEFORE you tell them about your new landlord.
Maybe I’m mistaken, having no experience working in the cutthroat real estate industry.
What would you say if you were Matt?