What if your best lead generation strategy wasn't about lead gen at all?
What if, instead of trying to get new leads, you focused on giving?
When lender David Behr decided to volunteer his skills and time to give free motivational talks to company employees, he wasn't trying to earn new clients—but that's what happened.
David recently took the time to speak to me about this new model of lead generation that he didn't actually seek out, but merely happened upon.
A heart for service
The son of a social worker and a retired US Army officer, David Behr has always had a heart for service. So when the pandemic struck, followed by a housing shortage, followed by rising rates, followed by a terrible war, David looked around at the sadness and stress and hopelessness so many people were facing, and decided he would do something to help.
Let's rewind for a moment: For 23 years, David was a motivational speaker traveling all over the country, during which time he presented to approximately 8500 audiences. But as much as he loved speaking, he had four young kids at home, and home was where he wanted to be. So he got a "real" job, as a mortgage lender. (A mighty successful lender, at that.)
Okay, back to the present: It's 2022, and for many people, the past two years have been hard. Really hard. So David decided to offer his motivational speaking talents to companies, free of charge. He worked with his realtor friend to put his plan into motion:
“I said to the realtor, look, if you have any friends, family members that work at companies and would appreciate and enjoy having a guest speaker come in and bring some light, some inspiration, some motivation, I would be happy to give of my time and talent for free, with no catches, not asking for anything in return."
David put together a mindset training, which he titled Spring Cleaning for Your Mind. It was topical, timely, and extremely valuable: "I think [mindset] is the most important thing we all have as human beings, because how we think determines how we act, which determines our results."
He went in and did the training. He focused on inspiring, educating, and providing value. He didn't talk about real estate or lending until near the very end, and only for about 45 seconds.
"One of the things I said in the training was: 'I used to do this for a living. Selfishly, I woke up this morning and I was really excited to be here, so thank you for letting me be here. But yeah, I used to do this for a living, and I had to give it up for my family, for my kids. I've got four kids and they're all active in sports and I coach them. So I had to get a real job. I'm now a lender.'"
"And I said, 'There are a lot of conversations going on in the media and in coffee shops about real estate, about rates, about inflation. I now do this for a living, so if anyone has questions regarding finances or real estate, I'm happy to answer your questions and be a resource for you. I'm the kind of guy who won't tell you no, I'll tell you how.'"
It wasn't pushy or salesy. It was just a part of his story. And it was only 45 seconds out of his 30-minute, from-the-heart training.
What happened next
At the end, he had a line of people wanting to speak to him. There were two types of people in that line: People who had been moved by his training and wanted to thank him for the message. And people who wanted to ask him about real estate and rates and inflation.
"I feel like I brought hope to the hopeless when I said, 'I don't tell people no, I tell them how.' I literally had someone come up, and they didn't even give me their name, and they said, 'Hi, I have a bankruptcy, can you help me?'"
"I don't know you from Adam, and you're coming up and telling me that and you don't even know me! But I think because of the thirty minutes that I spent with them, sharing ideas...even though I don't know them, they got to know me. And I think what they got to know is that I'm someone they can trust."
And that's how what started as a genuine act of service turned into a lead generation model that David has implemented again and again—always starting from a place of service.
How real estate agents can follow the "give back to get leads" model
Be genuine in your act of service.
For this model to work for you, you must begin from a place of authenticity. Your top priority should be using your skillset to help others. If you don't come at this with a heart for service, it's not going to work.
Case in point: One realtor complained to David that they tried the method and it failed. Their strategy? Visit the hospital to hand out food and brochures for their different home financing programs. It didn't work because that agent was there to get, not to give.
"My mother taught me to never walk into a room and say, 'What can I get?' Always walk into a room and say, 'What can I give?'"
Figure out how you can help.
What skill could you leverage to help others? What knowledge could you share in a speaking engagement or training session?
"Everyone has a passion outside of what they do for a living. What are those things that you enjoy doing, and that you are good at? Go give those things away for free and watch your business grow."
David had a talent and passion for motivational speaking, so he offered to give free mindset trainings to company employees.
If you're a talented artist, maybe you reach out to local businesses and offer to decorate their storefronts with seasonal window-chalk artwork. You'll be beautifying the city, helping to draw attention to local businesses, and building connections with the owners and their patrons who happen to stop by while you're painting away. You can expand the reach of this initiative by posting about it on local social media, and the small business owners are sure to post about it, too.
Got a green thumb? Give away your gardening know-how for free! Join local Facebook groups to answer people's questions, offer up local gardening tips on your personal profile, and offer to visit people in their backyards to give them a free garden consultation.
Spend no more than 45 seconds on real estate talk
This isn't a bait-and-switch model. Don't show up to someone's backyard under the pretense that you're there for gardening advice, only to start giving them a pitch on why "Now is a great time to sell your home" and how you could "Make sure you get the best price possible" and blah, blah, blah.
They don't want to hear it. They thought you were coming as an act of service, out of the kindness of your heart. If kindness isn't a huge part of your motivation, this isn't the model for you.
It's okay to count on getting leads through your acts of service. You can be a good person and be dedicated to growing your business. Just be sure to let the "real estate" side of things come up naturally, as part of your story, and very briefly: "I spend most of my time as a real estate agent, and while I love that, I’m also really passionate about gardening. So I'm happy to be a resource for you for real estate or gardening or both!"
If you've established that trust, just as David did, you'll end up getting some questions about real estate, too.
A Win, Win, Win strategy for lead generation
With this lead generation model, everybody wins. The people in your community benefit from your generosity and service; you earn leads for your business; and—as an extra, double win for you—you get to do something you love and feel good about helping others.
So, how can you make the world a little brighter during these challenging times? How can you give back to the community that has done so much for you?
It's amazing what can happen when you start from a place of kindness.