Use a scavenger hunt to reconnect with clients

This article originally appeared in NARI’s Tuffin’ It Out series.

Gary Rochman, owner of Rochman Design-Build, was excited to celebrate his company’s 20th anniversary. Instead of throwing a party or issuing a press release, Rochman came up with unique way to celebrate and promote his company.

“When I think about the last 20 years, I think about the projects we’ve done and the families that have helped us stay in business,” Rochman says. “Because most of our leads come from referrals, we wanted to create a way to reconnect with clients and promote our company in their neighborhoods and social networks.”

Rochman designed an elaborate scavenger hunt around Ann Arbor, Mich., that sent participants to 60 homes he remodeled during the last 20 years.

According to the rules, players had the month of September to complete the hunt. The game required participants to visit each home and record the number listed on a game sign outside of the house onto the entry form.

“We provided players with the street names but no addresses were given,” Rochman says.

There were seven finalists who recorded the correct numbers for each home. Those seven were included in the first-place drawing, where the winner received the grand prize, an iPod Touch. The second place drawing included the rest of the players, and the winner received a $25 iTunes gift card.

“We did a great deal of thinking about what the grand prize should be,” Rochman says. “Our area is comprised of older, wealthy homeowners, and we thought the iPod Touch would be hip, of interest and valuable,” Rochman says.

In addition to several months planning and implementing the scavenger hunt, they promoted the hunt by sending a press release to local media, e-mail blasts to their database and a postcard mailing to local residents.

The goals of the contest included bringing attention to Rochman’s projects and raising traffic to the company’s Web site. “We placed the 20th anniversary announcement prominently on our Web site, and the scavenger hunt form need to be downloaded from our site,” he says.

The contest provided an element of jobsite marketing. The hunt gave Rochman an excuse to contact old clients with whom he hadn’t talk in a while. “We were knocking on doors, asking our clients if they would participate, and most of the time, got to talking about the company and what we have been up to,” Rochman says.

Also, the signs outside each home generated attention within neighborhoods where potential clients were prevalent. “People took notice of the signs and our work,” Rochman says. “They were asking a lot of questions.”

Some homes had new tenants, and the hunt gave Rochman an opportunity to introduce himself to the new owners.

He says roughly 75 percent of past clients agreed to participate in the hunt, and he was able to talk to at least a quarter of all of his clients face-to-face. Half of the scavenger hunt participants were past clients and the other half were local residents.

Rochman says that most clients were overjoyed to see him again and felt some pride to having helped Rochman remain in business over the last 20 years.

As a thank you, Rochman gave each client a pound of coffee and a handwritten note. One month has gone by since the hunt, and Rochman has signed on two small jobs from past clients. Also, his Web site traffic increased during the month of September the way he had hoped.

“I think of the hunt as a success because it reinforced our brand to our clients and created buzz in the area,” Rochman says.

Rochman and his team are so pleased with the results that he promises not to wait another 20 years before planning something similar. “I would be willing to plan an event in five years and again in 10 years because of the good promotion and connections I was able to make,” he says.

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