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Creating Customizable Memories

RE/MAX One's Linda Craft has been a Realtor in Raleigh, North Carolina for the last 22 years.  However, after forming her team--Linda Craft and Team--in 1999, she says she started searching for "that perfect gift that her clients would keep forever."
  Shortly thereafter, she met Hollis Halford, founder of Nashville, Tennessee-based The CD Guys, at a RE/MAX convention.  "CDs are an incredible gift because they are timeless.  You listen to the same Christmas music every year and it's not going to go out of style.
  "It's not like buying a polished brass door knocker and throwing it out four years later because brushed nickel is now in vogue," she adds.  "You can take a CD with you from house to house." 
  The partnership makes sense, considering the fact that Craft says one of her best strengths is her creativity.  In fact, her ability to customize the pieces came in handy when she used the CDs to memorialize her role as the Preferred Real Estate Partner of the 2006 Stanley Cup Champions, the Carolina Hurricanes. 
  "In 2006, the year I signed the contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, they were the champions.  When I got that honor, I wanted to customize CDs for the team using their red and black colors for the label."
  Craft says she ordered about 1,000 CDs, which she sent to the team and their staff as well as everyone she invited to a huge client appreciation party.  She says the CDs were a big hit and that The CD Guys made it possible for her to be ultra creative designing the labels.
  "Hollis [Halford] was fabulous about working with me and did all the custom work we wanted and got everything done very quickly."
  What's more, Craft says The CD Guys are wonderful about making changes.  She says after she had ordered the labels and they were all printed, she discovered an error on the CD Cover: "The CD Guys were tremendous--they changed the jackets and reprinted them within the week."
  According to Craft, she started buying CDs for her clients at Christmas six years ago, mailing out about 2,000 of the customized pieces of music.  "In the past, I have sent out things like calendars at Christmas but when I send out the CDs, I actually get thank you notes.  So they are really more like a gift than a solicitation."
  What's more, Craft says because Christmas is an emotional time she feel she is able to touch people and get a very good response to her mailings.
  And while she is a huge fan of the Christmas carol CDs, Craft also buys a host of different CDs for other types of clients and occasions.
  "We got such great feedback for the Christmas CDs that we bought their classical lullaby CD, Symphony of Dreams.  Whenever I find out a client is pregnant or meet someone who is about to have a baby or just had one, or whose son or daughter just had a baby, I send them the lullaby CD and they love them."
  Craft also buys a lot of CDs that she now puts into her closing packages.  She says the CDs, along with a bottle of champagne, really make her brand and image stand out in the clients' eyes.  What's more, she says The CD Guys offer a large variety of music that is easily customized to fit her client's taste.  If a particular client likes jazz, she makes sure to select a CD with jazz music to go into that closing package.
  Going forward, she says she expects to find still more creative applications for customizing music CDs--something she believes her clients will keep forever.
--Lesley Geary

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