Agents can bolster their brokerage’s brand if they provide exemplary service to clients.
Yet brokerages often don’t return the favor, leaving agents to fend for themselves when it comes to building a personal brand.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Inman recently sat in on a consultation between a marketing strategist and an agent team at Compass, a brokerage valued at $360 million, that showed how brokerages can help agents polish the image they project to the public.
The goal of the brainstorming sessions, said Mike Fabbri, who led the meeting, is “to create brand advocacy and loyalty at the agent level.”
Here are eight steps a brokerage can take to pull that off.
1. Establish identity.
The first step to helping agents burnish their brand is to pin down who they are, what they stand for and what makes them special. Only then can a brokerage help an agent strengthen their marketing message.
Fabbri, who was recently hired by Compass to “bridge the gap” between Compass’ corporate brand and its agents’ brands, dug for that information at the beginning of his branding consultation with members of The Griffith-Scholz Team.
The brother-sister bond between Cindy Scholz and Mark Griffith, who wasn’t present at the meeting, largely defines their team, Scholz told Fabbri. Though Griffith originally wasn’t Scholz’s “cup of tea,” the two hit it off early into their careers when competing against each other in a contest to close six rental deals as quickly as possible, Scholz said.
Chris Ritchey, the other team member present at the meeting, styled Scholz’s hair before joining the team two years ago at Scholz’s invitation.
2. Pinpoint target clientele.
You need to know your target buyers and sellers in order to effectively court them.
The Griffith-Scholz Team told Fabbri their clients run the gamut. They are working with a buyer who is willing to drop $12 million in a day, but they also serve renters looking for low-cost studio apartments, Scholz said.
Would they characterize themselves as “full-service”? asked Fabbri.
“Absolutely,” Scholz said.
They pay private drivers to shuttle clients around from listing to listing, regardless of the price range. They even covered taxi fares for a renter visiting studio apartments priced only around $1,300 a month, she said.
3. Discover goals.
You’ll have an easier time pointing agents in the right direction if you know where they want to go.
Scholz said her team wants more seller clients and is keen on using “marketing pizzazz” to win more listings.
Fabbri will be sure to center his marketing support around helping them grow their listing count, in addition to assigning supplementary goals based on the results of a questionnaire they filled out after the meeting.
4. Define current marketing strategy.
Some agents or teams employ a range of marketing tactics. Others, not so much. Before Fabbri can make recommendations, he has to know what he’s working with.
Asked about their current market strategy, The Griffith-Scholz Team told Fabbri they have a basic buyer’s guide they use to reel in leads.
They’re also not afraid to spend money to get a property out in front of as many eyes as possible. That’s why they produce marketing videos for every listing.
5. Solicit marketing needs.
Part of Fabbri’s job is to gauge what sort of support agents are looking for so he can connect them to resources or experts that can provide it.
Scholz wants to create a luxury buyer’s guide and a seller’s guide to build rapport with more leads. She’s also hoping to be able to post listing videos to Compass’ website.
And did Fabbri know how to design mailers that really stick out? That’s something else she’s trying to figure out, she said.
6. Make recommendations.
Fabbri connects agents with marketing experts at Compass who can help them better leverage tactics such as search engine optimization, paid search engine marketing, partnerships with brands or vendors, social media marketing, print marketing, newsletter marketing, agent profiles and listing videos.
He plans to help The Griffith-Scholz Team post their videos on Compass’ website, but not before hooking them up with videographers or marketers who could help imbue their listing videos with a story angle and the proper corporate branding.
The team’s earnestness, affability and close friendship will “inform” their videos, Fabbri told Inman after the team left the meeting.
The team would also receive help designing buyer and seller guides from Compass’ creative team, which would make them “come to life,” Fabbri told Scholz.
As for mailers? Mike advised they design marketing materials that advertise open houses like “party invitations.”
7. Administer questionnaire.
Fabbri asks every agent or agent team to fill out a questionnaire after an initial consultation so he can get a detailed description of an agent or team’s “business, clients, objectives, current tactics, and defining attributes or characteristics.”
The goal, he said, is to help define their brand, messaging and optimal marketing strategy.
“I bring it to the talk to but have them fill in after,” he said, explaining why he doesn’t send a self-evaluation form to agents in advance of a consultation. “Personal connection is always the priority, and a form is off-putting without context, in my opinion.”
8. Check back in six months.
The only way to know if a treatment is working is to see how the patient responds to it. Fabbri plans to check in with agents every six months to see how his prescription is working, and tweak it accordingly.