Editor’s note: The following is a guest perspective. Have a perspective you’d like to share? E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I hear the word "software" I think of Microsoft. The mention of "soft drink" means Coke or Pepsi to me. Mention "search engine": Google. So how do you make your name pop into people’s minds when they hear "real estate"?
It’s called branding
Branding is the immediate association of a business name with its product type. I can think of specific agents — from Canandaigua, N.Y., to Springfield, Ill., to La Habra Heights, Calif. — whose names I equate with real estate success. Their agent brands are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe more.
How can you create a successful agent brand? Consistency is the key; consistency of your graphics and consistency in the experience of you.
It’s more than a name
To Xerox something means to make a copy of it. When you Google something you are confident that you will find what you want. These brands are both recognizable by their name, their logo and their association with dependable quality and service. All of that — the name, the look and the quality of service — are a part of the brand.
A real estate agent’s goal is to have the people in their market (which in most cases are their spheres of influence and farm areas) associate the mention of the agent’s name or seeing the agent’s "brand" with a positive and successful real estate experience.
It takes more than a name, a slogan or a logo. A successful brand is also the promise of something verifiable by the consumer as they work with the agent. And to distinguish the agent, the promise must be above the minimum expectation of quality.
For a real estate agent, that means more than a basic level of service, attentiveness and expertise. So how do you both create a recognizable brand and raise your quality of service above the basic levels?
Creating a successful look or visual brand is called brand graphics. It is not as intimidating as it sounds. Think of a Coke or Pepsi logo. It is a combination of a design, a font and colors. And the brand graphic may not change for years or even decades.
A real estate agent’s brand graphics are also a simple combination of design, consistent font, colors and use of a photo.
Creating a successful brand experience is also easier than it sounds. Many agents have already done this and don’t realize it. Think of your favorite store, restaurant, hair stylist, website, etc. The way they greet you, speak to you, interact with you — or, in the case of a website, the navigation — there is consistency that you recognize and depend on.
When you call up one real estate agent in Lawrence, Kan., you’ll hear some variation of: "And a grand day to you!" or "Hello and a glorious good morning!"
The way an agent answers the phone, conducts a listing or buyer presentation; the speed and frequency of communication, the giving of gifts, offering of progress reports, use of video and social media, all contribute to the experience of the agent.
And the consistency of that experience establishes an agent’s brand experience.
Be careful. An agent must choose the most positive experiences to construct a brand experience. The way to discover which experiences to make consistent is to ask.
Call your clients from the past year or two and ask them the following questions:
- What had they heard about the way you do business?
- What do they remember most?
- What did they like and appreciate?
- If they were to refer you, what would they say are the best things about the way you do business?
- Why did they choose to work with you?
- What do they think would be important for you to keep on doing, do more of, do differently, or stop doing?
In addition to learning the best experiences to build your brand around, you are making a strong professional impression and you will likely generate some referrals.
Consistency is the key
There is an important principle in marketing that says, "The time when you are getting bored with your brand is about the time when it is just beginning to work." Remember how long Coke, Pepsi, Kodak, Godiva, Google and other extremely successful brands maintain their brand graphics and brand experience. It is measured in decades.
Choose your brand characteristics and, unless there is a very compelling reason to change, keep your brand characteristics for at least two more years after you are feeling bored with them.
You don’t have to …
Finally, whenever I teach or coach marketing I ask agents to write this down: "You don’t have to get it perfect. Just get it going. And keep improving it." The way you do that is to choose deadlines.
When will you have your Web design chosen? When will you have your postcard designed? When will you choose the photo you will use? Then stick to those deadlines and move on to the next decision.
Keep it moving and you will realize that getting it going, and then improving it, is a key to success in your marketing.
Rich Levin is a real estate productivity expert who offers marketing training for real estate professionals. He conducts a free live 15-minute webinar every weekday morning to promote successful habits for real estate agents. Every Wednesday the webinar topic is marketing and branding. Visit www.FreeCoachingWebinars.com to register for the webinars. For coaching or speaking opportunities, contact Rich at (585) 244-2700 or Rich@RichLevin.com.