Editor’s note: This is the second in a five-part series.
If you want to maximize the worth of your business, how you brand, niche and document your business is critical. Having the right brand today can help you build your market dominance, which in turn will make your business more valuable when you are ready to sell.
For many years, both companies and agents have elected to brand their businesses using their name. There are multiple challenges with this approach today in terms of your Web marketing, social media, and how attractive your brand is to potential clients.
What constitutes a great brand?
A great brand says what you do (you sell real estate, homes, properties), with whom you do it (the types of clients you work with), and where you do it. If you brand your business with your name, it’s virtually impossible to sell it when you leave the business. In contrast, a great brand is memorable, references that you are in real estate, and targets a specific market.
Great branding starts with establishing a strong niche
Before you can create a great brand, you must identify the niches where you specialize. In the past, agents could market themselves using a shotgun approach. To develop Web ranking and a strong social media presence today, however, you must focus on specific market niches and dig deep into the type of lifestyle that niche represents.
One of the characteristics that most top producers share is that they have one or two specific niches where they specialize. Business that doesn’t fall into that niche is referred elsewhere.
A great way to build the worth of your business is to create multiple niches, brand each niche separately, and then market them using the different URLs.
For example, if you’re competing for search terms such as "Austin homes for sale" or "Philadelphia properties" on a pay-per-click basis, it’s exceedingly expensive. The reason is that multimillion-dollar brokerages and third-party publishers such as HomeGain, Trulia and Zillow are often aggressively bidding on those search terms.
In contrast, marketing to a narrow niche is one of the least expensive ways to market. This is a guerilla marketing technique. The concept is that big players do not have the time or the money to compete for small slivers of the market. Consequently, instead of marketing using the name of the city where you live, market using the name of a subdivision or condominium complex. Targeted marketing costs pennies and effectively builds the worth of your business.
One great niche is baby boomers, who still control approximately 40 percent of all listings. In contrast, up to 50 percent of the buyers today are first-timers. The median age of a first-time buyer is early 30s. Depending upon where your strengths are, both groups could make a great choice for a niche.
When you work with boomers, chances are they’re thinking about downsizing. Many still have kids in college, so buying a condo or a rental property can be a wise investment choice. With a boomer client, you may also pick up a probate if your client loses an older relative.
Another upcoming niche is immigrants and minorities. The current prediction is that by 2050, the number of Hispanics will triple and the number of Asians will double. If you are not fluent in at least one other language, now is a great time to begin.
A third hot niche is investments. The smart money is investing in real estate now. The reason is that most smart investors are contrarians. They buy when others are selling and they sell when others are buying.
Another great niche is working with investors who want to purchase distressed properties. Again, the investors are playing heavily in this market, often buying up toxic mortgage assets, taking the property through foreclosure, fixing it up, and then putting it back on the market for a healthy profit. You can work on the listing side, perhaps creating auction services as a niche. You could also have a very healthy business helping an investor locate, buy, repair and resell foreclosures.
Branding for your niches
Research shows that buyers conduct Web searches using three major criteria: street name, city and ZIP code. As a result, rather than branding your business with your name that people from outside your area will not recognize, choose a brand that targets the niches you serve.
For example, "SantaFeHorseProperties.com," "RollingWoodCondos.com" or "Homes4LATeachers.com" each references real estate, a specific niche and a geographical location.
Don’t dump a successful "name" brand
If you have branded your business using your name, add to your existing branding by creating new brands that incorporate these principles. Reserve the URL (website address) for each of your new brands. You do not need several new websites. Instead, have each URL link directly to a page on your existing website. These pages should have the look and feel of a home page, even though they are embedded in your website. Another critical point is to make sure that every listing page has a wealth of information about the lifestyle in the area(s) that you represent.
Creating a smart, salable brand for your real estate business is one of the best ways to make more money now as well as when you decide to sell.
The next step is to determine how much your business is worth. See Part 3 of this series to learn more.