We have all seen the following bio: “I specialize in urban, suburban and rural areas, foreclosures, luxury homes, condos, land and investment properties. I also work with historic properties, new construction, farms, first-time homebuyers and vacation properties.”

  • When you try to make your message appeal to everyone, it appeals to no one.
  • Claiming to be elite needs to be supported by elite knowledge, experience and advice.
  • When people you don't know call you with opportunity, it means your message is powerful.

We have all seen the following bio:

“I specialize in urban, suburban and rural areas, foreclosures, luxury homes, condos, land and investment properties. I also work with historic properties, new construction, farms, first-time homebuyers and vacation properties.”

Uh, OK.

The bio above is exaggerated for effect, but only slightly; examples of this all-encompassing message exist everywhere. The “all things to all people,” or even its cousin, “a lot of things to a lot of people,” is the least effective message you can deliver.

Make your message specific

Does your pediatrician do knee replacements? Does your HVAC guy do tile? Does your closing attorney do mergers and acquisitions? It’s highly doubtful.

Seemingly, we, as agents, feel compelled to act as if every sort of real estate transaction is within our area of expertise when we are fully cognizant that:

  1. It’s not true
  2. It’s not possible
  3. It’s a good thing it’s not possible

So when we try to tell everyone that we can do everything, we only end up diluting our message. When we try to appeal to everyone, we are appealing to no one.

Focus, focus, focus

Successful agents tend to specialize in one of several basic areas — geography, price point, asset type, architectural style or technique. And they tend to have a specific messages that back their narrative.

Think about the agents in your marketplace that are consistently top of mind — not only do you remember their name, but you also know what they do and where they do it.

Each marketplace has agents who are known for working with tightly defined segments, and I think most us will acknowledge that these agents are the top income-earners in our respective markets.

A great message resonates

So how can you tell if your message is superlative? When your phone rings from a number you don’t recognize and the voice on the other end says, “I hear you are the expert in (insert niche here), and I need you to help me.”

When the public seeks you out to handle a particular type of transaction, it’s because they found your message, did their homework and subsequently decided that you were the expert they needed. Having an all things to all people type of messages won’t achieve this result.

Becoming superlative is a process

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just craft a message, and it could just become true? But it doesn’t work that way.

Although it’s nice to say that you specialize in the million-dollar area in your marketplace, just know that the public has an increasingly sophisticated sense of legit vs. fake. So if you are going to claim the title of best in a category, you better be able to prove it.

One of the reasons some other agent dominates the niche you desire is they are probably pretty good at it, and they have been for some time.

Selling a specific type of properties, especially the truly exclusive properties, requires explicit knowledge; and if you want to be recognized as being superlative in your market of choice, you must make sure your advice and experience is excellent, too.

Being a generalist is not a bad thing. Working with relocation clients necessitates broad knowledge that spans many geographic areas and asset types.

But if you decide to position yourself as a generalist, just know that each day has a finite number of hours, each week has a limited number of days, and gas is still pretty expensive.

No agent wants to lose a deal — or more specifically, the opportunity to make a deal — and thus, we worry that if we become too specific in our message, we might run off a client (or four).

Yes, a segment-specific message might not resonate with every prospective client, but I guarantee the number of clients you are running off because you don’t specialize is far greater.

With the number of messages we all receive on a daily basis, focusing yours has never been more important. Do some homework, and find a niche that is definable, reachable and profitable — and focus your efforts there. You’ll be glad you did.

Rick Jarvis is a co-founder of the One South Realty Group in Richmond, Virginia.

Email Rick Jarvis.

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