If you’re a marketing buff — or a Mad Men fan — you probably have some ideas about branding. Logos, signature colors, the “right” font — all of these are elements that branding experts pitch to some of the biggest companies in the world.
But for real estate agents, branding is a much more personal thing. It has less to do with what color to make your business cards and far more to do with what ideas potential clients associate with you.
Add an effective personal brand to content and social media marketing, and you create a winning strategy that can have clients beating a path to your door.
Stacey Cohen, president and CEO of Co-Communications, an award-winning New York City PR firm, has spent two decades helping business owners and entrepreneurs perfect their personal branding.
Her passion is helping business owners find and express their authentic identity as they represent their business. Cohen has a special affinity for real estate professionals — her mother was a residential broker, her husband is a real estate attorney, and Cohen herself held a New York real estate license for many years.
Cohen boils down her personal branding strategy into the “3 W’s,” and they serve as the launch point for identifying brand identity.
Put them to work for your real estate business, and let them guide the content you produce and the way you present yourself.
W 1: WIFM (What’s in it for me?)
Cohen says this is the question every blog post, tweet, Facebook post or video should answer.
“You need to get into your target client’s mind and understand how you can solve his or her pain points,” she said. “What value do you bring to the table? What is the benefit of you?”
For real estate agents, this might be as straightforward as awesome market knowledge in a particular neighborhood or as complex as experience in a highly specialized niche area.
Many agents are afraid of losing business if they go too narrow, but truly understanding the value you bring may necessitate defining your specific area of expertise so that the clients who need you most can find you.
W 2: The ‘who cares?’ test
When you are creating content, there should be a reason and a value-add.
“Content needs to be relevant, timely and memorable. If you look at it from a news perspective, it should be a 9 or 10,” Cohen said. “Add value, not clutter.”
Are you sharing the same tired memes, jokes or articles as all of the other real estate agents in your newsfeed?
Are you writing blogs that are already well-represented in a Google search? If so, you’re not adding to the conversation.
Create content that is either different or operating on a demonstrably higher level than other content that’s out there.
If you’re going to write about the buying process, offer more detail, better ideas and better writing. If you’re going to share on social media, make it meaningful and timely, not generic.
W 3: Wow!
What do you bring to the table that nobody else is bringing? What wow-factor can you highlight that makes you stand out from the crowd?
“A lot of people want a smart and savvy broker. Why should they choose you from among the hundreds in your market?” Cohen said.
Are you an incredible negotiator? Can you crunch numbers better than anyone? Do you have a special affinity for real estate investment?
Figure out what you know, and shine a light on it. Let your content reflect the things you’re best at, and show potential clients how your expertise is the answer they’ve been looking for.
Beyond market expertise, what do you bring to the table that is uniquely you?
Are you the ultimate foodie? Start a restaurant review blog for your market.
Do you love graphic design? Create a standout Instagram with branded content that’s entirely original.
Do you have the heart of an entertainer? Showcase your big personality on video content that potential clients can’t wait to see. Use what you love to do to create more effective content.
Branding isn’t just for corporations anymore — it’s an essential part of developing your real estate business.
How can you define your personal brand? Work through these elements — WIFM, Who cares? and wow-factor — to find yours.