In today’s digital world, there is more content than we know what to do with. In fact, over the last two years alone, 90 percent of the data in the world was generated. This massive influx of data, combined with the advancements in technology, has put more power at consumers fingertips than ever before. So how does a real estate agent in the 21st century stay relevant and break through the noise? How do you cut through the constant content clutter and build a relationship with new audiences and communities?
One word: brand.
I know what you’re thinking – “I have a brand,” “I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” “I’m a real estate agent, isn’t that a brand in its own?” Well, the answer is no.
To be an effective agent in today’s digital age you need to build an authentic brand that is consistent and will stand the test of time. Your brand is a collective set of memories — consider it the story behind your business.
How do I build this brand?
Customer expectations are changing. Agents are becoming not only the guide, but the final step on the buyer’s journey. Your clients will expect you to understand them. After all, you have the tools to do just that, with more coming out every day. Metrics, multiple lines of communication and technology are no longer optional.
In fact, Forbes says that 64 percent of consumers develop a relationship with a brand that shares their values. Another poll shows 91 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from an “authentic” brand. Pretty solid stats if you ask me. Real estate branding is now mandatory for success.
Know this: Your clients will do their research before they even start looking for an agent. All they want is someone they can trust who can provide additional context, a sounding board and much-needed information.
But what does “authentic” mean to your clients? It means throwing out that sales pitch and adding in the personal human touch. It means listening and bringing creative problem solving and solutions rather than settling on the status quo. It means owning up if you make a mistake, instead of finding others to blame. Being vulnerable is a form of authenticity, and your clients will recognize and appreciate your honesty and integrity.
Where to start?
Give opinions. Make bold statements. Focus on what makes you and your brand unique among all your competitors. Identify your value to your audience and be enthusiastic about who you are, what you do and why you do it. For example, do not be scared to list off the top three neighbourhoods you think will be great investments in 2019. Or in my case working in the city of Toronto, economists have been saying for the past four years that property values will drop — and I have had to cut through that noise to ease my clients by making bold statements.
Even in our industry big brands like Keller Williams, RE/MAX and Royal LePage have been making huge statements regarding being the leaders in real estate technology.
It is not as easy as just making a statement — you must be trustworthy and authentic. That means not just telling your clients what they want to hear. Most people have an ear for that. Provide value beyond what their research will tell them. And then show how you deliver on that in all your branded materials.
Get to know your clients. Identifying common characteristics about people who like to work with you will help you discover who you should be targeting. Remember, your brand is about who you are and what makes you special. It won’t be right for every single person. If you try to brand yourself as perfect for everyone, you won’t seem genuine to anyone.
Next, figure out what resonates with the type of people you work with. How do they find you? Would they rather look at infographics or videos? What do they want to feel when they work with you? Above all, listen. Your clients will indicate what works for them.
Bring the human back into sales
We need to think about engagement inversely. Each buyer wants to be approached and consume content in a different way. We tend to follow a collective sequence of touch points (email newsletters, social media, direct newsletters, flyers, sales calls, etc.) across all platforms, but we need to become intimately knowledgeable about the buyer’s persona so that we know what platforms and channel to communicate through.
Your brand will be what drives demand in the next decade. It’s your most important asset. A company can’t own its facts, and if you promise to sell faster, for higher dollar and provide quality, any good competitor can duplicate this, or worse, improve upon it. Everything except your company’s personality or brand can be copied. Create your own story that will resonate with your clients, and build a business that will differentiate you in today’s busy market place.
Christopher Toste is a Toronto-based real estate sales representative at Royal LePage Supreme. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram.