September is Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. That means we’re talking to the chief marketing officers at major brokerages about how the pandemic is changing their jobs and what it means for agents. We’re publishing a suite of tactical Inman Handbooks for marketing on digital portals. And we’re looking at what pages of the traditional marketing playbook still work. Join us all month long.
Newly licensed agents will often be asked what their branding strategy is, or how they’re developing their “brand.” On top of all the steps it takes to start a real estate career — completing coursework, passing a licensing exam and deciding which firm will offer the best opportunity for growth — branding is just one more hurdle on the new agent’s to-do list.
So what is branding, exactly? Defined as a grade, make or kind of product indicated by a stamp or trademark, branding, as it pertains to real estate agents, is the set of characteristics establishing a recognizable image or identity.
Whether it’s a boutique firm, a national franchise or a local mom-and-pop firm, each company will have a brand in the form of a logo, signage, company culture and claim to fame.
So, how should new agents incorporate and marry the firm’s branding with their own, and make themselves a valuable addition to the office? To put it simply, branding will define who you are as an agent and why people do business or will do business with you. Here are a few things you should be thinking about.
What are your strengths?
Does this sound overwhelming? It’s best to ask yourself what your strengths are, and find out what you bring to the marketplace that’s unique and fresh. What market, area, price point and type of property do you wish to become an confident, valuable expert in? How do you wish to serve your clientele?
Branding as part of a team
Many newcomers opt to sign on as a member of a team so that they’re mentored and are able to observe the different aspects of real estate transactions. Closing deals and being exposed to seasoned agents who are actively listing is important to newbies.
Even the most entry-level position in a team will offer a new agent the chance to connect and understand how other agents have branded themselves, developed their strengths and stepped out of their comfort zones to cultivate new areas of expertise.
Like all careers, real estate requires learning and personal growth. New agents will be pressed to ask themselves to define their goals and how they will achieve them. The savvy agent will develop a unique personal message that will propel them forward, whether that’s through their website, social media or the templates they use.
Consistency is king when branding yourself. Promoting a property or a skill that you offer on one type of media is not sufficient — you have to promote your brand across the board so that your potential customers can recognize your message the minute they see your name, logo or picture.
You are your brand
It’s important for new agents to personify their brands. Think of it as a person — because it is. You are your brand. Everyone has their own set of strengths and unique attributes. Pay attention to team members or successful agents and study how they brand themselves.
If you lack a skill or need further development in a certain area, take a class, approach a mentor or search for a “how-to” online. Real estate technology constantly develops new products and refines old techniques — make sure you are up to date.
To brand, agents must connect, get involved, follow current trends and be able to share information with team members, buyers and sellers. Remember, even if you are inexperienced, your role is to be an expert advisor to your clientele. No matter how little you feel you know, you know much more than your customers! You are capable of teaching your buyers and sellers, and your brand should emphasize your skills.
Creating a unique message, a one-sentence pitch, as well as a more finely tuned pitch for each different buyer or seller is part of your branding DNA. Your personal branding is a call to action for buyers and sellers.
Branding will guarantee your real estate success and take you to the next level. Above all, be sincere, try different techniques until you’re comfortable, and don’t be afraid to “rebrand” if something isn’t working for you.