BrandFace leaders Michael Carr and Tonya Eberhart share the steps to creating a brand that engages consumers, sparks growth and crushes the competition.

The coronavirus and its ensuing impact on the real estate industry have pushed real estate professionals to revisit the basics of the business, including their value proposition, personal brand and marketing. However, many professionals have made the mistake of thinking branding and marketing come down to well-designed logos, slick taglines and eye-catching social media posts.

For BrandFace leaders Michael Carr and Tonya Eberhart, crafting a rock-solid personal brand comes down to three simple steps: defining your ideal audience, determining what differentiates you and consistently displaying those factors through marketing.

Here’s what Carr and Eberhardt had to say about creating a strong brand that will lead to success in 2021 and beyond. BrandFace facilitated and sponsored the training session for Inman Connect Now.

Don’t hinge your value proposition on being better than your competition.

Carr said a common mistake real estate agents make with branding and marketing is simply saying they’re better than other agents and thinking that will be enough to win clients.

“It’s not enough to market yourself as a real estate professional,” Carr said. “There are hundreds of them and anybody you ask knows a half a dozen of them that they could refer.”

“You can tell a prospect that you are better,” he added. “But being better is subjective. What might be right for you, might not be right for somebody else.”

Do focus on differentiating yourself

Instead of trying to explain how you’re better, Carr and Eberhardt said agents need to figure how they’re different — a fact that’s less subjective and easier to prove.

“Go to a Zillow page for a property scroll down to the bottom. See the three agents at the bottom?” Carr said. “We’ve all been one of them. How can you tell them apart?”

“What happens is you blend in and when you look the same, you end up in what we have coined ‘the sea of sameness,'” Eberhardt added. “And when this happens, consumers have no choice but to view you as a commodity or transactional being and none of you got into this business to be viewed like that.”

She continued, “You have to set yourself apart from everybody else.”

Don’t try to market to everyone

The duo said part of differentiating yourself is identifying the target market you want to serve, so you can create a brand and marketing strategy that will speak to the consumers to you want to serve.

“What it boils down to, folks, is you can’t be all things to all people,” Carr said. “It is just a recipe for failure. Trust us.”

Eberhardt encouraged the Connect crowd to ditch expansive target demographics (e.g. everyone aged 25 to 54) and drill down on the specific market sector who needs the skills they possess.

“Honey, that is not a target market,” she said with a laugh. “That is a family reunion. You have to look at it this way: 25-year-olds and 54-year-olds have very little in common when it comes to the things that they seek, and so you have to market to them in many different places.”

Do show your personality

Carr and Eberhardt said real estate agents often think their brand must be separate from who they are as a person, and their logo, tagline and brand colors are enough to make people connect. However, the duo said your personality and back story are the two factors that will turn the tide in an uber-competitive marketplace.

“I’m not saying you guys don’t have personality, we all have a personality,” Eberhardt said. “What I’m saying is if it’s not infused into your marketing so that people understand who you are, that’s a mistake.”

“They want to know who you are as a person,” she added. “That’s really what separates us from everybody else, and why people choose a person over another to do business with. People, instinctively, want to know the story behind the face.”

Don’t be inconsistent

The pair said they follow the 7-11-21 rule, which notes consumers need to see your name and face seven times before they recognize it, they need to see your name and face along with what you do 11 times before they remember it, and it takes 21 times of all three before they actually hire you.

“When you fail in any of these areas, you end up with spray and pray,” Eberhardt said. “You spray and pray [your brand and marketing] sticks somewhere.”

Carr and Eberhardt said inconsistency breeds confusion — something real estate agents and brokers can’t afford to create when consumers have a plethora of options of who to work with.

“You can’t calculate the cost of confusion,” Carr said. “Consumers don’t know who to choose and you don’t have a clear path for your business.”

Do properly contextualize the role of coaches

The duo said many real estate professionals are quick to blame coaches if their business doesn’t take off as expected.

“Their job is to show you how to use their systems and processes,” Eberhardt said. “Their job isn’t to differentiate you.”

Don’t conflate branding and marketing

Carr and Eberhardt said real estate agents often think branding and marketing are different terms for the same thing. However, the pair said branding is about defining your culture, value proposition and story, while marketing is about pushing your brand to the public.

“People don’t do business with a logo. They do business with a person,” Carr said. “If you don’t define what makes you different from everybody else who does the same thing, you’re going to waste a lot of marketing money.”

Do define your focus and direction

Carr and Eberhardt said agents flounder with branding and marketing because they try to appeal to everyone. Instead, the duo pushes their clients to get specific about who they want to serve and what they want to do with this acronym:

  • H — Your target audience is someone who you can truly help.
  • E — Your target audience is someone you enjoy working with.
  • A — Your target audience someone who appreciates your work.
  • P — Your target audience includes people who are going to help you be profitable.

Don’t dim your star power

When it comes to differentiation, Eberhardt said agents have a difficult time because they think there’s nothing special or notable about them.

“There are a lot of things that make you special and there’s a lot of star power within you,” she said. “It becomes about choosing which one will take you forward.”

“Stop thinking you’re boring,” she added. “When we read people’s biography to them, it’s an emotional moment. You can’t see the label when you’re inside the jar. Everyone has something special inside of them.”

Once you identify that magic element, Carr and Eberhardt said it’s important agents properly reflect that through a logo and slogan that attracts their target audience.

“It kicks open the door and entices people to want to know more,” Eberhardt said of a well-crafted logo and slogan.

Do display yourself everywhere

After doing the hard work of branding, the duo said it’s time to market yourself everywhere your target audience is.

“They need to see the same thing everywhere you go,” Carr said. “It’s about creating messaging that speaks to the heart of your customer.”

“If you’re looking for ABC, here’s how I can help you achieve it,” he said of an effective messaging format. “When you do it right, your brand becomes a soldier for you that works for you 24/7.”

Don’t be afraid of a rebrand

Eberhardt said agents need to update their photos and graphics every two to three years, while other items can be updated as needed. However, if they move or expand to a new market or shift their value proposition, a rebrand is needed.

“A lot of things can change,” Carr said of the aesthetics of a brand. “But the core of who you are doesn’t change.”

Email Marian McPherson

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