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When working with a smaller budget, it can be hard to decide whether to put your money toward brand advertising or a strong lead generation strategy.

Branding is a wider term that encompasses everything that customers tend to associate with your brokerage — a logo, a header and, in some cases, a signature color like the gold jackets once worn by Century 21 agents when out in the community.

Sabrina Brown

Sabrina Brown, the owner of Brown and Brown Real Estate in Fresno, California, said her team’s signature style is the color pink, which locals in the community associate with her real estate business.

“Our brand is pink but your brand is more than just your color and your logo,” Brown said at the “Brand Advertising vs. Lead-Gen: What’s Right for Your Brokerage? Digitization and the Shifting Consumer Experience” session at Inman Connect. “It’s your reputation, it’s what you put out there in the community and your reputation but how people recognize us is that we wear our pink.”

Eddie Berenbaum, the president of Century21 Redwood Realty in Virginia, said that the four pillars of a successful brokerage include agent production, recruiting/retention, lead generation and ancillary partners. As a larger company, Redwood 21 refers agents to leads so that they can use them to build a network of clients and later branch out.

“The value for the agent is largely derived in the immediate income they’re going to get, although it’s at a lower split because leads are very expensive nowadays, but also as a lifelong relationship,” Berenbaum said.

A strong lead generation strategy, Berenbaum argued, can lead to an immediate increase in business since it focuses on results. One strategy he recommends is a partnership with Opcity, which has staff pre-qualify leads as the best fit before sending them to specific agents. Agents pay a commission fee once they get close to closing.

“We have to be focused on profitability,” Berenbaum said. “If we’re not profitable as a company, then we don’t get to play tomorrow [because] we don’t have stability. At the end of the day, you switch into a quality and quantity business.”

Eddie Berenbaum

Building a brand is a more long-term approach that involves everything from a signature look to a wider strategy for staff. Building one can take years but pays off in the long run when you have a team that understands your vision and what you’re aiming for.

“Really find out what that agent who is looking to come in is looking for and what their expectations are so that the team can get a feel of who that person is and whether they would be able to work together,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, I don’t expect anyone to become best friends but I do expect them to cover each other, have each other’s back and be collaborative.”

The way a brokerage generates leads can be part of a larger brand strategy — some agents specifically seek out a larger brokerage for help to get those initial customers to them.

“For years we’ve talked about building your business with our leads,” Berenbaum said. “If we’re effective in that, then we’re going to have people graduating off of the lead team every year and we need to be cultivating newer agents.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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