The residential real estate agent is under siege. New low cost or fixed fee players have entered the market which has consumers questioning the value of paying an agent the full commission when a dramatically lower cost option is now available.
Predictably, the commission-based option is fighting back … mostly with fear tactics. The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) recently launched a campaign which was meant to sow fear and loathing into prospective home buyers and sellers. But trying to scare homeowners into staying with the traditional real estate agent model is a short term strategy. Moreover, it will do little to help traditional agents improve their brands.
A more positive and longer-term approach would be to evolve your personal brand and creatively position your service offering as the embodiment of knowledge, service, and trust. When you get that clearly established in your own mind, and create or update your personal brand to reflect that attitude, you’re more likely to attract higher value, motivated clients who see real value in using a real estate agent.
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” — Tom Peters
Identify and Engage with Your Ideal Target Seller and Buyer
Think about who your current customers are, what they do, what sorts of problems they have, what motivates them to sell and buy, where they spend their time online and offline, and how you can build relationships with them based on adding value, and not just on scoring the commish.
Most importantly, ask them why they chose you in the first place. That kind of direct feedback is invaluable and builds relationships you can leverage for referrals. Key takeaway: Putting in the time to understand your audience will help you develop a personal brand that speaks as much to their needs as it does about your services.
Image is (almost) Everything
A good picture is worth … you know the rest. But in your case, it’s actually worth leads. A low-budget, low-quality, unappealing headshot will give your customers the impression that you only deal in low-quality, unappealing properties. Your entire brand aesthetic should be crafted to present your character, your tone and your sense of purpose. If you want to be seen as a winner … invest in winning imagery.
To help you find clarity and direction for your brand consider a brand strategy workshop. Invest the time and money now to explore the core values that inspire loyalty to your brand, sketch out your target audiences, and identify the foundation for your brand story. Most importantly, establish the edge you need to carve out more market share.
Storifying Real Estate
Once you’ve determined who you’re targeting, your next step is to capture their attention. The best way to do this is through an engaging narrative. People love a good story – they always have and they always will. That’s why even in the internet age, there are still best-selling books that lead to best-selling movies. People love a good story. What’s yours?
Whatever it is, an essential element of your story has to be about educating your customers. By enlightening your client, you’ll be perceived as a thought leader. Brands that craft compelling and consistent narratives that add value to their customers’ understanding of the marketplace see their online content shared more frequently, keeping their service top-of-mind among their target audiences.
Content, Content, Content
It may not be as memorable as location, location, location but burn that word into your brain. CONTENT. Maintain a consistent posting schedule and provide readers with actionable insights related to the real estate industry. The more you portray yourself as a fountain of knowledge, the more your customers will drink it up.
The written word is acceptable, but if you have the capability to create video content for your brand, you’re already ahead of 90% of your competitors. And this doesn’t mean a simple video walk-through tour of a house. Produce original content that shows your personality while providing your viewers with helpful information. Be a star!
The best thing about all of this content you create is that you can post and promote it heavily on your social media accounts with a moderate cost. In a recent article about building real estate market share, we noted that social media is one of the best tools at your disposal, so make sure you’re using it.
Even though fear is a great motivator, using it as the only point of differentiation is not a long term strategy. Focusing your efforts on how you deliver better service, more relevant insights, and better results are lasting reasons that will attract the right customers and ensure a greater chance of referral business.