Pepsi or Coke? It’s one of the greatest rivalries in beverage history! Whichever side of the aisle you’re on, you’re not likely to cross without being seriously convinced. That’s because most of us are brand-loyal shoppers. Whether it’s soft drinks, shampoo or clothing, we all have our favorite brands and we stick to them.
According to “Retention Science,” brand loyalty “has very little to do with price or money, but has everything to do with how your brand is perceived by the consumer, whether through promotional activities. , reputation or past experiences with your business”.
Keeping this in mind, the same feelings of loyalty that a consumer has towards a company can show up in loyalty towards a person – like the consumer’s doctor, lawyer or real estate agent. This is why, as an agent, it is crucial to build a strong brand in order to attract and retain more customers.
Differentiate yourself and define a niche market
One of the best ways to build your brand in real estate is to differentiate yourself. As of last year, more than one million real estate agents were members of the National Association of Realtors. This means there are plenty of people to turn to for help when it comes to buying and selling a home or property. How do you stand out?
Think about what you have done to make yourself unique. There’s a fairly high-profile broker/agent who’s been affectionately referred to as the “Condo King” since the 1980s. And he’s reaped the rewards of the title. For years, his agency, Allan Domb Real Estate, handled the majority of condo business in Philadelphia. His brand image as Condo King is a personality that defines him and followed him to become president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors.
Another way to differentiate yourself is to define a niche market. The best way to do this is through the communities you serve. Establishing yourself as the go-to expert on a particular neighborhood, type of sale, or type of community is big business and a major differentiator.
You could aim to be known as the agent who has an “in” with the exclusive neighborhood where inventory is really tight. How can you do this? Make sure you know the profile of the people who live in that neighborhood and why they choose to live there – for example, find out how long the typical commute to work is or if it’s possible to rent a space like vacation property. You need to know who is most likely to sell, which properties have pending status, and which homes will be on the market soon, so your customers can get in sooner than the general public searching online. This will make you the go-to agent for that particular area, and as you grow as an agent, you can expand your area of reach depending on your business goals.
Integrate technology into your offers
Many officers are increasing their use of technology. This is crucial because it is a way of life for so many potential buyers and sellers, especially those who are millennials; the largest group of home buyers, at 31%. The National Association of Realtors’ Generational Trends Report indicates that “millennial” homebuyers are doing their home hunting online or via mobile device before contacting an agent. Once they have chosen an agent, young buyers also base a large part of their satisfaction on their agent’s ability to communicate, especially via email or text. When you incorporate technology into your offerings, you create a brand that resonates with the rapidly growing group of millennial shoppers who are likely to refer you to their friends.
But the use of technology goes beyond younger buyers and sellers. Leveraging technology in the right way can help you attract both customers and potentially other talented team members. Our friends at Coldwell Banker, Howard Perry and Walston, do so through their initiative to be the “trendiest” real estate company in North Carolina. They provide each of their agents with an iPad and access to the company’s proprietary mobile app, allowing them to do business anywhere, anytime. This not only entices buying and selling customers to work with them, but attracts more tech-savvy peer agents, giving you more opportunities to leverage their knowledge and learn.
Build a unique online presence
As an agent, you need to have an online brand that resonates with your consumers. It’s not enough to just be online; you need to have an online presence. A big part of that online presence includes an updated and well-maintained website. Creating a substandard website and leaving it untouched is actually doing you a disservice and can make you look unprofessional. Make sure your website looks modern and includes updated data. You should also include testimonials from satisfied customers. I like a service called Placester, which helps you build your website with quick setup, lead capture, and mobile-ready designs. Potential buyers want to see that you are knowledgeable and have successfully helped others like them.
The other part of your online presence is built around social media. Check out my colleague, Leighton Dees, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Generations, as an example. Dees has developed her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to be personally and professionally acceptable. You can do the same by walking that fine line between being too open and not being open enough – always keep your audience in mind. Using social media is as much about listening and participating in other conversations as it is about posting your own.
Social media is one of the most underused tools when it comes to marketing a property. If you have a strong online presence, including on social media, you can build your brand there to stand out.
To be coherent
Whether you’re online or offline, the most important thing to keep in mind when building a brand is consistency. You need to be the same across all mediums – be relevant, be true, and be authentic to who you are. People can spot a fake from a mile away, which doesn’t bode well when it comes to most people’s biggest investment. So be consistent in your identity and the experience customers can expect.
The customer experience should be seamless and consistent, from research to post-closing follow-up. Part of creating and maintaining this consistency is developing a team of people that you work with on a regular basis and who are part of your trusted brand. People loyal to a brand (you) are more likely to try other services from that brand (your colleagues). These colleagues may include mortgage brokers, lawyers or moving companies who may also be involved in the smooth running of the transaction. Expanding your brand to include these service providers not only ensures that your customer is well taken care of today, but also will be well taken care of in the future when they decide to come back for the second round.
The #1 referral source is still word of mouth. Friends and co-workers will wonder, “Do you know a good agent?” You want them to say yes and then mention your name. As quickly as you choose between Pepsi and Coke based on their brand image (and, okay, their taste, too), you want potential buyers and sellers to choose you based on the experience to which they can expect with a brand they can trust.
Joelle Senter is vice president of marketing development at dotloop.
Email Joelle Senter.