Build a Brand
(Not just a business card) Want to stand out from the crowd? Be like Burger King and build a brand image. Here’s how.
It isn’t just the real estate services you provide that are likely to build a positive image among prospective customers; it’s who and what you are that make you unique. That’s the advice of Greg Herder, CEO of Hobbs-Herder Advertising, a real estate consulting firm in Newport Beach, Calif.
“Agents should be very clear [about] what makes them different. The more they can do to differentiate themselves from everyone else, the better,” Herder says. “The best differentiators are personality driven—something about you, who you are, something that will be hard for someone else to copy.”
• Be Passionate.
Do you have a passion for cooking? Flying? Scuba diving? Then shout it out to your market niche. “Anything that says, ‘This is who I am. Here’s how I take this particular experience and tie it to real estate,’” he explains. “People call you because they connect with you on some level. They don’t call you because you say you provide great service.”
• Living the Life(style)
. In addition to forging a personal connection with customers through marketing, Herder recommends, you should target your advertising toward specific markets such as lifestyle niches, groups of people who pursue a particular sport or a profession such as teaching or law enforcement.
• Location, Baby.
“Pick a geographic area that you like and in the price range you want. I’d start with direct mail and different types of publications that reach that geographic area,” Herder suggests. “I also like cable television because you can target the marketplace. And all these professional groups have trade publications that you can advertise in, often very economically. They (customers) tend to refer you well within those groups, and you can build a reputation quicker.”
• Be a Looker.
Another critical marketing move is to develop a brand or logo that can be used on all your products, including Web sites, letterhead and other materials that identify you, even “Just Listed” and “Just Sold” letters and cards. There’s still a place for those communication pieces, Herder believes, if sales associates “take it a step further” and offer readers an “extra value” that demonstrates their knowledge of the marketplace.
“Building a brand takes time, but the payoff is a steady flow of consistent business,” he says. “A brand new agent should commit to building a brand for the rest of their real estate career they will love. If you wind up pursuing the deal-to-deal mentality, you’ll do that the rest of your life.” Cathy Vaughn is a New Smyrna Beach–based freelance writer.