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Photo collage of a woman with megaphone and designations

How to Market Your Designations — and Make More Money

Successful agents anticipate the coming market and take classes to help them prepare. Here are some ways you can capitalize on the designations you earn.

From 2008 to 2010, while many real estate agents were leaving the industry, Heather Swanson, CRS, CIPS, a board-certified broker-associate with Campus to Coast Realty in Gainesville, was flourishing professionally. A key reason? She’d earned her Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource Certification (SFR®), which provided her the expertise to begin working in short sales. Developing a reputation for efficiency and compassion, she soon earned referrals from other agents and former clients.

Although Swanson mentioned her SFR certification when marketing her short sales expertise, she credits the knowledge behind it for galvanizing her business. “The designations are great to have, but it isn’t what you’re going for. If you’re just after the letters, you’re missing the point. The point is the education and the betterment of yourself and putting it to use for your customers.”

Since consumers don’t know the meanings behind the designations and certifications, Swanson (who’s also a CRS, ABR, CIPS, GRI, AHWD, e-PRO, TRC and PMN) translates their value. Instead of using acronyms, she’ll explain how she has specific knowledge and is in an elite group of agents. “I’ll tell potential clients that I’m in the top 20% of agents because of a certain designation,” she says. “And I’ll explain that with my education, I can help them more.”

When it comes to networking with other agents for referrals, she updates her information in the various directories, such as the CRS directory, and attends events and conferences for her different designations. “The education at these events is great, but they’re really about meeting people face-to-face,” she says. She always wears her company badge, which includes her name, title, company logo and her designations. “We’re not secret agents. You never know who you’ll strike up a conversation with,” she adds.

Between networking with agents and outlining to consumers how her education can help, Swanson finds that she builds trusting relationships quickly.

Market the right designation at the right time

To Tim Weisheyer, broker with Dream Builders Realty in Orlando (who holds numerous designations, among them GRI, CRP, RSPS, SFR, MRP, CRS, ABR, SRES, PSA and CIPS), designations build your knowledge, demonstrate your value to consumers, and help you earn respect and recognition from your peers.

“The GRI—the first designation I earned—helped open my eyes to the knowledge I would not otherwise have been able to glean and created a broader network for me within the real estate community,” he says. Now that he’s received several, Weisheyer sees them as tools he can pull out at any time, depending on which are most relevant in each context.

For instance, when Weisheyer markets to 55-plus communities, he emphasizes how he’s a Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES) and a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS). When he communicates with buyers, he highlights his Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) designation. With the military community, he stresses that he’s a Military Relocation Professional (MRP).

With international buyers, he’ll emphasize how he’s a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) and a Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) designee. “My goal is to show I’m not just a Realtor® in Orlando—I’m a specialist who deals with exactly what they’re looking for.”

Along with including his designations on his business card and in his email signature, he incorporates them into his marketing. “Each one is customized to the target audience and includes designations that will best align and add the most value for them,” he explains.

For instance, his script for a video targeted to sellers might end by highlighting his Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) designation. Viewers could hear, “If you’re thinking about selling your home and wondering whether it’s the right time, work with a Pricing Strategy Advisor like me,” and see the PSA logo.

Dina Cheney is a Connecticut-based freelance writer.