Whether you’re a seasoned real estate professional or a newly minted licensee, developing your brand image is an important career step. Here are the actions you need to take to choose and implement your real estate brand.
Step 1: Choose your brand
In the real estate profession, image is everything. How potential clients see you determines whether or not they will want to hire you – and if they will remember you when their need for a real estate agent arises.
In marketing yourself, you’ll want to set yourself apart from other agents in your area, without becoming so specific that you cut out a large segment of the market. For instance, branding yourself as simply “the short sale expert” is great for a few potential clients, but not for most.
One direct way to do this is to brand yourself as the neighborhood expert. This works for buyers and sellers of all home types in the neighborhood, and is easily customizable for each neighborhood you may market to, called your FARM.
Aside from being a neighborhood expert, other residential specializations include:
- first-time homebuyer;
- Spanish-speaking or different language other than English;
- condo or multi-family;
- luxury home;
- affordable home;
- energy-efficient or green home; and
- senior living.
Check out what other agents are doing in your office to market themselves. Is there a specialization that’s missing from the neighborhood? It may take some extra research on your part, but will mean more business down the road.
Finally, be truthful when choosing your brand. If you’ve never worked with seniors before, don’t tout yourself as a specialist in senior living.
Another iffy situation has to do with the photo you use with your brand materials. One major pet peeve of real estate agents (and their clients) is when an agent uses a headshot taken twenty years ago. If you choose to include your picture in your marketing materials, have a professional photo taken every two or three years. It avoids awkwardness or confusion when a client finally meets you.
Step 2: Consider (or reconsider) a catchy slogan
While you want clients to remember your name, you certainly don’t want them to roll their eyes when they think of it.
Stay away from cringe-worthy slogans, especially ones that are inappropriate — even if you think it’s funny, it won’t be the case for your whole client base. You will also want to ensure the pictures or graphics you use to depict your business are family-friendly.
However, if you come up with a catchy slogan that’s fun, inoffensive and helps clients remember your name, then go for it. This also works well for agents who don’t yet have a specialty. Instead, they can let potential clients know what other advantage working with them offers.
Choose the characteristic you want to highlight, like honest, friendly or speedy.
However, don’t be generic when branding your business. So fit your chosen brand characteristics to your specific talents and personality. Start by including your name in the slogan: “Betty Brown, the speedy agent.”
Better yet, make it rhyme so your potential clients can easily remember you: “Don’t clown around, sell it fast with Betty Brown.”
You can also use your slogan to highlight your real estate specialty: “The South Bakersfield Expert,” or “Selling South Bakersfield since 1988.”
If you’re still having trouble with a slogan, you can pay a service to come up with one for you. Limelight marketing charges $299 for a customized real estate slogan and will help you design a marketing strategy for your brand for an additional cost.
Step 3: Market your brand
Now that you have the perfect brand for your business, how do you put yourself out there and get more clients? Infuse your brand into all forms of marketing, including your:
- agent website;
- professional email signature;
- business cards;
- FARM materials that you drop off while door knocking in the neighborhood(s) you FARM;
- signs; and
- mailed marketing materials which you send to former and potential clients.
If you specialize in multiple forms of real estate, order different business cards for each specialty. That way, if you run into someone interested in buying their first home, you can hand them the business card which says “The first-time homebuyer specialist.” Likewise, when you speak with a residential investor, you can hand them your “Residential investment specialist” card.
Plan the timing of your strategy, be consistent, and keep in mind it will take several months or even years before you notice an effect. Thus, it’s important to set aside time in your schedule and money in your budget to market yourself over several months.
If you’re completely new to real estate marketing, it will likely take three to five years before marketing your brand pays off with a reliable stream of clients. On the other hand, if you already have past clients but are changing your brand to reflect a need in the community, the results will arrive sooner.
Also consider investing in a couple of out-of-the-box marketing strategies. For instance, become “the engaged real estate agent” by sponsoring a stretch of highway or volunteering to sponsor a local youth sports team. Your sincerity and service to the community become part of your brand — not to mention the opportunities you’ll find to meet new clients while engaging with other community volunteers.
Related article: Using Google AdWords to jump start your real estate leads
Step 4: Avoid these common mistakes
Once you’ve nailed down your brand image and marketing strategy, go back to check for common errors before implementing them. Once you’ve built a brand, it’s difficult to change, especially if you’ve made a negative impression on your community — so get it right the first time.
- using all capital letters to describe yourself or your services — it comes off as insincere, more like a used car salesperson than a trustworthy professional;
- misspellings or grammatical mistakes — this makes you look either unintelligent or unable to pay attention to detail, which are traits clients don’t want in their real estate agent; and
- giving up on your brand strategy after only a few months of marketing, as it will take months or years before the payoff is noticeable.
What advice do you have for creating a brand marketing strategy that works? How long did it take before you saw results? Share your experience in the comments below!
This article was previously posted in 2015, and has been updated.