There are a lot of ways to be different. You can choose to dress head-to-toe in canary yellow every day of the week. You can make everyone strike the Charlie’s Angels pose for your team photo. You can give out $85 bottles of Veuve Clicquot as closing gifts. Creating your unique brand and differentiating yourself from other realtors in your area will create a buzz, causing that word of mouth to travel and generate new leads for you.
All of those things will make you different, sure. But without a deeper meaning—without a connection to your core values and your purpose—those are just gimmicks.
Your real estate brand is more than a surface-level act to get attention. For your brand to be authentic, it must start from within. It requires that you answer some important questions about yourself and your clients. Once you've done that introspective work, you can begin the creative task of bringing your brand to life through your marketing and team culture.
Jennifer Myers, founder of Agent Grad School and host of the podcast Confessions of a Top-Producing Real Estate Agent, recently shared a 5-step approach to developing a brand in the episode "Marketing You". In this blog post, I'll share Jennifer's 5 questions to ask yourself when developing your brand, plus an example of one agent who is totally killing it with her branding.
The first step to differentiating yourself is discovering your Why.
Why did you choose to become a real estate agent? In a world where you could have been a lawyer or a teacher or an accountant or a graphic designer—why did you choose real estate? What reason—beyond making a living—fueled your decision?
You might have a lot of reasons. List them all out. Then look for the reason that ISN’T about you, but is instead about other people. That is the Why that can be used in your marketing to differentiate yourself from the competition. That is the Why that will resonate with your clients and earn their trust.
In her podcast episode, Jennifer shared that she decided to become a real estate agent after a bad first-time home-buying experience. When she bought her first home, her realtor never told her about a helpful down payment assistance program that could have gotten her a much better deal. Jennifer took that crummy experience and turned it into her purpose—she chose to become a real estate agent so she could make sure first-time buyers would be well-informed about all of the assistance programs available to them.
Think back on your experiences—did a bad experience spark a sense of purpose within you?
This answer should come more easily than the first. Based on your answer to the previous question, who do you want to help? For Jennifer, it was first-time home buyers. For you, maybe it's first-time sellers, or people relocating, or anyone looking for a home in X neighborhood.
(Please note that this is not an invitation to discriminate against anyone or violate any Fair Housing Laws. Proceed with caution—and with your ethics intact.)
Once you've IDed your target audience, learn all that you can about them. What do they need from their real estate agent? What challenges do they face? What emotions are they feeling?
Now that you've defined your "who," it's time to focus on the actions you'll take to help them. Jennifer put in long hours of online research and calls with lenders to learn everything she could about financial assistance programs for first-time home buyers.
What knowledge do you need to acquire to better assist your clients? What systems do you need to put in place to make sure you fulfill your mission?
When someone hears your name or sees your signage, what's the first thing you want popping into their head?
"She knows how to help first-time buyers get a more affordable home."
"He is the go-to for buying or selling a home in Glendale, CA."
"They sell all of the vacation homes in the Poconos."
Define what you want to be known for, Jennifer says, and then learn everything you possibly can to become an expert on that topic.
How do you want them to feel about their relationship with you? What emotions do you want to evoke in your clients?
Jennifer wanted to be like an approachable big sister to her clients, so they could be inspired by the example she set (buying her first home at 23 years old) and so they could feel comfortable asking any question.
"But more than anything," said Jennifer, "I wanted to stand for possibility. Like, 'I don't know if you can buy a house right now, but let's see what's possible.'"
Once you've defined your reason for becoming a real estate agent, who you want to help, how you want to help them, what you want to be known for, and who you want to be for your clients—once you've figured it all out, you can start to get creative. What imagery would represent all of the things you've defined? What might your tagline look like? How will you update your mission statement and core values to better reflect your new, finely-tuned brand?
I recently heard about "the pineapple lady," from a few of my friends. Turns out, she's a real estate agent in the Philadelphia area with killer branding. On her team's website (www.trustthepineapple.com), Erica Deuschle explains in a video why she chose a pineapple as her logo: "To me, the pineapple is a sign of hospitality. Growing up, my mother and father were always entertaining, and I just love being around people and I love everything that home means...The most important thing to me in selling real estate is my connection to the client. At the end of the day, this business is all about human connection.”
The pineapple isn't a gimmick. It's a symbol of who Erica is: someone who welcomes the company of other people, who loves the whole idea of "home," and who is passionate about helping people find their perfect homes.
Share your own branding story in the comments below—we'd love to hear how you differentiated your real estate business!
Sammy Harper is a content writer at Firepoint & Realvolve. Her nine years of digital marketing experience include SEO, email marketing, social media, and blogging. Fascinated by the real estate indust...Read More