Realtors who attended the Central Properties Mentors Series event on “Branding for Success” were treated to a crash course on the importance of defining and positioning their personal brands in real estate. The presenter, Dave Mangan founder of Idea House, explained that branding is shorthand for what people think of you, and that managing your brand is a way to influence how you’re perceived in the marketplace.
Personal branding is tied to your reputation and to the perception of others. For better or worse, “branding” is happening whether you think about it or not. So it’s a good idea to put some thought into defining your personal brand to increase the chances that customers will find you and choose to work with you (again) in the future.
Your desired brand must start from a position of truth. Start from where you are comfortable; if you ‘fake it,’ i.e., branding yourself as something that doesn’t hold true to who you are, your message will fall flat and may not attract the customers that you want. Here are the three steps in determining your personal brand:
These are your key personality traits and core values that serve as your guiding principles in your business. Explore your brand essence by asking: How do people describe you, or what do you think you’re particularly good at doing?
Example: McDonald’s brand essence is fast and inexpensive dining; whereas Smith & Wollensky’s brand essence is that of a full service, fine dining steakhouse. It wouldn’t fit McDonald’s brand essence to rebrand itself in order to compete with Smith & Wollensky’s, or vice versa.
Positioning is where you get to be creative in expressing your brand essence by asking yourself “what space do I want to call my own in the market?” For example, do you want to be known as a “regional expert” or a “neighborhood specialist?” Are you the “Logan Circle” expert or the “Potomac $1 million+” agent? As long as you pick an identifiable position or “space,” and stay consistent with your messaging, you will find it much easier to establish yourself in the market and strengthen your brand. Positioning is also about making logical choices with your career; positioning yourself as a “Jack-of-All-Trades” may not attract attention in this crowded market.
Example: BMW and Volvo both start with the same brand essence as high-end European luxury vehicles. Where they differ is in their positioning: Volvo chose to position itself as a leader in safety, while BMW positioned itself as makers of “The ultimate driving machines.” For Realtors, positioning could be centered around a location, or personality type; “the tech savvy agent,” “the thoughtful agent,” “the neighborhood specialist,” “the regionalist,” etc. Whatever your positioning may be, make sure that it comes from a place of honesty and fits within your brand essence.
Strategy is how you decide to reach the people or market that you want to attract. It’s a balance between time, tools, and budget. Think about the area of the market that you want to serve and ask: What do you have that can help people in that market?
Communication strategy encompasses person-to-person networking, relationship building, social media, email, and advertising. Each medium has its own associated costs in time and money, so be smart about utilizing your available resources. Focusing on social media is a good first step because your target audience is likely spending time online–think about how they want to be engaged. Try to infuse some of your personality into your communications, and share interesting community info as well as real estate specific content. Realtors should also have a website, even if it’s just a few pages, so that potential customers can get a sense of who you are and find you through search engines.
Additionally, come up with a plan to communicate with your personal network and the wider target market that you serve. Stay consistent with your outreach and messaging. Keep it short; people have short attention spans. If you fall behind your plan, just recommit to getting back into communication; it helps to have an accountability buddy to keep you on track. Use tools to schedule your social and email postings; check out Hoot Suite, Buffer and Mailchimp, to start scheduling your communications so you can focus on serving existing clients throughout the week.
Consistency over time will build the strong, clear brand that you’re looking to establish.
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