As seen in Westchester County Business Journal
Successful Realtors understand the undeniable power of personal branding. Whether you’re a real estate broker, agent, CEO/owner of a Fortune 500 firm or boutique agency, it’s more important than ever to invest time and resources in presenting a compelling and consistent message that will resonate with your target audience. Communicating your brand to commercial (property owners, tenants, site selectors) and residential (house purchasers/sellers) audiences and members of the larger community is paramount to long-term growth.
1. Define your brand. What makes you remarkable?
The first order of the day is to conduct a self-audit to identify your purpose, strengths, values and passion. In a fiercely competitive real estate environment, it is essential to crystallize your uniqueness (aka competitive advantage) and why you are a worthy investment. Some real estate professionals differentiate themselves through their individual achievements (i.e., deal volume) while others boast added value (i.e., JD, MBA, mortgage background, staging certificate). Pinpoint words that best describe the value you offer — like condo expert, data guru, historic landmark authority, luxury specialist, interior decorator, “green” specialist — or describe your personality — driven, persistent or honest. In order to gain a 360-degree view, it’s equally important to consider how business colleagues and friends perceive you.
2. Understand your audience.
Define your target audiences and arm yourself with intelligence about what drives them to take action. Who are you talking to? Consider age, gender, family status, personality, profession or business type, depending on the nature of the transaction (commercial versus residential). What are your clients’ pain points? How can you solve their needs better than your competitors? What is their preferred channel of communication? These are important issues to investigate as you need to ensure that your brand resonates with them.
3. Know your competition.
With renewed confidence in the real estate market, there are more buyers/sellers and hence more competition. In order to “rise above the competition” in such a crowded landscape, you must first gain intelligence on who you’re most frequently up against and simply do it better. What niches are currently not being exploited within your local market? Now you’re ready to put your stake in the ground, literally and figuratively.
4. Bring your brand to life — consistently.
Once you’ve crafted a compelling brand, it’s time to make some noise. The array of online/offline channels are dizzying — websites, blogs, social media profiles, print collateral, open house signs, banner/print ads and email blasts. Regardless of what channel(s) you select to deliver your message, consistent messaging and visuals that reinforce your brand are non-negotiable. In fact, research has shown that consistent brands are approximately 20 percent more valuable than erratic brands. To further build image, consider tapping into glowing client testimonials, achievements, success stories, content (curated and self-published), professional speaking and media coverage opportunities. It is important to not only showcase current listings but also properties that you’ve successfully closed. Share high-quality and original content. A good rule of thumb is to post once a day, 5 days a week. With time restraints, it’s fine to have laser focus on one social media channel; it is prudent, however, to provide a link of the active platform on dormant social media channels. If you’re working at a larger brokerage firm, make certain that you adhere to their brand standards and policies.
5. It’s all about relationships.
At the end of the day, purchasers/sellers in commercial and residential transactions often make decisions based on their relationship with the individual Realtor — not the business entity. It’s important to engage in both online and offline communities. Be transparent. Should you receive a negative post or review, make certain to address it in a professional and timely fashion. Both prospective and existing clients will appreciate your honesty. Invest in networking and actively join committees and organizations (professional and community). Give before you get, and say thank you a lot.
Real estate mogul and “Shark Tank” celebrity Barbara Corcoran is known for having built the most powerful real estate brand in New York City. Her success is predicated on developing and owning an original and consistent brand. According to Barbara, “Your brand makes your customers trust you before you deserve the trust.”
Here’s to perfecting your personal brand. And remember that it requires routine maintenance and monitoring to ensure your message is heard loud and clear.
Stacey Cohen is president of Co-Communications Inc. in Mount Kisco, with satellite offices in Connecticut and New York City. She can be reached by email at Stacey@cocommunications.com or by phone at 914-666-0066.