Brenton Hayden is the founder and chairman of the board of Renters Warehouse. A Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Business graduate, Brenton leads a team of over 140 employees and franchises in 21 states with a portfolio of managed properties valued at just under $1 billion.
How to Be the Bruce Springsteen of Real Estate
The same components that rocketed the legendary musician to superstardom can make you a rock-star salesperson.
April 9, 2015
We call people who are very successful at what they do “rock stars.” But do you handle your business the way a real rock star handles the stage?
Real estate professionals turn prospects into clients the same way musicians turn listeners into fans: by having a well-defined personal brand that people can relate to. The best musicians are masters of marketing, and they know that their success relies on their ability to connect with their fans on a real level by discovering what they want and giving it to them.
Think about Bruce Springsteen, largely considered one of the greatest musicians of our time. “The Boss” is known for his authenticity on and off the stage and for his fervent commitment to fans, which continues to draw thousands to his concerts more than 40 years after he first hit the music scene.
So how do you become the Bruce Springsteen of real estate? When it comes to personal branding, the same concepts that have made Springsteen a star can also apply to your business. You have to consciously and purposefully establish your personal brand and start building a name for yourself to avoid blending in. Here are some notes you can take from Springsteen to develop your own rock-star strategy for success.
Find Your Hook
Successful people stand for something that other people can identify with. That something is their hook. For Springsteen, his hook is his unmistakable Americana: that signature working-class look with a red baseball cap in his back pocket on the cover of his “Born in the U.S.A.” album. Aside from his notable voice and powerful lyrics, Springsteen grabs people by showing them that he relates to the everyday man.
When you’re looking for your hook, ask yourself the following questions: What do you want to be known for? What makes you an expert? How are you different than your competition? If you excel at selling starter homes, for example, try presenting yourself as someone who understands young families’ needs. Maybe you have a knack for spectacular home showings or possess excellent negotiation skills. Whatever it is, make sure your hook addresses something home buyers need and connect with. That will give them a reason to choose you.
Once you define your hook, look for ways to get it out there. Craft it into your promotional materials and messaging. When you’re speaking to the media, make sure that what you say reinforces your hook. Spend some time brainstorming all of the various ways you can introduce your unique personality into the mix.
Know Your Demographic
Every musician has a target demographic, and Springsteen’s is wider than most. His music appeals to younger generations as well as loyal older fans. He’s crafted songs that speak to the universal human experience and get at situations and feelings we’ve all shared. That’s part of what makes him accessible to new and longtime fans.
As a real estate practitioner, you need to know who you’re targeting. Unless you’re in a very specialized market, you’re probably in an area where you’ve got younger and older buyers and sellers: first-time buyers, owners looking to downsize in retirement, and people with both large and small incomes. You might be like Springsteen, where you’re everything to everyone. In this case, your branding and tactics for appealing to your audience will need to be much tamer than, say, an agent who is based in a large metropolis where more slick and modern-looking imagery and branding is the norm.
But every area has its own particular traits. Take some time to research the make-up of your region. Find out its socioeconomic profile, the age spread of people living there, and anything else that helps you understand who makes up the primary market for your services. Once you have an idea of the group you’d like to focus on, learn their media consumption habits in order to understand where you should spend your marketing dollars to attract their attention. Put yourself in their shoes to establish a good sense of their interests, needs, and wants.
While Springsteen has stayed true to himself throughout his career, he’s been able to appeal to so many fans by adapting his music to the changing times. He first found fame in the rock ’n’ roll scene of the 1970s, but his more recent albums show the influence of hip-hop. He’s been able to reinvent the product he delivers while staying consistent with his commitment to quality music and to his fans. It shows what a skilled musician he is that he can traverse different genres.
As a real estate practitioner, you can reinvent the way you serve clients while maintaining consistent high quality. Staying plugged into the industry via publications, blogs, conferences, and networking events will help you to know what is new on the scene and to evaluate what new tools are at your disposal. Remaining closed to new ideas keeps you from gaining knowledge and improving your current systems, and it puts the competition at an advantage.
The key to staying relevant is to stay flexible. Keep yourself up-to-date and open to change. Don’t be afraid to embrace new technology and adapt to changing markets. Never turn down the opportunity to learn a new skill.
Many people try to be trendy and jump on bandwagons, but Springsteen’s success has always had the same firm foundation: his notable voice, a guitar, great melodies, and an American message. There’s even been an academic paper written about it titled “Is That Me, Baby?” Image, Authenticity, and the Career of Bruce Springsteen.
He has consistently met the expectations of his fans by staying true to his core beliefs and values, and his fans love him for it. Consistency is one of the best ways to be successful. If you can consistently meet your client’s expectations, you’ll soon create a name for yourself. If you can remain consistent with your personal brand, potential customers will come to know what you stand for, and if that resonates with them, they’ll be apt to seek you out.
Don’t Get Boxed In
Springsteen owns the stage. He is confident, and it’s impossible to define him as anything other than who he is. When interacting with his fans, it’s the same story. Bruce controls the narrative. He’s media-savvy and knows his way around an interview. The moral of the story? Be yourself, and don’t let others define you.
Develop an identity that’s in line with your personal brand, and incorporate it consistently into everything you do. This can take the form of visuals that are sleek and modern or charming and folksy, using a signature color or icon, or any such initiative that you seek to add a bit of flair. Ensure that your business cards, your website, and brochures all convey this image. Wear a tie or scarf that displays your signature color. Taking the time to set yourself apart will ensure you stand out from your competitors and allows you to set the tone.
Give Yourself Credit
Successful music artists don’t get to where they are because they’ve downplayed their capabilities. They’re confident and happy to show the world what they have to offer. Springsteen has won multiple awards for his music, with 20 Grammys to his name. While he’s not one to brag about his accomplishments, he doesn’t shy away from talking about his goals and aspirations either.
“I think I just wanted to be great, y’know?” Springsteen said in a 2013 interview with Uncut magazine. “I wanted to be really as good as I could be, and I wanted to live up to the people who had been my heroes.”
Be sure to give yourself credit where credit is deserved. The old saying is true: We are our own worst critics. And in an effort not to offend anyone, we end up downplaying our achievements and brushing over our credentials. Don’t — repeat, don’t — fall into this trap. It’s important to celebrate your accomplishments and to display your accreditation proudly. List all of your successes on LinkedIn, and add these credentials to your e-mail signature line. Show the world what you’ve got.
Don’t leave your branding to chance. Take a stand and start building your reputation. By consciously creating your brand, you will have the power to influence how you’re seen in your industry, and you will be able to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Your personal brand can directly impact the number of new clients that walk through your door. So make it happen — it’s time to get this show on the road!