Dave Wakeman, principal partner at The Wakeman Consulting Group in Washington, D.C., is an expert in marketing and branding. Wakeman has worked around the world with small and large businesses to be better marketers.
Get the Buzz Going About Your Business
Here’s how to make your name recognizable in a saturated market of real estate professionals.
June 8, 2015
One never-ending challenge for small business owners is the need to generate buzz. In real estate, it’s even more necessary as professionals contend with websites professing to offer buyers and sellers all the information they need. Also, more people are getting their real estate licenses so they can “do it on the side,” and more consumers don’t act on their desire to invest in a new home because they fear the entire process is much too complicated. This makes standing out all the more important for practitioners.
The marketing part of your job comes before the real estate aspect can even get started. If you don’t have interested buyers and sellers, you are never going to have the opportunity to execute a real estate transaction. Building your brand, and the buzz it creates, is a long-term investment. To get yourself pointed in the right direction, here are a few quick tips that will help you consistently generate positive buzz around your business. If you only learn one thing, remember this: Consistency is the big key.
First, think about what you want your business to look like. How will you gain traction in your target market? In the rush to generate business, we often try to make everyone our customer. And when we do that, we essentially make no one our customer. If you are going to target buyers, then target buyers. The same goes for sellers, neighborhoods, investors, or any other market you want to work with. The key is to focus on one group at first, even if your plan is to expand later.
Next, develop and share your expertise. With the Internet and a saturated market of real estate professionals, you have to stand out. Do this by becoming the go-to expert in your area and sharing your knowledge widely. Take opportunities to speak, to be interviewed, to produce useful articles and content, or anything that makes sense and helps you reach your target market.
One way Carrie Foley, a top producer for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Lynnwood, Wash., achieves this is by developing content-rich and client-specific e-mail campaigns that keep her clients up to date on real estate activity in their neighborhoods. “I customize it so that the information is useful because, for most of these people, their home is their biggest investment,” she says. It’s pretty simple: You got into this business because you are passionate about some aspect of it. If you can convey that to your target audience, they are going to seek out that energy.
Get some in-person contact whenever possible. Heather Davenport and Matt McHugh, partners at Washington Fine Properties in Washington, D.C., create buzz and personal interactions with their clients by throwing parties at restaurants and bars around the city. “These events are much more fun than traditional advertising,” Davenport says. “But more importantly, we really get to connect with our community, and these connections have helped us drive referrals to our business, which is a much more powerful method than anything else we do.” If you’re just getting your feet wet with social engagements, start small by hosting a coffee club or book club, or attend someone else’s event. Just make sure you are getting out and talking to people.
Finally, you can make yourself memorable and stand out in any market by providing superior service and strong communication. Buyers and sellers are more impatient than ever. Constant connectivity has increased the need for instant gratification in the form of rapid response to texts, e-mails, and calls. Richard M. Curtis, broker-owner of Curtis Real Estate Company in Annapolis, Md., builds upon this idea by extending a boutique level of service to his clients. “I have found that even in an extremely demanding market, buyers and sellers still love a really personalized touch,” he says. “For us, this personalized touch has encouraged us to take on a concierge-style approach, which has helped us differentiate ourselves from the larger brokers.”
For Curtis, this means trying to recreate the white-glove experience of a five-star hotel and making sure buyers and sellers feel they’re getting special attention. Curtis walks them through the most stressful aspects of the transaction, such as gathering financial data and preparing for inspections and closings with guides and checklists. It also means creating partnerships with service providers who are as dedicated to customer service as he is.
In the end, building a brand and gaining buzz is built on a simple foundation: Deciding what business you want to be in and communicating to your target audience on a consistent basis. Along the way, your brand is going to become stronger and more distinct by your ability to communicate your value to your clients and provide them with personalized experiences. As Lindsay Jackman, a sales associate recently named Rookie of the Year at Century 21 North Homes Realty in Tacoma, Wash., says, “The big key to successfully building my brand this year has been my consistency. I realize that every time I take action, I am strengthening my brand a little more.”