John D. Mayfield, ABR, CRB, e-PRO, GRI, is a sales coach, author, and broker/owner of Mayfield Real Estate in Farmington, Mo. You can contact Mayfield through his Web site, www.BusinessTechGuy.com.
Be Your Own Brand
A good branding strategy takes commitment and consistency, but the payoffs are worth it.
November 1, 2004
When you’re juggling open houses, closings, inspections, and family life—among other things—it’s easy to neglect your personal marketing. If you’re not paying as much attention as you should to that critical part of your career plan, consider what Stuart Henderson Britt said in the New York Herald Tribune in October 1956: “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”
The same goes for branding. When you think about your favorite soft drink or brand of soap, what comes to mind first? Normally, it’s the name or brand of product you use. That’s because the company did such great job of stamping its name and its brand in your mind that its product has become almost synonymous with the category.
Your job is no different. Your goal is to make the consumers in your marketplace think of you first when they think of real estate. How can accomplish this? First decide on a marketing segment you want to target. Make sure it’s large enough to generate sufficient business—there’s not much point in targeting luxury homebuyers if there are only three sales a year above $500,000 in your market.
Feel Passionate About Your Market
It’s also important to pick a market that you really enjoy and feel passionate about. Perhaps you get a thrill out of helping first-time buyers, or you’re such an avid golfer that you want to specialize in homes on golf courses. Whatever your passion, you’ll bring an extra level of enthusiasm to your marketing if you work at what you enjoy.
Next, select a brand identity that fits with your target market. Luxury homebuyers, for example, will probably be drawn to an image that’s conservative and opulent. It’s also important to create something distinctive and idiosyncratic about your brand so people can remember it easily. Whether it’s the repeated use of a marketing line or a unique color scheme, the consistent use of your chosen brand elements helps people recognize you instantly.
One effective way to make your brand memorable is with a logo that identifies you and reinforces your message. When you see those famous golden arches you probably think “McDonald’s.” When customers see your logo they should think “real estate.”
A good graphic designer is probably your best bet for a great logo, but there are many inexpensive software packages that will help you design a logo for your business. AAA Logo Software and The Logo Creator both offer competitive prices for design software you can buy online to create unique logos on your own.
But before you set up any logo campaign, make sure to check state laws and rules governing the use of advertising by real estate professionals and consult your broker.
Reinforcement, Consistency Are Key
Reinforce your brand with marketing materials that fit your niche. If you target high-end buyers, a CD-ROM or DVD listing presentation and home tour may be critical. Digital photos or even digital videos of a home on a CD-ROM or DVD also can be a very effective way to show a property to busy professionals or out-of-town buyers.
Similarly, a video filled with recorded testimonials to your skills will do more to convince people to list with you than any amount of persuasion on your part. For information on developing your own CD-ROMs, visit the Web sites of IndigoRose Software Design Corp. or Longtion Software, which both specialize in that area.
Another great tool you can use to build your brand is an e-Book. E-Book software programs allow you to make digital “books” online, complete with photos, text, and links to other sites—even if you don’t have extensive computer experience. You can develop entire “homes guides” with this software and use them if you target out-of-town buyers.
The same method could be used to develop books on home styles and basic construction terms for first-time buyers. You can view several sample e-Books from DesktopAuthor or KeeBoo. Both companies offer easy-to-use software programs that let you construct your own e-Books.
Finally, remember to use your branding consistently. It takes repetition before a brand becomes established in people’s minds. That’s why it’s critical to stick with the same logo and branding strategy for several years. Small variations in advertising language are OK, but keep using the same marketing approach for at least two or three years. Otherwise you won’t really achieve the level of branding you hope to achieve.
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