Becoming Your Own Brand
The twin objectives of personal marketing are to generate a direct response today and create brand awareness for all time. To understand the power of brands, think about some of the world’s greatest: Nike, Disneyland, and Starbucks. These brands are successful because they’re associated with positive images in consumers’ minds.
How does the concept of brand apply to real estate sales?
Kennedy: The word “brand” is tied in with a first-class approach to service. Being a brand means your name is synonymous with a certain idea — first-class service, efficiency, fairness, etc. When you are a brand, you are instantaneously associated in the prospect’s mind with certain attributes. A great brand is not just about top performance — although that should be present. Instead it is about an emotional connection with the consumer.
Consider Mary Harker, a top performer with Keller Williams in Dallas. Her Mary Harker and the Harker 5-Star Team establishes her name as a brand identity and extends the brand to her team — her husband and two sons. The entire team in a fun pose is featured on the first page of her Web site, which is reached with a branded URL. Her phone is 800-827-MARY. Harker reinforces the brand by promising a “five-star” selling experience and reminding prospects of the century of real estate experience her team represents.
All [the national franchises] are trying to create a brand, but what they are really striving for is what someone like Mary Harker has already achieved.
Why should a sales associate strive to become a brand?
Kennedy: Because it’s the only way to survive. Generic practitioners don’t have any recognition, any referrals, or any repeat business. They aren’t a cut above the crowd, and their goals are all short term. Being a brand is about having a long-term perspective. The goal is a lifetime customer, not a hot prospect turned into a closed transaction for today only.
How can sales associates create a brand image that breaks through to the next level?
Kennedy: Sales associates must start by identifying the qualities that make them distinct from their competitors. How do they stack up to the “Brand X” real estate salesperson?
Next, sales associates must focus on how the qualities they have identified benefit the customer. Many salespeople make the mistake of putting too much emphasis on themselves and not enough emphasis on what interests the buyer or seller. Consumers don’t care how many awards you’ve won; they want to know how you can help them. To establish a successful brand, real estate salespeople must relentlessly and consistently focus on how they add value to the transaction.
Finally, once salespeople have established their value proposition, they have to use all forms of personal marketing — direct mail, face-to-face marketing, and the Internet — to gain visibility for their brand.
What is the biggest mistake that salespeople make in attempting to establish a brand?
Kennedy: They fail to be consistent. They become nervous and start to change their message too soon. As a result, they never really establish a distinct identity. True branding is a long-term proposition.