In one of my last posts, I recommended a few books to get the mind open and excited about the opportunities in front of you in 2013. Today this is a follow-up to talk about branding in real estate, but not what we normally think about. There are some big names in our business that are recognized around the world. But what if branding could be something that you can do every day for yourself in your business? Let’s talk about how to do it.
Define brand: Wikipedia defines brand as a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Seth Godin defines it as the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. Contrast these definitions with the one for a commodity as a class of goods for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation. Now ask yourself, “Which one defines your business?”
Brand beyond a logo and slogan: These are important, but the World Wide Web has given us a great gift. If the printing press stands as the great innovation that democratized books, the Web is the greatest innovation that democratized publishing. Where we have our Web sites, blogs, videos, eBooks and published PowerPoint presentations, we can now connect not just to individuals but communities of our own design and creation. No we can’t reach millions like Apple, but think about this. If you could connect and persuade even 100 people online to do something in a mutual best interest, what a year that would be.
How do you do it online? Remember we previously said that a brand has differentiation, so ask yourself what you know so well that you could show your expertise online. Next is to discover how to find your audience that is searching for the benefits you provide. That is done by learning Google’s keyword search tool—which trust me, isn’t that hard. Then you publish in words, in voice, or you provide the ability to search through listings with an IDX solution, or maybe enlighten your group about your community or neighborhood. However you do it, remember two important things: first is patience because it does not happen overnight; and second is consistency, so keep doing it until it works.
How to do it offline: It doesn’t matter if you cold call, door knock, tell people what you do at exercise class, or hand out your business cards. Remember what Seth Godin said was a brand when he talked about it as a memories, stories and relationships. So be sure to let your core values show through in a way that the people you are communicating with understand. You may be surprised that in this process where you are not trying to sell them something and instead giving them the benefit of your expertise that they really want, you have branded yourself and hopefully accomplished one really big result: you made yourself unforgettable in a positive way. Now that’s the joy of branding.
One more thing: Branding in this Internet age is social and it is a two way conversation often done in real time. So make sure that the conversation is open, and rather than pushing out real estate without permission, engage your audience with a benefit and a call to action on something of value. It is estimated that only five percent of Americans are ready to buy real estate at any given moment, so think about engaging the 95 percent, so when they do become the five percent, then the only brand that will matter is you.