In such a saturated digital space how do you ensure your brand stands out from the crowd? Modern branding strategies can future-proof your brand - here are three expert methods that will help you stay ahead of the real estate pack.
Branded content, affiliate marketing, Google Adwords, Facebook boosts… the pervasiveness of advertising in today’s digital space is staggering. From clickbait headlines to social media influencers infiltrating feeds, today’s consumers are both incredibly informed and increasingly able to ignore the noise.
This direct access to information puts customers completely in charge of their purchasing decisions. Search a commercial real estate agency and get 10 reviews; google for a local residential real estate agent and choose one whose profile appeals the most. Gone are the days of flyer drops and newspaper advertising. To stay ahead of the real estate pack it’s your brand that is going to get you to the top of the pile.
It’s never been easier to set up a brand. Grab yourself a Facebook page, retweet a few influential posts and you’re away. But as Aaron Keller, managing principal at Capsule recently wrote: “Starting up is easy, but getting through is harder.”
With millions of inexpensive, unreliable brands coming and going every day, this shift in information to the digital arena has brought with it an overall mass distrust for brands. They have lied, failed consumers, and pretended to be something they aren’t… and digital media has called their bluff. Consumers are becoming tired of the duplicity, preferring not to trust anyone until they have proven their worth.
So what can you do as a real estate agency to ensure your brand is the one they choose to trust with their most important investment – their property?
1. Build trust in your real estate agency
84 per cent of people trust peer-to-peer recommendations, and word of mouth can drive up to 200x more sales than one paid media impression. This backs the theory that, even in a digital world where information is everywhere, people place their trust in each other as opposed to strangers or an unknown product.
This trust is especially relevant to real estate agents – your reputation is directly affected by the trust that past, present and prospective clients place in your services.
Erik Schoppen's Build Bridge Bond®, a methodology that is designed to create strong brands, purports that trust is supported by three core pillars:
Promise – you do what you promise to do.
Purpose – your brand values align with the customers.
Participation – what was the customer’s experience of the brand.
Central to this is the active involvement of the consumer who bridges the gap between the pillars. By ensuring these three pillars are in place and working, your brand will sustainably grow and this trust will power your sales.
Rebekah Mackay Miller, UK managing director of TRND, explains the benefit of customer reviews: “[client recommendations] produce authentic content, ensuring your brand story continues to be told in the real world.” …
“This collaboration between brand and consumer, and the subsequent trust it cultivates, is the future of brand management.” – Rebekah Mackay Miller
Your brand is dependent on nurturing long-lasting relationship with clients and the local community, and being known as a trusted real estate agency. Instill the three core pillars in your brand and trust will follow.
2. Communicate your brand with intention and focus
Throwing information out into the ether hoping that someone picks it up and engages with your content just isn’t going to cut it. Instead, have a reason for doing what you are doing and always ensure that content reflects your brand. Rather than shout en-masse to the digital world, start looking to local communities or groups and offer potential vendors something everyone else isn’t. Find the people who might be interested in advice and comment from a local commercial real estate agent or residential real estate agent, and meet them in their world.
The fabulous thing about the digital space is that it offers one-on-one communication – you can talk directly to potential clients. If you share something that interests them and that content is peppered with your branding, they will get to know you and begin to trust you. Aaron Keller explains: “Every brand has moments when people interact with their service, product or offering.”
“Finding the right moments and designing those for the people you have in mind is critical.” – Aaron Keller
3. Turn your real estate agency into a ‘lovemark’ brand
Ex-Saatchi & Saatchi executive chairman, Kevin Roberts, believes that modern marketing success lies in creating ’lovemarks’ which, in an interview with CMO Magazine, he describes as ‘highly-evolved brands dedicated to engaging emotionally’. These lovemarks create relationships that are loyal and long lasting – think Vegemite, Qantas, or Tim Tams. Kevin Roberts believes that these lovemarks are the future beyond brands, as he said: “This is the change. Reason leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action.”
His formula for success is IQ+EQ+TQ+BQ, with all being powered by CQ:
IQ: You have to be smart.
EQ: You need emotional dexterity.
TQ: Tech is an enabler not a trap.
BQ: you better be bloody quick, because execution is 80 per cent of the game.
And the whole equation is fuelled by CQ.
CQ: the power of creativity.
Although these methods are all relating to generic marketing and branding situations, in real estate terms they are all incredibly pertinent, and these methods can be applied to both residential real estate agents and commercial real estate agents alike. Finding new, innovative ways to differentiate yourself from the competition is the key to success, whatever the field. And this differentiation begins (and ends!) with your brand.