San Diego Real Estate - What's in a Brand and Why We Each Need to have One.
There is a known generic class of real estate agents plus the Internet Empowered Consumer's stereotypical view of a real estate professional. For the most part, that stereotype lacks defining characteristics.
Despite perceptions to the contrary, most real estate agents are not well known throughout most their marketplaces. When it comes time to select a real estate professional, consumers have their own way (lacking specifics) of defining a difference and making a selection. But that defining difference between professionals is generally not affected by the real estate professional themselves, unless of course they have established a brand and are successfully marketing it and further that the particular consumers somehow identifies with it or seeks out the brand.
Creating a local reputation for most in the real estate industry comes mostly by default. So many practitioners in the real estate industry itself don't do a very good job of defining who they are or what their specialty is. And certainly have not established for themselves a brand.
Neighborhood specialists being the one marked exception, as consumers of certain neighborhoods are at least somewhat familiar with the agents that have been working their area. If the agents mail, drop-off flyers or calendars or have signs posted in the neighbor's yards, other neighbors may pay attention. But if there is not a pressing need, most of what they payed attention to is forgotten.
So what does that have to do with branding? Everything. Every perception, image, reputation about you ( true or untrue) becomes a part of your brand. From your appearance, what car you drive, the kind of presentations you make, even including casual conversations, often as it might take place be in a grocery store. Even if you fail to define yourself, consumers will use what they have and add that to their own default general stereotype which was gleaned from their whatever prior experience they may have had.
Having your own "Brand" clearly puts you in control of of how others see you. It defines what your business is in clear and precise ways and breaks any preconceived stereotype that otherwise might be how you areperceived.
If you choose to make your brand more clear or might I add, to clearly define your brand, it takes more than picking a name and setting up a website and blog. Certainly more than mailings or dropping off calendars. Most agent still feel that they are being selected because of who they are and not just by the company they are associated with. Generally, most consumers could not name a real estate agent nor what company they are associated with.
I have spoken of niche marketing in prior posts and acknowledged that most professionals, out of a false fear of loss, mostly have avoided identifying themselves with a niche. They don't want to lose the "regular" business by pigeon holing themselves into one particular aspect of the industry or even a segment of the community.
For some reason, agents and brokers mostly allow consumers to draw their own inference as to their brand.
For instance, think in terms of image which could include your logo, unique marketing position, defined specialty ( niche), reputation, etc. These are some of the more important components of image. Agents do usually have some of these components of image in place but usually not all of them. When I mention image you might be thinking in terms of the photo on your business card, stationery or personal brochure with a logo, phone number, your photo etc. But the image I am referring to is the total package and that is more clearly defined as your brand. Many members here on ActiveRain are certainly the exception because many have defined their brand and have it well intergrated into their businesses but out in the field where we work, most agents don't have this set up or perhaps don't even see the need to do so. For instance, you might specialize in Condos. Does anyone know it? If your niche was Luxury Homes, do people owning Luxury homes know who you are or more importantly, do they know your brand? Most in the business can not answer that in the affirmative.
Is it any wonder then that not much noise is made when consumers admit their first impression is that most real estate professionals are pretty much alike.
If you want to stand out, establish yourself as a brand. That's a total packaging of yourself, your business,your team of other related professionals, your niche or specialty, your look, everything about you, all brought seamlessly together through your marketing efforts, especially your website(s) and blog. According to an expert that I have a lot of trust in, Michael Russer, dubbed Mr. Internet, if you make yourself the brand ( using your own name), you start out with a poor residual value assigned to the brand.
If you left the business and you are the brand, then there is no business once you leave. On the other hand, if you establish a real brand- not your name-and developed it to be consistent, well articulated and marketed it as such, when you leave the business, the brand can continue. In fact it has a real value. A brand can be sold , leased or even left to heirs that have no interest in pursuing a career in real estate. But they can own it none the less. An easy example for you to understand "brand" is the franchise you might be associated with. In my case, RE/MAX goes on, even if an owner dies, or the founder dies or even if the office I am with closes or changes location. It is marketed as a brand with a consistent, well articulated, well marketed approach that differentiates itself from its natural competitors.
But RE/MAX is not going door to door, RE/MAX doesn't have a neighborhood it specializes in , it doesn't have a relationship with past clients or future buyers. Strangely enough, you do, so you need a brand of your own. When you leave the business, someone can take your place with a well-defined brand. And it can last for a very long time and even control a significant segment of the market long after you went away.
It is significant in this day of Web 2.0 and the accelerating amount of technology, while creating an interconnectedness that we each define ourselves in terms of our brand. That is if we intend to stay in the business. If we fail to define ourselves in that way, we join with the countless others in the generic brand that doesn't have any defining characteristics for an Internet Empowered Consumer to select from.
" Don't just establish your business in the sand. When the tide goes out, it goes with it. Make your real estate business a brand. "
If you are Buying, Selling or Relocating to San Diego and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my San Diego Real Estate website and sign up for Listing alerts for your favorite San Diego Home and Condominium Property Searches.
I specialize in Single Family Homes and Condominiums throughout the coast and inland areas of San Diego. Some of the communities are La Jolla, University Town Center, Bay Park, Mission Valley, Pacific Beach, Scripts Ranch, Poway, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos,Carmel Valley and Solona Beach. If I didn't mention a city or community that you are interested in, just let me know and i will find you an expert for that community as well.
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Copyright 2009 William Johnson author of The Real Estate Text Book
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