By Kaira Sturdivant Rouda
You’ve heard it before, but I’m going to tell you again: Real estate is no longer about you, the real estate agent, it’s now about the consumer. It’s time to take a hard look at your advertising. Stop talking to other Realtors with words and images that appeal to members of the industry and start focusing on advertising that resonates with your target audience.
Back in 2001, with the launch of Real Living, I was one of the few voices in our industry to advocate a consumer focus. Specifically, focusing on women, because they make or influence 91 percent of all home-buying decisions. From the 1990s to today, advertising has been “agent centric,” which meant there was a sea of sales-focused advertising with agents bragging about themselves at every turn and calling it “branding.”
Advertisements were riddled with headshots, glossy personal brochures and the Zillion Dollar Club. There was a lot about our accomplishments and a little about what consumers need or want. We even saw super-agents in television ads who could fly, straighten sidewalks and more. If you haven’t tossed all of that yet, head to a recycling bin. Those ads were about talking to other Realtors, not the consumer. It’s time to give up those old habits and find your true personal brand.
Only advertising messages rooted in your passions and your unique competitive advantage will break through the clutter and reach your target audience. What we as an industry really need to understand is not only the choices of advertising mediums available today — traditional, digital and mobile — but how to use them to build sustainable, differentiated consumer-valued brands. Each one of us is capable of doing this.
Advertising is the sum of all parts, the message and the medium. You need a message that resonates and you need to get real. Then, you can tackle the myriad of mediums out there and your message won’t get in the way of your services. The end result is that you’ll have more sales. I promise.
The Internet has fundamentally changed all industries. In the real estate industry, we have been better than most at attempting to adapt, and typically we continue to adapt quite well to the latest technology. Not all of the new bells and whistles out there are right for every agent, but some are perfect for you. With listings everywhere you look — Googlezillowtruliaorwhatever.com — consumers can get the information they need without a lot of work. They can find information about properties and about you. Your personal life and your business life aren’t distinct. Just Google yourself if you don’t believe me.
You have to make a decision and determine your unique message and your competitive advantage. The number of designations after your name is not enough, as most consumers do not know what all those acronyms mean, if they even care. This doesn’t mean designations and education aren’t important, it just means showing them off won’t help with a sale. What consumers do care about is your value proposition and your professional service. Who are you? Why should they pick you to trust with one of the biggest decisions of their lives?
So how do you create your true personal brand? All that you can do to create your brand won’t fit in this article, and I wrote a whole book about the process complete with a Real You Incorporated visualization chart to help you get organized. However, here are three tips to get you started.
First, you need to know your passions, and one of them better be real estate. Passions are your family, your hobbies, your sports, your community and your profession — the things that bring a spark to your eyes. Figure out your passions and write them down.
Next, I’d also recommend creating a brand/vision board. This is a trick of the marketing trade that has been around since the beginning of time. Grab magazines, your advertising — any visuals that will help you make your brand board. Next, create a board for your target customer. What does she like? Where does she shop, eat, live? You cannot be all things to all people anymore, but you can be the perfect real estate agent for the perfect client.
Once you have your vision/brand board together, and you’ve identified your passions, it’s time to convey them in your advertising. Grab all of your collateral. Print out your Web site, pull your print ads, etc. And, yes, if you still have them, pull out a couple personal brochures. What do these materials say to the customer you are trying to reach? Do any of these pieces convey the real you, the authentic, caring professional that you are? Self promotion is not personal branding. If it’s all about you, it’s not getting you anywhere.
Kaira Sturdivant Rouda is president of Real Living, a national franchise, and author of “Real You Incorporated.” She’s passionate about real estate entrepreneurs, her family and authentic marketing. For more information, Visit RealYouIncorporated.com Or Contact her at email@example.com.