“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
In my first post on marketing strategy, I opined on how many real estate agents’ sabotage their approaches to self-marketing with a lack of strategic planning. More than just a budget, or a pledge to boosting the ego through Facebook ‘likes,’ a marketing strategy is a process. It starts with a foundation rooted in identity – your brand identity.
When I speak on brand identity, I like to focus on identifying the unique selling proposition, or USP. Marketers use this term to describe the defining factor that differentiates a product or service among competitors to the clients or consumers they’re hoping to capture. What separates you from the rest of the industry should become the basis of your entire marketing strategy. In a field crowded by agents who offer the same services (albeit with a wide spectrum of professionalism and value), finding your unique selling proposition becomes that much more important.
Here’s an example of a successful unique selling proposition: “The top listing agent for single-family homes in [your neighborhood here].”
A less effective unique selling proposition: “A passion for selling in the city of [your metropolis].”
While the second statement might seem a more pithy, professional summary, it fails in differentiating the agent’s brand from any of thousands of others in the region. (It should also be noted that the USP is not the same as a slogan, but a good USP will often serve as the basis for one.)
The first example will keep the attention of a narrow demographic; the second statement will apply to a broader audience, but will resonate with even fewer. Some may have the budget and local recognition to chase a larger segment of the market than my first example; however, the broader the market segment you’re chasing, the more difficult it will be to find a differentiating element within your business, and the costlier the mistake will be if you fail in your efforts.
So what if your business doesn’t have a unique selling proposition, or worse yet, you can’t think of one that your business could occupy? There are two exercises that agents can use to identify one:
Your Quintessential Sale
This is not a strict exercise, but simply reducing your competition to a neighborhood makes it easier for you to stand out than if you’re marketing to an entire city (against an entire city’s worth of agents). You can then create a unique selling proposition within that neighborhood’s housing market, eventually becoming the neighborhood agent when you’re primed to expand.
Your Quintessential Client
Try to put a face on the client you typically work with. Are your clients wholesale investors, young renters or white collar professionals looking to purchase their first homes? What are their desires, and ambitions?
Consider what they look for when choosing a business partner; is it instant communication, a similar educational background or a steep discount? (This exercise is also helpful in considering what media they consume, which will come in handy down the line in constructing your marketing strategy.) Knowing your typical client well will help you understand your business’s identity, which is to say your unique selling proposition.
If neither of those exercises helped you identify your unique selling proposition, don’t be concerned; there are other attributes that one can align with their brand to create distinction from your competitors. For instance, I’ve met agents whose unique selling proposition is a love of horses, and they found that networking in their local equestrian circles proved a profitable entry into the luxury market.
Above all, it’s best to be sincere about the space that your business occupies. As the basis of your entire marketing strategy, it will stay there for some time.
Aaron Woodman has sold more than $200 million in real estate assets and has managed a portfolio of more than 1,600 multifamily units, working for several large property management companies as well as for EXIT Realty and Keller Williams Realty. Recently, he has focused his efforts on using his breadth of experience to act as a consultant for a variety of real estate businesses, including individual residential brokers across the country, national property management firms and real estate technology start-ups.