A guide for independent real estate agents that reveals a few secrets for developing and growing a successful real estate brand.
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Drive into any town, be it along the main drag of shops, or along suburban streets and you’re likely to see a sign for a real estate agency.
Now I’m a branding consultant and I’ve been working with real estate agents in particular for the past 2-3 years in Australia - you can see some of my latest branding work here. Some clients have been part of national franchises while others are independent agencies. In that time I’ve come to understand what many of you do and don’t do (if you are a real estate agent) to compete in your market, sell your client’s homes for the best price possible and maintain a steady rent-roll.
Some do it exceptionally well, while others tick the necessary boxes and while there’s no 100% fool-proof road to success, there are a few secrets I want to share, to help you grow your business and become the go-to brand in your town or region.
So this guide is for you if you’re an independent real estate agency (or thinking of starting your own) and these secrets relate to developing and growing your brand with branding and marketing. But before I start, I want to take you through a few key terms that are the foundation of developing and growing any brand.
A captivating moment of connection.
This is my definition of what a brand is. A brand is a midpoint between your business and consumers that captivates their attention to connect with your business, buy from you and remember you as their go-to brand. This also applies to your business and your team - your brand is the midpoint between both to form an understanding of what the business is there to achieve and support a culture your team will thrive in, which will in turn, help your business and brand thrive.
All of this is developed from clarity. This is why my definition of branding is:
To create captivating moments of connection from clarity.
Branding is the act of understanding what the brand stands for internally and who it is connecting with externally from clear communication (visual and messaging) informed by strategic positioning (what you want to be remembered for).
Now all of that was ridiculously wordy and potentially jargony. But the words are intentional and really do apply to your real estate brand as this is the secret to developing a strong brand.
So to put it into context for you as an independent agency, I’m going to break this guide into three parts to offer you a few secrets that lead to brand success.
CLARITY, CAPTIVATE & CONNECT
Let’s start with CLARITY.
When you started your agency, you’ve placed yourself in a town that has a geographic territory you can service and I know for a fact that even if you’re in the middle of nowheresville, you’ve got competitors in town. Which means you’re vying for the attention of property owners and investors. But which property owners or which investors?
To answer this requires clarity. Getting clarity of your brand comes down to three things:
Knowing who your most viable market(s) are and what they need
Knowing how to get under their noses, in front of the competition, and
Knowing what you’ll then do to position your brand as a go-to choice
In other words, know thy customer like the back of your hand.
To achieve the first point, put simply, research existing property market statistics, identify all the types of sellers/investors/renters and property types into segments, then choose the most viable segment(s) to target your efforts towards and list out their needs/wants either by asking them. In terms of asking, you can turn to past clients or do a bit of market research surveys in your community.
Because if you can do that, you’ll then identify where and how to get under their noses and position your brand as the go-to choice. This is where CAPTIVATE and CONNECT next come in.
To CAPTIVATE is to draw in your consumer’s attention and let’s say in this case, it’s to attract property owners looking to sell their properties. But how do you do that?
Well, here are three ways you can do that:
Use brand colours that are distinctively unique to competitors. So if one uses red and the other uses yellow for their brand colours, you could use blue. It may sound simple, but being known as the only blue real estate agent in town may serve you well, to be remembered for that. Colour is the first thing we see and if your consumers can’t recognise and remember you for a colour (or colours) because you’re using similar colours to other agencies, it might be time to change them.
Your property billboards are more than just a board to say you’re the one selling that property. The more billboards potential sellers see posted around town, the more they are likely to believe you’re a go-to choice if so many others have chosen you. Sure you can’t just put billboards on properties if you’re not selling or renting them, but you can put billboards and signage in other places to be constantly seen which is where marketing your brand comes into play. This isn’t rocket science, but the point is that if those boards aren’t present, easily visible and highly distinguishable for a consumer to identify your brand when driving past, then you really need to relook at designing a captivating sign to be noticed and remembered. The same goes for any type of media. The more you show up, the more opportunities you have to captivate attention, even if they don’t need your services right now. Those efforts pay off over time when they do need what you have to offer.
My dad once told me that presentation is 9/10ths of the battle. This is why what you wear and how you present yourself can also captivate attention and set the tone for the type of service you’re going to deliver. It’s no coincidence that agents who sell multi-million dollar properties show up in expensive, well-designed and tailored attire. So how you present yourself in addition to how your own demeanour is communicated can capture attention and affirm their choice to work with you. Because a well put together presence can instil confidence in your services. Especially when it’s one of the most significant financial events consumers engage in, your consumers are looking for the right people on their side that look like they know what they’re doing upon first impressions and ultimately deliver on that perception.
These are just three examples of many, but in essence, you want these first impressions to count so that your consumers are confident in your brand before connecting and engaging your services. It’s why the real estate franchise brands that have been established for many years succeed at attracting the most consumers. Because the more times a consumer is exposed to your brand, the more likely they are to think of you as a go-to choice and think of you first.
It's true that bigger agencies have the advantage of a perception consumers will have that makes them think they're more competent, trustworthy or better just because they're a well-known name nationally and have a well put together brand that instils confidence at first glance.
However, you and I both know that who you're actually competing with are just franchise owners, not brand owners. Just because they have a reputable name, doesn't mean they have a reputable service as a franchisee. You have the advantage to put your personality into your brand and offer a unique brand experience. As you can put your brand out there in ways others can't without getting a slap across the knuckles. Let alone not needing to pay someone else to be the face of their brand.
But without clarity to begin with, outdoing your competitors by creating these captivating moments isn't going to be as strategically appropriate to the types of sellers you hope to attract and then connect with.
For example, let’s say it’s retiring couples who are downsizing in their late 60s-70s. Are they going to be on TikTok like as a 30 y.o. seller might? Probably not. So you can captivate their attention elsewhere when marketing your brand in the places they are likely to be exposed to your brand and even appreciate what they see, hear or watch. Which is the reason for getting your brand and marketing plan in place.
The one caveat to mention is that while you may captivate a property owner now, they may not want to sell their property at that time. However, the more impressions created, especially if done consistently by getting them into your network of contacts to offer value to over time, the more likely those property owners are going to think of you first WHEN they need your services and want to connect.
A big part of what makes a real-estate brand so successful is the long-term CONNECTIONS you make with your consumers.
For brands in other industries, it might be repeated consumer experiences that develop these connections. Or it could be immediate connections from upfront value that give your consumers a quick win or insight into what they are hoping to achieve to make an emotional connection that leads to a buying/selling decision.
Just like the last two points, here are 3 ways you can achieve this:
Showing up as an agent goes beyond open for inspections and being in your office when needed. There is a great opportunity to reach and connect with ideal consumers in many ways that can help generate new leads and create a reputation as a person your audience can connect with, which is something a logo can't do. Which is an advantage you have as an independent agent over a franchise brand agent. Many consumers only see the corporate franchise brand and that franchisee agent needs to align with the corporate identity. Whereas you have the opportunity to sink your personality and life into the connections you make with those you can serve that also genuinely aligns with the brand you put out there. This means getting on camera to generate video content for your site and on social media. Be directly available on social media in direct messages. Show up at and host events. Or even host a podcast. This availability can help create connections prior to a consumer even meeting you and help them make their decision based on the confidence they have in your character, let alone your services.
When you do show up, offer some value. Rather than just touting sales figures in your Instagram content, develop an experience of moments a consumer can benefit from to help inform their decision to choose you over others. This could include helpful tips in your social media content with videos of your team explaining them. Or holding community events that relate to real estate in a specific or general way and give attendees something to walk away feeling positive and informed. You could even have guest speakers, food, giveaways and entertainment. Just a few ideas there. The best part is that you can even make content that isn’t directly talking about property. For instance, you could make a podcast about wine and have existing clients sit down for a chat about their experience with your team, their favourite wine and more about them and what they do that might be of value to your audience. As this might help you connect with audiences on a different level that other agents aren’t.
Testimonials can be gold when a consumer is comparing their options of agents to choose from. It’s why we have Rate My Agent here in Australia and other rating systems for agencies where past consumers can relay their experiences for others to feel just as confident as those who have successfully used your services. Especially if positive reviews outweigh the perceived greatness of other long-established brands and even market-leading sales stats that might not paint the full picture. You know the ones I'm talking about who just sell like crazy at any prices so long as they make their quotas. So take comfort in the weight of the words others have to say about your brand, as they can make a tremendous impact on more sellers and investors choosing your agency over others. For that reason, it's why you should never forget about the experience you deliver for your renters. Sure they might not be buyers, but if you do offer a great experience to them, think about their network of family, friends and colleagues, as they might be the people who refer your brand to those who are selling or wanting to invest in property. Additionally, they can also be advocates for your brand that leave positive reviews for buyers, investors and sellers to see that you take care of ALL your consumers.
Each of these suggestions not only influences the relationships you can develop with your consumers, before, during or after engaging with you. But they also become memorable brand moments that are shared with others. As it leads to creating greater confidence in your business to help sellers, investors, buyers and renters, make a more informed decision as a result of you being a brand that took the time to create captivating moments of connection as a result of clarity.
Where the value comes in
Knowing who you’re targeting saves unnecessary time and money trying to be for everyone and marketing to everyone. As you grow your market presence you can and should definitely target as many consumers as possible, but it does pay to direct your attention at particular segments available to you.
For example, if you know which properties you are best at selling, you can do letterbox drop leaflets in a more targeted manner at those types of properties, rather than dropping them into every letterbox you can.
As I said before, it isn’t to say that you shouldn’t mass market to everyone. But if you are a relatively new agency, chances are your budget for marketing and advertising is going to be lower. So it’s an idea to go a little more narrow with a target market that saves you time and budget to connect with them and is of course, viable for your business to succeed. Then of course, as you grow bigger, you can expand your market wider if needed, or even specialise to command a reputable standing amongst your ideal consumers.
When it comes to investing in branding and marketing, your budget and time investment can be determining factors. However, the return on investment in real estate can be significantly profitable in the short and long term depending on how well you get your branding and marketing on point.
For example, imagine this scenario if it all went to plan:
The initial brand identity investment is $10,000 (my typical starting fee for branding)
The new branding targets and helps attract 5 sellers to sell their property with your agency.
Your average commission is $20k per property sold (with none of that going to a corporate office I might add, given you’re an independent agency).
5 sales happen at your average sale price in just 12 months (in addition to the rest you typically sell).
The ROI = $90,000 (900%) from those 5 property sales, let alone the many years after when your branding and marketing continue to attract sellers and investors, to sell or manage their property with you.
Even if your new branding alone only attracted 2 more sellers that successfully sold with you, you've still doubled your money.
How I can help
Gaining clarity, creating captivating moments and developing connections with consumers are what I do for independent real estate agents like you.
I can help you develop your brand strategy, which is understanding who your consumers are, how to position your brand and what to do next to achieve that.
I can help you develop an identity, which includes your colours, logo, voice, messages and personality.
And I can also help you roll all this out by marketing your business to get your brand under the noses of your consumers with touchpoints and experiences such as website, signage, brochures, stationery, digital content, events, podcasts and more. So that I can help you connect with more consumers over time to help you develop and grow a brand that helps you achieve greater business success.
So if now is the right time and you want help to successfully develop a new brand or refresh an existing one with a clear direction to take you in, say g’day today to schedule a call with me and grow your brand tomorrow!