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Don’t sell yourself short: Branding tips for real estate agents

Filed in Tips, Tricks, and Things to Know — September 20, 2023

Hello, fam. It’s September, school is back in session, pumpkin spice season is almost here, and I’m catching up on some of my favorite HGTV shows (No Demo Reno and Home Town, I’m looking at you).

I love the process of renovating, staging, and selling a home – I’m pretty sure that makes me an oddity, but it usually stays in the world of theoretical remodeling and purchasing, so my husband is fine with it.

I do find myself reading real estate listings often – both on real estate platforms and on social media. But, today’s blog isn’t about how to write the perfect real estate listing (though, if I had to comment on that subject, I would ask that the ALL CAPS LISTING be banned forever). No, today’s blog isn’t on how to sell a property – it’s on how to sell your services.

So, all of my friends in the real estate profession, please pull up a chair to the kitchen island. Are you comfy? Ok, let’s talk about your professional brand.

First, I want to acknowledge that a lot of your business comes from word-of-mouth and recommendations. In 2022, Riz Media reported that 82% of all real estate transactions come from referrals and previous clients. But that doesn’t mean that a digital presence isn’t helpful in bolstering your offline marketing efforts. Quite the opposite! Social media content can go a long way toward bringing your services (and your listings) to a new audience.

In fact, research shows that 90% of real estate agents use social media to promote their listings and 41% buyers start their home search online. So, if aren’t using social media to promote your brand, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to reach an even larger audience with your messaging.

If you’re already using social media to promote your listings, I’m going to point you to my recent blog article on personal versus business social media accounts. I encourage you to read it, but the TLDR version is this: it’s important to have business-specific social media accounts. Trying to conduct your business through your personal social media profiles can make successful marketing of your listings (and your services) even harder.

And, finally, if you have your own website, I encourage you to do an annual review of your design and content. Outdated photos, old content, or a clunky design could imply that you don’t pay attention to detail and aren’t up on trends – both of which can scare away potential buyers and sellers.

Now that we’ve got you set up on social media and you’ve scheduled an audit of your website, let’s talk about your brand. Not the branding your agency uses, if you’re with a national realty group – though, that’s important, too – but your personal professional brand. Because, yes, it’s important that you establish your brand as an agent. (If you have questions about the importance of having a brand or what that means, check out the blog post here.)

In order to get you thinking along the right lines, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

What is my specialty?

Granted, you probably do a little bit of everything, but identifying an area in which you are especially experienced can help land clients who are on the fence. Have you worked with a lot of first-time homebuyers? You may want to market yourself as a guiding hand in that space. Someone looking to buy their first home may find that reassuring in an overwhelming and unknown process. Handle a lot of luxury properties? High dollar buyers may see you as a fellow member of an exclusive club and find that similarity just the thing that steers them your way.  Whatever that experience may be, leaning into it can help define your brand and make you stand out.

What differentiates me from other agents?

Successful brands are those that stand apart from everyone else for a product, service, or experience that is unique. Your differentiator could be that specialty that you answered in the exercise above, but unless you have a super specific specialty, that’s probably not enough. What is it that you do – or could do – that makes you unique among agents?  Perhaps you provide a post-purchase bottle of champagne that your clients can enjoy celebrating their new home. Or maybe you supply first-time home buyers with a moving checklist once they are under contract so that they can prepare for the big move. Or maybe you provide out-of-town buyers with a list of the best pizza places in town along with a gift card to the one your family frequents once the closing is over.

Again, doing something unique that makes you stand out and shows your clients that you value them can go a long way to help you manage your brand. (Just make sure that your gifts fall within state and federal gift giving guidelines.)

How do I make my clients feel special?

Remember how we said 82% of real estate transactions happened because of connections the agent had with their client? I’d be willing to bet a lot of those happened because the agent made the buyer or seller feel like the sale mattered. The client felt heard, and the agent made them feel valued. While the goal of a real estate transaction is to buy or sell a property, the human component shouldn’t be forgotten. If you made your client feel like their home purchase (or sale) didn’t matter to you as their agent, they won’t be calling you for the next one.

As you focus on each of these questions, you can start to define your professional brand. Your answers will begin to inform how you speak about the services you provide and the properties you handle. These may all feel like table stakes to you, in which case, you’re already built your brand and all you have to do is manage it.

However, if this exercise has made you start to think about how you market yourself a little bit differently, I encourage you to take some time to work through a branding exercise. A cohesive brand concept can help you in ways you may not have considered. And, you never know… once you’ve launched your professional brand, we could see you on HGTV, too!

(If you have questions about establishing or refining your professional brand, feel free to reach out – I’d love to hear from you!)