As a real estate agent, what you really are is an entrepreneur. True, you work for a broker, but in reality, you’re building your own business from the ground up. This means you need to generate your own customers and create your own brand. The good news is it’s never too early to start. Branding is something you can work on even before you get your license.
Build Your Brand
No matter where you are in your career path, if you haven’t started building your own brand, now is the time. This means having a targeted approach to advertising, self-promotion, and community awareness. Before you tackle your own branding, take a look at what goes into the making of a great brand.
- Visual recognition: If you’re driving down the road and see a pair of golden arches up ahead, chances are you know which fast food joint you are heading for. The best brands are instantly recognizable at a quick glance. For real estate agents, this isn’t always easy, since you are restricted in what you can publish and promote based on the graphics of the broker. Each state also has guidelines on things like how prominent your name can be in comparison to the broker’s name and the company’s name, how large your picture can be on any signage, and so on. Check with your broker and the state to make sure any promotional materials are within the limits.
- Catchphrases: A catchy motto is always good, and if it’s short and sweet, it can go on everything from your business cards to coffee mugs and T-shirts. It should appear on every piece of advertising and every online post. Making it a hashtag is even better. Just make sure it means something and tells readers something about you.
- Uniformity and repetition: The way to really build a brand is by making sure people see you over and over. Online outlets include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Traditional options like print ads, street signs, and even billboards may work as well.
Your Online Presence and Branding
In today’s digital world, you’d be hard-pressed to succeed in any business without a social media effort and a good website. The key to making the most of these is to have a clear and consistent message across all platforms.
Start With a Website
If you don’t already have a business website, get one. An estimated 71 percent of all small businesses have their own website, and that number is climbing. Sadly, many only update their website on average once per year. This leaves stagnated information and slows down web traffic to those sites.
There are two keys to a successful website. First, make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Google reports that over half of all searches originate from a mobile device. If your site can’t keep up, you will lose business. Second, make sure your site is up to date and has fresh content on a regular basis. Every listing should be available with accurate and current information. When a property sells, you want that victory available for all the world to see. You also need more content than simple ads for listings. Blog posts help drive traffic to your site and also help with search engine page rankings. Photos of you or other company members in candid shots having fun or, better yet, volunteering in the community build public trust.
The Role of Social Media
There are a number of social media outlets you should be pursuing when it comes to establishing your online brand. YouTube is invaluable when promoting listings. Also consider videos with helpful hints on buying or selling, prepping a house or how to find a mover. These can be backed up with blog posts, and you can post or tweet about them while sharing the link.
Which Social Media Outlets Work Best
With so many options to choose from, how do you know where to put your time and money? The key is to look for which platforms have the demographics that most closely match your desired target audience. If you’re targeting millennials, Instagram has more average monthly users in the under-34 age range. As expected, Facebook has a more spread-out age demographic.
What to Do With Social Media
One of the most important things you can do with any social media account is to respond promptly and courteously to the public. This can range from the casual follow on Twitter to the disgruntled lister on Facebook. How you handle people is put on display for the world, and if they like what they see, they are more likely to become a client.
Don’t Ignore the Personal Approach
Just because your online presence and brand are rocking the internet, don’t think you can ignore the non-digital world. There are lots of things you can and should be doing to promote yourself and your brand that doesn’t involve social media. Work those open houses, get your name and image on street signs, and get to know your community.
Branding isn’t an overnight phenomenon where you can flip a switch and be instantly recognizable. It takes time, commitment, and a clear idea of who you are and how you want to run your business. Remember to use consistent messaging across all forms of digital and non-digital platforms. Take some time to decide what your brand is going to be about and then put your plans in motion. There’s no time to waste.