To stand out from the rest of the competition, real estate agents and brokers must create a brand identity that resonates with homebuyers and sellers.
To establish your brand identity as a real estate professional requires more than just putting the word out in your community that you have your license and are open for business. It’s about showcasing your expertise. What kinds of properties do you specialize in? Are you a native of the city you work in and know every neighborhood by heart? The answers to questions like these will become part of your brand identity — and ultimately your success as a real estate agent.
Let’s take a closer look at how to brand yourself as a real estate professional.
What is real estate branding?
Branding is a multifaceted marketing strategy designed to create a business identity that will resonate with a particular audience by meeting their needs and appealing to their emotions. Real estate branding is the intentional positioning of your real estate business in a way that establishes a sense of trust with your target audience of property buyers and sellers.
The importance of real estate business branding
All real estate agents and brokers are involved in the same type of business transaction: the purchase or sale of a property. Therefore, your brand identity needs to go further than simply letting would-be clients know that you specialize in either residential or commercial real estate negotiation. You must dig deeper into your expertise in real estate to find your unique selling proposition: What is it that you do better than/differently from the rest of the agents and brokers in your area?
Here are some specialties or niches that can help real estate professionals stand out from their competition:
– First-time homebuyers.
– Vacation homes.
– Luxury listings.
– Estate sales.
– Industry-specific commercial real estate, like medical or dental offices.
– Downsizing empty nesters.
– Investment properties and 1031 exchanges.
– Out-of-state purchases.
– International real estate.
– Multi Family homes.
– Foreclosures and short sales.
These are just some of the many ways in which real estate professionals can focus their expertise to create and promote their brand. Ultimately, you want to become synonymous with your real estate specialty so that you become the first and only call that a buyer or seller makes.
How to create your real estate branding ecosystem
Branding is a complex business strategy, but it should also include the flexibility to make adjustments and try new ideas in your marketing outreach to your target audience — as well as ensure that you are in compliance with your real estate agency’s branding guidelines.
If you own your own small, independent agency, you will likely have more leeway in how you brand your business. However, if you are an individual agent who is part of a larger agency, you must stay within the agency’s marketing guidelines whenever you promote yourself as an affiliated agent, be it on social media or other marketing platforms.
To keep would-be clients from choosing a competitor — or even worse, hanging up a “For Sale By Owner” sign instead — you need to make your real estate brand irresistible. Real estate agents who are successful in doing this use a combination of tried-and-true techniques in addition to digital strategies. Here are some examples:
There’s a reason “For Sale” lawn signs are still used in the real estate business: They are effective. Even in the digital era, there is nothing more instantly recognized than a “For Sale” sign with a real estate logo on it. Even if you have the most robust digital branding strategy, the lawn sign is still the traditional way real estate agents show that they are open for business.
Of course, the more “For Sale” signs you have up all over town, the better. The signs are not only advertising your brand, but they are also offering proof that clients are putting their faith in you to sell their home. When town residents notice that home after home is being listed with your real estate agency, they will make the assumption that you are good at selling homes. But there’s something that people will notice even more than a “For Sale” sign: the “Sold” sign that indicates the end of a successful real estate transaction.
Direct mail marketing has not been rendered extinct in the age of social media. It certainly still has its place in the real estate industry, where potential clients are spread out over multiple generations, each with their own preferences for receiving advertising communications.
Of course, it goes beyond simply assuming that the older generations like traditional advertising whereas the younger ones prefer digital promotion. It’s important to remember that starting the process of buying or selling a home is not usually an instantaneous decision for the consumer.
That’s why it helps to distribute marketing collateral that has staying power like direct mail. A promotional mailing from a real estate agent touting a hot seller’s market can give homeowners the nudge they need to put their homes up for sale. They may hold onto the mailing with your contact information until they need it, or perhaps pass it on to someone who already does.
Postcards are one way to announce yourself to the neighborhood as a real estate agent or broker. It’s best to keep these simple with your name, phone number, agency website, and a few phrases about your real estate specialty — think of it as an oversized business card. Business card magnets can also work, as can small magnetic calendars that are convenient and appeal to those who might not always have a phone or tablet nearby.
Don’t assume that direct mail has a direct path into the trash or recycling bin. For real estate agents in particular, this is one type of traditional promotion that should not be overlooked.
It goes without saying that any branding strategy needs to have social media marketing at the forefront. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or any other digital platform, you need to convey the message “I am here to help you sell your home.” Try to secure the same handle across all social media channels to ensure consistency. If you can’t, make sure that your name or your company’s name is searchable so people can still find you easily.
Social media is a worthy experiment for any target audience because you can run organic campaigns for free. Optimize your posts with relevant hashtags and keywords to reach more of your intended audience. However, know that the infamous social media algorithm will only allow you to get so far with organic campaigns. At some point you should consider running paid social campaigns, such as Instagram or Facebook ads, to reach more people, especially around the time of your open houses.
Social media does not take the place of a business website, and this is particularly true for real estate. If you are working with a small real estate agency, you don’t have to have the most complex of websites — even a simple landing page gives a company the gravitas needed for consumers to know they’re dealing with a professional enterprise.
Of course, a more robust website is key when it comes to presenting current real estate listings. Many agency websites tap into the active multiple listing service (MLS) feed that gives site visitors access to the current market in real time.
While not everyone will — or even wants to — become reality TV stars like Barbara Corcoran on Shark Tank or Ryan Serhant on Million Dollar Listing, there is no doubt that their appearances in front of a national audience have boosted their personal brands as experts in real estate and investing.
What is your brand personality? Do you have your picture on the “For Sale” sign so that you are the literal face of your business? Do you go live on Instagram for your open houses to attract a larger audience? Are your social media posts a mixture of business and personal content? Remember that real estate is driven by relationships. If people connect with you on a personal level, they are more likely to want to do business with you.
If you want to grow your real estate business, you have to set yourself apart from your competitors. A real estate branding strategy will help you establish yourself as an expert in the field and help you connect on a personal level with buyers and sellers.