Our industry has always been fiercely competitive – and it’s only getting tougher for agencies and individuals to stand out from the crowd.
The digital age has provided infinite possibilities to market ourselves and communicate with the masses - but it shouldn’t be our only branding strategy.
Building a successful personal brand is so much more than just throwing an ad in the newspaper, having your face featured on the local bus stop or creating a Facebook page. Interpersonal relationship and 'old school' networking still form an essential part of building a strong personal and corporate brand.
Here are some tips for brand building in an increasingly competitive world.
Go Niche. Focus on a certain customer demographic or segment of the market that is under targeted in your area. As an example, when I first started out in the industry I saw that there was more demand from national investors for properties in my region than there was from the local marketplace. By tapping into targeted marketing avenues I was able to maximise the town’s exposure and attract a larger buyer's market.
Specialise. Trying to do too much, offering too many services or trying to service large areas can result in a dilution of standards and effectiveness. Aim to be amazing at one or two core focuses, rather than just ‘ok’ at many.
Focusing on your niche and finding innovative and quirky new ways to deliver value and leave an impression on your clients means they will talk to their network about your unique points of difference.
Embrace the digital world but don’t forget the power of ‘old school’ networking. Before email, Facebook and iPads, industry heavyweights made their mark by networking old school style: face to face. Fostering relationships through face to face interaction is still rated as being one of the best sources of direct and indirect business - leading to clients, business partnerships, charitable and community collaborations which all help drive visibility and connections in your local area.
Make the best use of your networking time. Prioritise your time but don’t discount or dismiss people who you don’t immediately think will be valuable to your business and brand. Every daily contact has value. In even the briefest of interactions, showing genuine interest and leaving a lasting impression is the objective – you never know where it may lead in the future. A general rule I follow is to listen more, talk less and offer to help others where you think you can, even if you don’t see an immediate return.
One of my best referring customers was an elderly lady who had lived in my local area for over 40 years. Each year she would call me round for an appraisal and each year she would tell me that she would never sell and just wanted an update on the market. It turned out she knew everyone in town and would send every single person she spoke to in my direction!
People will remember the impression you made on them long after they forget your pitch. Be mindful to treat everyone with the same level of respect, whether they represent immediate business or not.
Tap into the local community. Organising and supporting charity events in your local community and involving the local media is a great cost effective way to gain exposure for your brand and build strong connections with key local business, government and community stakeholders.
These events are not opportunities to hand out cards and ‘talk shop’. Interact, involve yourself and connect with leaders and community members in a way that will leave a positive impression. As the relationship evolves, opportunities will present themselves and your ‘investment of time’ will pay off.
Be the talk of the town: To really maximise and grow your brand rapidly work on being the talk of the town by accessing local networks. Offering your support to local organisations and key community contributors and influencers – local radio, church leaders, sporting coaches etc – can open doors and will keep you front of mind for prospective partnerships, network referrals and recommendations. Showing support – financially, by volunteering or otherwise - for local organisations that are meaningful to you and your employees, friends and family ensure your generosity is genuine.
Community leaders and groups have wide reaching networks and regularly share advice and recommendations with their members. Be the first person that comes to mind when they think 'property'.
Building your personal brand and loyal following takes time and needs to be nurtured to ensure the end result is in line with your values, personality and style. Treat every interaction inside and outside the workplace as an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on people and watch your brand and reputation grow exponentially.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Crawford has been involved in the property investment industry for over 10 years, making the transition from investor to real estate professional. His agency, Crawford Property Group (CPG), was recently named the fastest growing real estate company in Australia by BRW’s Fast Starters Awards. CPG was also a finalist for Independent of the Year at the inaugural 2013 Australian Real Estate Awards. Social media has been a key element of CPG's business development strategy since the group launched in 2008. CPG's Facebook page recently hit 30,000 likes and has become one of its primary sources of new business.