More and more agents every day seem to be looking towards some type of specialization as a way to:
- Gain a competitive edge over other agents in their marketplace, and
- Increase their value in the eyes of consumers (who have more information at their fingertips now than many agents did twenty years ago).
A growing number of agents are focusing their entire businesses on a very defined geographic area-- or on a particular type of property or type of client.
An even larger number are simply developing a “special area of expertise” within their current businesses.
Without a doubt, the most popular and common form of specialization in real estate is to become the local expert (or neighborhood expert or neighborhood specialist—the particular language doesn’t matter as much as the common focus).
As I’ve mentioned, there are considerable advantages to this (many more than most agents think, but that’s a post for another day).
There are also risks.
Whenever you decide you’re going to stand out from the pack by labeling yourself as “different,” or maybe even in some ways “better,” there will always be a few skeptics, and a few who will actually try to knock you down.
But there are ways to both profit and protect yourself… if you follow a few simple rules. (It’s worth mentioning that these rules apply whether you aim is to be the local expert or the historic home specialist or to promote yourself as working only with “buy and hold” style residential property investors.)
1) Limit the Claims You Make. (They Must Be Believable.)
There’s not really a hard and fast rule here about how “big” your claims should be (or not be), but they have to be believable. So, if you’re thinking of billing yourself, say, as the “expert” in Dallas, TX real estate, well… good luck with that.
If you’re going to credibly claim to be a local expert, you need to limit your claim in some logical way—maybe to a specific neighborhood of a few thousand homes or to a particular school district.
The same goes for other types of specialties. In some metro areas, which have many miles of oceanfront or lakefront property, even claiming to be a waterfront property expert may be far too broad. It’s best to go a little smaller than you’re comfortable with here than to stretch too much, since it’s fairly easy to “expand” your expertise later.
Of course, you do have to make sure that there are enough sales each year in the area or niche you’ve chosen, so that you have a reasonable chance of meeting your production goals (but that’s a different topic).
2) Share Interesting Stats and Little-Known Facts About Your Area (and Have Some Fun with It!)
Once you’ve settled on your area or niche, have some fun and start digging deep… and this should be fun, if you’ve chosen an area that you really like and are interested in.
Make a game of digging up little-known facts and local history, of monitoring media mentions, and of researching stats about your area that most other agents aren’t likely to have a clue about.
It’s your area. Own it!
By the way, this works especially well in conjunction with points #3 and #4, below, and produces great tidbits for sharing on social media.
This is also one way you can quickly discover if you’ve made a mistake about the area of town, or other specialty, you’ve chosen. If doing this type of thing feels brutal and boring, you should do yourself a favor and bow out now.
No potential amount of money or prestige is worth it, if you’re not very interested—or better yet, downright passionate—about what you’ve chosen to develop as an area of expertise.
And if you don’t have that interest or excitement about what you’ve chosen, the chances are very high that you’re not going to stick with it long enough, or focus on it intently enough, to really make it pay off for you anyway.
3) Demonstrate Your Expertise through Content Marketing.
Content marketing, such as blogging, allows you to share small “samples” of your expertise with prospective home buyers and home sellers. This also helps you to build authority (influence and respect) in your local marketplace or among your target market.
Even if you’re still learning about your specialty (and really, who isn’t?), just pick one narrow subject or topic, learn all you can, and write about it. Then pick another and another and another, and keep repeating the process.
And, of course, blogging isn’t the only form of content marketing. There are many. And for maximum reach and effect, you should ideally be using several forms. I talked a bit about some of these other types of content marketing, here:
4) “Borrow” Some Expertise and Authority by Interviewing Other Local Experts.
One of my favorite ways to create content is to interview other experts. There are a huge number of advantages to doing this, including:
• Getting your own questions answered,
• Getting other smart professionals to help create some content for you,
• Bolstering your authority in the marketplace through the “power of association,” and
• Positioning yourself as a comprehensive resource for your area or target market.
In fact, there are so many advantages to doing this I felt compelled to dedicate an entire post to it:
5) Freely Admit You Don’t Know Everything.
This one is huge. And it’s often one of the first and biggest mistakes of the “fake-it- till-you-make-it” proponents.
Do you know the person among the crowd discussing a subject who is usually the first to admit when they “don’t know” something about the topic?
The real expert! Often, it’s the fakers who expend a lot of time and energy trying to convince you that they know everything.
Typically, the more you learn about a subject, the more you realize how much more there is to learn than you ever thought there would be. And sometimes, more than you ever could learn. This is usually a humbling experience.
By the way, this is also good news!
No, I’m serious… And I’ll let you in on a little secret here.
A good part of demonstrating real expertise in something (and the respect and authority that can come with it) consists of three things:
- Knowing what you know and what you don’t know about the subject, and being honest about that (with yourself and with others).
- Knowing the right questions to ask when approaching a situation.
- Knowing where to look and who to ask to get the answers to those questions, if you’re not able to answer them yourself.
I’m betting that you can do that, and you can (and should) feel confident about it.
And guess what? When you appear calm and confident, prospects and clients feel calm and confident about you.
Follow these five tips, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving real authority status in your marketplace--- and all the profits and perks that come with it!
[Image #1, Credit: Tommy Schultz. Used with permission.]
[Image #2, Copyright Mark Anderson. Used under license.]
[Image #3, Credit]
Do you currently specialize in a particular part of your town? Or in a particular type of property or type of client?
Have you ever thought about developing a "special area of expertise?"