I get it.
I understand that working for a national brand has advantages. Names like Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, and Century 21 go a long way in building trust for the consumer.
Aside from trust, there is a huge SEO benefit for real estate professionals, as these large companies often rank in the top of the search results in Google for highly sought after keywords. If you are on page 10 of the Google search results, your chances of being seen fall dramatically.
Ultimately, however, real estate professionals fall short when it comes to developing their own brand.
Hear me out.
Most, if not all, real estate agents are independant contractors. The companies many real estate agent work for are franchisees of a larger organization.
When asked who they work for, most real estate professionals will say XYZ Big Name company.
No. You actually work for yourself Mr. and Ms. Agent. The company is not your employer. You are an independant contractor.
So what does that mean for you as a real estate professional?
It means, simply, that you must build your own brand and your own brand awareness. You can't simply rely on the Big Boys to do it for you.
John Johnson is his own brand. Jane Smith is her own company. Both work within a larger structure.
Sure, John and Jane may not be able to formally start their own LLC right away, and form thier own company, but they should understand that they work for themselves, and no one else.
What to does this mean?
It means you have to put in the work to build your brand independent of who you work for. I use "work for" loosely here because, again, you are an independant contractor.
So what do you do. I'm going to discuss, rather briefly, brand identity and marketing your brand. There are tons of resources out there on both topics, hopefully this sparks your interest and you get sucked down the Google Wormhole.
And before you ask. . . Nope, I'm not some marketing firm trying to sell you anything. I'm just a property management company owner who likes to share lessons learned.
On to the first tip.
Identify Your Independant Brand Identity.
Identifying your identity is important for any real estate professional. Your brand identity drives who you are, what type of service you will provide, and how you will deliver that service to your clients and customers.
Brand identity is what will drive everything else about your business.
When you, or consumers, associate with a company, directly or indirectly, you take on that company's brand identity. Whether you like it or not. You have little or no say in what that identity is, how it is managed, or the strategic decisions that are made by the company.
Your identity becomes the identity of the company, the good and the bad.
While there are some good things about being associated with a larger company's brand identity, there are also some downsides to it. If the company has bad press, guess who also receives bad press? If the company shifts to ideas and philosophies that aren't in line with your business and personal thought process, guess who can't do anything about it.
Sure, you can move on to another company, but you end up in the same rat race of falling in line with that companies brand identity. Yes, you are the same real estate agent you were at the other company, but now, everyone identifies you as a XYZ Real Esatate Agent, who used to be with XYZ Real Estate Company.
It's even more confusing is for your past and future clients. Your clients recommend you to a friend by saying:
"Check out Michelle. She works for Easy National Real Estate."
The friend Google's you, and you now work for Easier National Real Estate.
While this might not seem like a big deal, we must realize that trust is based upon consistency. If potential clients see that you have gone from one place to another, one company to another, they may start to consider that you are just someone who is not completely satisfied. It's like a resume that reflects job hoping.
The good thing about job hopping is that it usually reflects increased responsibility, or an increase in pay. But most real estate agents jump from company to company, and still do the same exact thing they did at the other company. There is no increase in responsibility or pay. And their LinkedIn profiles reflect this.
This is not to say there is anything wrong with moving from company to company. Especially when you see something better. My point is that consistency is always better.
Building your independant brand identity allows you to be more in control of your professional development. It also gives you consistency that will never go away.
Market Yourself, More Than the Company You Work For
Marketing yourself may seem like common sense, but it is done infrequently, or incorrectly by most real estate professionals. Marketing yourself means that people associate you with the high degree of customer service, not the company you work for.
The go to real estate firm should be Katrina, not XYZ Real Estate.
There are no limits, under any state real estate laws, on you marketing yourself, even when you are part of another company. And if a company puts too many restraints on how you can market yourself, they are skirting the line on how you are performing your job, which walks a tightrope on if you are actually an independant contractor or not.
Now let's take a quick look at two examples of marketing, and who these statements benefit:
"I'm Lena. I'm a real estate agent, and I work for XYZ Firm. XYZ Firm has a history of providing the best service to the Fayetteville, NC real estate market. XYZ Firm has consistently been ranked as the top real estate company in the local market for 10 years. We do this by [fill in the blank]"
"Hi Mary, I'm Lena. Like the vast majority of real estate agents, I am an independant contractor for XYZ Firm. What this means is that XYZ Firm provides certain adminstrative tasks for me. Some of these tasks are mutually beneficial, while others are required by law. I work with XYZ Firm because it allows me to focus on my clients, and not have to worry about being bogged down with the mundane tasks. Honestly, whether I worked for XYZ Firm or not, I would still provide you with a high quality of service, and I do that by [fill in the blanks]. Here's my card. If you have any questions, you can visit my website or give me a call."
The first example pitches XYZ Firm. XYZ Firm gets all the marketing juice, and Lena is just a drone for XYZ Firm.
The second, pitches Lena. Lena is an independant contractor. Lena works for herself. Lena will provide you with great service regardless of whether or not she is at XYZ Firm. She is the firm, and XYZ Firm is her drone.
This is clarity in marketing for your client. They know who you are, and what you are about. They know you will take care of them, and that XYZ Firm is merely a conduit for THE CLIENT'S benefit.
The same marketing should be consistent across all of your professional platforms including your website, business cards, social media, and marketing material you send out.
Again, consistency is the key.
It's a Synergistic Relationship Between You and the Company
Your brand identity, nor the marketing of your brand, has to be in conflict with the brand of the company where you contract. Nor should it be.
You aren't promoting yourself at the expense of XYZ Firm. Nor should XYZ Firm consider you a threat.
Everything you do to promote your independant brand identity should be benefical to the company, just as the company's brand identity should be beneficial to yours.
In the event there is conflict, you may need to fly away on your own.
And don't be afraid to fly. It's not as scary as others may think.
Go Ahead and Get Started!!
It doesn't matter if you are a buyer or seller's agent or a property manager. Your goal should be to estabish who YOU are. The process isn't hard, but it is going to take a little critical thinking and planning.
Is your mind spinning yet? Hopefully it is.
Now go and get sucked into the Interweb, and start researching your independant brand identity and how you can market yourself.
Free your spirit, and clients will follow.
By the way. Share if you think it's relevant. Sharing helps out us small property management companies grow big and strong. Kind of like sharing your last bite of your meal with your kids.
P.S. We love to network. Send us a message, give us a call ,or stop on by if you are in the Fayetteville area.
The coffee is on us.
The Team at Linchpin Property Management
Linchpin Property Management
2529 Raeford Rd. Unit C-7
Fayetteville, NC 28305
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