For the final day of Placester’s Branding Lab, we sat down with Katie Clancy, a 12-year real estate agent veteran, and listened to her tried-and-tested tips for building a great brand. Katie’s insights will help you take all the guessing out of branding so you can get it right the first time.
Figuring Out Your Unique Brand
During our conversation with Katie, we discussed a key challenge that a lot of real estate professionals struggle with: finding your own identity. Like many new agents, Katie was taught a cookie-cutter approach to how the business is done. In order to be successful, Katie was assured that she had to prospect, sell, and build her real estate business a certain way. The problem with that approach was it masked everything that made Katie unique. And as a result, Katie struggled to win new business while pretending to be someone she wasn’t.
Eventually, however, Katie figured out her formula to success. Her “ah-ha” moment came from having conversations with other successful real estate agents, who told her that the only way to survive in real estate is by being “the best you you can be.” Agents are only successful if they build relationships, they told her, and the best way to build relationships is to be authentic. When you aren’t authentic, consumers will sniff you out from a mile away. On the other hand, when you are 100 percent yourself, 10-out-of-10 times you will win business from people who gel with your personality.
Be a good human being
We’re used to thinking of business as a competitive, dog-eat-dog pursuit. But some of the best advice Katie gave us was, “Always go out of your way to do a good deed.” People want to be surround themselves with people who look out for their best interests. Earn your community’s trust, and when they eventually need to buy or sell a home, they will pick up the phone and call you.
Real estate agents have countless ways to do good in their communities. Volunteer at a charity event. Sponsor a fundraiser for a cause that’s important to you. Coach a youth sports team. Not only will all of these activities feel rewarding: they also might lead to new business.
Create a recurring event in your community
We’ve talked about the importance of building relationships, but relationships need to be fostered over time. To stay top of mind with your network, you must engage with them on a consistent basis. One of the best ways to do this is through hosting a recurring event that your community can attend. It can be a weekly event, a monthly event, or even a quarterly event if you’re strapped for time. The key is to choose an event or activity that’s relevant to you and your brand.
For instance, Katie organizes a monthly dog walk in her community that anyone can participate in. Each month, a member of her group will choose a new destination to explore, whether that’s a neighborhood, a trail, or a dog-friendly beach, and everyone will walk together for about an hour or so. No one talks about work during these walks. Just casual and friendly conversations.
What’s great about Katie’s event choice is that it allows her to live her brand, rather than simply talking about it Katie has managed to select an event that combines three of her greatest passions: dogs, fitness, and the outdoors. In turn, her event draws in others from the community who also appreciate these things. As a result, Katie has not only built strong relationships with regular attendees, but also expanded her network thanks to regulars inviting their friends. While events like Katies don’t typically lead to instant sales, they provide a golden opportunity to get your name out in the community, which is especially important if you’re just getting started in real estate.
Finally, Katie’s dog walks give her an opportunity to subtly share her brand around town without appearing too self-promoting. To recruit new participants, for instance, Katie makes flyers advertising her monthly meetup, each of which includes a small logo for her company in the bottom right corner of the page. Katie then asks all her favorite local spots—the local brewery, her neighborhood coffee shop, a favorite lunch spot—to post it on their door/bulletin board. It’s an old-school tactic, but it works because Katie’s event is authentic, and promises value for participants.
Promote your brand the right way on listing portals
Contrary to popular belief, Katie told us, it is possible to make your brand stand out on Zillow, Trulia, Realtor, and other big listing portals. without having to list the most expensive house in the neighborhood, or spend thousands on ad placements. Katie puts an emphasis on photography and language to the point where other agents can spot out her listing even before they see that her name is attached to it. If you too would like to get the most out of your listings, incorporate these tactics listed out below:
1. Spend time on photography
When listing a home, Katie doesn’t take photography lightly. While many agents speed through their photo sessions, snapping a head-on image from the curb and one picture of each room, Katie. takes her time, touring the home with the seller and asking them what they love about the house, and what they’ll miss. This gives her an entirely different perspective on the property, enabling her to find and highlight strengths that other agents would miss.
After touring the listing, Katie brings in a professional photographer. This isn’t just any photographer, but rather someone Katie works with exclusively (in fact, she’s an employee at The Cape House Team). For Katie, the ability to build a consistent working relationship with her photographer results in a higher quality product.
Finally, before the photos are taken, Katie stages all her houses. Sometimes she brings in furniture, while other times she will use the seller’s furniture. Either way, Katie takes the time to make the place look picture perfect. Katie relates selling a house to selling a trinket on eBay or Craigslist: if you polish it, make sure it has a clean backdrop, and shoot it from a flattering angle, it’s bound to sell for way more.
Anyone who has browsed homes for rent or sale has rolled their eyes over the “marketing-speak” some agents use to talk up their listings. But to truly capture buyers’ attention, Katie told us, it’s important to speak plainly. Katie never uses corny, pseudo-elegant adjectives to describe her listings, but she does try and tell a story that will resonate with her audience.
For example, Katie began one of her recent listing descriptions by writing: “You know when people say they are going to take this ranch house and turn it into something amazing but then they never do? Well, these people did.” This description illustrates another quality that makes Katie’s listing descriptions so effective: her style. Katie writes the way just how she talks: in fun, down-to-earth language that makes home searchers feel like they’re chatting with a friend. In a world where consumers are constantly filtering out the fluff to get to the real thing, Katie’s writing creates a sense of intimacy that helps her grab her audience’s attention.
Expert Branding Homework
1. Plan an event for next month.
This event could be a fundraiser or a more casual meetup. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that’s important to you. Advertise it on your website and social media, create flyers, and solicit a few local spots to hang them up. During the event, avoid talking about your company or telling people you are looking for business. Instead, simply wear a shirt or hat with your logo on it, and focus on connecting with and listening to your attendees.
2. Hire a professional photographer
For your next listing, set aside some time to talk to your seller about what makes their home so special. Then, hire a professional photographer to take a few photos of your next listing. Organize an open house for your listing as you normally would, and see how many people attend. Compare that number to past open houses. Did it make a difference?
Did you enjoy Placester’s Branding Lab? Comment below and tell us what you think!