It’s tough out there for the Independent Agent these days.
If you’re new and trying to break into your market, you struggle to stand out from the competition. And if you’ve been around for a while, you may have found yourself losing ground to the Big Players, who seem to be everywhere.
How do you compete with limited resources, especially if you’re ALREADY behind?
The best place to start is to make sure you’re not making any of the Common and Costly Mistakes that 98% of Realtors Make Online. Maximize your web presence and you WILL start capturing more leads. (You could also find that your competitors are making the same mistakes, which gives you a big opportunity to capitalize.)
But let’s also talk about how you CREATE a web presence and personality that attracts buyers and sellers who want to work with YOU instead of the 800-Pound Gorillas.
I give you specific examples of how to do this below. But first, you need to know that…
Branding DOESN’T Work
Whatever the reasons behind it, there’s a clear takeaway from this: any advertising that identifies you as an agent will scare off more prospects than it attracts. People do not want to be sold. Whether or not their fear of being pestered by a pushy salesperson is justified, it IS what’s keeping them from calling or signing up for your “free information with no obligation”.
“Branding” is a trap. When you load up your ads with statements like “I’m #1” and “Best in the City”, it points you out as a member of a profession that nobody trusts.
[PRO TIP: Make use of Direct Response Marketing in your campaigns for new lead generation. Offer leads unique information and services (Home Evaluation, Recent Home Sale Prices, Lists of Hot Properties, etc.) in exchange for their contact information. This allows you to follow-up and dialogue with them. The more you can target these offers to the needs and desires of specific types of leads, the better your response rate will be.]
Avoid Copycat Marketing
Now, despite this argument, you may notice that your dominant competitors are using heavily-Branded ads, and they seem to be doing quite well. So you may be thinking I’m off-base here.
It’s tempting to look to the top performers and think you should do what they’re doing.
But copying a purely-Branded approach creates a market with no significant differences between agents. In a market like that, with no other way to make a choice, prospects will lean toward the agent who seems to be “everywhere.” The one that has their Branded ads in more places.
In other words: the Gorilla.
And this is the only reason the heavyweights in your market maintain control. They can afford to “shotgun” inefficient marketing all over the place. They can afford generic advertising that calls out to everyone (which really doesn’t call out to anyone). Branded advertising creates an arms race you can’t win.
DON’T be tempted to copy what your competitors are doing. It doesn’t work!
There’s a better strategy to distinguish yourself and get leverage over your competition. It’s called…
Branding is all about YOU, the agent. And where people specifically want to know more about YOU — if they’ve been referred by a friend, for example — it can work well.
But the vast majority of Buyer and Seller prospects out there? The people you want to work with? They don’t care about YOU. (Sorry to say.)
They care about what’s in it for THEM.
POSITIONING is presenting yourself in a way that shows people how they’ll benefit from working with you.
Example: I’m in the market to sell my condo. I might be interested in the agent who’s “Number 1 on the West Side”, but I’m MUCH more likely to want to talk to a “condo sale specialist”. That’s Positioning in action, communicating a benefit to the prospect. (In this case, the benefit to me is your expert knowledge in selling condos, which could help me get top dollar for mine.)
Great Positioning is powerful enough to overcome your prospects’ reluctance to contact an agent. This is how you generate more leads that you can follow-up with.
WAYS TO POSITION YOURSELF
There are many ways you can position yourself and get a distinct advantage over your competition. These can include:
- specialty with a type of property or neighborhood (“Condo Queen”, “Lincoln Park Luxury Home Specialist”)
- targeting specific groups of people (first-time buyers, military families, empty nesters, investors, snowbirds)
- special programs you operate (aka Unique Selling Propositions or USPs – like 2K-Down Financing, Guaranteed Sale Program, etc.)
- a different story or background to your business – what’s unique and interesting about YOU? (specific training, unique sales experience)
- ANYTHING you do differently from your competition, especially if it’s unique and/or difficult for them to duplicate
With a little thought, you can even mix-and-match these ideas to come up with something truly unique. You can even combine Positioning WITH Branding-type statements: “47 Condo Deals Closed This Year” shows off your success while positioning you as a condo sales expert.
GET STARTED TODAY
The best thing about Positioning is that it doesn’t require anything prepared in advance. Once you determine a workable position for your business, you can immediately declare it and start taking advantage.
Remember to combine your positioning with Direct Response techniques in your campaigns to encourage response. Your position easily suggests the kinds of offers you can make to generate leads: the Condo Expert can provide recent condo sale prices, or lists of the latest/best condos on the market.
Of course, you DO have to be able to back up your position. If you’re not an expert for specific type of properties, or if you can’t deliver on a particular service, then you should avoid positioning yourself that way.
But as long as you can back up the inherent promise and benefit that your positioning implies, you can start chipping away at the Big Players’ market and stake a claim of your own.
READ NEXT: A great way for ANY agent to position themselves based on Listings — even if you don’t have any!