The real estate industry is brimming with eager agents ready to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Every year, real estate agents look for emerging trends and new inspiration at national conventions and workshops alike.
The real industry trendsetters, however, are those professionals that are driving the new trends and teaching innovative concepts. Still, many agents try following in the footsteps of the most successful professionals, instead of paving their own unique path.
Differentiation always starts with one step: brainstorming. Every agent has something that sets them apart, but it is not always obvious. Even talents and interest that are not directly relevant to real estate can help immensely with branding and marketing.
First, you need to understand that the gurus making industry headlines are not much different than you. The only difference is that she took a creative risk, tried something different, committed to an idea, and made sure that it would pay off. Metaphorically speaking, she got up from her window seat, walked right past her colleagues, kicked open the door to the cockpit, and bumped the pilot from his seat and took the controls.
Now, let’s assume you’re currently a passenger. How do you truly separate yourself from the other passengers and take off on your own direction? I’d like to suggest a process. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you break away from your clones and redefine your identity in real estate.
Determine your gift (and un-lame it if necessary)
First, realize that we all have our own gift. Your gift might seem lame. You might realize that the only gift you have is that you can make a ridiculous strawberry cake. Uh oh. It’s up to you to un-lame the gift.
For many, our first response to this realization that our gift is ‘not cool enough’ is to very quickly end our work in this process. I’m going to argue that a killer strawberry cake, as irrelevant as it might seem, could become your secret weapon (see below).
But if you’re not happy with that outcome, copy this email and send it out (privately) to your best of friends and family:
“Hey Brad (or Natasha, or Stewart, or Dad, or Mom…),
I feel a little silly doing this, and I promise I’m not just looking for an ego boost, but I’m doing a bit of a marketing exercise right now. Without telling you too much about it, it’s requiring that I reach out to some people who know me well, who can tell me what’s exceptional about me. I have no idea. Does anything come to mind?
Talk to you soon, Mark”
Read whatever responses you get. Often, we perceive ourselves differently than our peers.
Take control of your idea
Now that you’ve got your idea, it’s time to plan; what’s one thing you could do with your gift?
Let’s go back to our strawberry cake example. Mmmm it’s such a good cake. Everyone loves it. But it has nothing to do with real estate. Welcome to the pilot seat. You’re now spiraling down to earth. Better think fast or die.
How could your strawberry cake define you and your brand? By reverse engineering the problem, I’m seeing an influx of happy buyers, celebrating the close of their new home, digging into an ingeniously-presented strawberry cake in their new, empty kitchen. I’m seeing hundreds of pictures of happy customers posting to social media (with hashtags galore) photos of themselves holding a strawberry cake.
Is making a strawberry cake every time you close on a house going to catapult you into the big leagues of real estate? Probably not. But when you apply that one unique identifier to your business over and over again—compounded months and months and years down the road—that’s when you develop your signature differentiator.
Let it evolve…
I said it—everyone’s on the Facebook Live kick. The message here is not to ignore the other marketing tactics that your competitors are doing. Facebook Live is hot for a reason. But rather than going live for the sake of being live, give yours a theme; only film Facebook Live videos in your kitchen as you’re pulling your next cake out of the oven, and talk about how excited you are to leave it on the counter for your client. The excitement of knowing you’ve got another transaction will become apparent to your audience.