by Lauren Agajanian, MBA
Marketing Director for HouseHunt, Inc.
Featured in HouseHunt’s Diamond Business Plan
“I’d like you to meet Maestro Joann Falletta, the first ever female conductor for a symphony orchestra! Maestro Falletta, this is my daughter Lauren.”
A little anti-climactic don’t you think? Had my mother ended her introduction there, I would have felt less than capable to continue the conversation that ensued. I learned an invaluable lesson right at that very moment about the impact of self-branding. Luckily, my mother continued, “Lauren recently accepted a full athletic scholarship to play volleyball at Pepperdine University” and I’m back in the game. I shook Maestro Falletta’s hand and (at just sixteen years old) now I, too, felt I had something to contribute. In essence, my mother had established my brand as a promising high school athlete and, despite being in awe of this woman’s unsurpassed achievements, I knew to position my behavior, body language and word selection to reflect this introduction.
My “established brand” was easy to live by because it was already aligned with three very important concepts I knew to be true of myself. The Three C’s are core values, core competencies, and competitive advantage. They are unequivocally the most important concepts in establishing a believable personal brand in the real estate business.
Let’s take Maestro Falletta as an example. There we were, two very important women...at least, my mother thought so… and I can tell you as clear as day from that 3-minute interaction over twenty years ago, what her 3 established C’s were back then. Why so easy? Her brand was truthful, consistent, decipherable, and relevant to the talent she was showcasing in her business…music.
In real estate or any business where you offer your professional services, self-branding is paramount to your success. Consider this quote:
“The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low-cost producer is the only winner.”- Phillip Kotler
In other words, if you do not have a way to market your services as a unique brand, you will be judged alongside other agents only by the cost of your service. Discount brokerages would be king and competition fierce. How are you able to deliver your brand to the marketplace most effectively? Know with certainty what your individual 3 C’s are and test them using the T.C.D.R. Method below (Truthful, Consistent, Decipherable, Relevant.) Notice how you can take each one and put it to use in your marketing and action items. Like this:
CORE VALUES – Choose at least 5 core values and know them by heart. If you don’t think these matter, think again. Among the traits of the most successful salespeople, at the top of the list is a solid set of core values.
T. Make a truthful assessment of your core values and do not waiver from them.
C. This keeps your behavior consistent with your most highly valued traits.
D. Make sure these are also traits your peers or family can easily see and interpret as being of benefit to those you are introducing to your brand. They must be decipherable as a dominant strength your business (or you) possesses among other valuable traits you may exhibit.
R. Make sure they are relevant to your industry and the service you are offering. You may find your religion very important to you in your everyday life, but ask yourself if it is relevant to your audience and what you hope to gain from those relationships.
Try to incorporate each row into your marketing plan or a daily task list and watch the incredibly powerful impact emphasizing the right strengths and performing only relevant tasks will have on your business. Is it important to you that your client feels educated throughout the transaction? That you are transparent and ethical in all your dealings? Is higher education and obtaining certifications in your industry of high value to you? Do the tasks you currently perform reflect these important items? What about your marketing presentations and education pieces – do they reflect your values?
CORE COMPETENCIES – These are your strengths – also called core capabilities, it is what your real estate service possesses that is of value to your clients and that other agents either do not do as well or simply cannot offer. Consider 3 things your professional service offers that allows your clients to accomplish their real estate goals and highlights something you feel you do or a service you perform at an exceedingly high level. Perhaps you live in the community you have made your market area. Your expertise may go deeper than other real estate agents in that marketplace and you will want to showcase that knowledge in your marketing and business activities. Have you closed a high volume of short-sale properties or luxury home listings in your market area? These are traits and successes that your audience can easily see as a desirable benefit to them and demonstrate absolute competence in your field.
COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE – This is what makes you truly shine brighter than your competition. A competitive advantage is a decipherable service offering, price point or knowledge base you possess in your market that is either 100% exclusive, or difficult to imitate and is deemed absolutely the most attractive selling point in your business. Like Falletta who was extremely adept at conducting, she was also the first of her gender to accomplish this feat. Impossible to duplicate, right?
Without a platform of 3 C’s that are truthful, consistent, decipherable and relevant, your brand in real estate is then in the hands of your audience who by being unable to buy into your brand, will opt to either forget you altogether, or establish one for you based on their own perception. This can bring about issues that cause loss of faith in your competence and tarnish your reputation. How can you succeed if your audience no longer believes you are capable of performing the very service upon which your business relies? It is near impossible fix, much harder than with a corporation who can change product offerings and even their name!
On the other hand, introducing your brand with a clearly defined foundation; a well-designed real estate business plan; and, a system to market your professional service that passes the TCDR test allows your brand to not only be highly recognized by your community, but you reap the benefits of having sustainable and profitable career in one of the most competitive industries for salespeople.
What do you think the topic of my conversation was with this incredibly enthusiastic woman who had reached the pinnacle of success in conducting a symphony orchestra? She asked questions about my athletic achievements and smiled energetically interjecting from time to time with comments that sounded as though she was extraordinarily impressed with my achievements. Who isn’t completely inspired by someone who takes the time to listen to something that really matters to you in your life, and then let’s you know just how impressive they think it is? And isn’t she somewhat of an expert on how to be the best at what you do? What I remember the most about Maestro Joann Falletta that evening was not her performance at the Long Beach Symphony but, not surprisingly, the same thing written in her biography today. She is ” a vibrant ambassador for music and an inspiring artistic leader.” Now that’s a memorable brand.
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