Promoting your value: How to differentiate your services to acquire more clients and sell more homes
The Agent as Educator; Keeping up with clients in a digitally connected world like consumers of any other product, real estate clients now have access to far more information than ever before. However, to make sense of it all, today’s clients have greater need for objective advice and guidance on everything from market comparisons to negotiation, mortgages, inspections, insurance, and much more.
Unfortunately, the true value of the real estate professional has become lost in the popular imagination. While reality television programs featuring million-dollar agents have glamorized the profession, they present a highly romanticized world of mercenary dealmakers, dramatic music, and sound bites. In addition, house-flipping shows give the impression that anyone can get rich quick by making minor repairs on so-so properties and selling them quickly for cash.
On top of that, absent any other differentiation, clients will choose their real estate professional on the basis of word of mouth, sales figures, or whoever picks up the next cold call into the office.
You have an opportunity to escape the commoditization trap by ensuring that your sales and marketing capabilities are robust enough to attract and retain the attention of prospects in your market. Steps you can take now include:
- Defining and honing your brand. The public perception of interchangeable realtors and the rise of passive sales strategies (list it on the internet and they will come) make it imperative to have a unique brand identity that’s differentiated by your unique personality and commitment to service.
- Focusing on a clear market segment. It’s tempting—especially when you’re first starting out—to try to sell everything to anybody. Single-family, condos, co-ops, rentals, new construction, commercial. We’re certainly not suggesting you turn away a commission (if it’s there), but true power in any sector belongs to the specialists. You may choose to focus on a specific geography (“More Silverlake sellers call me…because their buyers already have”) or a particular profession (“More King County medical professionals leave their real estate operations to us”). Many veterans choose to work primarily with military families. Your interests, experience, and connections will often point the way to profitable specialization.
You’ll also be able to focus more of your time and attention on those select clients who want and need your in-depth advice.
Digital channels offer flexible, cost-effective ways to present your value proposition through engaging content on your website, podcasts and webcasts, articles, and surveys, and, of course, through in-person and online seminars and advice sessions.
The agent as educator
You’re in a unique position to help clients navigate the new world of real estate. Given the financial and societal upheavals of the past few years, it’s unlikely that even experienced home buyers and sellers are fully versed in the opportunities and obstacles of today’s markets.
For example, inflation and higher interest rates have upended the calculations of once-confident clients lured by the promises of a hot market (buyer’s or seller’s, depending on whom you ask). Also, revenue strapped municipalities and school districts can’t wait to welcome your buyers with quarterly tax bills and other fees.
You have a clear opportunity to offer in-depth real estate tips on topics of most concern to serious clients. By demonstrating your experience and knowledge of key issues, you are more likely to become the “first call” for buyers and sellers needing definitive, customized strategies. Areas of expertise you can embrace and highlight include:
- Mortgages. Of course. Those mortgage brokers who are always soliciting you for referrals (“VA/FHA/Fannie/Freddie approved!”) may be good sources of information on the kinds of deals getting approved, how fast they get approved, and what special programs may be available to close the sale.
- Selling. As you know, there are a thousand ways to wreck a sale. By offering home-selling tips customized to your clients and their properties, you can greatly help their chances of closing the deal they want. But why stop with tips for sellers of real estate? You can just as easily develop tips for buyers as well.
- Insurance. Learning more about this business is an often-overlooked opportunity for real estate agents. That’s because most buyers switching homes will naturally bring their existing carrier with them. But the coverages that worked for the old home may be too much or too little or not specific enough for the new property. And, of course, first-time home buyers will need coverage. They tend to buy on price, which may turn out to be a costly misstep later on. Your ability to speak knowledgeably on insurance issues (stopping short of recommending specific policies) further ingratiates you with your client.
- Moving. This is your clients’ most hated and feared activity. While you may not be lifting any boxes, your knowledge of reliable moving companies, tips (“be sure to secure your data along with your other valuables”), decorators, painters, contractors, and cleaning services can help make the move a little easier.
Keeping up with clients in a digitally connected world
If you’re a real estate agent, there’s no better time than right now to ensure you’re using the latest digital marketing tools and engagement techniques. A consistent, expertly executed digital strategy offers several growth-oriented advantages, including:
- Going where your prospects want to be. Consumer behavior is changing. Clients want you to provide convenience, speed, and flexibility—on their terms, on their timetable.
- Elevating your practice and its perception. Enhancing your technological capabilities provides the added value your clients will come to expect, such as online forms management, calculators, and mortgage and budgeting information.
- Meeting new prospects everywhere. No longer is your practice limited to your immediate area. Now you can reach your target audience wherever they may be, from snowbirds in Florida to likely second-home buyers on Wall Street.
By leveraging the many avenues available to boost the perceived value of your real estate services, you’ll be able to gain new and better clients, gain more referrals, expand your professional network, and grow your business.