At the recent Inman Connect conference, Fathom Realty sponsored a series of Learning Labs on Branding hosted by Fathom’s Chief Brand Officer, Wendy Forsythe. Below is the summary of the learning lab’s key takeaways and strategies for the second of the three-part series.
Three Branding Breakthroughs for 2021
2020 changed our world dramatically. From COVID to political unrest to social injustice, how we react and present ourselves in the world is extremely dynamic. We need to think about our brands every day with every interaction and be our own brand manager. With that in mind, there are three specific areas that we saw change as a result of what happened in our world in 2020. What should we be thinking about as we build our 2021 branding platforms and branding strategies?
Number One: Words Matter
Everything you say, everything you type, everything you text, everything you post on social media matters. Choose your words carefully. Be kind, be considerate. Be a good brand manager. You can’t take it back once it goes out there into the social world.
Another thing that happened with words in 2020 and has become an essential part of our 2021 strategy was the new set of phrases in our lives and our businesses. New terms such as:
- virtual showings
- virtual walkthroughs
- remote closings
- virtual listing presentations
- remote market updates are all now part of our service offering.
We have to weave them throughout our entire value proposition. We have seen agents increase the number of showings they have due to incorporating contactless showings into how they show properties for example.
Panelist Alissa Harper, EVP of Marketing and Enterprise Sales at Inside Real Estate, noted some changing trends that she has seen in how and what people were searching for amid lockdowns and local restrictions. “Requests for showings on our clients’ websites plummeted at first, right? We were pretty quick to pick up on that trend. Folks need alternative ways to view a property. Real estate is an essential service; they’re still looking to move.” Alissa’s team quickly made the switch in their online language to let customers know they could request a virtual showing. Alissa noted that “almost overnight, we saw about a 25% lift in showing requests across our client websites. That’s been a trend that’s continued to 2021, to the tune of about 50% more showing requests year over year, when using virtual calls to action on your website.”
Think about everything that we’ve gone through with COVID and the work you have done to put safety first. How have you incorporated that into your brand and your value proposition, and your marketing materials in 2021? If you haven’t checked every pre-formatted remark, description, template, and drip email campaign and updated it appropriately, now is the time to do that. Alissa emphasized that it is “definitely something that you should be looking at. Make sure that you’re able to be nimble with your online presence and adjust that terminology, adjust those calls to action, based on what’s happening in the market.”
Number Two: Serving the Customer First
In 2020, we learned that we have to serve our customers first. We saw the power of that come to life when we think back through the spring time frame of 2020. Being a service brand, being a servant heart leader is so vital for all of us. Good service starts with being accessible and available. Think about how you and your brand are accessible and available to serve your customers, clients, and peers.
Panelist Marie Bailey, a Fathom Realty agent and owner of Calling Texas Home, reinforced the need to make sure to “put your cell phone number out there. That’s what I get a lot, a phone number to their brokerage, and I’m like, okay, but I want to call you. When I go on real estate agents’ websites, half the time I can’t see their phone number.”
Answering your phone, replying to text messages, responding to emails and online leads, and treating your fellow agents with respect and courtesy are essential parts of good service. Don’t go missing in action in your business.
Number Three: Being Yourself, Sharing Your Expertise
Be yourself and embrace who you are. We talked about branding and the concept that you are your uniqueness. You need to share your superpowers and personality because it’s the one thing that no one else has. It’s important to make sure that you’re building your brand around those strengths in your personality.
Marie Bailey found her niche when she moved from California to Texas, and people began asking for information about her experience. She has found that it’s “important to focus on…being authentic. Try to give people value outside of ‘I can sell you a house’…people want to hear your story. They want to get to know other people that share their experiences.”
Marie highlighted the importance of authenticity and interacting with your clients as a real person. “I think gone are the days where people want to see that…person in a suit in a picture. You know, the one that’s in the perfect suit in the picture? Am I going to connect with them? Or am I going to feel intimidated? We don’t want to feel intimidated. We want to feel like you can trust that person.”
Social Marketing platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and now Clubhouse have given us tremendous reach and allowed others to engage with us and us to engage with others. Use these tools to build your brand story and to share your brand experiences with your customers. Sharing your local market expertise and your unique personality is a winning combination for brand building and real estate. Ensure you’re providing value to your audience; after all, you are their real estate expert.
“I think one of the big things is to make sure to connect with people that want to be in your niche,” continued Marie. “A lot of people create a Facebook group, or they use a social media platform, and they invite everybody just to get numbers. Try to narrow in on the people that seem like they might want to fit your niche so that you have more activity in your social media following.”
Julie Pierson-Fields, President of Absolute Holdings Group, a full-service marketing and advertising agency and social manager for Fathom Realty, echoed the need to leverage your social media presence to engage with your audience. While business pages are still a necessity, Facebook, in particular, is tuning their algorithms to groups and video content. Julie noted that “statistically speaking, videos get around 50% more engagement than an image or static post.” Julie gave a strategic tip for responding to questions and comments on your social media. “Don’t just type a response. Send them a video response back. It shows that you are personal, and it also helps them build that connection.”
Julie also cautioned that you shouldn’t “feel like you have to be perfect when you’re putting content out there. I see so many people getting stuck in a cycle of indecision. And then they hesitate, and they hesitate, and two weeks have passed and they haven’t done anything. Imperfect action that actually happens is better than perfect planning.”
Finally, Alissa Harper reminds us to “focus on adding value throughout the lifecycle of your relationship. It’s not just a transaction; we need to think about the whole homeownership experience and put ourselves in the customer’s shoes.”
Make sure you check out the third and final Learning Lab in our series, Free Brand Building Strategies.