Fortunately, there are 3 rules borrowed from the advertising world that can make your listings stand out and get them sold quickly. These rules are about branding — not the company logo but what the company stands for. Branding is really about communicating to a potential buyer who your product is for, and who it is NOT for. Here are a few examples:
- You know that eBay stands for online auctions where you can sell your goods fast to anyone, but also have to compete with the world. Their brand attracts people who want to sell to or buy from a global marketplace, but who don’t mind the tradeoffs that come from overseas competition or purchasing from a vendor in another state or country.
- If you were asked where most people go when they want a strong cup of coffee, there is only one answer: Starbucks. That’s who they are and they don’t mind that some think it’s too strong.
- You know that Neiman Marcus means “expensive” but also “quality”.
These are excellent examples of the results of effective branding, but what can a real estate agent learn from these companies to sell more homes? To get a home sold you’ve got to find what’s unique about the home — why someone would buy it versus other homes on the market — and make that central benefit the “theme” of your listing promotions. Let’s look at each of these three rules and I’ll apply them to real estate one-by-one…
The 3 Rules of Listing Promotions Every Agent Should Know
Rule #1: Sacrifice
Branding’s bedrock principle is sacrifice. Marketing messages work best when you intentionally sacrifice the majority so that you can make a strong connection with a small group that has a burning desire for exactly what is offered. This is a proven concept from the advertising community that can be applied to real estate. I wrote an ad that sold a home in sixteen days after it had already been on the market for a year. The difference was the marketing message I used. The house had no back yard at all. The previous agents never mentioned this in their marketing. I used the “non-yard” feature as the theme of my ad. The home sold instantly to a senior citizen who told me the lack of a yard was a benefit for her. When you try to appeal to everyone you fail to connect with the very audience who wants what you have. If a home has a small yard, say so. If a home is wildly expensive because of its unique architecture and quality, don’t feel apologetic for this — use it to get the attention of those who would appreciate it.
Rule #2: Don’t Copy Others, Promote Your Uniqueness
Many a retailer has gotten into trouble trying to piggy-back Wal-Mart’s claim of low prices. K-Mart went broke trying to win the “low-price” war. Target was smarter. They conceded (or “sacrificed”) that turf to Wal-Mart by going more upscale with their marketing, store design and merchandising. Falling into the “me-too” trap is easy to spot in the real estate business.
Here Is A Common Advertising Mistake For Agents: In most larger cities, there is one school district that is the most sought-after. Agents will routinely try to promote one of these listings by emphasizing the school district in their flyer. But why would you highlight a feature that is guaranteed to be matched by ever other seller in the region? You always want to market in a way that makes your listing stand out from the others, not blend in. For the same reason… I would be careful about using an ad, flyer or any marketing material that stresses a feature like “waterfront” or “stunning view” if there are many competing listings that offer the same thing. Promote what is unique about your listings. They’ll get noticed and sell faster.
Rule #3: Substantiate Your Claim!
Al Ries once said, “Branding is nothing you do to the product. It takes place in the mind of the consumer.” If you can get comfortable with this rule, you will do much better with your marketing. Consider the example of a local car dealer hawking the idea that he has the lowest prices — you likely hear this message all the time in your own market, but I doubt you give it much credibility. For starters, it is a claim used by too many car dealers to be believable. Second, do they really offer any proof? Not usually, so messages like this are not typically very helpful. Branding is not just something you do for a corporation. You should absolutely “brand” each listing you take on. For example, don’t just say your listing was architect-designed. Explain, in detail, what the consumer will notice about the house when they come to see it.
Here Is The Perfect Example… I once took on a waterfront home that was designed by an architect who specializes in lake houses. When I asked him why he designed the house the way he did, he started describing one interesting aspect after another. When I interviewed him about his home, he walked me around to the back side of the house—the waterfront side. He pointed out that instead of a flat wall across the back, he visually re-created the same appearance that you’d get from the streetside view—there was a deep porch with impressive columns, high-pitched roof over the “back” door, shutters on the windows, etc. In other words, he made the house look just as nice from the back as it did from the front. He said, “A waterfront house should look just as inviting to guests you bring in by boat as it does for those who pull up in the driveway by car.” Re-telling this in my ad helped substantiate the high price. Potential buyers were able to visualize this unique benefit since I used descriptive “picture words” and compelling photographs. Other agents turned this seller down because of her desired price. My ad pulled two full price contracts in less than thirty days.
These are the rules of branding:
- Promote uniqueness.
- Substantiate your claims.
For real estate agents, your primary theme for listing promotions must involve sacrificing the majority — not selling to anyone and everyone but focusing on the people most likely to buy the home. Say what makes the home unique and you will attract that right buyer. But also be careful to not get caught up in copying others. Say what makes your listing special and write a story with passion and detail that proves it! Take time this week to review your current listing promotions and try to apply all 3 rules to each of your properties. I guarantee it will make them stand out and you’ll attract qualified prospects who are ready to sign a purchase contract.
[Ed note: Copyright Stan Barron. Reprinted with permission. If you, or someone you know wants to sell a house, please give Stan a call at 512-345-8585.]