When fine isn't good enough
Our office library is filled with brokerage collateral – listing presentations, recruiting pieces, luxury property books, swag items – that brokers from around the country have sent to us.
Most of the copy, layouts, themes, titles, paper stock and binding are similar. The differences pretty much extend to color and brand logo.
We’ve also seen a lot of brokerages somehow, miraculously, come up with the exact same marketing campaign, tagline or website copy as a competitor or competitors.
This copycat behavior is rampant in real estate. And it’s deeply illogical given the job marketing has to do: tell each company’s unique story.
The whole point of branding and marketing is to differentiate, not assimilate.
We do competitive analyses for clients in order to illustrate the opportunities to stand out. We study websites, social channels, print ads, recruiting materials, PR campaigns and property marketing in an effort to understand what our client is up against.
So far this year, we’ve researched over 100 brokerages of various sizes across the U.S. The themes the majority of these brokerages market around are:
The problem isn’t that these things aren’t important, basic as most may be. The problem is that too many brokerages are circling around the exact same messages.
And, to make matters worse, almost none of the companies swimming in this pool explain to the world why these things matter.
One of the easiest ways to break free from this sameness is to ask yourself, “What can my company say that my competitors can’t say or won’t say”?
Then, from your audience’s point of view, ask yourself, “Why should I care”?
Imagine, for instance, that a brokerage said this:
We’re independent, not a national franchise. This means that we are more adaptable to local market conditions and can make quicker, more informed judgements about each and every transaction.
We are #1 in home sales here. As a result, we have more insight to share with clients about why people move here, why they sell, what they can afford, what homes are worth and what people are willing to spend.
Now we’re talking.
But just writing these words isn’t enough. To be effective, a brokerage needs to build an experience around them through design, content and interactions that continuously shows people that these things are true.
Let’s carry this thinking through to a simple example:
Your website is place where you should create an immediate differentiation from your competitors. Yet, dozens and dozens of real estate brokerage websites across the country are some variation of this:
Or this, in the same market:
How many other versions of the same thing exist in St. Louis? Or your city?
As a result, each of these brokerages have defined themselves as home search websites with no other added value to offer. If one has the most productive agents in town and the other has a hard-to-beat service guarantee, we’d never know by looking at their websites.
In comparison, Redfin, which also has search, doesn’t position its brand around that at all. Redfin’s brand is about value. That’s their point of clarity and what they are building meaning around.
Tell people what’s in it for them.
The battle for agents and consumers is red hot. While traditional brokers copy each other, new brands are sandblasting their value by going in differentiated directions.
To win, you can no longer continue this pattern of saying nothing, designing nothing or being just a slightly different version of their competitor. Instead, you must dig deep, figure out what your difference is and articulate it clearly.
If you’ve been around for a century, that matters. Tell that story.
If you have the best agents in the market, that matters. Tell that story.
If you know things others don’t because you have data they do not have, that matters. Tell that story.
If being part of a franchise gives you advantages others don’t have, that matters. Tell that story.
The time is now. Do your own thing, carve your own lane, and you will become a brand worth watching.
Smart industry takes and creative inspiration.