Absolute control of your real estate brand is now out of your hands. Don’t fight it: believe it or not, it’s the way forward.
The art and science of real estate branding is undergoing a sea change. We’re moving from a system where your brand is what you tell people it is, to a system where your brand is what people tell you it is. The most intriguing part of this change is that no one really knows what the new system is going to look like. But there are clues.
First, let’s deal with control. Absolute control of your brand – whether it’s your company’s or latest development’s – is now out of your hands. Even if you aren’t aware of it, your brand is being discussed, praised, slammed or slandered online. In one way, that’s no different from how it used to be. People always talked about your brand; the difference now is that when people talk amongst themselves, millions of others are listening, ready to jump into the conversation, offer their opinions, and re-post the commentary.
To remain in the game and exercise some control is to participate. You can’t always drive the bus, but you can have a seat near the front. If you try to make everyone else shut up and listen to you, the bus will pull over and you will be kicked off. Then where are you?
The first step, then, is to find the bus. Join in the conversation and try to direct people to the information and online assets you have posted that present your point of view.
Don’t have any online assets or information that present your point of view? Oh, dear. Best get on that.
Next, remember to sell only truthful, relevant information. Truth as a touchstone has never been more important in the branding game. Every single decision you make – from R&D through to sales and marketing – needs to ring true and deliver on your marketing promises. According to Candy Hodson, Senior VP of Marketing at Black Press, 84% of 24 to 35 year olds say they’ve left a website because of irrelevant content or intrusive advertising. In the real estate world, that’s a whole lot of people leaving a website instead of registering to learn more about your real estate offering.
Lastly, play up your track record. In a recent Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ (GVHBA) panel discussion, Ross Gurney of TD Financial Group noted that a company’s history of performance and credentials were top criteria on the new home buying list. I think Ben Taddei, COO of ParkLane Homes and Chairman of GVHBA, put it best when he said, “Builders who have strong, reliable branding and operations will outperform those who don’t… Customers will gravitate to the best sites by the best builders, builders who offer the best product at the best price and provide the best buyer experience and customer service.”
If you’re preparing for a new real estate project this year, make sure to keep these points in mind. Don’t control your brand. Recognize what potential homebuyers want to see and hear from you and participate.