The real estate market has always been and will be highly competitive. This is one of its characteristics and you just have to accept it, while strategically thinking about how to stand out from the competition, and how to make it attract only the right buyers and sellers.
Attraction is the right word because usually in the real estate industry, I see a strong focus on acquiring both clients and real estate. So how to reverse the process? To make you the first name of choice when the thought of buying or selling real estate comes to the client’s mind?
It sounds too good to be true right? Well, that’s how a personal brand works which is actually how the market perceives you. And probably now, when you hear of someone’s personal brand, you think of celebrities or influencers. Yes, they are personal brands but also every one of us is a personal brand because we create specific associations and emotions in the people that surround us. And these associations, and the things that others say about you have an impact on your career or the development of your business. Of course, there are industries in which working under your name is more or less important, but we can all agree that in the real estate industry, in which the whole business factor is based on relationships, a personal brand is immensely important. What’s more, a premium personal brand makes it easier to attract clients and in consequence make more money. Actually, apart from a personal brand and a well-developed system and network of contacts, you don’t have too many options to reach high-ticket clients.
But before I dive into building a premium personal brand, I would like to define what a client is. Based on many years of experience in working with high-value clients, I distinguish between premium clients and those who are willing to pay you more when the property meets their expectations or simply is a good investment.
Within the premium client typology, I distinguish four types of clients: new money, old money – based on their approach to displaying status, pragmatic and hedonistic – based on their deep buying motives. Moreover, among clients willing to pay more, who are premium only in some expenses, I can identify: pragmatic clients, proactive clients, analytical clients, and those who want to belong. These typologies will intersect, combining with each other at the level of buying motives.
So now, how to sell to each of these types? The answer to this question only justifies the need for a premium personal brand as a realtor, but let’s not jump ahead.
New money – these are clients who are still building their status, and therefore, they will choose, first, properties in trendy locations (or ones previously owned by celebrities), and second, a realtor who is recognizable and collaborates with celebrities, influencers, and industry opinion leaders. In this regard, the needs of this client overlap with those of a client who wants to belong. Both types are highly susceptible to the opinions of others and the trend of an agent’s brand or property location. Moreover, they share the same buying motives, such as meeting the needs for belonging (to a social class, community, etc.), competition, and prestige.
On the other hand, old money clients have already established their status to the extent that they will prefer properties that are either ultra-luxurious, have specific features (e.g., access to a marina), or generate specific ROI. Therefore, they are more likely to choose what genuinely interests them rather than what is currently trendy. This type of client values relationships and quality (both in the purchase object and in their collaborators). They often rely on recommendations (hence, a network of high-value contacts is crucial in this case). Old money clients share some commonalities with those who have a pragmatic approach to property purchase, such as a need for efficiency, quality, or value (which is preferably increasing). However, what sets these two types apart is patience. Old money clients are willing to wait longer for value growth, and their ROI calculations are based on longer-term perspectives, while pragmatic clients expect faster results (such as value appreciation).
Speaking of patience, proactive clients expect even quicker action, effectiveness, and proactivity from a realtor. For them, speed and initiative are of the utmost importance. However, despite their action-oriented nature, they also have a strong need for control and independent decision-making about what is best for them at any given moment.
When it comes to control, analytical clients share a similar trait, but for them, the need for thorough examination of all options arises from a desire for security. They will not make a decision until they have explored all of the possibilities. They will ask questions, search, and ponder, but once a decision is made, there is no turning back. On the other end of the spectrum is the hedonistic client, who makes purchases based on emotions. For them, uniqueness, fulfilling specific dreams, or the ability to tailor the property to their unique needs are the most important justifications for the price.
I am very curious which types of clients you encounter most frequently in your work and with whom you work best. If those who come to you differ from those you want to attract, it means that working on your personal brand is essential. In fact, it should be clear by now that without a premium personal brand, the right image, and a specific network of contacts, it will be very difficult to reach high-ticket clients.
So, according to me, what is a premium personal brand?
It’s the most desired, elite expert in your niche or specialization. In other words, the first association with a problem to solve, benefits to provide – the answer to what the client’s pain point is. It’s also someone who has a strong influence on their audience, is recognizable in their industry, and at the same time, commands the highest or one of the highest rates for services (when it comes to real estate – someone who has access to properties no one else has or works only with select clients, often from a specific market segment). That’s why, based on my experiences working with luxury and personal brands, I developed my own method for building premium personal brands. A method that aligns with your personality, needs, and personality type while allowing you to choose a path that will yield even better results in your work.
If you’re still wondering if this is the right path for you, the answer is yes, especially if you work under your own name. So, how should you start?
First, be self-aware. Think carefully about the values you live by, your goals, and your unique characteristics and abilities. Conduct a SWOT analysis and assess your strengths and weaknesses while considering the opportunities they provide and the threats they pose. This stage is the most important. If you don’t understand yourself and know how to define your uniqueness, others won’t discover it either because you won’t be able to communicate it.
With the foundations of your strategy in place, you can move on. What are the most important elements of a personal premium brand strategy for you? Effectiveness, pedigree (your experience, education, development), exclusivity (inaccessibility), proper positioning of your personal brand (which will be different than high service fees for agents), recognition, and, above all, a well-crafted offer and the creation of exceptional customer experiences.
Each of these components is equally important as they collectively influence the perception of your personal brand.
Starting with effectiveness – if you’re a real estate agent, your effectiveness will be demonstrated, for example, by the results of your work, including client testimonials, providing evidence that you can satisfy clients’ needs (acquiring properties that aren’t on the market or selling properties that seemed difficult to sell).
The next puzzle piece is exclusivity. This can be summed up in one sentence: don’t be available to everyone everywhere. This includes your participation in events or presence only in selected media. For personal brands, there are two types of access restriction: resource limitations (for example time) and tactical limitations: client selection, often based on their financial capacity. In this case, exclusivity is often emphasized more than inaccessibility, as one of the elements of perfect customer service is maintaining constant contact with the client. Exclusivity can manifest itself in specific property types you specialize in or by creating closed circles exclusively for your clients, with limited access for outsiders, offering the best deals on the market to its members or giving access to you as a contact only as the next stage of communication.
Another crucial aspect is positioning. When you think of a premium brand, you think of a high price, right? That’s correct. Now the question is, how do you translate that into the personal brand of an agent, when your industry operates on commission rates?
The things that will affect the positioning of your personal brand are:
- The prices of properties you deal with
- The clients you serve
- The locations you specialize in
- Your ecosystem (where you go, what your surroundings look like, which media you appear in, etc.)
Another equally important aspect of working on your reputation is building visibility. However, only where it matters. What does that mean? Firstly, be present, engage, and showcase yourself only where your clients are. Secondly, express yourself in the media and attend events that will appreciate you and allow you to reach carefully selected clients. In other words, giving a presentation or co-organizing an event on a golf course will be much more effective than a typical industry event.
As part of building recognition, it’s also worth considering collaborating with partners who can recommend you to their clients. This will allow you to expand your network of contacts even faster and more easily, ultimately leading to increased sales.
Meanwhile, I encourage you to work on your personal brand. In this article, I have gathered the most important points that will allow you to start today. As previously mentioned, your name already triggers certain associations, understanding the importance of ensuring that these associations are beneficial to your career to help you build a profitable business.