Finally a moment to breathe for all estate agents – the holidays are here! The perfect time of year to eat, drink, take a holiday and… consider next year’s branding strategy.
Whether you’re aiming for a complete branding overhaul or just ensuring your current branding is up to scratch, we’ve created a simple branding checklist to walk you through the process. Be prepared to face the next years property market in style.
Without further ado, let the box ticking commence…
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon
A brand is so much more than a logo. It’s how your customers perceive you, in both factual and emotional terms. Ensuring your agency has strong, well-defined core values will dictate your culture, relationships with customers, and how you approach business challenges.
Core values are standard principles that guide your employee’s attitude and behaviours. In turn, through interactions with your customers – whether this is face-to-face, online or indirectly, you these attitudes will convert to positive brand perceptions.
To do: Review your existing brand materials and ask what does your brand say about you? Does it still target your core audience / prospects?
A clear, well-balanced marketing strategy should complement your brands objectives to increase awareness, allow your customers to understand what you offer and to build trust.
In the past decade we’ve seen a distinct shift from traditional ‘outbound’ marketing (e.g. newspaper advertorial and direct mail), to the more effective ‘inbound’ marketing (e.g. useful content to earn customer’s interest). The idea behind this is to allow business to flow organically to you based on building a trustworthy presence in your market.
Clearly a balance between the two should be met. The strategy should consider both existing clients as well as prospective clients. This will become more apparent once you’ve identified your target market going forward.
To do: Review your 2016 marketing efforts. What has working and what hasn’t worked so well? Based on your 2017 targets, what are your marketing objectives for 2017 and how will you achieve them?
High street presence
Are you doing everything possible to maximise your presence and stand out from competitors? Your office front is one of the most important physical branding opportunities. Have you considered the use of window displays, projecting signs, pavement signs and a new fresh fascia? To find out more about the importance of offline local branding see our recent blog on the subject.
To do: Review your high street office space and note ideas where there is room for improvement. From small additions to complete refurbishments, what do you want your office front to say about you in 2017?
No doubt a strong online presence is essential for most businesses to succeed, especially moving ever forward into the digital age. An outdated website lacks credibility and professionalism, and is often the first touch point and perception of your brand. Who doesn’t search for a company they want to work with? Make this first impression a good one.
Your estate agency website should offer as a minimum: an intuitive responsive design that works on desktops and mobiles, clear and concise property listings, search functionality and an enquiry system to generate leads.
To do: Carry out an internal audit (including peeking over the fence at your competitors offering) to check if your site is still fit for purpose. As people what they think of your website and consider different audience requirements and whether it caters for their needs.
These days, a single website often doesn’t cut it when it comes to your brand’s digital presence. Social media is not a sales platform, it’s a listening and engagement tool.
If you haven’t already, now really is the time to capitalise on social media because if you don’t start talking about your brand someone else will be. 83% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business. If your estate agency still doesn’t have the basics of a Twitter and Facebook page that you are regularly updating, it’s time to bring yourself up to speed.
In terms of look and feel of your profiles, make this consistent to your brand messaging and consider customised headers with calls to action to tie this messaging together.
To do: Review your social media platforms. Check for consistency, timeliness and relevance. Consider how you will amplify your social reach in 2017 and who you want to target with your conversations.
“A business with no sign is a sign of no business” - Anon
Signage serves as a silent salesperson for your agency. It is part of the experience you offer; from the first moment the customer recognises your brand to walking away with keys to their new house.
According to FedEx, nearly 76% of consumers entered a business they had never visited before based on its signage. Signage options are no longer just confined to static boards and displays.
Especially within the darker months ahead you might want to consider ‘brighter’ signage options such as illuminated window displays, LED lit fascias and reflective for-sale boards.
To do: Review your existing signage and ask what the signs say about you. Do they need updating?
Is it time to review your branded merchandise? Promotional products can be an important component of the marketing mix. They increase brand recognition and serve as a reminder that you exist. Furthermore by offering something of value (not necessarily expensive but genuinely useful), you build loyalty between brand and customer.
For creative merchandise ideas think ‘does it hang around?’ Pens are the classic, but other ideas include post it note blocks, note jotting pads, staplers and tape measures. You should consider quality over price – cheap items won’t last and reflect badly on your brand.
Small touches like these set yourself apart from the competition and will positively influence your prospects and customers perceptions of you.
To do: Consider what you can leave behind after meetings to make that difference.
Whether it’s sponsoring the local little football team, a marathon or an industry event, opportunities for sponsorship readily present themselves to estate agents. The art (and difficulty) comes in extracting a positive return on investment.
Too many business owners think that writing the cheque and passing over their logo is the extent of sponsorship. However they’ve missed out on the key opportunity here - nothing is more memorable than an actual face-to-face interaction. You need to give potential customers the chance to know and trust your brand as well as garnering future referrals.
Sponsorship for brand awareness is an ongoing, long-term process. If you fully commit and plan ahead, over time you should see great returns.
To do: Make a list of potential sponsorship partners and 2017 events you could get involved in. Who do you want to work with in 2017? Who do you need to contact to make this happen? What’s your sponsorship budget?
When considering any form of branded merchandise or brand-led activities, always be consistent and forward thinking with your offering and how you portray yourself. These philosophies will help your brand to stand out from the crowd.
Got all that? With a bit of prior research you can plan ahead and enjoy the holidays whilst feeling confident about next year’s branding strategy!