Welcome to the second of ten, step-by-step guides on building your estate agency or lettings agency brand – although this applies equally to many other businesses as well.
In the first blog we looked at dividing your client base into segments – 20% families, 25% pre-family couples and singles and so on; and then adding some ‘colour’ to them to build a picture of what they’re like as people. This is an important first step in helping all your marketing, and some wider, decisions fall into place.
Many people think of a brand as a name, logo, colour scheme or a design. And it is those things, but of course it is also everything that you do, the manifestation of your reason for existence. A strong brand, yes, often has strong design behind it, but that will count for nothing if it is not underpinned by a great product. Apple is a wonderful brand but it would of course be nothing if the products were not so darn fantastic.
So if you’re embarking on a ‘rebrand’, before you spend any money on design, you would be well advised to spend time working out how you can make your offering truly fantastic, and here is a practical way to do that. Again with your team, take each customer segment in turn and work out what problems they face and what you can do to (help) solve them. Go through each stage in their home-selling/buying process and work out what you can do to ‘make it awesome’. There is also a brilliant book called ‘Moments of Truth’ which guides you through this process.
I led Brighton’s brilliant www.brandvaughan.co.uk through this process recently, and worked out ways to differentiate their offering, including employing freelance copywriters to pen engaging, editorial-style property descriptions, to make them come to life on the page, whilst also freeing up the directors’ time for valuations. Then we added an ‘Exceptional’ service which offers higher-end properties a greater level of marketing.
Brand Vaughan were already also making a USP out of their Sunday openings, which appeal to Londoners as it allows them to maximise the viewings on a weekend property-hunting trip – and in turn therefore appeals to the sellers of those properties.
I worked with another agent, www.cooper-adams.com, to develop their market knowledge into a USP. Rather than the bland and fairly meaningless ‘we really know the market’ employed by most agents, they are demonstrating that with hard stats and trends about their town’s property values, sales volumes, applicant volumes and so on. And www.cambridge-residential.co.uk makes a USP of the stats for the two things that landlords really want to know: ‘how much can you get and how long will it take?’.
Because here’s the thing: if you don’t give people a reason to choose you, A) they’ll be choosing at random and so might choose someone else at random, and B) the only weapon you have is cutting your fees, which is no fun.
So that’s the second step: think creatively about building clear, rational reasons for people to choose you. Next week we’ll look at the importance of building emotional reasons as well.
Charlie Snell, The Marketing Business
PS. For a short blog there are some deliberate simplifications, but I’ll happily discuss further if you’d like to get in touch.