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These days, when prospective homebuyers or sellers need the expertise of a realtor or agent, they often head straight to Google. And if your agency isn’t popping up in those first-page results, you might find it challenging to earn new clients and stay competitive in your area.
As an online reputation specialist, I know how much a professional’s digital brand can contribute to or even harm an agency’s success. Because real estate is such a reputation-based business, managing your brand is recommended and essential.
That said, focusing on a few key areas can help rein in your real estate reputation and build a stronger brand in your local market.
Related: How Real Estate Agents Can Effectively Leverage the Power of Public Relations
Perform a reputation audit
Before developing a game plan for your real estate brand, you must first understand where you’re at. A reputation audit helps you do just that, sharpening your focus on three critical online arenas: Google, social media and review sites.
To start your audit, Google your brand and other realtors in your area. Compare and take notes on how you stack up. Next, go to various social media channels and search your brand on popular platforms. Note your brand position, performance and interactions on well-trafficked sites, including how you appear in user conversations.
Finally, check out your review presence on Google, Yelp and popular realtor review platforms. Learn what people are saying about your brand. Google, social media channels and review sites offer ways to monitor mentions and discussions about your business and build a bigger picture of brand sentiment across the web.
Related: Why Your Company’s Online Reputation Matters
Take steps to develop and improve brand recognition
Once you have a clearer idea of brand performance online, you can work on improving or strengthening your position. Tactics for defining and reinforcing your real estate reputation include:
1. Identifying your brand
Agents must often build and sell their image to earn new business. As you build your brand, ask yourself what makes you different from the other guys. Perhaps you work exclusively with first-time home buyers or know how to navigate tricky financials and lending programs. You want to identify what sets your brand apart, as well as what makes it relatable and attractive to prospective clients.
Related: 3 Ways a Strong Brand Identity Can Lead to Greater Success for Your Small Business
2. Determining your unique voice and service
Many new agents enter the market every year, ensuring competition is always fierce. Your reputation is not only what thrusts you to the front of the line; it’s what generates the local appeal needed to feed and grow your business.
To be successful, it’s important to know what the competition is doing, who they target and how they market themselves. By understanding who you’re up against, you’re better positioned to build a brand and narrative that attracts homebuyers while drawing clients away from competitors.
Related: 3 Ways To Differentiate Your Business in a Competitive Market
3. Find and define your audience
Knowing your audience requires effective research and marketing, both critical aspects of reputation management in real estate. Who are you targeting with your marketing? What are your ideal client’s pain points? Are some messaging mediums more effective than others for connecting with clients?
By defining your target audience, you’re better equipped to create a message that resonates and compels action.
Related: How To Target the Right Audience in 5 Simple Steps
4. Stay away from ultra-niche markets
While it is important to target a specific market, many real estate agents go too far, limiting their potential for growth by focusing on ultra-niche markets. Focusing on a too-specific audience can limit your reach and hinder future success. Your target should be large and open enough to allow for growth.
5. Make marketing and branding memorable
Real estate is ultimately a relationship business. You invest time now to earn business in the future. Because you are not marketing for an immediate payoff, branding and marketing materials must be memorable and consistent. You want to ensure that when someone is ready to buy or sell, they think of your name first.
Work toward client trust
Once you’ve refined your message, it is time to build a lasting impression with potential clients. As a people business, real estate is all about genuine connection and human interaction. For success in the profession, you must develop trust. Once again, online reputation management is essential.
Share your expertise — Establishing authority in the marketplace is one of the most effective ways to build trust in your real estate brand. Writing blog posts or articles for real estate-focused websites is an excellent way to develop brand authority. Sharing how-tos and advice-driven articles across authoritative platforms can lend credibility to your brand.
Use social media — Social media to connect with prospective clients is another excellent way to establish authority and trust. Sharing links to relevant pages or posting videos discussing real estate can help spark interaction while cultivating trust in your brand.
Request client reviews — Finally, do not be afraid to request client reviews. The more people you can get to post about your services, the better. People typically look to review sites when choosing a real estate agent or another professional service.
Related: 5 Strategies for How To Make Customers Trust Your Brand
As a longstanding reputation manager, I understand the need for accolades and authority in any field, especially one as competitive as real estate. The above information is an excellent introduction to the complexity of the power of influence and reputation development.