As I write this, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) boasts a membership of over 11,000. Damn! That's a lot of competition. [Postscript: REBGV membership has since climbed to over 14,000 agents.]
If you're an agent in the Greater Vancouver area, how are you going to come up in the top-5 on Google, with all those agents targeting your city? Or any other highly competitive city?
One of the greatest challenges a branding and content marketing strategist faces is client backsliding. A strategy is mapped out and the client eagerly signs on with a program that is going to differentiate them from the sea of other agents competing for the same sellers and buyers.
Many companies are in the business of doing better sameness. They take whatever's out there, and they add 10% and declare themselves revolutionary and innovative.
- Guy Kawasaki
Make no mistake about it, being different takes courage. Two weeks later, they’re rethinking everything, and want to copy what a few of the better known agents are doing, with perhaps a cooler IDX search bar or prettier photos. And while there’s nothing wrong with these cosmetic touches, it’s just better sameness. Nothing will be 'different', even if it's a tiny bit more stylish. The prospective client will be hard pressed to see the added value they will receive from you.
Some agents are always on the hunt for the next gimmick. Several years back it was 360° virtual tour “spins”. Along the way we’ve had lightbox slideshows that hover over the page, video tours and more recently drone footage. Again, nothing at all wrong with showing off a property in a captivating way, but do any of these demonstrate how you are going to address their pain point and solve their problem for them?
Better sameness shows up in other approaches as well. First we had 3% brokerages, then 2%, 1% and now 0% with only a nominal fixed fee. Without a unique selling proposition (USP), and a way to stand out, many agents have discounted their services, in a desperate race to the bottom. Many did the same thing in the web development industry, with outsourced labor and give-away pricing. In most cases, the customer got exactly what they paid for, so it hurt the designer/developer and client alike.
Differentiate or die.
– Jack Trout
Buyers and sellers are looking for outcomes. Using Vancouver as the example, the job of every piece of content is to convince your audience that, of the more than 11,000 agents to pick from, you’re the go-to person to get the job done. [Postscript: REBGV membership has since climbed to over 14,000 agents.]
If you’re relatively new, the really good news is you don’t have to hold a twenty year track record, or a long list of sales awards, to get people to discover something in common, grow to like you, trust you and conclude you’re the best person for the job.
Trying to be the same — only ever so slightly better — will NEVER raise you head and shoulders above the crowd.
I came across a Venn diagram this morning that illustrates the component that enables us to connect with and build our audience online. There are millions of websites and social media profiles that demonstrate that the expert contributor has a lot of knowledge on the subject, and years of experience; yet they fail to ever gain more than a few followers and subscribers. Traffic and interaction are low to nonexistent.
I’m not downplaying the value of a wealth of knowledge and many years of experience, but they are rarely the traits that get internet searchers to take any notice. Somehow you have to stand way out.
When the personality, passions and desires of the person come out in the content, it adds a new dimension. Referring to the Venn diagram, it’s where knowledge, experience and passion intersect that we have the “You” people may be willing to engage with. In the movie You, Me and Dupree, Dupree (Owen Wilson) referred to it as our inner “ness.”
To use Vancouver as the example, the selection numbers over 11,000. Read the About Me page on any website and almost the same claims will be made. Almost every site includes the some form of the same tired Buyer and Seller pages, IDX search… same shit, different pile. The social media efforts tend to be nothing more than listing blasts, with no real value to the reader. And therein lies your potential advantage… you get to be different!
Authenticity can make all the difference. If your passion is sailing, is that reflected on your home page or social profiles? If you’re known as the real estate pro that is into sailing, who do you think a buyer of a boat property is likely to call? It could be skiing, horses, golf or any other passion. What I have difficulty understanding is the agents that have chosen to focus on a certain type of real estate, in a particular geographic region, that is about as far removed from the person they are as it is possible to get, because they believe that’s where the money is.
The only rule is don't be boring.
- Paris Hilton
Are you a bit rough around the edges, cuss way more than you should and sometimes rub people the wrong way? Here’s the thing; some people relate better with people that call things as they are. They consider them to be straight shooters. Showing a little of your colour in content could make you immediately likeable by a segment of buyers or sellers. And you’ve already set expectations. 🙂 You get to be yourself when you meet face to face.
I remember a time when we were helping real estate clients rise to the top of roughly 250 search results. Today Google shows over 70,200,000 competing pages for the term “vancouver real estate”. It’s a far noisier place. Being different is your only hope of being noticed above all that racket. You will never stand out by being the same. Real estate needs more personalities, not cloned sales robots. [Postscript: Google competition for "vancouver real estate" has since climbed to 198 million pages.]
Your personality, passions and desires will enable certain people to relate better to you than your top competitors. You're unique and it's something you should celebrate and leverage in your marketing.
What are your passions and desires, or unique personality traits, and how can they be turned into your greatest asset? I welcome your questions and comments below.
Cole Wiebe helps brands and professionals grow their influence and value online; so they can “out content”™ their competition. Cole is a content strategist, content writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.
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