Marketing Is Not The Same Thing As Branding

Written by Posted On Monday, 28 February 2005 16:00

Often, when I speak to agents about branding, they tell me that they already brand themselves. Inevitably when I ask them to describe for me what their branding activities are, they respond by telling me about direct mail campaigns and farm area newsletters, their pictures on shopping carts or movie theater screens.

These are all valid marketing techniques, but they are not branding. Branding is the process of creating the perception in the minds of the public, that you are the best agent for the job. It's like that saying… "People don't care what you know until they know you care." Why you? Why should they care?

This is a hard concept to grasp. It's very easy to fall back on what we know and, as real estate agents what do we know better, than paying too much for classified ads every week? Sometimes, I find it easier to explain the concept of branding by defining what branding is not.

Marketing is not branding.

These two concepts are easily and often confused, but they are not the same. Sending out direct mail and placing ads in the newspaper, or, on shopping carts and park benches, are all examples of marketing. Marketing is about a quick response. You are sending out direct mail or placing a classified ad because you want people to act on your product, i.e., the home or service you are selling.

Branding, by contrast, is a slow process, designed to pre-sell you to your customers. Unlike marketing, branding is not about making a quick sale or completing a transaction, It's about building your image over time. Think about consumer brands like Coca Cola or Nike, you can probably tell me the slogan or brand for both. Coca Cola is of course, "The Real Thing," and Nike's slogan is "Just do it." The image of those companies is their brand. Something about their brand speaks to their target market. They used their brand to build a loyal customer base. You could never see another Coca Cola commercial again, but you'll probably remember what their logo and slogan are.

That is branding.

As a real estate agent your goal should be similar. If you never place another classified ad, or send another piece of direct mail, you want to create a brand that people remember. Like Coca Cola and Nike, you want to create brand loyalty. But as an agent, you are essentially selling yourself. So what is about you that you want people to remember?

Brand loyalty is about emotion. It's about solving people's problems, it's about doing something better, and different than everyone else in your marketplace. So, again I ask, why you? Why should someone choose you? The answer is your brand.

Your numbers are not your brand.

When I open up my Sunday newspaper, I count no less than six agents proclaiming themselves to be the number one agent in my marketplace. I congratulate each and every one of them, but that is not branding. It tells consumers nothing about who they are, or what services they provide. Branding is all about perception. What perception do you think it creates when five other agents are claiming to be the number one agent? We all know that one could be the number one agent in their office, the other could be number one in listings, etc., but these numbers mean nothing to consumers.

What resonates with consumers is emotion. Think about how you shop and the choices you make. We are drawn to products and people who fulfill a perceived need. If I'm selling my condo and I have the choice between Sally Smith, "Number One Agent in Anytown" or, John Jones, "Specialist in Condo Sales," I'm calling John. I need to sell my condo, John specializes in selling condos. His brand tells me who he is and what he does. Sally could be number one yet, have never sold a condo. Or even, John Jones, "Most Trustworthy Agent in Anytown," I'd still pick John. I know what to expect with John, he has pre-sold me. Sally could be number one but dishonest, and not trustworthy. John is, or at least he has created the perception, in my mind that he is trustworthy. And, as we all know, perception is reality.

So, again I ask, "why you?" Why should your customers choose you? The first (and hardest) step in building a successful brand is answering that question.

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Blanche Evans

"Blanche Evans is a true rainmaker who brings prosperity to everything she touches.” Jan Tardy, Tardy & Associates

I have extensive and award-winning experience in marketing, communications, journalism and art fields. I’m a self-starter who works well with others as well as independently, and I take great pride in my networking and teamwork skills.

Blanche founded evansEmedia.com in 2008 as a copywriting/marketing support firm using Adobe Creative Suite products. Clients include Petey Parker and Associates, Whispering Pines RV and Cabin Resort, Greater Greenville Association of REALTORS®, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Prudential California Realty, MLS Listings of Northern California, Tardy & Associates, among others. See: www.evansemagazine.com, www.ggarmarketclick.com and www.peteyparkerenterprises.com.

Contact Blanche at: [email protected]

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