This is a guest post by fellow real estate investor and blogger, Sharon Vornholt.
Most real estate investors I know spend their days doing all of the activities that will bring them more deals; activities that will put more money in their pocket. In the process of doing all of these things, they build a business. Even when this business becomes very successful, typically only a handful of those folks have given any serious thought to branding. In fact, if you ask them, “Have you given any thought to branding your real estate investing business” the answer is almost always no.
They know that they should do it, but they just can’t find time to take those first steps.
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Branding is “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product or a service from other products or services. In a nutshell, a brand is what sets us apart from our competition.
Stop and think about that for a minute; isn’t that what we are always trying to do? We want to differentiate ourselves and to find a way to stand out in a crowded field. Being really good at what you do just isn’t enough. You need to start today to build a recognizable brand. This doesn’t happen overnight, but with some forethought and consistent action, things just seem to magically come together over time.
There is the “look of a brand” or the visual components. They might include logos and colors that you use on your website, marketing materials, etc. Think about these brands:
These visual things are important, but there is so much more to creating a brand.
Before you begin creating your brand, you should give this process some serious thought. When done properly, your brand will tell your customers exactly who you are and what they can expect when they use your company.
Here are a few of examples that drive home this point:
You will notice that all of these have logos and colors. But these brands are so well defined that they tell a story, and you know exactly what you can expect from each of these companies. What does your brand say about you?
Creating your brand is almost always made up of online strategies and offline strategies these days. Your brand might begin with your website. Let me ask you this; when someone goes to your website from one of your direct mail letters, what do they see? Do they see the same logo? Do they feel like your website is an extension of your personal brand that you have built? If your answer is no or even if you don’t know at this point, there’s still plenty of time to get it right.
Get Your “Name Domain”
Creating your “total brand” is really made up of two parts; your company brand and your personal brand. Most real estate investing companies have a website for their business and this is one part of your total brand.
The second part is building your personal brand. If you don’t already own your “name domain” you should get that as soon as possible. So if your name is Daniel Jenkins you want to get the domain danieljenkins.com. Now you might have to get a little creative here especially if you have a common name. You might have to add a middle initial or tweak the name in some fashion to get your name domain. Just be aware that the longer you wait, the more difficult this will be.
You Need a Great Logo for Your Business
If you are creative you may be able to do this yourself. But chances are you are probably going to need some help. There are a lot of places you can get a logo. You can get a simple logo on Fiverr.com for just $5 bucks or if you want to spend a little more you can check out companies like 99designs.com. The important thing is to get started.
You Need a Tagine for Your Business
Your tagline should tell everyone what you do. My tagline in my business is “We Buy Houses … We Solve Problems”. You will notice that it is short and sweet but it tells exactly what I do. When I had a home inspection business my tagline was, “Inspecting Louisville One House at A Time”. Again it told what business we were in.
Just do a little brainstorming to come up with your own tagline. This is just one more way your customers can remember you.
Before you begin this whole process of building your brand, you want to spend some time thinking about the big picture. Everything that is used in your business should contain the same branding. The same logo, colors, and tagline should be used in all of your printed materials such as letterhead, newsletters and business cards. The look and message of your website should be consistent with your other branding. If you buy company apparel you will want those to be the same too.
Your brand should embody your values, your ethics and your way of doing business. The brand that you create is how you want people to think about you. Just remember that if you aren’t able to deliver what your brand promises or what it stands for, then a nice logo and some cool colors won’t make up for that. You will have little chance of building a business that can stand the test of time if this piece is missing. Live your brand on a daily basis.
When developing your brand think about who you will be serving. What is your brand’s “persona”?
Is your brand friendly? Do you target high end clients or is your ideal client more like the “average Joe”? This will be important when you are developing your brand and all of the elements that make up your brand. It will also help you tailor your marketing to your ideal client.
In our business there is a real estate investor on just about every corner. The competition is fierce so the need to stand out and be different is more important now than ever. With careful branding, you can build a name for yourself in this business and out shine the competition every time.
What does your brand say about you?
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Nice post. It brought back memories from my marketing class. You talked about Mercedes and the expensive guy and I’d like to ask you and Danny about what your thoughts are about what types of vehicles and dress code buyers (real estate investors) use and wear when initially meeting a seller. I recently had a landscaper come out and give me an estimate. He pulled up in a newer model Ford F-450 King Ranch and nicely dressed (to be a landscaper). This truck is easily over 60K and when I saw that, I must admit I got a little on edge. I immediately thought that his “free estimate” was going to be sky high and sure enough it was. Even if it was a competitive quote, I probably still would have went with someone else. I know first impressions are everything, so do you guys think it is possible to loose deals because of being the expensive guy? It was for the landscaper:) On the other hand, I would think that some could be a little skeptical also if a person (the buyer) is driving a 1993 Chevy Cavalier wearing a t-shirt and gym shorts. Kinda sounds like I answered my own question but I’d still like to hear your thoughts..
Fantastic question, Ralph.
I just typed up a really long response only to accidentally hit the wrong keys on my laptop and close the window. 🙁
Obviously, I don’t have the time to retype all of it so I will just paraphrase.
Regarding vehicle, most of the successful investors I know drive average cars. Nothing fancy, but also not beat up. The concern is that a seller might not think you legitimately can buy their house. A Bentley might intimidate them and would probably result in it being harder to relate to them (which is important when trying to build rapport).
Regarding clothes, I just wear jeans and a button down shirt and sometimes a t-shirt. I would say sellers feel comfortable with me because I don’t appear intimidating.
Great post Sharon and Danny!
Good advise on getting your personal name domain name.
I think a good ole polo shirt with nice embroidery satisfies most circumstances. Don’t over dress or under dress. The company polo covers the majority of situations.
If you don’t use a company name the embroider your name on it. TimDavids.com or something like that.
Good Post Sharon!love it.
Being consistent, is very important. Having a unique logo, name or tag-line, helps people remember you. Dying your hair purple might differentiate you , but you still must be professional…
You have a very informative article. Keep up the good work!
Glad you liked it, Laura.