Imagine you’re standing in the middle of an exhibit hall at your favorite convention. You’re there for one reason: to find the best lock boxes. As you walk around, you realize “gee, there are a lot of lock boxes here that all look the same.” You want more information, so you visit each vendor’s booth. You talk, they hand you a tri-fold informational brochure and you go on your merry way. At home you go through the brochures; but no one vendor really stands out. Each is just selling lock boxes. How do you choose?
This example is played out over and over in businesses every single day. Consumers, searching for the best product to meet their needs, are confronted with a colossal number of choices and brands, none of which truly stand out. This is instructional. In the case of real estate as sales, your services are the product and you are the brand.
So when you look at yourself compared to the competition, where do you stand? Are you distinguishing yourself or are you hiding behind industry norms of doing something a certain way?
Dan Kennedy, an authority on direct-response marketing and advertising and a provocative, truth-telling author of 20 business books has a unique take on helping brands stand out against the competitive playing field. He challenges his clients to look at industry norms and go against the grain.
In short, he believes in “showing up like no one else.”
Kennedy proposes several practical stand-out strategies. The KW Blog Editorial Team found the following particularly helpful for agents looking to differentiate themselves in a saturated market place.
The Absence of Unique Makes You Obsolete
It’s easy to buy into industry norms that real estate marketing or the services you offer are done a certain way. To be fair, we do acknowledge that there are certain fundamental strategies that every agent must employ in their business. But how you use those strategies to distinguish yourself is how you win. Doing what everyone else is doing just because everyone else is doing it is the quickest path obsoleteness: in the absence of unique your make yourself obsolete.
Let’s look at an example like online shoe stores. They are a dime a dozen. But there is one store that is synonymous with online shoe shopping: Zappos. Their unique calling card – exceptional customer service, easy return policy and enormous shoe inventory – distinguishes them from any other online retailer.
What are you synonymous with among your peers? What’s your “Unique Factor” or “U-Factor” for short? Do clients ever say “You do this ‘one thing’ better than anyone else” on a consistent basis? Yes? Then exploit that “thing” to your advantage! Here’s another tip if you aren’t sure about your “U-Factor”: look at what everyone else is doing in your market and go in a different direction.
Success Comes to Those Who Wait
Sales people have a killer instinct to jump on prospect and close them the second they come in. That may work for you right now. But you can also harness the power of what Kennedy calls the “Delayed Sale.”
The way the “Delayed Sale” works is simple in concept, but hard for sales-savvy agents to execute simply because it requires you to apply restraint in favor of a well-prepared prospect. You intentionally delay the sale in order to provide information up-front with a motivation to pay attention to it.
So how do you do that? First you have courage, and then you create what Kennedy calls a “Shock and Awe” package.
Validate your Value with “Shock and Awe”
The package can be something as simple as a video or as elaborate as a package Fed-Exed to their home prior to meeting. Seychelle Van Poole Engelhard of the Van Poole Team in Dallas, Texas (who we’ve featured several times on the blog) uses the free service Animoto, to make videos about her team’s unique marketing services. Prior to meeting, she sends the video to the client in an email with a little note simply stating: “Hey [client], here’s a great video we’d like you to watch before we meet. If you have any questions, please bring them to our meeting on [day].”
This accomplishes two things. One, she’s differentiating herself from other agents by using a video to talk about her services. And two, Seychelle is implementing the “Delayed Sale” concept by prompting her prospects to prepare and engage in the sales process before sitting down. This makes the sales process more efficient, less stressful for the buyer and the agent [Seychelle cut her meeting time substantially] and validates the services she offers and the commission she deserves.
Systems make the world go ‘round
The final piece of advice we found helpful as you embark on establishing your “U-Factor” is this idea of Systems. Systems - to be clear - are different than business operations. They are not, according to Kennedy, when you open doors, how you answer the phone or how your staff orders paper for the copy machine. Rather, your marketing and branding systems are those actions that are going to produce leads. Paper in the copy machine ≠ leads. So what do you do? First start by defining your audience, then you craft your message and then you tailor it to a specific media. It seems like an easy concept – but so many people get it wrong!
As you kick off your week we encourage you to look around. Ask yourself: “how bright do I shine amongst the crowded marketplace?”