Strengthening Your Brand

It's official; today's consumer relies less on brand names to make their purchasing decisions than they did in the past. In fact, since 1975 the percent of people who "try to stick" to well-known brand names has fallen 10% to 20% across all age groups.

Two reasons for this trend come to mind. First of all there are more brands today than in the past, and this naturally results in dilution of the power carried by any one brand name. Secondly, in today's competitive marketplace, many companies are changing their market focus and branding techniques too frequently.

On the other hand, as products and services become more similar due to increased competition, the importance of brand recognition actually becomes more important to the small businessperson, and those in the real estate business in particular. Even with the dropping reliance on brand names, no less than 59% of consumers "try to stick" with them; and this number is as high as 73% in the higher age groups surveyed.

Therein lies the problem. While consumers rely on brand names less than in the past, they are still powerful in their ability to persuade, and businesses often need to rely on branding even more than before.

Whether you're competing for business as an individual agent or on the brokerage level, here are three simple concepts you can use to strengthen both your brand awareness, and its effectiveness, as well.

The first issue to understand is the importance of consistency. The problem is that many businesspeople tend to try one marketing tactic or strategy and then change it if the desired results are not immediately achieved.

As most branding techniques become more effective with time, this tendency is very counter productive.

To quote advertising "Guru" Rosser Reeves: "If you run a brilliant campaign every year, but change it every year, your competitor can pass you with a campaign that's less brilliant - provided he doesn't change it."

To bring this lesson to a more personal level, answer the following questions:

  • Which company has such quality products that their repairman never has anything to do?
  • Who keeps on "going and going?"
  • What is "Good to last drop?"
Realize that each of these questions has in several traits in common. They represent long-running campaigns; that you may not have been exposed to recently; yet you still likely knew the answer to each one because of the consistency of the branding effort over the years.

Think about the power of consistency carefully the next time you consider changing your logo, slogan, or any other substantial part of your marketing campaign.

The second point that needs to be addressed is that of frequency. Most real estate agents do not impact their prospects frequently enough to be truly successful.

Again, let me make my point by asking a simple question.

If I am transferred today and must sell my home, but haven't received your newsletter or been reminded about your services during the last 60 days, what are the odds that I will I remember to call you first?

If you really expect to receive a substantial amount of business from your personal sphere of influence, including past customers and clients, then you need to make sure that you're constantly reminding them about your services.

If you want a piece of the prospect's mind, you'll have to pay for it! And, that means marketing to your prospects with more frequency than most agents and brokers realize. I personally believe that in real estate, you need to reinforce your brand in your prospects' minds every three to four weeks.

However, sending a newsletter to your sphere of influence every three weeks might be a bit much. Not only would this be very costly to implement but also the principle of "habituation" says that increased frequency of the same stimuli results in reduced recognition and response on the part of the recipient.

Essentially, too much frequency can result in dilution of your message.

Thus, the importance of variety comes into play.

Rather than concentrating all of your branding efforts on one medium, realize that using several marketing techniques will usually be more effective.

For instance, an annual marketing plan that calls for sending a newsletter on a quarterly basis, along with four holiday cards, ten new listing postcards, quarterly email market updates and four personal phone calls would result in twenty-six marketing impressions each year.

That's a frequency of one contact and marketing impression every two weeks, with fairly reasonable costs and also reduces the potential of the prospect becoming desensitized to your message.

Add in the consumer's exposure to your for sale and open house signs as well as your classified advertising and you've got a much better chance of retaining a bit of "mind share" in the prospects that you're targeting.

To summarize, if you want your targeted prospects to remember your brand and the services that you offer, you need to maintain consistency while using variety to step up the frequency of your marketing impressions without diluting your message.

Success can be that simple!

The content of this article is based on my seminar:
Building Your Personal Marketing Plan
Stephen M. Canale
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