By Craig Proctor
RISMEDIA, Nov. 26, 2008-Before you can begin to market effectively to your prospects, you need to ask yourself some important questions:
• What motivates the target group of prospects that you‘re after?
• What factors are most important to them?
Do they want a quick sale or top dollar? Are they after best value or most attentive service or least hassle? How do you find out what prospects want?
Well, it’s simple. You ask them. Failing to understand and address your customers’ needs is one of the biggest marketing mistakes real estate agents make. Rather than assuming or guessing you know the answers, you should be asking your prospects directly by researching their needs. This doesn’t have to be a complicated or time consuming task, and there are lots of ways to get this information, but make sure you know the answers to these questions. With this knowledge, you can develop unique consumer programs to address these needs and set yourself apart from your competitors.
Set Yourself Apart by Giving Your Prospects What They Want in a Unique and Innovative Way
To truly set yourself apart from your competitors in a meaningful and memorable way, you need to develop a powerful USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Your USP addresses a very important prospect issue – it answers the question: “Why should I do business with you?” You must have a very good answer to this question.
If someone asked you what made you different from all the other real estate agents in your marketplace – in other words, why they should choose you to buy or sell a home versus all other options – what would you say to them?
• Could you give them a compelling and convincing answer in 60 seconds or less?
• Would what you say elicit a response from them of: “Wow, how do you do that?”
Chances are your answer to both these questions is no, because the fact of the matter is, most real estate agents don’t know what a USP is let alone have one. Sometimes, even if agents have a USP that they communicate in one-on-one situations (such as a listing presentation), they don’t communicate it effectively to the masses in their marketing efforts. And yet, if you don’t promote a compelling USP, you’re not setting yourself apart from all of the other realtors in your marketplace.
Your USP tells the world who you are and what you do. It articulates clearly and concisely what benefit a prospect will derive from doing business with you instead of your competitors. You should be able to articulate your USP clearly in 60 seconds or less. Astonishingly, most Realtors couldn’t begin to clearly explain their USP at all, and if you can’t articulate it, it’s highly unlikely that your customers and prospects will be able to understand it.
What Makes You Different?
The problem is that most Realtors have never sat down and asked themselves these important questions:
• What distinguishes my company or business from my competitors?
• Do my homes sell faster? For more money?
• Do my buyers save money or time?
• Am I more expensive, less expensive?
• Do I have a better system to attract customers?
• Am I more aggressive in my marketing programs and strategies?
• Do I render more service? Give better value? Give a better guarantee? Make it easier to do business with me?
• What makes me different?
When it comes right down to it, most real estate agents don’t have a USP at all. When I review the ads of most Realtors, I invariably come across the same problems:
1. There is no unique selling proposition, or
2. There is a wandering statement that most frequently focuses on vague self-promoting generalities such as:
• we’re #1
• we give the best service
• we have the lowest prices
• we’re the biggest – the best
• and so on
This is what I call “Self Image Advertising.” The fact is, every company says the same old things and somehow expects them to be compelling . . .
These same vague, broad promises are empty, meaningless, unsubstantiated, unbelievable and completely lacking in credibility. Yet still, everyone says them. Would you really expect anyone to claim that they give the worst service or offer the worst value?
In direct contrast to this, your USP must be benefit-driven. It must be meaningful, relevant and valuable to your prospects. Without these ingredients, your message will most likely fall on deaf ears. It won’t be seen or heard. It will wind up getting “zapped” just like the thousands of other messages the average person is exposed to every single week.
Think about It from Your Customer’s Perspective
An effective ad must be written from the prospect’s standpoint, not the agent’s. When you write an ad, instead of asking yourself:
“What can I tell them about me?” you should be asking: “What can I offer prospects that they want or need?”
All you have to do is scan your local paper to see that the average agent doesn’t have a clue about differentiating themselves. Everyone’s saying the same bland, old things, or nothing at all. Most agents waste their money on ineffective ads that produce little or no results other than possibly pacifying their sellers’ demands by advertising their property.
Your Prospects Don’t Care About You as Much as You Care About Them
Think of it this way. You probably have a pretty clear picture of your marketplace and the agents who compete against you. You scour every ad. Your ears are tuned to hear what’s going on in the market. You solicit feedback on yourself and your competitors. You live and breathe your real estate business. In short, because you are so close to your business, you’ve entirely lost your objectivity – your perspective.
Well, let me tell you something very important. Your prospects couldn’t care less about you. When your prospects decide to hire a real estate agent, the sea of choices looks just like that – a sea – a vast ocean of choices with no directional markers to steer his or her path to your door.
You know you’re there. You know exactly who is operating inside this big body of water – who’s fighting for position just underneath the surface. But how can your prospects possibly find you if you don’t put up a marker to show them where you are and – most importantly – why they should use you.
You may think you’ve got a marker up because of all the money you’re pouring into advertising. But if the message you’re spending money on looks just the same as the message that all other real estate agents are using, you really haven’t put up a marker at all. All that you and the other agents in your town have done is raised the water level.
Are you the #1 agent in your town, your company, your state or province? Well, take it from a customer (and I’ve asked the same question of hundreds of customers) – So what?! . . . And what this really means is: “So – what does this mean for me? What’s in it for me.”
What’s in It for Me?
Try to take a step back and look through a customer’s eyes. Every agent in your local paper is #1 for something. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your prospects will take the time and energy to analyze all these #1 claims to figure out which one means the most. Believe me – they won’t bother. And why should they? You‘re supposed to be telling them why they should do business with you – what’s in it for them.
Your USP is quite basically the essence of your entire business concept; that unique advantage that distinguishes your business from all your competitors.
The issues and questions you must address to determine what your unique advantage is are as follows:
• Determine what your customers want
• Find out which of these needs you can fill
• Find a way to clearly state to your customers that you are the source to fill those needs – this is your USP
Here are some examples of some powerful USPs that have been very successful:
• View 6 Homes in One Afternoon with My Sunday Tour of Homes
• Your Home Sold in under 120 Days or I Buy It
• Move Up to Any One of My Listings and I’ll Buy Your Home for Cash
• Your Home Sold in under 60 Days or I’ll Pay You $1,000 Cash
• Your Home Will Sell for an Average $3,000 More (with graphs to back this up – ie. your results vs. the Real Estate Board)
6 Criteria Your USP Must Incorporate
Here are some general rules of thumb to keep in mind when creating your USP:
1. Be unique . . . Offer something that is truly different
2. Be specific . . . It’s always better to be very precise and specific. The more precise and exact a statement is, the more believable it becomes. People generally won’t challenge – or even doubt – precise numbers because they assume that this precision was calculated by some kind of reliable mathematical or statistical method. Instead of saying that your homes sell for 2% more than the real estate board average, say they sell for 2.36% more.
3. Be relevant . . . This means that you have to offer a benefit that means something to your prospect. You have to connect with them at some deeply felt level.
4. Be believable . . . Don’t offer something that is so hard to swallow that you fail to be taken seriously.
5. Be focused . . . Don’t try to be all things to all people. But equally, don’t target your message to too small a group (you have to be able to earn a sustainable income), and don’t forget to keep your eye on the future (your USP may have to evolve with changes in the market).
6. Be concise . . . You do not want a paragraph of copy. Instead, you want a single – easy to understand – thought. You must articulate – in a few words – the precise advantage you have over your competition.
“There were three big leverage points that allowed me to grow my real estate business to over $1 million a year,” said Todd Walters, an agent with The Realty Team in Georgia. “One was a contact managements system. Two was the DISC personal concept and three was the development and implementation of a Unique Selling Proposition. A USP, like Your Home Sold or I’ll Buy It*, allows the agent to stand out above other competitiors. It answers the question for the prospect “If I use this agent, I will get ‘x.'”
Walters continued: “When working to get face to face with a prospect or a signed right to sell agreement you must answer the prospects questions of “why should I do business with you over and above all other agents – including doing it on my own or nothing at all.” A good USP like the guaranteed sell above, has allowed me to not just attract more prospects to me, but even increase the demand for my sellers homes. Without a unique selling proposition, I would be just like all the other agents and therefore my results would not be as effective.”
To find out more about how to set yourself apart from your competitors, you can visit http://www.hypertracker.com/go/cp/a20c081126/ where you can learn about free Craig Proctor workshops held year round in cities across the country. Billion Dollar AgentTM Craig Proctor has been in the top 10 for RE/ MAX Worldwide for 15 years and is the only real estate trainer who actually does what he teaches. Craig consistently sells over 500 homes per year to earn almost $4 million in annual commission. Over 25,000 agents nationwide use Craig’s system to make more money in less time.