By Toby Welch
With more than 130,000 real estate agents and brokers in Canada, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. So how do you stand out?
Tom Storey, a sales representative with Royal LePage Signature Realty in Toronto, shares how he differentiates himself: “I’ve always loved the saying ‘visibility beats ability’, which basically means it doesn’t matter how great you are at what you do if no one knows. I spend a lot of time focusing on how I can be more visible in my business. That includes everything from social media, to monthly market updates, flyers and staying top of mind. The average person only needs Realtor services about one per cent of their life (maybe two per cent if they move a lot). So ask yourself this question: What are you doing to stay top of mind when that opportunity presents itself?”
Blazing your own path and not imitating others is key to standing out. Avoid doing the same things as the other agents in your area. Spend time delving into what their unique selling proposition is and do the opposite. Pinpoint where the other agents are weak and make that one of your selling points. Constantly look at what is working and not working and build from there. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Innovate constantly.
Brian Vidas, a real estate agent with Sutton Centre Realty in Burnaby, B.C., and a top one per cent agent believes his appearance is a key factor in standing out. “When I am working, presentation is everything so you will always find me very well dressed in traditional business attire. I feel that this is one of the key ingredients to be recognized as a true professional in my trade.”
Vidas continues, “There are so many different personalities and style types in the real estate world. When I first started in real estate, I researched very successful Realtors and watched many real estate tutorials. I implemented a lot of these observations and blended them together with my own style and that is how I present myself in this business. Even today, my work ethic is still continuing to evolve as there is always something to learn from very successful people.”
For agents who stand out, the online world often plays a pivotal role. Having a kick-ass website is just the start. Think of your website as your digital storefront; give it the same importance as a physical shop. Even if you get a free website with your agency’s domain, consider getting your own website to use as a springboard for building your brand and presence. Offer a wealth of information for free with no expectation for anything in return. Create a dynamic blog. Make sure you have an active Google business listing – that is where the majority of people will find you. Ask clients to leave you a Google review, because reviews are another lure to potential clients.
Continuing with the online world, a social media presence is vital. Post and share all of your successes. Put pictures out into the world of buyers in front of their new homes. Be available on Facebook messenger and the like. Using videos will up your game and help with brand building. They also humanize you and build trust with clients. The stronger your brand, the more you will stand out from the others.
Jessica Stoner, an associate broker with Re/Max Alpine Realty in Canmore, Alta. and a real estate professional for 16 years, is a huge proponent of video communication. “This advice is useful and practical even in the best of times and with the current state of the world, it is more important than ever. Use video to communicate often with both leads and clients. Often, when I have an inquiry by email, I will immediately respond with a video email. Even if it is just to say, ‘Thanks, Janice, for your email and I will respond with more details this afternoon.’ It is personal and the client knows they were paid attention to. People don’t feel listened to as much when communication is only by text on a screen, time and time again.”
Stoner continues, “Video calling or chat is the best way to ensure a stronger bond with your clients when you can’t be face to face. The clients appreciate it and feel that you have spent more time with them, more than they would feel if the same conversation was by phone, email or text. These video options often take approximately the same or just a bit more time. They are worth any extra time required to ensure clients feel valued and you as an agent stand out far above your competitors.”
Ideas for how to stand out are endless. Sponsor events in your community. Network every time you leave the house. Attend events. Consider aligning with a non-profit organization. Contribute to local publications, even a homeowner’s association newsletter or the local freebie paper. When the coronavirus crisis has ended, host community soirees, such as a movie night or a yoga gathering. It’s all about getting your name out there and being seen as much as possible. One Ontario real estate agent has a cooking show that has racked up tens of thousands of views of his one- to two-minute cooking videos on Facebook; talk about a powerful tool for keeping in touch with contacts and generating buzz.
With no shortage of real estate agents in this country, it is essential you showcase your strengths and broadcast your value. Storey leaves us with a final thought: “Patience, consistency and execution are the three things that separate the top Realtors from the ones just getting by. The core fundamentals of real estate have not changed in 30 years. You have to connect with people, know your market/stats better than anyone else and you have to treat this like a business owner, not just a salesperson.”