From years of counseling newly minted real estate agents, Kim Luckie has learned a few things.
One is that you don’t start branding yourself until you completed a few transactions – or about 30 to be exact.
“Agents don't really start to know who they are and what unique value they provide until they get to about 25, 30 transactions,” says Luckie, Director of Brand and Demand Generation for ERA American Real Estate in Shalimar, Florida.
“It's not necessarily a magic number, but I've found it to be kind of magic because it's happened over and over again. The bottom line is, you've had enough transactions that you've gone through the different personalities and different situations. You start to recognize what you love about what you do. You also recognize the part of that transaction you're really good at, where you shine the most,’’ Luckie says.
Because when it gets right down to it, branding is about telling your story. “And you can’t tell your story until you understand the value you provide.”
What happens if you try to pick a brand first?
“There’s been a couple of agents who were really good at telling their story in the very beginning,’’ Luckie explains. “I had a couple and they were like, "I am this kind of agent," right out of the gate, "I have had zero transactions but this is who I am. This is how I'm going to help you."
So what happened? “They had a quick start, probably quicker than most, but right in the end of the first year, or for another one it was the middle of the second year, I started hearing, "Kim ... it hit me." That's the key I get. "Kim, it hit me. This is what I do, this is what I love, and this is what I'm good at."
How does she calm their jitters about not focusing on the branding?
Luckie helps ERA American with its branding, so that becomes the agent’s brand until they start to understand what their own brand should be. “It’s like when you start at college or a first job. Don’t worry about your logo, worry about learning everything you can.And understand that branding should be organic. “Your brand only begins to become powerful when it comes from something true that people see. It has to be authentic. It has to be who you really are. And agents just don’t start to know that until they get to 25-30 transactions.’’
Luckie runs regular Brand Camps with agents. And while they often want help picking their tagline, she gets them to work on learning how to follow up with clients, understanding the way they prospect. In a word, learning to be their authentic self.
Taking your brand to the next level
But as someone that handles some of the technical components of the business, she sees that agents could use a little assist from technology to build that brand and stay connected.
Luckie manages the demand gen side of marketing for her brokerage (a likely reason she gets to be Captain Awesome, cape and all. The agents want those leads she generates). She says the brokerage has what she calls a “buffet of tools” to manage leads and virtually every other part of the real estate business.
What she has wanted was a solution to help them “really reinforce the stream of business that has always been there, the people that they know. I really feel like it is taken for granted, and most ignored.’’
CRMs, by themselves, don’t help agents stay connected. Because Luckie’s brokerage requires agents to enter information into the CRM to qualify for leads, they often view the CRM as a compliance tool – not something that helps them stay in touch with the people they are meeting and helping. “We’ve tried to go around to the offices and help reframe it as ‘this will help you figure out who needs your services today.’’
This is where Luckie finds the solution that First brings that sort of missing piece to the relationship building puzzle. “I think the database, the sphere of influence, has been taken for granted. We really need technology to help agents understand who to focus on.’’ First uses machine learning to understand who is most likely to sell in the next 6- to 9-months. In of itself, that doesn’t boost an agent’s sales. Instead, it helps them understand who they should reach out to, reconnect with or otherwise build a stronger relationship with.
“So when we were introduced to First it was like ‘Oh my gosh!’ It was such a relief because I feel like you guys really understand that we need technology to meet this need and help agents understand who they need to focus their time on.”
Luckie views the solution First provides as a push to encourage agents to make it a habit to take care of people in their sphere that might be needing their services. “And sometimes taking care of them means they are not really ready for them. And that’s okay.’’
But it’s a tool that gets you closer than you were when you wondered who in that 500-person database should get a coffee invite. “It’s the best version of you taking care of people you know,’’ Luckie says.