Everywhere you look real estate investors are talking about branding their businesses. The conversation isn’t always the same, but the underlying idea is always the same.
- How do I distinguish my business from all the other ones in my area? How to I stand out from the crowd?
- How do I become the authority and the go to expert in my industry?
One way you can do that is through consistent and deliberate branding.
What’s in a Name?
Some folks will be thinking about business names when they talk about branding. It might be that they feel their name no longer accurately represents their brand or what they do. Mike Lacava wrote about this in his recent post “What Should I Re-Name My Real Estate Investing Business?”. Or it could be that their real estate investing business no longer represents that image they first held in their minds.
In all probability that vision of their original “ideal business” has grown and evolved into something quite different than they originally envisioned. A name is kind of like a pair of shoes; it needs to fit. You wouldn’t buy a pair of flip flops for hiking; you would want hiking boots. The same is true of your business name. You want to know that your name will be a good fit for years to come. If it no longer represents your business accurately then it should probably be changed.
It may also be that over time the business owner has changed and now they just don’t like the name they originally chose. Whatever the reason, they want or feel like they need a different name. You can change your name or rebrand your business and move forward without too many problems (as long as you aren’t Pepsi or Coke). One of the things you need to do is to let people know especially if you are talking about a business with a strong online presence. Let them be a part of the process.
Your Website and Your Brand
Does your current website accurately portray your business? Does it have all of the components that you need? The only thing worse than not having a website, is having a bad website.
This is one place that branding usually starts to fall apart. Most of the time before folks decide on a company to do business with (whether it is a product or a service) they will do a search online to “check you out”. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What do people find when they search for you?
- Is your business accurately represented on your website?
- Do you have a clear, concise way that they can contact you?
- Have you provided a way to stay in touch with these potential leads such as through auto responders?
Can you answer “yes” to all of these questions?
There is one last thing to ask yourself; are you proud to send folks over to your website? If the answer is no, then you need to take some steps to fix that.
Personal Branding VS Business Branding
In the past, many people especially real estate investors only thought about branding their business. While that is certainly important, I have come to believe that it is vital that you also brand yourself. Over time you will get known in your business by your name.
The first step to take is to buy your name as a “.com” URL if it is still available. If it isn’t available, then think about making a slight change to the way you show your name. For instance if your name was Paul Evans and “PaulEvans.com” was taken, think about “Paul.Evans.com”. It might be that if you have a common name, you will need to add your middle initial or a dash in the name so it might be “PaulSEvans.com or Paul-Evans.com”. Just figure out a different way to do it and get your domain.
What Is Your Grand Vision?
Once you have your domain name, you need to have a plan. What is your grand vision for your business? I like to create mind maps. They help me to think clearly. I almost always start out with a big piece of paper and a pencil to figure out the “parts” to something. You can certainly do this with a number of computer programs. But I like to use the “eraser method” to move things around on paper.
Once this step is done, you can begin some cross branding strategies. How you start down this path will be greatly influenced by what you want to accomplish with this cross branding.
For example: I have very deliberately separated my blog from my real estate investing company. I don’t want motivated sellers to have a connecting link to a site where I talk about getting great deals. I think everyone will agree that makes sense.
When I think about what I will do with my “name domain” (which I purchased a while back), it will not have anything to do with sending traffic to my motivated seller site. I would use my “name domain” as my authority site that told all about me.
Your authority site gives you the chance to let people know about YOU. You can showcase your background, your specialties, and also any events or webinars you are hosting. This could be something as simple as speaking at your local REIA meeting. Listing those events builds your “authority” within your niche.
- There should also be a way for folks to contact you. This is important so be sure you have that on your site.
- Coaching programs you offer could be here but since they are really a service, you would probably want to put them on the same site you put your products. Just include a tab on your authority site with a link to the correct page you are referring them to.
- The last thing would be some tabs that would contain links to my blog and any products I had to offer, but they would not be a part of this authority site.
- Since my blog is where I write about investing and I consider it to be a teaching site, this is where I would have links to any products or affiliate programs I wanted to direct folks to.
What If All Your Activities Are Directed Toward Motivated Sellers?
The process would be similar if you are an investor who has a motivated seller site, a blog or products that are strictly for sellers.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say I have my “name domain”, and I have a blog where my target audience is homeowners and current (or future) motivated sellers. I also have a motivated seller site for lead capture. Those last two could actually be the same site. The blog could simply just be a part of your lead capture site in this case.
Let’s also assume I have a some products; I have written a couple of books for sellers on “How to Sell Your House Yourself” and “Staging Your Home to Sell in Half the Time”.
In this example, you would have your personal branding domain just for building your authority or expert status. You would then have tabs such as “Blog”, “Sell Your House Now” (that would go to the correct page on your motivated seller site), a “Coaching” tab and a “Resources for Selling Your House Quickly” that would take people off this site and go directly to your product(s) page. Your exact needs will dictate how this will all come together for you.
If you haven’t already purchased your “name” in a domain, head on over to a site like GoDaddy.com and do that today. I would love to hear from anyone that has an authority site.
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.