Branding Your Real Estate Investing Business

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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 Or  it could be that their real estate investing business no longer represents that image they first held in their minds.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 If it no longer represents your business accurately then it should probably be changed.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.

Related: How to Create an Awesome Lead Generating Website in Under an Hour with No Technical Abilities

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.

My Plan

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.

 

Photo: minifig

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.

21 Comments

  1. Another great post, Sharon! Very insightful as usual. I definitely see the importance of branding your name as well as your business because most people will remember your name first and name of your business last if they aren’t similar!

  2. This gets so overwhelming, doesn’t it?
    Like everything else in this business, who you and your company are evolves.
    We started with 2 sites, one for buying and one for selling.
    Then we moved to a landing page where they could click a link that took them to buying or selling.
    Then we created a site where we send investors.
    Then a site for our property management company.
    Then a site approved by the real estate commission when we opened our brokerage.
    And I have my site for blogging.
    Eventually we started coaching and created a site for that.

    GOOD GRIEF!

    I now have an about.me page so that I have only one place on my business card to send people (and back to only one business card – thank goodness).

    Point is, don’t worry about making all the “right” decisions today. It may/will change over time and that’s good – that means you’re continuing to grow and evolve.

    Thanks, Sharon, for the post.

    • Sharon Vornholt

      Karen –

      You hit the nail right on the head. Everything changes as we grow and evolve. You just have to keep making those changes and “tweaking” everything. It’s like the project that never ends. There just has to be a way to connect all the pieces on the buying / selling side as well as on the teaching/ coaching/product side.

      Thanks for reading.
      Sharon

  3. Thanks for posting. I’ve just started, but I have separatedmy business into two compenents and possibly three later. I want to start a “we buy homes” section, but that doesn’t mesh with my branding of my resells. I target a 10 mile radius(I know thats up for another discusdion) and branding formy rentals. I eorked in real estate advertising sales for a decade and ai saw how importsnt a nsme can be in the home buyong process. My rentals I want fo do the same. Post Properties did that in multifamily and there apts always leased at higher and faster rates.
    Tell me if I’m crazy, but my goal is to have10+ homes within 4 years (we’re at 4 now) Its not alot but this area has changed each year for the last 10 and I don’t see that changing anytime soon,

  4. Glenn Schworm

    Great article as usual! I like your idea about branding your name. Good idea. Today I went and bought SharonVornholt.com, I would be happy to sell it to you for a nice profit! 🙂 LOL Seriously though great info, thanks for writing.

    • Sharon Vornholt

      LOL. It’s good I don’t have a common name. It was still available when I got it a few months ago. If you are “John Smith” you are definitely going to be disappointed.

      Better head on over to GoDaddy today. Here’s what I found:

      Congratulations!

      GLENNSCHWORM.COM is available. Snap it up before someone else does. Just $10.99*

      I could make a profit down the road from that name.
      Sharon

  5. Tracy Royce

    Wonderful article Sharon. I too use my name to try to stand apart. Luckily it’s related to a high-end company; I don’t think if my name was Tracy Shady or Tracy Ripsyouoff I’d have the same comfort in self-branding 🙂

    I’m constantly tweaking my site. I have a few lead gen sites but for the most part I send sellers to my authority site. But I really embraced the concept of brand building and worked side by side with my developers.

    Maybe someday I will be like you and have other sites for coaching, product, and affiliate sales! For now the content posting and upkeep on the others is enough to keep us busy. Do you mind if I ask how many leads you get off your (seller) site and how long it took you to get it to that point?

    As always, thanks for the insight into business building. I enjoy learning from your experience.

    • Sharon Vornholt

      Tracy –

      You are one lucky girl to have that last name, and you were really smart to capitalize on that right from the beginning. Most of us have names that are going to require work in the branding arena.

      I am working on my “grand vision” now. I don’t have all of the pieces, but creating a mind map has really helped to clarify things.

      I went out to office depot the other day and bought a big sheet of whiteboard for my wall. For anyone that doesn’t know, you can buy a sheet of this about 2′ by 4′ for under $10. I am getting ready to transfer my vision to that piece of whiteboard to help me stay on track. Like everything else I do, I will probably do a blog post about it. I appreciate your comments and hearing about your experiences. Have a great day.

      Sharon

  6. Great post, thank you!

    I have three sites for my business – one for investors, one for sellers, and one for buyers. I think branding is essential. One big thing I took from your post was building your personal brand. I never thought I had enough expertise to showcase, but after I read your post and thought a bit, I discovered that I really do have quite a bit of education and experience that I can package. Thanks!

    I do have one small editorial comment – I’m a computer/web guy and I think you made a great point about changing up your name slightly. However, you mentioned “Paul.Evans.com.” This wouldn’t work, because “Paul.Evans.com” would just be a subdomain under whoever owns “Evans.com.” Otherwise, you are spot on. I had to insert a hyphen between my first and last names, because jaysebastian.com is apparently a latino singer’s site. 🙂

    • Sharon Vornholt

      Jay –

      I think everyone has expertise that the next guy doesn’t have; you always have something to teach. The best ways to brand yourself is through contributing to sites like BiggerPockets and by having your own blog. Best of luck with RE investing.

      Sharon

  7. Very informative post. What would you recommend to do if you have multiple businesses in different fields. How would you establish expertise in multiple field that don’t necessarily relate to each other.

    Plan to get my domain name this weekend

  8. Great ideas about personal branding and segregating things for different audiences.
    My current main website is okay for branding my business and could be used for potential investors.
    I don’t think it I’d put a lot of the We Buy Houses stuff there or too much personal info.
    The idea of an authority site makes so much sense! I can see linking between that and any professional business site and just segregate most of the lead capture stuff.

    Thanks for all these great ideas you have been getting in my head recently!

  9. Shaun –

    Things are constantly changing aren’t they? There is so much more to think about today, and branding is certainly one of them. As your business grows, you really have to think about how everything fits together. Thanks for your comments!

    Sharon

  10. Great post Sharon. good timing to help me with the name change and re branding and websites……..so much like Karen said but one day at a time I guess. It can be overwhelming but that’s why we are entrepreneurs. I am embarrassed to say I haven’t purchased the book by Brian Tracey yet. Ughhhh! My business has exploded in a good way so all the more reason I need to read that book. If I don’t have it in hand by Friday this week I will be sending you a check for $100 to give to a charity of your choice. A little pain always helps me to be accountable. Lets see if I remember. LOL

  11. Hey Mike –

    Everything just takes time, and it has to be done one step at a time. I can tell you what got me back on track. I got out a big sheet of paper and started making a mind map. I put everything down on that paper. I used a paper and pencil because I was moving everything around initially. I have finally hung up my big sheet up whiteboard in my office, and I will be transferring my plan over to that erasable board so I have no choice but to look at it every day. It’s amazing how you can see “holes” or gaps in what you need to do when you do this exercise.

    You probably already know this but just in case you don’t, you can get a sheet of whiteboard at Home Depot that is about 2’x4’ for under $10. I just used mirror hangers to put it up on the wall.

    Here’s what you need to do with “Eat that Frog”; go on Amazon tonight and just order it. You will have it before the weekend. But, I will always take the $100.
    BTW, congrats on all the success you are having with your business and with your girls. It’s really great that they want to work there and learn.

    Sharon

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