By Erica Christoffer, Multimedia Web Producer, REALTOR® Magazine
Do you want to shake things up, build a powerful brand, and attract more clients? Drop the “business-as-usual” mentality and find inspiration in Andy Stefanovich. Let’s face it, with a title like Chief Curator and Provocateur at Prophet, a branding and marketing consulting agency, Stefanovich commands creativity. His mantra is LAMSTAIH (pronounced lamb’s tie) – Look At More Stuff; Think About It Harder.
Stefanovich explains LAMSTAIH in his new book, “LOOK AT MORE: A Proven Approach to Innovation, Growth, and Change,” (Jossy-Bass/Wiley, 2011) though a framework called the 5 M’s: Mood, Mindset, Mechanisms, Measurement, and Momentum. Each section is brought to life with stories of business innovation in action.
The following is an excerpt of Chapter 3 – “Mechanisms” – where he shares a number of examples regarding his work with the chamber of commerce in Richmond, Va., to revitalize the downtown area.
There are a variety of methods for exploring opportunities, but an essential first step is to create lists of the characteristics that define the issue or objective. This isn’t a counting-things-up kind of inventory. What we’re doing here is assessing three types of characteristics to find the components with the most opportunities for delivering growth and change: Continue reading »
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Using a traditional (a.k.a. boring) marketing strategy is one of the riskiest things you can do, as it threatens to make you invisible to the customers you need most to succeed. That’s the main thrust of Seth Godin’s classic Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable (Portfolio, 2002), a quick read of case studies and commentary on how to make your brand something everyone will be talking about. Godin shares lessons from innovators such as Krispy Kreme, Apple, and Starbucks as he inspires you to stop following the herd and find your own way to be remarkable.
FROM THE BOOK: 5 WAYS TO BE REMARKABLE
Do you feel invisible and anonymous when prospecting? Then start searching for a “Purple Cow” you can bring to your business. Unlike boring brown cows, Purple Cows are products or services that have built-in remarkable elements that literally sell themselves. Here are some ideas from the book for making your company stand out from the crowd:
1. Sniff out the sneezers. Godin uses the term “sneezers” to describe people who are so excited about your services that they infect all those around them with information about you and what you have to offer. Spend all your energies pleasing this group and figure out ways that you can grow and reward this group. “Ignore the rest,” Godin writes. “Your ads (and your products!) shouldn’t cater to the masses.” Do you have the e-mail addresses of the 20 percent of your customer base who loves what you do? If not, get them. And then concentrate on making this 20 percent happy.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Being a celebrity — if even in your local market — gives you a major edge over your competitors, says PR guru Steven Van Yoder in his new edition of Get Slightly Famous (Bay Tree Publishing, 2007). Be that one person that prospects think of when they hear the word “real estate.” But you’ll need a special marketing plan aimed at generating fame. In Van Yoder’s 304-page book, he shares strategies for boosting star power, from becoming the media’s go-to person to creating buzz from speaking engagements. Along the way you’ll also read informative mini-profiles on how small businesses found fame.
FROM THE BOOK: 5 WAYS TO GET SLIGHTLY FAMOUS
Your top objectives in becoming a local celebrity: boost your visibility and establish credibility. Here are ways to accomplish those goals, according to Van Yoder’s book:
1. Be a media favorite. Local news coverage offers instant credibility, enhanced status, and expanded consumer reach. But getting reporters to listen to you is a different story. When introducing yourself, let reports know your expertise and tell them you’ll be reachable on tight deadlines. During interviews, focus on being quotable: speak succinctly and conversationally, avoid professional jargon, keep your message simple, and be enthusiastic. Keep in mind that reporters are turned off by sources who merely promote their company and make statements with no inherent news value. Instead, view your business from the media’s perspective and provide reader-centered, timely information.
Branding is so much more than a fancy logo or catchy tagline, says Sandra Sellani, author of What’s Your BQ? (W Business Books, 2007). It’s the ability to get into your clients hearts and minds, rise above the competition, and get customers to want to pay more for your services. Find out if your brand makes the cut with Sellani’s 40-question BQ (Brand Quotient) Test, included in her book and online. Don’t worry about a low score. The rest of Sellani’s book is devoted to branding worksheets and case studies of 35 exemplary companies. Buy this Book
FROM THE BOOK: 5 STEPS TO A STRONG BRAND
Big budget or small, you can build a brand. Author Sandra Sellani offers some of the following tips in her book:
1. What’s your story? Having a memorable story can keep your brand in prospects’ minds. To find your story, list all of the ways you’re different from your competitors. Ask yourself: What am I doing that’s so unique? Who are my clients? Why do people use my services? Use your responses as the basis for all of your marketing materials, from your Web site to your listing presentation materials. Continue reading »
The name and slogan of your company tells consumers what they should expect from you.
In Real Estate Brokerage: A Management Guide, 6th Ed., the brokers/authors teach the basics of management through case studies and textbook-style lessons. Published by Dearborn Real Estate Education.
The excerpt below is taken from Chapter 12: Market Identity. You can purchase a copy on Dearborn’s Web site or by calling 800/554-4384.
BY LAUREL D. McADAMS, GRI; JOHN E. CYR, GRI; and JOAN m. SOBECK, CRS®, GRI
Some people characterize advertising as a head game, meaning that whoever gets into the head of the consumer wins. Capturing that head takes some finesse, which means the company needs a skillfully designed marketing and advertising program.
First, the company needs to make a statement about itself. That’s its market identity, otherwise known as its brand. This is done with the name it chooses, the design of its logo, and the selection of a slogan. All of this becomes the company’s signature, its identity everywhere the signature appears — the sign on the office, yard signs, business cards, letterhead, brochures, and Web home pages. That signature makes an even more powerful statement when affiliated companies are recognized under the same banner.
The name of a company tells a story. Because real estate brokerage is a personalized service, some brokers feel they can communicate that personal touch by using their own names for the company name. If the broker has a high profile in the community, name recognition can be a powerful draw.
‘Fictitous’ Names Work, Too
A fictitious name can be just as powerful, though. It may relate to a specialty, a geographic area, or other special characteristic that distinguishes the company from the competition. Some people consider the alphabetical position of the name in the telephone directory. Even with franchise affiliation, the company needs its own identity. A clever or compelling fictitious name is fine, but one that sounds too frivolous or comical, while creatively daring, can turn out to be an uphill marketing battle. Test-drive a name to gauge the reaction of friends before formally filing a fictitious business name (FBN).
FBNs, which are registered in the state where the company does business, must first be approved before they can be used. Words in the FBN like Bank, Insurance, Escrow, Trust, Federal, National, State, United States, Reserve, or Deposit Insurance are often questioned. Names that are already in use or names that imply the existence of nonexistent partnerships or corporations will not be accepted.
Some states require a certificate of fictitious name to be recorded in the city or county where the entity will do business. The name is usually advertised in a local general circulation newspaper for a period of time before the certificate is issued. In most cases, a corporation is not required to file a certificate because the corporation as a legal entity is entitled to use its own name. For real estate companies, state license laws may require licensing for both the broker and the FBN.
A Sizzling Sound Bite
A signature is the shorthand, the “sound bite” that creates brand-name recognition. A signature makes a short but powerful statement with words, colors, and graphics that stick in people’s minds. Think about company signatures that stick in your mind. Some are readily recognized by their color schemes (like real estate franchises). Others have their catchy slogans or logos, like the golden arches that are recognized worldwide.
There’s more to the design of a signature than simply picking something that others aren’t using. Think “signature that sizzles.” Sizzle is the attention-grabbing, impression-making characteristic of a signature. Even the most conservative institution (like a bank) needs a sizzling signature. This is the art of creative design that professionals know best, that crafts a signature that matches the company with the behavior and age of the consumers the company wants to attract.
The design must also look smart in a variety of formats. One that looks good on a billboard may not look so fine when it’s scaled down for a classified ad or a business card. Striking colors or screened backgrounds work for color print and a Web page, but may lose the punch in a black-and-white newspaper. While it may not be possible to cover all these bases, a professional can craft a design that suits the media that are most likely to be used.
Professionals can also help gauge consumer reaction to the signature and determine when the time comes to redesign it. As a company ages through its life cycles, it may need a new face that appeals to the contemporary consumer, the new swoosh or swirl that says the company is in step with the times. This could be a contemporarily stylish color scheme, a slogan that builds on contemporary expressions, or a graphic that looks especially 21st century. A new signature may be so bold as to bear no resemblance to the old, but, typically, something recognizable from the old signature is incorporated in the new so as not to lose identity.