P.R. Strategies to Increase your Brand Awareness
You're enjoying market rebounds (at least in some areas), but your budget isn't exactly bulging with money for expensive marketing strategies. Yet, you know you need to attract and keep clients and enhance your brand. How would you like a marketing strategy that is no cost yet high return? There is one, but few real estate agents or managers take advantage of it.
It's called public relations and includes free vehicles, such as published articles and press releases. Let's take a look at how to use P.R. to grow your reputation and expand your reach.
For brokers, there are great benefits for revving up P.R. efforts, too! Below are some ideas for using P.R. to recruit top professionals, as well as to enhance your company's brand.
Write an Article or Blog
With everyone online claiming "I'm the best" or "Excellence in service" or whatever superlative you want, we must work harder at defining real expertise. By contributing an article or blog to a local news outlet or trade publication, you will laser-focus your expertise.
For managers, articles and blogs prove to recruits that you are an expert and can help them accelerate a career.
Put links to articles and your blog in your email marketing and communications, as well as your website and LinkedIn page. Agents can put copies of their published articles in their professional portfolio, and brokers can display these in an office entryway in a "Book of Greatness." Also, put copies in a pre-listing/pre-first visit package for buyers and sellers.
How to Write Something People Will Read
Before you start writing, develop your strategy; first, decide on the expertise you want to exhibit. Define your brand, whether you are a short sale expert, training expert or community expert, for example.
Writing an article or blog follows the same three-part process that great composers use in writing a tune. Think of your favorite pop song. You can hum the first part, right? You can remember the ending, because it's just like the beginning. What happens in the middle? That’s a bit more complex. Here's how all pop tunes are constructed:
It starts with the theme, continues with the middle, where you expand on the idea and example, and ends by repeating the theme.
- The theme is introduced – it's your thesis, your point of view, how to do something.
- The theme is developed with stories, statistics and examples.
- The theme is repeated – this time motivating the reader to take action.
It feels great to create a persuasive presentation. You don't have to be a professional writer to create an article or blog. In addition to the simple process above, there are eight steps I've used over the years to create articles that get published in national magazines and newsletters:
- Establish who your audience is and write based on that.
- Decide the challenge(s) they have that you can address.
- Jot down all the ideas you have about solutions to these challenges.
- Narrow the topic so you can zero in on what you want to write about. The biggest mistake writers make is to choose too broad of a topic for the time or framework. For example, it's difficult to write 500 words on how to create a team, but you can write 500 words about why to create a team or three strategic tips in creating a team, for example.
- Choose one to three ideas to cover, based on the publication's usual word count for articles.
- Arrange the topics in the order you will cover them.
- To expand on the ideas, present each clearly and then give an example. One commonality I've found among editors is that they want examples provided for each idea. Otherwise, the reader doesn't really get the picture.
- Close the article with the reiteration of the challenge and your solution. Give your audience positive motivation to take action.
Another writer's tip: Perhaps you're not comfortable "keyboarding," but you can express yourself verbally like the sales pro you are. Why not try a dictation tool, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking.
One more thing. Did you know that 75 to 85 percent of all news comes from press releases and "placed articles?" And what is more believable: an ad or P.R.? Yep, it's P.R.
Three important lessons I've learned from writing articles and blogs:
- A smaller topic is better.
- Less ideas are better.
- More examples are better.
So, in about 400 to 600 words, you'll only have time for one to three ideas and examples. Make those examples "real life."
Ensure your article is as perfect as you can get it before submitting it by reviewing it multiple times and having co-workers also review it. Editors don't have time for extensive re-writes. The person who submits articles "ready to go" gets published more often.
How to Find Appropriate Publications
You've studied the publications for which you want to write. You know the kind of topics they like and the number of words they want. You've written several articles.
Now, when choosing the right publications for submissions, ask yourself: Why would my article benefit that publication? Then, contact each publisher for a copy of the publication's article specifications and submission policies. You're on your way to standing out as an exceptional manager.
Make a list of magazines and newsletters – both "traditional" and electronic. That becomes your distribution list. Put it in your contact management program, with an appropriate field so you can sort your P.R. contacts. Each month, contact these leads to offer your article submissions.
Be sure to include all your "hotlinks," such as Twitter and Facebook, in your biography and provide readers with additional free resources when they click through to your pages.
Recently, I signed up for an article submission service, so I could widen my scope of influence. Check out Submit Your Article.
Watch P.R. Go Viral
Take advantage of social media. Today, most articles are published electronically. When your article is published, put it on your Facebook business page, LinkedIn and any other sites you use. Invite people to share the article or blog. Instant P.R.! Take a look below at the Facebook post about an article I recently published.
Using P.R. to Enhance Your Brand
Trust is a big issue with buyers and sellers today. They've been beaten up emotionally (haven't we all!), and they are more wary than ever of salespeople. What better foundation for your brand is there than showcasing your expertise in respected industry publications? This goes a long way to cement trust with your clients, as well as your recruits. Use P.R. to expand and enhance your brand. Now, you are on your way to free publicity, a heightened image and much improved recruiting, and it didn't cost you anything.
Carla Cross, CRB, is an international speaker, writer and coach, specializing in real estate management. A National REALTOR® "Educator of the Year," she was recently named one of the "50 Most Influential Women in Real Estate." Join her newsletter community, and receive Carla's new eBook, Getting to Yes: Ten Tools to Remove Barriers to a Decision. She can be reached at 425-392-6914.
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