As our industry becomes more and more competitive, it is often tempting to focus on what everyone else is doing bigger, better, and faster. You can spend a lot of energy chasing your competition, when in fact your strategy should always be to find ways to pave new paths.
As an example, the airline industry was over-crowded. Major carriers saturated every inch of air space. There was seemingly no room for a new player to come in. Then, Southwest Airlines launched. Unlike its competition, it built its business on being the low cost carrier. It took a hard look at what everyone else was doing and decided to do things differently. They chose to fly one aircraft type. They offered no First Class cabin, no seat assignments, no expensive airport lounges. They built a friendly, wonderful culture cultivated by their in-flight teams. And guess what? It worked. And it continues to work. They started a movement that has changed an industry.
Zappo’s did the same with their extraordinary culture and exemplary customer service. Cirque du Soleil isn’t your ordinary circus. They built their value proposition around themed, spectacular performances instead of the typical three-ring circus format. Apple continues to obliterate the upper limits of innovation with their continuous releases of products people literally line up to get on launch day. The list goes on and on.
The single thread that runs through all of these companies—regardless of their industry—is their commitment to finding a new angle, a new territory, and becoming the very best at it.
At Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate, we have built our brand on finding the white space in the real estate industry. Our brand’s positioning, as the premier lifestyle brand dedicated to cultivating people’s passion for the home, was unique when we launched and continues to be. Instead of relying on the traditional means of communication with our brokers and agents, we have made social media and technology core to how we do business.
Even our brand’s look and feel—our personality—has a unique warmth. But we also understand that in our industry, as in any other, the best ideas are chased. And so we have committed ourselves to continued innovation as one of our core values. To never stand still. To always look ahead.
The innovation imperative is just as important for real estate professionals as it is for brands. Whether you are an experienced, successful real estate careerist or new to the industry, it is likely you feel you are fighting for every inch. For every listing. For every sale.
It is true—the competition is tougher. The economy is challenging. But there are some things you can do to neutralize some of those non-controllable forces and find your own white space in your market.
It is tempting to morph who you are to fit a mold you think will bring you new business or will help expand your sphere of influence. But remember: being your true, authentic self is one of the most important competitive advantages you have. Your clients—whether they are exactly like you from a demographics perspective or not—expect you to be honest, prepared and knowledgeable. The key is understanding your client and their unique needs and keeping them central to how you do business with and for them.
Raise your game
Technology has opened access to information to the end customer. The same pressures to educate and serve the informed consumer have been felt by travel agents for many years with the advent of sites such as Orbitz and TripAdvisor. They have been felt by doctors with the increasing use of WebMD, whereby patients are coming in to the offices already armed with possible diagnoses. The empowerment of the consumer is a step forward in our industry—it benefits all of us. It gives us the opportunity to have more consultative, strategic relationships with our clients. As real estate professionals, our imperative is to be as informed, knowledgeable and collaborative as possible. Our job is to ensure our clients are armed with the right information backed by the right context, and serve as subject matter experts to help them make the right buying or selling decision. It requires us to continue to seek information. To continue to learn. T o broaden our personal skill sets. In short, we can never stop evolving.
Find something, and get really good at it
This can mean being an expert at a particular price range, product type (condos, new construction, REOs), neighborhood, or even being the go-to agent for a particular group within your community. Find your niche. This doesn’t mean this is all you will be doing, but it’s a great way to make a name for yourself. To stand apart from the masses. And most importantly, you add more value to your clients with your insights and market knowledge.
These are unprecedented times. The confluence of technology, new media, increased competition and the economic environment has created a dynamic business environment, the likes of which we may never see again. But it also presents an opportunity for all of us. Identify the ways you will stand apart. Be selective and laser focused. Become great at those things. Because your success should never be based on the success or presence of your competition. It needs to be based on you.