Every occupation carries a stereotype – positive or negative. For far too long, the real estate stereotype has been negative.
In fact, until recently, real estate agents were rated as the 3rd least trustworthy individuals in the workplace. They were only surpassed by used car salesmen and members of congress. (Another story, and beyond sad!)
Recently, advertisers, business executives, and journalists have been rated as even less trustworthy.
The stereotype isn’t limited to trustworthiness in real estate transactions…
Just a few days ago a friend was telling us about cows loose in his neighborhood. Over the previous few weeks, various people had contacted the owners and asked them politely to round them up, then repair the fences to keep them in. That hadn’t happened.
He said: “What can you expect, she’s a fancy real estate agent and can’t be bothered.”
I hear comments like that every now and then. If the people speaking know me well enough to know my past, they make the comments – then suddenly realize who they’re speaking to. Then they duck their heads and mumble “sorry.”
Why does this real estate stereotype exist?
Sad to say, because in the past it has been well-deserved. I’ve known a few who were downright crooked. In fact, a local attorney used to refer to one of them as “John Use-em-all.” (Yes, it kind of rhymed with his name.)
Sadly, even today there are agents who deserve it. They’re the ones who are there to make a quick buck, aren’t concerned with honesty, and don’t care who they hurt. They also do the least amount of work possible and dump their responsibilities on other agents involved in their transactions.
If you’ve been in real estate for any length of time you can probably name at least 2 or 3 of them in your own marketplace. You may even have experienced the stress of working with them.
So how can you make sure that your potential clients don’t apply it to you?
The answer to overcoming the real estate stereotype comes in 5 parts.
- First, you practice relationship marketing. You remove yourself from the pack of agents who have nothing to say but “Choose me, I’m the best!”
- Then you do such a fantastic job that your past clients are pleased to give you glowing testimonials, and to refer other to you.
- Third, you stay in touch with those past clients year after year, so they will remember you and the work you did for them, continue referring to you, and turn to you when they’re ready to buy or sell again.
- Next, if you use social media, you do so in a manner that shows your interest in the people you serve.
- To put frosting on the cake, become involved in your community.
How do you practice relationship marketing?
- By making your marketing messages and prospecting letters about your prospects and what they care about – instead of about you and how much you want/need their business.
- By giving them free information and advice.
- By offering to be their real estate resource – even if they aren’t planning to buy or sell in the near future.
- By asking questions and caring about them and their situations.
- By returning their emails, texts, and phone messages promptly.
In short, you practice relationship marketing by showing them that you’re the best and slowly building their trust – instead of simply proclaiming you’re the best.
A primary method of overcoming the real estate stereotype is to do an excellent job.
When you do more and do it better than your clients expect, they’ll wonder why that stereotype exists. Or – they’ll be certain that they’ve found the best of the best. Either way, you win. Those folks will be happy to refer you to friends and family.
Staying in touch with past clients proves that you weren’t just in it for the money.
Well, it proves it if your continued contact includes providing timely information and showing interest in them. If all you say is “Please send me referrals” that’s a different matter.
In addition to market information, you can share news about upcoming developments, changes in real estate regulations, non-profit events coming up, and holiday wishes. You can even share fun/interesting trivia, like that found in my Event-themed staying in touch letters.
An occasional “thinking of you” phone call or email, a birthday card, or a link to an article you know they’ll enjoy takes your reputation for caring another step farther.
Social media – properly used – can let your personality override the stereotype.
Yes, you should use those accounts to share new listings and closed sales, but don’t stop there. Use them to post something fun or inspirational, share pictures of your new puppy, and comment on “friends” posts.
When you become involved in your community, you demonstrate caring.
Whether you’re volunteering at an animal shelter, helping with a community garden, or becoming involved with Chamber of Commerce projects, it shows you care about more than just yourself and your income.
The side benefit of that involvement is, of course, networking. You’ll become acquainted with like-minded people who might see you as someone to trust with their next real estate transaction.
The bottom line: You Can overcome the real estate stereotype.
You have to do it one client and one contact at a time – but you can do it!
Seedling Image courtesy of IndypendenZ at FreeDigitalPhotos.net