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Real estate advertising may be no picnic in today’s competitive market. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to stand out… Ultimately, there is something unique within your brand that sets you apart, you may just not know it yet or know how to sell it to your tribe. Here are five qualities of highly effective real estate advertising.
1. Your listings are online, everywhere.
The Internet has become the infinite database of information on home specific content, so this quality is effectively taking advantage of this consumer behavior. Getting yourself across all listing websites and cross-promoting is essential, because the traction is there, and the consumers want to see that you’re up with the top listing sites. Your presence on the Internet is a foundational requirement for realtors and real estate advertising.
2. You stand out from everyone else.
Find the ways in which you stand apart from competitors… it’s the backbone of branding and will in turn help fuel the most lucrative advertising. Calling yourself an expert doesn’t have the same effect for your clients than proving you are as enthusiastic about home-buying and selling as they are.
Make sure to create conversations and stay personal across social media channels to create personality around who you are, what you care about, and what you have to offer.
3. Your homework has been done, and it shows in your brand.
The first step in creating a brand that sells and compels is to get clear on your values, passions, purpose and strengths. How do you serve or inspire your customers?
This may take some research not just personally and from listening to your clients, but also from research. Reach out with informal conversation and casual surveys to find out what your people are looking for.
In addition to this type of research, it may also be helpful to look on the web for key terms relevant to real estate in your target audience. Keyword research is a powerful tool to keep your brand targeted in your online advertising efforts and general presence.
4. You have a focused brand.
In the same fashion as getting clear on your brand is getting it focused, and showing how focused it is, across social media platforms and within your campaigns. When a customer or potential client sees you on your website, blog, or social media profile, they should be able to see what specialty you hold, what you look like, and where they can get more information about you (for example, a link to your personal bio page).
5. You are giving customers an experience they won’t get anywhere else.
There’s a story behind everything in advertising, so a rock solid campaign in the real estate market may create a creative and unique experience that only you and your brand can deliver.
What story can you tell about yourself and who you are that is compelling and sets you apart from competitors in the business? What kind of lifestyle do you want to portray that your clients can begin to imagine for themselves? Customer experience is key in real estate advertising, and may just be that finishing touch that sells you.
I have worked in clothing retail for over 10 years and my love of fashion led me to opening my own boutique in 2011. With the launch of a brick and mortar storefront I learned the importance of branding. One brand that sells the quickest in store and online is PinUp Girl Clothing. The designs are fun and timeless, the quality is outstanding, but prices are higher than most other dresses in the shop… so why does it sell so well? The answer is the charismatic owner of the brand, Laura Byrnes.
This article will focus on Laura Byrnes, who started PinUp Girl Clothing (PUG) in her home in 1996 and launched it online in 1999. She has been pioneering the way for retro reproduction clothing ever since. With the availability of social media Byrnes and her company has grown in online prevalence, but the real reason the company has continued to see such growth is not only their high quality and unique products, but the charismatic leadership of their CEO. Furthermore Byrnes is active on social media promoting her brand, body positivity for women (the company slogan is Couture for Every Body), involvement in social causes like Water.Org, and of course her strong willed personality.
In Training Journal, Owens states, “today most leaders acknowledge that a charismatic leader appears to effortlessly attract loyal and supportive ‘fellowship’. Charismatic leaders attract more publicity and more attention from outside groups as well as exerting a strong (albeit invisible) bond with their organization’s workforce” (p. 28). This is true in the case of PUG and its connection to retailers world wide. PUG is available internationally in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and of course through out the US.
Not only does Byrnes have an online presence, but also she is a pioneer for change in the modern fashion industry. Pinup Girl Clothing offers a full range of sizes on their clothing (this is the standard for their house brands) and uses a range of models for their promotions. Pinup Girl Clothing’s CEO Laura Byrnes said in an interview with Profiles 98, “we started using plus models in 2008, and in 2012 we were the first mainstream company to extend our sizes up to 4X, and the response from our customers has been incredible”.
In their “Beautifully Breathtaking” Look Book the pages are full of deep tones and beautiful women. In an interview about the look book, Byrnes continues to say, “this is the first-ever all-plus editorial from a non-plus site, using gorgeous upper size range models with striking ethnic diversity to create powerful visual images that show our clothes in the most dramatic and flattering way”.
So, what does this charismatic leader do for the brand? Besides being open and available to fans (and critics alike) via social media, meeting the demands of a world wide market, and embracing evolving beauty standards, Byrnes has created a cult following. In an article for Forbes, Wells writes, “love and madness-any marketer’s dream and nightmare. A cult brand seizes the imagination of a small group who spread the word, make converts, help turn a fringe product into a mainstream name” (p. 198). Byrnes has a following that preaches the gospel of PUG! There are fan sites, hashtags, YouTube videos, bloggers, and countless online contests promoting PUG that are not endorsed. Customers of PUG desire to be involved with the brand. The reasoning? Byrnes involves her customers in most aspects of the clothing! She uses customers in her photo shoots, listens to their concerns when designing new clothes (add pockets to EVERYTHING!), and asks to know what dresses to bring out of retirement for the e-commerce website. Bell believes, “devotion toward an organization can ratchet up dramatically when customers get an opportunity to put some ‘skin in the game’. Inclusion not only captures the creativity and competence of customers as they serve with you, but their allegiance rises as well” (p. 6).
By understanding what helps a charismatic figurehead create and maintain loyal followers, we can see why Byrnes continues to see success in her business. By being a trail blazer and innovator Byrnes effortlessly obtains more supporters and therefore strengthens the values that she and her brand stand for. In closing, with innovate and involving customers, along with a vibrant CEO, will have PUG continuing to flourish.
Times haves changed in government contracting.
Once upon a time, in the land of Washington D.C., the Federal government actually preferred the use of sole source contracting and that was a key focus of every contractor. Contractors would jockey for position in the hopes of positioning themselves for and winning a sole source contract. Today, the days of hoping for and utilizing sole-sourcing as a core corporate strategy are pretty much over.
The government has slowly and purposefully increased competition requirements. Today, you may be up against 50 other companies responding to the same RFP. This example isn’t an exaggeration. In fact, our company recently threw our hat in the ring on a contract and the interested vendor list totaled just over 50 companies.
The government is continually coming under fire to not only acquire the best products and services they can, but also at the lowest price – even to the detriment of quality and value. That’s why you are seeing Low Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) more and more often in government RFPs. But, this doesn’t necessarily imply procuring the cheapest products. It means evaluating price and other factors, not limited to, quality, benefits, delivery speed, guarantees, and a whole host of other factors to get the very best deal. The problem for many companies today is that they don’t communicate enough value, benefit, and other differentiating factors to minimize their competition’s competitiveness.
Like you, we often hear stories of companies who lost a bid, but felt they were the most qualified or had the best products. It’s marketing and branding 101 and it’s as simple and as complex as that.
How do you not only get noticed, but stand out from the crowd and SCREAM, “MY COMPANY IS THE BEST CHOICE”! There are two primary ways to solve this problem. The first is by implementing a process where you understand and know how to communicate your differentiation and the second is strengthening your capture strategy so that you ultimately produce more qualified opportunities to bid on. Just understand that adding more opportunities to your pipeline without clearly communicating your differentiation is akin to trying to fill a bucket with water when the bucket is riddled with holes. You will ultimately waste a lot of opportunities and precious time fighting a losing battle. That is why we recommend strengthening your differentiation first and then working on your capture strategy and why the remainder of this article will focus on differentiation.
Companies are constantly looking for and coming up with new ways to differentiate. Today I want to focus on just five of these strategies. These five strategies are in our opinion, the core pieces of differentiation that every company needs to understand and constantly refine.
1. Capability Statement: Your capability statement is one of your primary tools because, when developed correctly, it is a key document that communicates the benefit and value of your products and services with the prospect and communicates the ability for your company to make a partner / prime contractor more competitive with you on the team. It includes who you are – an overview of the company, your approach to clients and / or partners, past performance, your products and / or areas of expertise, certifications, company data, and contact information. But most important, your focus is communicating value and benefit – not simply what you sell or the services you provide. These are the basics that MUST be in your capability statement. In addition to this, you want to approach this as a marketing piece and have it carefully designed to focus on value. This is not a place to skimp on graphics or the look and feel.
A great capabilities statement may also list your areas of expertise and break out your services into categories using keywords and phrases that would often be used by a contractor looking for your services. We also suggest listing any government or commercial contracts that you have in order to build credibility and to make buying easier for those already authorized to use those contract vehicles. We have several different examples. If you’re interested, let us know and we’ll send you a copy which you can review and use as a template.
2. Leveraging Past Performance: Whether it’s your capabilities statement or your response to an RFP, you must clearly convey your past performance. Most companies don’t do this very well. Part of this strategy includes an ongoing process of collecting past performance. In order to do this, you have to constantly engage your employees and find out what they are accomplishing for your clients. You should also do a debrief or after action review (AAR) after every project is complete. In one debrief, for one of our clients, we found that an on-site employee had been working on the next generation accounting system for a fortune 500 company and our client had no idea their employee had been doing this as a side project. So have a system in place for discovering past performance and then determine how and where you will communicate it. One recommendation is to create a past performance folder. You can use a word document or another tool like Evernote to track these. Just make sure the tool you are using has a simple search function. I like using Evernote for the simple reason that it will show me notes that are related to each other. So if I create each past performance piece under a separate note, the system will automatically find and relate other notes. This then becomes extremely helpful when you are looking for all past performance related to a specific topic. Finally, most companies in both commercial and government markets have a folder either on a computer or shared drive with past performance write-ups that they’ve used in proposals.
3. Positioning your Competencies: This is a process that you will follow each time you approach a new client or contract. The first step to positioning your competencies is something called Competency-Mapping. “Competency-Mapping is a method that forces you to evaluate and map the value and benefits of your products or services and differentiate them based on a specific prospect, that prospect’s unique problems or challenges, and/or a specific opportunity.” (Excerpt from The Government Sales Manual.) This process often starts with the simple question, “How is this competency important to the client and why do they care”? Starting with this shapes your process and forces you to answer the prospects most important questions. This approach allows you to take your competencies and map them directly to a prospect’s problem or need which will result in a custom approach to solving your prospect’s requirements and help you stand out from the competition.
When approaching a new client or contract, you have to take a step back and clearly understand what the client’s greatest challenges / needs are, how you can solve their problems, and how best to communicate this information. The days of boilerplate answers and boilerplate capabilities statements are over. Sure, you can reuse marketing copy in your pieces and we are not discounting that. You just have to understand that the customization of your materials will go a long way toward differentiating you from your competition and thus winning more business. For example, if you serve multiple industries or niches, you may want to tailor your capabilities statement for each one. When you respond to an RFP, you will want to tailor the language in your RFP response so that those on source selection feel that you are responding directly to their requirements. Key point – whenever possible, tailor for each prospect or partner. It takes time but exponentially increases your chances for success.
4. By Product or Service: One of the most common ways to differentiate is by product or service. This one is a little more self-explanatory, but companies still miss out on a huge opportunity to improve how they do it. When you are looking at your products or services, there are several factors to consider. When thinking about product differentiators, consider the following: quality, pricing, functional features, design, availability, and the knowledge / education level of the buyer on the product. When thinking of service differentiators consider these: Speed, lower risk, stronger processes, differences in project / program management methodology, past performance, level of understanding of the customer’s processes and systems, geographic location, and reputation. These are just some of the factors that you need to consider when thinking about product and service differentiation. Even more important, none of the differentiator types we just listed are any good without using quantifiable and qualifiable metrics. You need percentages, dollar amounts, savings, opportunity cost, etc.
If you are responding to an RFP, you should be able to determine which of these factors are most important to the customer and then customize your response to highlight the areas that you are most qualified in. Ideally, you want to do your best to collect as much intelligence as possible on an opportunity before the RFP or RFQ is released. It’s a good idea to ask the contracting officer questions (better yet, talk to the program manager) about these factors in order to get a more clear picture of what their priorities are. Depending on the uniqueness of your product or service you may even be able to ghost your unique capabilities into an RFP. This only happens when you are communicating with potential clients well before and RFP or RFQ hits the street, and can only be done with proper communication, planning, and capture management. Engaging opportunities in pre-acquisition, before the RFP is released, is a key to winning more contracts.
5. Through Teaming: It’s our personal belief that teaming, when done correctly, can be one of your greatest weapons in government contracting. Teaming has many different layers, but the most common is teaming for the purposes of winning a contract. Getting on a team is not the important piece. What’s critical is how you position to get on the team and subsequently position during source selection and after the contract or task order is awarded. What good is it if you get on a winning team but you don’t make any money? This happens often, especially with smaller companies. Your objective is to find the prime that is the best fit for your capabilities and has the best chance of winning the contract. This requires a little research on your part and there are many government tools you can use to find out who is interested in the contracts you are interested in and the past performance of the primes so that you can determine the best fit.
Here are just a few questions you will want to ask before approaching a company you want to team with.
Do we already have a relationship with one of the interested companies?
Do the interested companies already have a partner that does what we do?
Do we have actionable intelligence on this opportunity that no one else has?
Why would a prime want to work with us over another company?
Does our company do something so unique that we would be an asset to any of the primes?
Are any of the primes in our geographic location and for the purposes of this contract and does that matter?
All of these questions revolve around one simple question you must answer for every company you attempt to team with:”How do we make the prime more competitive?” Because that’s why they will put you on the team.
One huge benefit to teaming is that teaming with another company gives you third party credibility. This is especially true when the prime is a big defense contractor or a company that is well known in the market. Once you engage a prime and get on their team, it’s to your benefit to work as hard as you can and devote all necessary resources to the RFP process. This not only wins the favor of the prime, it gives you leverage to talk to them about other opportunities they may have in their pipeline. Strong teaming relationships will increase your pipeline drastically over time as you continue to contribute and add value to the team. In the beginning, it may be you bringing opportunities to the prime, but as you prove yourself, they will start to bring opportunities to you.
Summary: Learning how to differentiate and making it a core component of everything you do is absolutely critical to your success in government contracting (and commercial sales). The government faces thousands upon thousands of inquiries every year from companies wanting their business. Your job is to do everything you can to stand out as not only the right, but best choice for the government every time. One way you do this is by being very selective of the prospects you approach, how you approach them, and customizing your message to best fit their needs. Follow these five steps and you will improve the quality of your communication, differentiate yourself in the market, and accelerate revenue.
Michael LeJeune is a Partner and Federal Access Program Manager at RSM Federal. RSM Federal has helped it’s clients with over $1.5 Billion in government contracts since 2011. RSM Federal is a coaching and consulting firm that specializes in accelerating sales for government contractors.
Starting a new business may be all about branding and how you want your new business to be perceived. It could be easy in this process to forget about what your customer needs or wants, which is a surefire way to lead unhappy customers into low sales for your business. This and the survival of many marketing tactics rely on customer profiling for the progress and success of any business, new and old… but particularly important when just getting your foot in the door. The foundation of branding and marketing efforts is understanding your customer’s personality, needs, wants and behaviors. This is all tracked and accumulated in investing in the best customer profiling.
Understanding your customers may rely on finding the best customer profiling available for your business. It is the secret sauce in successful marketing, and it will change the game on any campaign you’ve started or are thinking about starting for your company.
Finding potential customers for your new business requires the carefully crafted customer profile that may help tell you everything that you need to know about getting to know your market in a very specific way. This helps you in a plethora of ways from a marketing standpoint, but overall will aid your efforts in reaching the tailored audience that you may have been searching for, or may not had such a clear and concise handle on prior to creating your customer profile.
Building up a database of information on your customers is like backlogging the pertinent information that is the gasoline to your marketing car. Keep it running by creating records of purchasing behavior, ratings of services, etc. These are tactics that will get added on as you see your clientele list build, but the initial benefits of customer profiling is the very first step to any successful marketing effort and is essential to you understanding your market.
There are certain factors that help kick start your customer profile, information that will help you determine what marketing efforts may be appropriate and the most lucrative for your business. This information includes industry, demographics, opinions and attitudes of your ideal customer. The key is finding the right data that will be the focus of your marketing campaign.
Segmentation is the grouping of profiles into appropriate “market segments” which targets further marketing efforts to specific groups based in their needs. Targeting by segment helps to ensure that each of your individual customers are getting the relevant messages at the right time in your marketing and advertising efforts.
Whether its reputation that you look for or a marketing professional priced right for your budget, look for professional help that you know you can rely on because of their knowledge and expertise in customer profile creation. When working with a marketing expert on creating the best customer profiling, make sure to do your homework and see what efforts are going to be specific, organized and smart in identifying the right questions to ask about your customers in order to create that perfect profile for your people. Your new business may just rely on it.