As a realtor, what are your options to stand out from the competition? Lower rates? Probably not. Better service? You can do that. More experience in getting homes sold? Certainly.
Yet ultimately, your competitors can also copy any of these advantages. While you can proclaim high experience, customers don’t perceive much difference between a realtor with 300 positive reviews on Zillow.com and one with 400. You can’t get too creative and offer a completely new experience, because you’re working within the constraints of the realty market. Customers expect realtors to perform a certain service.
However, this problem isn’t limited to realtors. The vast majority of profitable companies lack the opportunity to produce a ground-breaking distinction. And the more competitive the market becomes, the less opportunity to truly stand out. All the best innovations get copied.
This dilemma does have a solution: Co-branding. Co-branding is used by many companies to distinguish themselves in the market, without inventing the next supersonic toaster.
In our white paper, Co-Branding for Realtors: Why You Need to Get on Board, we discuss the example of Google branding one of its Android operating systems KitKat. It was a way for both companies to stand out in their crowded markets.
In real estate, co-branding can be used to offer a different kind of service than the norm: That of being a one-stop shop. Instead of just providing realty services, customers can come to you for multiple different services in the transaction.
Of course, there are professional limits. You can’t hold yourself out as a mortgage lender if you are not actually one. You also can’t pay for referrals. So with these limits in mind, let’s look at how you could still use co-branding to set yourself apart.
First, you could co-brand with someone like me, a mortgage lender. To do this, we’d put both our brands on a piece of direct mail or other advertising. This makes inherent sense to the customer, because at the same time they’re buying a house, they’re looking for a mortgage to pay for that house.
Even though we’re both two separate brands, this still creates a unique, distinct benefit: The customer no longer needs to look for both services separately. Even though the two brands maintain their basic independence, combined they make something more.
Next up is the option to co-brand with a decorator, renovator or other tradesperson. Again, these are services homebuyers are often looking for while they’re trying to buy or sell a house. And don’t homebuyers ask realtors for referral recommendations for these services? This often results in a realtor and tradespersons forming informal referral networks.
You can take it beyond an informal network by co-branding. Your customers will feel more comfortable that they no longer have to look for and deal with each individual service provider. The house buying process is stressful enough without adding a million and one different service contracts on top.
Lastly, there’s the option to co-brand with an attorney or other similar professional. You need to be careful with these, since you both will have professional rules governing what kinds of advertising you can and cannot do. However, the fact remains that these people do serve your customers at the same time as you. This makes them worth investigating, at the very least.
All co-branding opportunities are best assessed on a case-by-case basis. A co-branding partner still need to bring something good to your brand to set it out from the pack. That said, the history of co-branding has demonstrated some unlikely, but ultimately successful partnerships. So why not develop a few ideas of your own? Your customers may love it.