How To Do It: Step 3 – Build Consumer Awareness

(This is an elaboration of ‘How To Rule The (Real Estate) World In 10 #asy Steps‘)

I see your signs everywhere!

That’s it:  the magic phrase that tells you you’re doing a good job with this task.  What the consumer is really saying is:  ‘I see your LOGO everywhere,’ and there’s a lot behind getting to the point where you’ll hear that phrase.

First there is the Logo itself.  It has to be striking, memorable and it should reference something the consumer already has anchored deep within his or her brain.  I mean:  there’s no mystery why Prudential, when deciding to get into the real estate business, put the Rock of Gibraltar on its sign.  The Help-U-Sell logo has this kind of ‘stickiness,’ simply because it has been around and hasn’t changed in 34 years.  Regardless how many agents, offices or listings we have at any given moment in time, people have seen the logo and when they see it again it is familiar, and it sticks.

Second is the Brand and the niche the company owns in the consumer’s consciousness.  The logo has to stand for something unique and special and that should already be established.  For Help-U-Sell it is savings.  We occupy that niche in the consumer’s mind:  savings.  They see our sign and instantly recognize it as something they’ve seen before and immediately equate it with savings.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to accomplish those two things?  It takes years of careful message management to get to the point that people recognize your logo and know what you stand for.  Most companies never get there and many never have a chance.  Try getting your generic widget company that makes and sells widgets just like every other widget company to occupy a unique niche in consumer consciousness.  It can’t.  It’s just another widget company.

I want to take a minute to acknowledge the design aspects of logo and brand building.  Our founder, Don Taylor, spent serious time, energy and resources choosing the colors for the Help-U-Sell Brand — particularly the red.  Not only at the company’s inception but also 30 years later when the look was overhauled, Don had signs made using various shades of red.  He and others spent time testing the effectiveness of each shade in making the logo ‘Pop’ from as far away as possible.  Today we have a red and a sign and a logo that is recognizable from a great distance.  It is an identifier that is so strong that it isn’t even read by consumers — it’s just recognized.

So, building consumer awareness is about making as many consumer impressions with your logo and company identifiers as possible.  If you’re just starting out (or just restarting), how do you do that?  Here’s a short list:

Get listings.  Each listing is worth a yard sign and a certain number of directional signs (which must include your prominent logo or their just . . . directionals, not awareness builders).

Show your sellers the benefits of seller involvement. Each seller with a set of six open house directional signs (again with your identifiers), putting them out every week multiplies your number of consumer impressions dramatically.  Seller involvement gets even more powerful when many sellers in your target market hold their homes open at the same time, blanketing your area with your identifiers.

Use blitz signs. Cheap and disposable, these little gems can be put up almost anywhere.  Realtors usually have difficulty embracing this idea because they are stuck in a paradigm that says you don’t use a sign unless you have something to sell.  But we’re not worrying about selling here; what we’re concerned with is building consumer awareness, and that’s a function of making as many logo impressions as possible.  Your competitors won’t like it, but in this case that just means you’re on the right track!  If you listen to them . . . well, you might as well just let your competitors design your marketing plan for you!

Get a car wrap.  It’s not a car, it’s a billboard. And yours is blank.  Get a big, bright, simple wrap and the effectiveness of all your marketing will increase.  Wrap a unique, special, fun or cute car and it will be even more powerful (bugs, cubes and classics lead the way).  Sure, you should drive the car, but some of its greatest power will come when you simply park it in a place where thousands of consumers in your area will see it every hour.  A good car wrap can go a long way toward curing a lousy office location with sign restrictions.

Blanket your target market with your identifiers and your message.  For years, direct mail, inserts in super market circulars and Penny Saver ads were an essential part of the Help-U-Sell marketing system.  They still are, but economic considerations have ratcheted them down a notch or two.  When the consumer pulls the mail from the box and sorts the junk from the bills, and your identifier passes by their eyes on the way to the trash can . . . that’s an impression.  And even that’s positive.  If they are thinking of selling, they may even reach down to fish your message from the trash – and that’s golden.  This kind of impression making doesn’t have to be expensive.  Door hangers and postcards under windshield wipers are a great alternative.

Use media.  If you have the budget, consider a set of radio spots or cable tv ads.  Don’t do this unless you have lots of signs and other identifiers in market.  You don’t start building consumer awareness on radio and tv, you enhance the awareness you’ve already established.  What you can do at start-up and beyond is work with the Internet.  Using YouTube, Facebook and other non-traditional platforms to build your local identity is inexpensive and effective — if you know what you’re doing.  Tami Patzer at Help-U-Sell Headquarters in Sarasota can get you started down this path.  She can usually get you on the first page or two of a Google search result in a matter of minutes.  If you’re not intrigued by that possibility, call your doctor, you may be dead.

Find sponsorship opportunities.  Who needs uniforms (that will include your logo)?  What stretch of highway needs adopting?  What charity walk/run event needs sponsors?  Why not invest in a portable canopy in glorious Help-U-Sell red with prominent logos and make it available to anyone doing a bake sale, rummage sale, parking lot promotion?  Remember: it’s about impressions.  Go make some.

Now, you’re three steps in and your phone should be ringing.  This is the point where the brand awareness you’ve created can begin to perpetuate itself.  So you have to get ready to answer the phone!  And that’s whatHow To Rule The (Real Estate) World In 10 #asy Steps is about:  the Buyer Inquiry.  Check in tomorrow for that.

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