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Agency Branding

By Tammy Laval

Investing in your agency brand is like investing in a stable marriage: a long-term commitment built on trust.

Domain asks leading names about their marketing efforts, what channels are most effective, and why agency branding is important for the business.

Ray White Group‘s Lisa Pennell does not think one marketing channel has an edge when it comes to building trust in your brand.

The group’s head of marketing noting “there is a raft of channels available today, more than 10 years ago”, and stressed it boiled down to an agency’s objective. This determined the best marketing channel for the job, she said.

Last year, the wholly-owned network with about 1000 agencies “took a completely different direction” with its marketing.

The result is the “great Australian dream” multi-channel campaign, to “say hello and introduce our story” to Australians.

“We just felt it was time to humbly tell people a little about our story,” Ms. Pennell said.

“Over the years we have shown we are very good at real estate marketing but, in 2018, we wanted to have a conversation with Australians and share a little of our fourth-generation story.

“You have trusted us with your homes; this campaign taps this existing trust. It is all about bringing it into the light.”

The power of mass marketing, good stories, and trust

Ms. Pennell said “mass media” worked for the 117-year-old Ray White brand, including television “because it lands best with our audiences”.

“We do a digital component and a social component and print work fantastically for our property marketing.

“In a booming market, it (branding and building trust) is less important; there are less competition and less negotiation on price. “But, in slower markets, there is nothing like a strong and trusted brand to give vendors peace of mind.”

Thinking ahead and staying fresh

Also aware of the trust-building power of brand marketing, LJ Hooker turns 91 this year because it uses future-facing marketing channels.

Its head of marketing services James McGregor told Domain: “We always focus on a digital strategy.” It actively offers content “that lives and breathes” on its web platform and in its e-books.

“We also have a bunch of articles and blogs that we share with franchisees, and that they share with their databases,” he said. “For us, it (building trust via marketing) is all about finding and telling great stories.”

Mr. McGregor said his team regularly tests the effectiveness of different social and digital channels. The real estate group’s 600-odd agencies typically apply multi-pronged marketing strategies in their local communities.

“It may be boarded. It may be local advertising. It may be newsletters. There are charitable partnerships at both corporate and office level, too.”

Think of your market as mini-markets – speak to each

LJ Hooker puts cohorts with similar profiles in “buckets”, which then assists agents to give these sub-groups “more meaningful content that will help them on their journey”, Mr. McGregor said.

That may include investors, first-home buyers, prospective vendors, and so forth.

“Is there a more effective channel? I am not sure that I would point to one channel. Trust is really about being authentic. Each medium probably has its own limits, but it starts with getting your message and values right and displayed in your content.

“You can tell when things are working when messages are shared between people quickly and in big numbers.”

Trust is a long-term conversation

Prestige experts Kay & Burton also use a multi-channel approach to building market awareness, but “we build trust through the consistency of our actions” stresses its general manager marketing Justin Hodgson.

Mr. Hodgson says “we firmly believe” investing time in building long-term relationships and offering clients “great strategic advice” is the “key to earning trust”.

The 81-year-old Victorian group’s most recent customer satisfaction survey found more than 94 percent of its clients gave a score of seven out of 10, in terms of likelihood of recommending the agency brand to a relative or friend

“We believe that the intention to recommend us to a family member or friend is the greatest indication of trust in our business,” Mr. Hodgson said, adding that Kay & Burton use Domain magazines, real estate portals, social media channels, and bespoke property films to drive awareness.

Trust is a value; protect and promote it

He said the agency’s “Making real estate an art form since 1938″ campaign “reinforces our brand values of long term relationships and unique customer experience”.

“We also use our owned channels such as our email marketing database and our own social media channels to disseminate valuable information to our clients on the market, on our neighborhoods and on our properties.

“The consistent themes in their (clients’ survey) commentary were ‘professional, friendly, great communication, high level of service and honest’; key themes that align with high levels of trust.”

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