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How to build a brand in real estate according to Linda May

  • Linda May has been in real estate for 35 years and says building a strong brand is the key to doing good business. 
  • Working largely in Beverly Hills, she’s amassed over $4 billion in career sales, and says agents should keep three strategies in mind if they want to scale up. 
  • Putting clients first and establishing a social media presence are two of the major factors May says play a vital role in real estate success. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Linda May has been in real estate for 35 years, and she knows a thing or two about building a brand. 

A San Francisco native, she began her real estate journey in interior design, but quickly pivoted to becoming an agent in Los Angeles, where she’s spent her entire career. Working largely in Beverly Hills, she serves some of LA’s most luxurious neighborhoods, from Holmby Hills to Bel-Air, and has spent more than three decades representing the city’s most prestigious estates, amassing over $4 billion in career sales.

But she’s had to build a brand to get to where she is. As one of the first agents to brand her listings under her own name rather than under the umbrella of a high-recognition brokerage, May told Business Insider that a few things in particular have been key to helping her establish her brand.

She said they’re accessible to newcomers to the industry hoping to do the same. 

Establish a personal brand 

Establishing your presence in the industry is critical, May said, but your brand has to reflect what you want to sell.

With a background in interior design and the arts, May always had a passion for architecturally significant homes, and she set her sights on representing designer properties early on in her career. Soon, she became known for representing homes crafted by celebrated architects, from Paul Williams to Gordon Kaufmann, and that association became central to her brand as an agent. 

And her branding technique stays consistent in her marketing efforts, too. She’s got her stamp on everything, from e-blasts to newsletters to print ads. Everything has to have a certain look, whether it’s a brochure or a simple mailing. Great photography is essential, as is great copywriting. “Just having your look on everything, even if it’s small, builds recognition,” she said. 

Develop your social media presence 

Social media has transformed real estate, according to May, and it’s further allowed her to build her brand. The industry was very attached to print advertising in years past, she said, but platforms like Instagram have been a game-changer.

“You’re curating your interest to show people your taste and what you think is important,” she said, adding that potential clients get to experience your brand simply by viewing your profile. It’s opened up her business to an entire new audience of younger generations, and before social media they may have had less access to the fine homes that they’re actually passionate about, May said. 

Especially since the onset of the pandemic, May said that an agent’s social media presence has been critical, adding that she’s been able to drive business through uncertain times by getting creative with online ways to show current inventory, tease upcoming listings, and more.

Put your clients first 

“Clients are everything,” May said, and client loyalty is at the core of how she does business. 

Showing interest in your clients and keeping them abreast of what’s happening, she said, are two of the most important steps an agent can take to creating a long-lasting business in real estate, and providing great service should always be front of mind.

“Everyone wants to talk about real estate today,” she said, but her approach takes the conversation down to a more personal level, focusing on what’s important to the client. “They want to know what’s happening pertaining to them.”

She’s always in the know when it comes to her clients’ specific markets, even down to the street. It’s important to keep up with big sales near a client’s property or events that could impact a client’s home value, May said, and these reflect a genuine interest in the relationship.

Staying in touch at that deeper level is what brings clients back year after year, she said, adding that the upkeep builds long-term confidence, which is at the heart of the best client relationships. “Incredible trust is important, she said. “People need to know you have their best interests at heart.”

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