If you’re in the title industry, you understand how valuable title insurance is for lenders and owners. Before title insurance, buyers in the real estate transaction were solely responsible for validating the land title by the seller.
In 1868, the landmark case of Watson v. Muirhead solidified the need for more protection in real estate transfers. Muirhead conveyed a clear title to Watson even though a prior lien was found and erroneously determined to not be valid. Watson was not informed of the lien and moved forward with the real estate transaction, subsequently losing his entire investment to satisfy the lien.
Despite the negligence on Muirhead’s part, the Pennsylvania Court ruled in his favor. In 1876, the first title company was incorporated by Joshua Morris and several colleagues. The Real Estate Title Insurance Company of Philadelphia was formed to “insure the purchase of real estate and mortgages against losses from defective titles, liens, and encumbrances.” The first policy was sold to Morris’ aunt.
If you’re in the title or real estate business, you know why title insurance matters, but many homebuyers don’t even know it exists. Here’s the why, what, how, and where of building a brand for your title or real estate company.
Start with “Why”
Everyone loves a good story, even one of misfortune in the case of Plaintiff Watson, and it's no different for businesses. Consumers aren’t just interested in doing business with those who excel at what they do and provide a necessary service. Oftentimes, even the most objective and sensible people make important decisions based on their gut, on what feels right.
Simon Sinek is probably best known for popularizing the concept of WHY in business and marketing in his 2009 Ted Talk entitled Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action. The goal of any business shouldn’t be to just sell what you have or do but to make people believe in what you believe.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, and they want to buy from companies that tell a compelling story of why. The business leaders and organizations that are the most successful understand and effectively communicate the Why.
Remember the Why is one of our foundational principles supporting our Core Values.
Your Story, Your Brand (The What)
If you don’t have a story, you’re just another commodity or service provider, a replaceable cog in the daily grind of a work machine. There is nothing to set you apart from the competition.
I had a conversation with a current client who talked a bit about her career path. Like many professionals, she didn’t go to college with the intention of studying what she ended up doing, which is title work. Instead, she had dreamt of becoming an archeologist setting off on exciting adventures from one exotic excavation site to the next.
After a dispassionate and disappointing conversation with her profession, she realized the reality of the career of her declared major was far from the dream. This encounter led to some soul-searching and conversations with professionals working in real estate. She realized how title agents were much like the archeologists of the real estate transaction. This digging for truth and protecting people’s best interests made becoming a title agent an appealing option. Her passion for uncovering these issues and setting them straight is what drives her to get up in the morning and go to work.
Everyone has a story, even if you aren’t sure what it is yet. If you want to become a thought leader or have a successful company in any industry, discover the story of your why. Weave that narrative into your branding and marketing strategy to strengthen positive engagement with your audience (your current and potential clients). This is more than a punchy tagline to tack onto a billboard or mailer to hand out at a trade show. It's the foundation of your brand and the basis for your strategy for growth.
How to Tell Your Story
Once you know what your story is, how do you get it out there? Devise a marketing strategy to grow your title company.
Content marketing is one of the best ways to express the why of your business, educate your audience on the value of your business, and build relationships and brand trust with them. This is done by producing and sharing content that your audience will find useful and educational.
The title and real estate industry relies heavily on relationship building. When your title sales team can’t cover all the ground necessary to grow your business (or you’re thrown an unpredictable curveball like a global pandemic that forces you to socially distance yourself), content marketing offers a viable option to stay top of mind with your clients.
Sometimes a piece of valuable and educational material that helps a real estate agent do their job better can be worth more than a box of hand-delivered donuts and marketing swag like pens and sunglasses (or face masks with your logo). According to a Harvard Business Review article, gestures meant to delight your customers are meaningless. Reducing friction to problem-solving is the best way to build brand loyalty and trust.
People are more likely to do business with those who first alerted them to a problem and helped them solve it quickly. Understanding this insight and implementing a strategy to be agile to customer’s needs will help improve overall customer affinity and decrease customer churn.
Where to Tell Your Story
We live in a multi-channel and multi-media world with lots of opportunities to reach out to new audiences and provide them with this helpful information. Some channels of communication include your website and social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. These channels are completely in your control. It’s important to know where your audience spends their time the most. Statistically, chances are they are at the very least on Facebook. And all B2B (business to business) companies should take some time expanding their presence and reach on LinkedIn.
Don’t have a website yet? Don’t worry. You can leverage local SEO with My Google Business, Facebook, or other referral sites to build brand awareness.
As far as what types of media to share on your channels, a blog that’s regularly updated with new posts discussing issues important to your clients is highly recommended to help drive traffic to your website and generate leads for new business. Most people respond best to information presented in a visual context, so infographics, photographs, animations, videos, and any other way you can think of to add visual interest to your message all perform well regardless of what you are selling.
If you decide to do only one thing this year with your marketing, invest time in video marketing. It sounds scary, but it's not as bad as it seems. It can be as simple as taking 10 minutes out of your day and using Facebook Live or posting a video to LinkedIn talking about tips on title insurance, tricks of the trade on hosting a perfect open house, or reviews on other tools that would help your clients with back-office organization and finances.
All you really need to get started with video marketing is a smartphone and your sage advice. Also, good lighting helps. Get more tips on using video to connect better with customers.
Remember to tie it all back to your why to keep your messages cohesive. You don’t have to say it explicitly in every video or blog post, but the underlying motivation for every piece of content should reflect the why. Once you have that foundation in place, it will serve as the anchor for your brand. While other companies may come and go with the tides of meaningless trends, you’ll be a steadfast and memorable company.