When you look at the socially progressive brands that really resonate in the market nowadays, the ones that find causes they’re passionate about and incorporate their message into their business are the ones that have built a solid foundation for the future. Clothing company, Ten Tree plants 10 trees for each purchase and allows you to follow along online to see where they’re planted. TOMS shoes makes a donation of a pair of shoes to a child in need in another country. Both companies have found a way to combine the revenue-generating side of the business with their philanthropic side, and to coexist in a way that carves out their place in the world.
Real estate agents can take a page from these powerful value propositions to really help distinguish their brand, not because it’s what they think consumers feel they should do – but because it’s the right thing to do.
The power of giving back
You never want to just blindly write cheques towards something because it looks like good PR; actually take the time and effort to get behind a simple and meaningful cause in your community. Today’s consumers really want to know how you’re making the world a better place. In fact, in a recent study, 91% of respondents said they wanted to hear about a company’s social responsibility and progress, and want to hear about this in their marketing.
Positioning yourself as an advisor of your community will build trust with your audience – and helps give your brand a sense of purpose by showing exactly what you stand for. It helps build deep relationships within your community – and helps you stay top of mind as a trusted source when it comes time to buy or sell.
Why local matters
Real estate agents need to live and breathe local – because people look to them as experts in the area. “Ask a question about a street and they know what’s on the market, what sold recently, and the overall status of the neighbourhood,” says Realtor.com.
Agents need to literally be “neighbourhood experts,” and to know every single aspect of it intimately. So first you need to find a pressing issue or area that is struggling that desperately needs some outside help. Are the schools having a hard time with funding for sports, extracurricular activities or trips? Is a homeless shelter in need of supplies? Top real estate agents typically operate within one-degree of separation within their community, so you should be able to pick up on any glaring opportunities.
Take this example into consideration. In London, Ontario, one real estate agent decided to launch an initiative to donate 20 per cent of her commission to support local charities and neighbourhood organizations. Socially minded house hunters love this idea because they can invest in projects in their new neighbourhoods – while making one of the biggest transactions of their lives.
Get creative with hosting community events
Once you’ve shortlisted a few local areas that could use help, differentiate yourself by thinking of a creative way to draw attention to the cause, how to raise funds and how to round up the community. Host a BBQ as a fundraiser and also as a way to get folks to donate old clothes. Design a road hockey tournament with proceeds going towards sponsoring a youth sports team or club. Take over as a serving staff at a local restaurant with proceeds going to your charity. The more creative and outside the box you get with it – the better!
Get the word out
Now that you’ve lined up where you’re going to help and how you’re going to do it – it’s time to get the word out and start building some buzz! Your newsletter, blog and emails are major vehicles for spreading the word around town. Let your entire database know how they can get involved in your event, where and when it’s taking place and provide frequent follow ups with the progress you’ve made so far. Having a system that allows you to send a personalized message across all types of screens makes it quick to rally the troops and really give your philanthropic endeavours the attention it deserves.
Get the whole team on board
Effective corporate social responsibility principles really take flight when the entire team has bought into your values, and the smartest brands really lean on their CSR to attract and retain top talent. Having a real estate CRM that allows you to centralize your messaging and permeate it throughout your database consistently makes it easy to start building awareness and to stay on top of mind in your community.
Enhancing your social responsibility is no easy task – but having the right technology in place makes it easy to get your message out and start making a major difference in your community by building deep relationships – and helping you stay top of mind as a trusted source when it comes time to buy or sell.