Leadership Marketing CCIM Feature

Niche Domination

Invoke your ‘power to convene’ to become the undisputed leader.

The industrial broker who sits in the adjacent cubicle waves you over. “Hey! Did you hear about the big law firm that's relocating downtown? They decided to hold a beauty pageant and interview four brokers for the tenant representation assignment.”

Your heart sinks. You didn't get invited. Three months ago, the same thing happened when a local family decided to sell their three office buildings. Despite your successes, you somehow didn't qualify to even propose your services.

Something's wrong. You've put a lot of effort into building your presence in the marketplace. You've got a dozen signs in place that prominently display your name. You send more than 2,500 emails each month. You consistently post an article on the company's website. You retweet at least two articles a week. Every deal you close generates a press release that you personally send to the editor of the business journal. You are active in two trade associations, and you are a deacon at your church.

You ask yourself, “Everybody knows me, right? How come I didn't get invited to the dance?”

The Diagnosis

You've built your presence in a variety of ways, and that has earned you very high name recognition. But take a moment to think about the power in your presence. A lot of people know of you, but somehow it does not convert to power -- the kind of power that gets you invited to beauty pageants.

The marketers might call this powerful presence by another name: brand equity. The ultimate brand equity is revealed when people pay more for your service or product than a competitive one. You can hear brand equity in the revered way people talk about the product. I think Big Green Egg when I think about brand equity. Customers pay about twice as much for this barbecue grill than similar models.

In your case, brand equity might translate to status -- the status that gets you mentioned in every article or merits an invitation to almost every beauty pageant.

How can you build a powerful presence that distinguishes you from the crowd?

The Prescription

To stand above the crowd, think differently. The presence-building tactics that you've used to date have been valuable. They've generated measurable name recognition, so you haven't wasted your time and effort. But they are common tactics, and they have made you merely a recognizable name in the crowd.

Let's change your perspective. For example, the governor calls you. He asks you to come to the state capital tomorrow to lead a committee related to commercial real estate. You'd probably go. Bill Gates asks you to make a presentation at his upcoming summit meeting for the billionaires' club he runs. You'd be there.

These are examples of using the “power to convene.” Using the power to convene flows from status, influence, or rarity. In all these cases, you (as part of their audience) came to them; you convened when they called.

Exercising this power to convene causes a subtle power shift. When you are prospecting, you go to the prospect. You try to create a scenario in which the prospect agrees to spend time with you. When you use the power to convene, they come to you. You alter the value proposition from “If you will spend time with me, I'll work hard to make it valuable to you” to “I'm willing to share my valuable knowledge with you if you will invest effort to participate.”

This shift not only affects where and when the interaction takes place, but it also changes the emotional dynamic. The prospect now has assigned tremendous value to your expertise and insight. He has physically altered his schedule to be part of your show. He wants to be influenced by you.

Dominant brokers use several methods to get the power to convene. The following are some of the best.

Host a webinar. Explain a market condition or a new trend. Instead of sending a bland report via email, invite prospects to a vibrant 15-minute presentation. Say something interesting, and customize your remarks.

Host an annual market forum. This is old school -- a lot of brokerage firms used to do this, but they now seem to have abandoned it in favor of the email blast. Yet it still works.

Host a lunch-n-learn. One broker calls a lender and offers to update the lender's entire staff on the market. In 45 minutes of presentation and Q&A, the broker establishes his credibility. Inevitably, one of the lenders asks if the broker would be interested in evaluating a property that they want to resolve.

Present at team meetings. In another example, a broker makes presentations at the team meetings of his large clients. When the leadership assembles its internal team for regional staff meetings and team retreats, he pays his own way to make a presentation at their meeting. In effect, the company convenes for the broker.

How could you accelerate your presence campaign by invoking your power to convene?

Dominate Your Market

If you want to be the dominant broker in your trade area, you have to claim that spot. You could literally claim it -- I am the dominant broker in the area -- and use it as your tag line and in your email signature. Paint the words on your signs and print them on your business cards. That might do the trick.

It would be more effective, though, if the market voted you into that position. People vote with their feet -- it's not what you say, it's what they do.

For example, one broker holds an annual real estate roundtable at a private beach lodge on the Atlantic coast. There are only 16 beds, so the guest list is managed very carefully. He created an agenda that included relaxation in a beautiful corner of the world, great food and wine, and stimulating conversation. The attendees treasure the event each year, and it wasn't long until he was turning people away.

These brokers are on a higher plane when it comes to their presence campaign. They're not pushers (emails, press releases, tweets), they're conveners. Their audience votes with their feet -- they come when called.

Could you be this dominant?

Editor's Note: This article was adapted from the book “Thrive,” Resourceful Publishing LLC, 2018. Reprinted with permission.

Blaine Strickland, CCIM

Blaine Strickland, CCIM, is a CCIM  instructor and CEO at HBS Resources  Inc. in Winter Garden, Fla. Contact him  at blaine@hbs-resources.com


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CIRE September/October 2018


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