When consumers are looking for an agent to represent them, certifications can make you stand out from the competition. They want to find an agent who is tech-savvy and certified for their specific needs. Use these tips to grab their attention and win their business.
Keep it clear
Certifications can be confusing. Here is just a short list of the alphabet soup of acronyms that is often seen in email signatures and self-promoting marketing materials:
GRI, CRS, CIPS, ABR®, e-PRO®, SRS, SRES®, AHWD, LHC, MRP, PSA, REI, RENE, RSPS, SFR®
If we as agents can’t figure out what all of these are, then how could we ever expect a consumer to know? If you have already done the rigorous work of getting one or more of these certifications, it is important to show those off to the public in a clear way.
One simple way is to write out the full name of the acronym. If you have the “ABR,” for example, the consumer will now know that you are an “Accredited Buyer’s Representative,” and if they are a buyer, they will be more drawn to you. Yes, it can make your email signature much longer, but it’s worth the trade-off. But be careful — adding logos to email signatures can get clogged in transmission, so it’s best to keep those out, but they work well in digital bios.
Choose the right certification(s) for you
I’m a big fan of certifications, and the more you have, the better you become as an agent and the more desirable you become to a consumer. Getting a certification is a big investment of your time, and some can be costly. Prioritizing the ones most beneficial to you and the business you are cultivating is key.
First, focus on the certifications where you are weakest so you can become a more well-rounded agent. As examples, if you need help with pricing properties, then study to get the PSA (Pricing Strategy Advisor), or if you want to become an expert in negotiations, then the RENE (Real Estate Negotiation Expert) will get you there.
Simultaneously, think about areas of the business that you would like to target. If you want to be a listing specialist, then the SRS (Seller Representative Specialist) would be the way to go. If you want to focus on buyers, then the ABR® (Accredited Buyer’s Representative). Perhaps you want to work with investors, seniors, military personnel, etc. — there are certifications to acquire and make you the specialized agent of choice for those consumers.
Get the most tech-savvy certifications
Today, consumers demand that their agents be tech-savvy, so which designations are best?
Hands down, e-PRO® is the best place to start. Even if you have no knowledge of technology or consider yourself an expert, you will acquire the skills and learn best practices across a variety of platforms, including social media and mobile applications. It’s been around a long time, with ongoing refresher courses to stay on top of market trends and new technologies. Your profile will be added to their website, where consumers can find you and you can build your referral business by connecting with other e-PRO®-certified professionals — they even have their own Facebook community.
As social media has become such an integral part of our business and the promotion of the properties we represent, getting the Digital Marketing: Social Media certification has become more important. You will learn how to brand your business and become proficient with the social media platforms to build followers and have a wider audience to promote your listings. Sellers want to see that in your marketing plan, and buyers will be attracted to your content, which, in turn, means more business for you.
With 25 billion smart home devices out there, this is a niche that is growing and in need of real estate professionals to understand and capitalize on. Getting the Smart Home certification can do that for you. It is one of the newer certifications. You will stand out among sellers looking for agents who understand what a smart home is from knowing the technologies available and how they impact the value of a home, which may ultimately win you the listing. You will become an expert in learning how to leverage these Smart Home features with unique marketing strategies to attract a pool of buyers who are seeking the benefits of Smart Home ownership.
Put a plan in place
Decide which ones are needed first, and then put a plan in place for how and when to attain them. Look at the course schedule, and include this in your annual business plan so you can budget the time needed. Be realistic with your goals; even if you accomplish one per year, you are moving yourself forward professionally and will begin to appear on the consumer’s radar.
Once the hard work of getting certified is completed, do not let it just sit there as some mysterious letters at the end of your name, thinking consumers will come running to you. They will not, and you will need to promote the heck out of it! Create a landing page on your website that goes into greater depth about what the certification means and how it can benefit the consumer. Create content for your social media platforms so the word gets out — most provide marketing resources and materials to make it easier for you. Hot links are always beneficial for the curious who want to understand more, so put them in wherever you can with catchy phrases so that they will click through and learn why you are the best agent for them. Include it in your e-blasts and newsletters, and not just once. Shake it up a bit so the message is consistently being heard.
Whether you currently have an abundance of certifications under your belt or are just getting started, having the right certifications will make you a more well-rounded agent to be the best that you can be. Most importantly, consumers will choose you!