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How to use differentiation to win twice as many listings

By Juwai, 22 January 2014
Differentiation Listing

Marketing guru Jack Trout said it best in the title of his best-selling book, "Differentiate or die”.

This blog post shows you how to use to help you differentiate yourself from other agents and win more listings from property sellers. By using the technique described here, you can win twice as many listings as you do today. We’ve seen agents do this in more than one national market.


What is differentiation in real estate?

You can be more successful than you are today if you find a way to set yourself apart. What you need is a way to “differentiate” yourself from your competitors.

Theodore Levitt, author and professor at Harvard Business School, is one person who believes this is vitally important. “Differentiation,” he says, "is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which [real estate agents] must constantly engage."

Once you have found that difference, you need to hammer it firmly into the mind of your prospects. After all, it doesn’t matter how much better you are...if no one knows about it.

You might be very likeable, even charismatic. But you are unlikely to reach your full potential in the real estate business until you also offer a unique and desirable advantage over other agents – one that goes beyond your personality, sparkling as it may be.

Vendors face a huge range of choices when it comes to selling their property. They ask themselves questions about you, points out author Trout, like:

  • What do you offer?
  • How are you different from other agents?
  • How are you better?
  • Do you represent values that are important to me?

If prospects know what makes you different and better than the others in the industry, then they have a powerful reason to work with you. To paraphrase Robert Goizueta, the now-passed CEO of Coca-Cola, “Good real estate needs location, location, location. Good real estate agents need differentiation, differentiation, differentiation."


Why real estate agents need to differentiate

Unless a prospect already has a personal relationship with you, it can be hard for them to see how you are different from the other agents in your office and in your area. Most real estate agents use the same flyers and fridge magnets, offer the same free home evaluations or market updates, and make the same claims on their websites.

Differentiate or Die Jack TroutYou don’t want to sound like every other agent. You're different from them. You know that in some ways you are better. You are special.

When a prospect selects an agent to list a property, they have many options to choose from. They use perceived differences to make that choice – always. They choose the agent who is different from the others, in the way that most benefits them, the prospect.

When you advertise yourself, you have to give the seller a reason to choose you. If you don’t tell the seller what makes you different, they will decide for themselves. When they do, it will seldom be for the reasons you would prefer.


Differentiation involves sacrifice

The hardest thing to accept about differentiation is that you have to give something up.

Too many times, when we talk about ourselves, we are like the classic monkey with his hand stuck in the cookie jar. We’ve grabbed all the cookies, but the neck of the jar is too narrow. All those cookies are too big to slide through. If we want any cookies at all, we have to let them all go, take hold of just one, and pull it out to be eaten.

Some of the best differentiators are popular consumer products. M&M’s candy never claimed to be “the best candy ever.” It's the one that doesn’t get your hands dirty because the chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hands.

FedEx made its mark not as the world’s best transportation company for every delivery need. It wasn’t trying to get all your business. It only wanted to be sure you thought of FedEx when you needed your package to get there quickly, or “overnight”.


Use to differentiate yourself

Marketing on can be at the heart of your differentiation strategy.

Chinese buyers are the globe’s biggest buyers of real estate, and their impact is only going to get bigger. Customers read about Chinese buyers in the media and are primed to expect their agents to list their property there. [Please refer to the visual above.]

More than 2.5 million properties, belonging to tens and tens of thousands of agents, are already on However, the world is so big that – in your local market – you may be one of the first agents to actively promote your use of it.

That gives you a powerful opportunity to emphasise your leadership. When your local marketplace knows that you advertise your listings in China on, you have achieved the gold standard of differentiation – showing how you are better than other agents.

Sellers want to know that you will bring as many potential buyers to their property as possible. By advertising to Chinese buyers on the world’s number one Chinese international property portal, you show you’ll stop at nothing to achieve this.

It's important to let your marketplace know that you advertise on If you don't, you are not receiving all of the benefits from your subscription that you could. Some agents mention it on their business cards, on their websites, on their office front windows and doors, in their advertising, in their listing marketing plans and in their printed marketing materials. Choose the options that work best for you.



Related Links:

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How the “Great Firewall of China” affects your real estate marketing, and what you can do about it

Quote of the Week: Chinese grab money off the printing press

Are Chinese investors overpaying for international property?


Source: 1. The Cooperator