It’s very exciting to see MRED, the second largest MLS in the United States launch a new brand image for their company. Their tagline “reinventing MLS” may give all of us a clue about where Russ Bergeron, their new CEO and the rest of his staff are going. It looks like they are going to “shake things up” a bit.
I am heartened by a leader in the MLS industry that is taking their brand seriously. They have launched a whole new marketing campaign to help build awareness of their brand to their subscribers. By using such an inspirational mark, it suggests that the company is “shooting for the stars” and helping its members to do the same.
In these days of MLS of Choice and ever increasing competition from third parties trying to negate the value of a REALTORÒ, brand is more important than ever. In member satisfaction surveys we often see significant brand confusion between the MLS provider and their partner real estate associations. Many times MLS customers do not even know the MLS is a separate organization. Satisfaction trends are inextricably linked to the reputations and service levels of local partnering associations.
similar plot. While most offer a similar suite of products, they need to find unique methods for convincing their customers they have the best answer for their real estate technology needs.
Unlike a mission statement, a positioning statement is designed to help define the unique business proposition of a company. It may morph over time as the needs of its clientele change.
Not a Tagline
Importantly a positioning statement is NOT a tagline. It is a statement (and sometimes a clumsy one) that will help you think through the four key elements needed to describe your unique value proposition. It can be used as a basis to think about what your tagline should be ultimately, but it is NOT a tagline all by itself. Do not worry about how “pretty” the sentence is. Just get the words down that describe your value proposition.
Here’s an exercise you can try to answer the unique “reason for being” of your MLS.
Complete this seemingly simple positioning statement:
To (Target audience), XYZ MLS (company name) is the only (competitive set) that (key benefit being delivered to your customers).
Reasons to believe this: (list 3 to 4 tangible actions you deliver that pay off the key benefit of your MLS operation)
While this sentence seems so simple it is actually a somewhat complicated exercise.
Target Audience: Who is it that your organization serves? Agents, Brokers, Associations, REALTORSÒ, all types of real estate professionals, Appraisers, Consumers…It is important to think about who your core audience is to be sure your programs and communications are resonating with your core audience.
Company Name: While it most cases this will not change, you may want to think about it. Does your name describe the true geography of your coverage area? Do you want to consider a name that is not geographic at all?
Competitive Set: When you evaluate your performance who do you compare yourself against? Do you want to measure your success versus other like-sized MLSs around the country? Do you want to compare yourself just to local provider where you may be experience some border overlap? Are you a technology provider or a MLS services provider? By grappling with the answers to each of these questions you can begin to think about you want to define yourself moving forward.
Key Benefit: This is usually the hardest one to answer. The answers should never be about what the MLS offers – it should be about the net result for customers after their experience the services of the MLS. For example, many MLSs deliver a great MLS and provide great support to their members. While these are great and valuable assets of the organization, they are “features” not benefits. The benefits to the membership would likely be articulated about what value the MLS delivers to its membership from the customer’s perspective. For example, does the MLS help them achieve higher levels of success? Help them survive the downturn? Help them be the best REALTORÒ they can be?
This is ultimately the key question to answer to help drive every major decision the organization makes. Ask yourself will this new service we’re considering meet the needs of our target audience. Will it support the core benefit we’re delivering to our customers? If not, then you may want to reconsider the decision.
A sound positioning statement will also help guide the messaging about your organization and all of your service offerings. I would guess that MRED will start using “Reinventing MLS” as a tagline to describe new programs or services they are offering to their customers.
I would love to hear from other MLSs who have gone through re-branding and learn about how it has helped you to improve your organization and customer satisfaction.