recognize your brand? The unfortunate trend in our industry today is to ignore the need to establish a brand—or worse, to take steps to hide it. Far too many businesses existing for the purpose of real estate invest- ment shroud their company behind an anonymous LLC that has no distinction. Instead, you should plan for growth! Plan to take over your marketplace! And be ready when that happens, with your branding in place. Among some things to consider in your branding efforts: DEFINE YOUR BRAND CLEARLY As you are developing your brand, the conversation should be steeped in self-dis- covery. This can be found in the 3 D’s: • What do you do? • What do you deliver? • What differentiates you from your competitor? COMMUNICATE STRATEGICALLY Before you ever begin drawing awareness of any kind towho you are andwhat you do, youmust determine how and towhom youwill communicate your promise. BUILD EQUITY Brands such as Nike, Apple and others all have built massive value in their brands because they have communicated their brand promise consistently over time. Each time you communicate your brand, you either build equity or lose

equity. Each time it is associated with a person, it either adds value or takes value away. Nike is great, but where would it be without Michael Jordan? If 80 percent of all businesses fail in the first two years, I wonder what a proper brand strategy could have done for them? Consider the quote: “Well begun is half done.” they need. A fewof the companies that were under the current Affinity Enterprise Group umbrella were suffering from“brand obscurity.”Many of these were purchased fromearlier owners and founders. Today, under the new companyThink Realty, they have found new life. This brand’s promise is to provide the needed content, networking and resources to make anyone successful in his or her real estate investing endeavor. Think Realty ties together Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine, Community Investor Maga- zine, REI Expo, PREIMA, RE Rights and the Community Buying Group to bring the user a continuous hub of connec- tivity and service at a very low price. It is on the fast track to becoming the one essential to every investor—and to every person looking to introduce viable products to the investor.

I HAVE OWNEDMULTIPLE businesses, turned around a few that were failing, and launched several national programs to be syndicated on Fox, CNBC and The Wall Street Business Network. Through that experience, as well as simple observation of the marketplace, I have seen clearly the importance of proper branding on a business’ success. While it may be today’s favorite buzzword—and a much overused and misunderstood one, at that—“brand” is a business essential that you must leverage effectively. The very survival of your busi- ness depends on it. Without a vivid understanding of how proper branding affects your business and your ability to promote it, you are doomed to misuse your marketing dollars and stumble in your communication efforts. When done correctly, brand leverag- ing makes all of your marketing efforts worthwhile. That’s evident by observing how big brands (think Walmart, Co- ca-Cola, McDonald’s) are viewed in the marketplace, but the lesson applies no matter what size business you have. So, what is branding, anyway? It can mean many things, but at its root it is what you are promising to the custom- er. It is what you claim to deliver in product or service, and it differentiates you from your competition. In your area, how are you and your business known by local real estate agents, brokers, other investors, tenants and homebuyers? Do others

BYEDDIEWILSON EddieWilson is president of Affinity Enterprise Group, parent entity of Think Realty.

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