When the National Association of REALTORS®’ Core Standards were adopted in 2014, they were the subject of close study nationwide. In North Carolina, Andrea Bushnell, Chief Executive Officer of the state’s REALTOR® Association, chaired the team that was assembled to address the new requirements. She realized that if all the local associations in North Carolina needed to create individual advocacy and consumer outreach plans, they’d be re-inventing the wheel many times over. The solution? To create a strong single brand that conveys an identity, a message and ongoing content. It’s called “NC REALTORS®: The Smart Move,” and it’s supported by a Game Changer Grant from the REALTOR® Party.
As Bushnell points out, North Carolina’s growth rate—one of the fastest in the nation—presents a great opportunity for REALTORS® to establish themselves as industry leaders in minds of their clients, elected officials and the general public. The dual goal of The Smart Move initiative is to promote public understanding of the value of using a REALTOR®, and to position REALTORS® as the premier real estate resource and a key partner to communities and municipalities.
The initiative consists of a number of tactical elements including a bright, attractive logo, branded products, promotional programming, tools and an extensive ‘library’ of distributable content that local associations and even individual offices will be able to download and brand as their own. The centerpiece of the initiative is a consumer contest encouraging homeowners to share stories of how an NC REALTOR® brought value to their homebuying experience. Over the course of a month this summer, their video entries will be accepted in a competition to win $7,500 for home improvements. The winning homeowner’s REALTOR®, and that professional’s local REALTOR® Association, will also win $2,000, for professional development and association recognition, respectively. The contest will be judged by a panel of REALTORS® and communications experts or North Carolina celebrities, and the winner will be announced at the NC REALTORS® Conference in September.
The gradual roll-out of The Smart Move initiative began early this year, and is being conducted in phases to ensure optimal market saturation. Bushnell reports that her members love the colorful and energetic logo that expresses their new brand identity; soon, they’ll be seeing it on unused billboard space that the state association, as a not-for-profit entity, was able to secure at a steep discount. The brand will be incorporated into all association business, including materials for Advocacy Day. The content pieces will be produced for as long as they are effective and in-demand. “There is no ‘end-date,’” says Bushnell, adding that her team will reassess the initiative on an ongoing basis.
The REALTOR® Party’s Game Changer Grant projects must be broadly replicable, and The Smart Move certainly fits the bill. “Improving the perception of REALTORS® is not a North Carolina issue, it’s a national issue,” says Bushnell. While they were at it, the state association changed its name from ‘The North Carolina Association of REALTORS®’ to ‘NC REALTORS®.’ “It’s not about being short and sweet,” explains Bushnell. “An association is a thing, an institution, and we want to be clear about the fact that we represent people: real, tangible, individual professionals who are a vital part of their North Carolina communities.”
To learn more about how North Carolina REALTORS® are promoting their image in the minds of clients, elected leaders, and the general public, contact Andrea Bushnell, CEO of North Carolina REALTORS®, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-808-4222. To see The Smart Move initiative in action, visit http://thesmartmovenc.com/.