Presented by DN News Desk
In today’s insanely cluttered and internet-distracted media environment, it seems impossible to cut through the noise and win eyeballs. So when someone does it, it feels like magic.
When it comes to entrepreneur Kris Lindahl, it can actually feel like he’s stalking you. You hear his voice on your smart speaker as you make breakfast. Your favorite radio host mentions his name on your morning commute.
You see his banner ads on every website, his posts all over Facebook. You pass his billboards on your evening commute. You see him on TV as you’re watching an evening baseball game. You almost wonder if he’s going to tap you on the shoulder in the middle of the night and ask you if you’d like a Guaranteed Offer on your home.
Of course, what Lindahl does isn’t a magic trick. It’s the product of more strategic thinking, precise execution, aggressive investment, high risk tolerance and rigid discipline than most entrepreneurs are willing to give. Which is why he’s gone from a local real estate agent to a national figure who generated over $1 billion in sales for one of his businesses—during a pandemic.
“People connect with people, not products,” says Lindahl. “I realized early in my career that if you asked someone who sold their home, they said their realtor and not the big broker they worked for. So I knew from the beginning that I needed to build a brand based on one person, one face, one voice.”
As much as we fixate on Hollywood-style influencers, the truth is that millions of Midwesterners see and hear Kris Lindahl 10 times more often in a week than anyone with the last name “Kardashian.” Is the attention driven by fame or ego? Not according to Lindahl. He insists that his relentless presence works because his businesses back up their promises.
Case in point: Even those who complain about seeing his face too often wind up working with—or for—his real estate brokerage, Kris Lindahl Real Estate. (Just two years after its founding, KLRE is ranked by Real Trends as the largest team-owned real estate brokerage in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado and #12 in America).
Now, after years of people asking him how they can do what he’s done, Lindahl has started an agency called the Marketing Team. The goal: Bring his branding principles to other entrepreneurs and business owners.
The playbook is hard to argue with. Lindahl’s billboards in particular have become a marketing lightning rod, sparking a cottage industry of parodies and memes, as well as plenty of snarky Reddit threads.
Does Lindahl mind the naysayers and satirists that turn other entrepreneurs off from branding themselves? “To me, engagement of any kind is the best measurement of success,” he says.
“If someone I’ve never met wants to Photoshop one of my billboards onto an image from the Mars rover to get likes and laughs on social media, have at it!” (That happened, by the way, more than once).
Lindahl’s meteoric rise was mostly unexpected by those who knew him growing up. Those who played on his Fridley High School football or basketball teams, or saw him organize people to help senior residents during a local flood, probably wouldn’t have predicted his level of business success 20 years later. The exception is childhood friend Steve Solberg, a San Diego-based media expert who Lindahl recently tapped to run the Marketing Team.
“Kris has always understood two things better than anyone I know: marketing and people,” says Solberg. “In 15 years in media, I’ve never seen anyone accomplish what he has, which is why I wanted to be a part of it. Some people think his brand is all about radio, TV and billboards. But he has so many behind-the-scenes campaigns going as well. He’s quickly but carefully built a dominant brand, with the right people around him and the numbers to back it up.”
Even though Lindahl’s ads focus on him, he’s quick to point out that the operative word in his strategy is “team.” “I learned everything playing team sports as a kid, and I’ve scaled the team approach in real estate more than anyone, so there’s a reason I named my agency the Marketing Team,” he says. “It may not be the most creative name in advertising, but it’s the most honest and powerful.”
“Other agencies say they want to partner with you to help you to grow your business. We go to entrepreneurs and visionaries and say, ‘We’ve done exactly what you want to do, so we’re the team you need on the field to win, 100 percent.’”