Branding For Realtors & Mortgage Agents
I’m heading to a seminar/meeting tonight at the Hard Rock Cafe held by a personal branding guru. Should be fun and a great learning experience.
Personal branding is big now. But doing it well is far from easy. How we present ourselves online and in person plays a key role in how we’re positioned for success. Our persona or self-image can be shaped. And it must be shaped for us to be the “solution” others are looking for.
This story below shows how personas and personal branding are affecting the professional services field. Many of these professionals won’t like what’s coming but the progressive will love what is an exciting new experience. If they want to excel, they must put themselves out there in new, uncomfortable, and bold ways. Privacy will soon be a thing of the past.
In a world of very complex relationships, transactions, and lifestyles, we need to think about how we’re positioned for our work and personal realms. To pretend success happens in chance, face to face meetings in your neighbourhood is naive. To pretend that doing what everyone else is doing online is sufficient, is also foolhardy. Real estate and mortgage agents are discovering that their persona, digital relationships and the emotional experience they give others is critical to growing their business.
Take a look at how a model exposes herself and her life and how she uses excitement as her branding tool to shape her digital brand. See this professional artist and how her brand/personality is fused into her product. They’re on Facebook big time but FB’s not enough for the power personal brander. The next big thing in social marketing is coming.
Easy Money for Realty/Mortgage Agents?
We all have an image of real estate and mortgage agents enjoying the good life. They’ve got all those amazing rewards for “top producer.” And houses are so expensive, how could they not be rolling in dough? Things aren’t always what they seem.
The real stats show most agents don’t make much money at all. The top agents however do earn plenty. They’ve built their empire and they leverage the personal attraction and interpersonal networks of other agents, which magnifies their own power to sell.
However, top producers are very aware of their own unique value proposition. It seems no one works on their UVP until they feel the power begin. Millionaires think about UVPs — money gives them that power. When success happens, a compulsion to control it and focus it appears. It’s like not learning to drive until you own a car. Suddenly, the car’s power to transform your life sinks in and you want to enrich it.
A lot of professionals are kicking the tires, and sitting in the driver’s seat of this new personal branding vehicle (social media), wondering if they’re ready to head to the track and make the fans stand on their feet.
The Digital Realm Could Change You Too
What’s happening to real estate and mortgage agents now is what’s happening to us all. You can forget about privacy. The selfie, the blog, the tweet, the swarm location indicator all point to a world devoid of anonymity. You’ll be collaborating with customers more, they will know you, and you’ll enjoy it.
One day, you’ll need to leverage the power of the social web to be successful. It’s best to take a look at what these professionals are going through and apply it to your professional life too.
So let’s take a look right now at what makes some real estate and mortgage agents successful, and why others linger in anonymity far from the spotlight. In the quest to be visible on the web and the social web, mortgage, realty, and investment agents and brokers will have to work miracles to create an online experience that grabs visitors and turns them into lasting loyal clients. Even when they are seen and heard, the audience is jaded, rushed and barely interested.
Engagement is the holy grail online now for marketers. It wasn’t just content like blog posts and news, it was more a complete lifestyle experience that visitors wanted. Those who master this are the ones who would win the grail.
The Never Ending Challenge for Professionals
It was about 6 years ago when I saw the first real sign that things were changing in online real estate. I was heavily into creating content for my real estate agent clients. During one stretch, we landed nearly 700 visitors per day from Google, but out of that only a few leads trickled through.
The recession hit like a tidal wave, but the changes would just keep on cascading as new technology was introduced. Agents were stressed by so many business/technology changes, they couldn’t keep up. To not convert was stressful.
Whatever it is website visitors wanted, they weren’t finding it on my client’s website. His lack of accessible listings appeared to be the issue, because buyers just wanted to see homes. Get lots of listings and things would be good. But even after we got the Remax mls home listings hooked up and visitors could see plenty of homes for sale, the leads weren’t happening. What could it be?
There were changes in the industry. Homeowners could list their own homes on the MLS for $99. It is tough.
Cut rate real estate brokers were running some shady deals with 1% commissions. This was presenting challenges for traditional real estate agents who wanted 6% commission on their sales transactions. Competition was creating razor-thin margins and agents couldn’t see how they’d survive in this new digital networked world.
What is it Buyers/Seller Wanted?
At this point, I wondered if our incoming Google traffic was well-qualified. The keyword phrases looked good and were very relevant. These were as good as any realtor would get. And my other realty-related clients were having similar issues. And it wasn’t easy to dominate Google search listings in the real estate sector. It was competitive and with video, mobile, and the demise of SEO, it seemed impossible to know factors would increase leads and generate sales.
Next, I looked at the agent’s UVP (unique value proposition) but other agents didn’t have a lot going for them either. Most had the bland content of pretty pictures, good service guarantee, and satisfied customer testimonials on a templated website that did nothing for them. Nothing that really makes a buyer lean toward their laptop anyway.
The UVP was a key, but so was how it was presented. Just like it is for comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld or Jim Carrey , the delivery is everything.
What allowed some agents to dominate sales was:
- Huge marketing budgets
- Extensive advertising
- Strong neighbourhood presence
- Polished, attractive websites
- Huge numbers of home listings, well indexed in Google
- Leveraging other agents as employees of their own
- Strategic personal branding
Today, even these attributes aren’t enough. In the social era, real estate and mortgage agents need to present a compelling personal presence that many aren’t at ease with. The unique value proposition includes a personal presence that is highly relevant to the home seller or buyer. And remember, home sellers and buyers have completely different needs and wants.
Unfortunately, for me and my client, I didn’t possess the branding expertise he absolutely needed. But then again, for the last 6 years, most professionals have struggled with the complexity (and costs) of personal branding.
You Must Get Personally Involved – Because Everyone Else Is
Most agents and brokers don’t want to get that personally exposed and involved. That takes courage and strategy. Many just try to present themselves as physically attractive, and happily married with kids (in other words well-adjusted, focused, and responsible). Increasingly, that isn’t enough to build big success.
And prospects/customers will give you a couple of seconds, or minutes, depending on how good the website or facebook page is at keeping them engaged in the material.
I’m not going to get into specific content strategy. Suffice to say that as so much about you can be presented online, people expect to see and know lots. People care who they hire as an agent . If the agent’s persona isn’t fused and clear, it creates unease and off they go in search of another agent.
Social media exists to help people connect in a personal engaging way. Many married agents are finding it difficult for their spouses since their agent spouse is “out there” in a space where they need to be as attractive as possible. That can create issues particularly when the spouse is pulled into the social sphere. If they believe in what they’re they may be okay.
Personalized for Relevancy
So the challenge for many is how to present a persona (self-image) and personalized unique value proposition that impinges on their privacy and comfort. Whatever image they present will likely impact their personal relationships too, since friends, family, and others see their online presence as completely real and sincere.
In fact, they are trying to be more sociable, visible, and expressive to specific groups of people, than they may feel comfortable with.
The road to success for personal services professionals is personal. Yes, I just said it. They must promote their personalized unique value proposition. Most agents don’t even know what a unique value proposition is let alone how take it to the next level of more intimate personalization. They assume they have nothing to offer that’s any better than the other 400 agents in their office, or the 25,000 in their market area.
I’ve discovered one significant attribute of super successful professionals. It’s the icing on the cake yet it’s yet it’s the ingredient most desired and respected. It’s the real focus of top notch personal branding.
So, as an agent who wants to excel, you’ll likely need a personal branding guru to help you understand the image you’re projecting now, and the image you need to project in future. Don’t be afraid to do it all, but it’s a big job so going it alone might be a little risky. Your business deserves better.
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