- You already have a personal brand based on who you are. The best you can do is develop it, ideally, with purpose and passion.
- Today, all of your offline activities need to be complemented by an online presence that provides value for the tech-savvy consumer.
- Your personal brand is largely defined by the content you create and publish.
Whether you’re a solo agent just getting your feet wet in real estate or a seasoned veteran aiming to enhance your bottom line and broaden your business horizons, crafting a personal brand that earns you recognition in your market can mean the difference between being viewed as a commodity or a valued resource.
Investing in your personal brand is a no-nonsense way to generate awareness for your business, establish a reputation and stand out in your market.
Formulating a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others helps nurture relationships when you’re not in the room so that when you do show up, your reputation has already paved the way for success.
Here, discover how to use personal branding as rocket fuel for your digital marketing.
Start with authenticity
You might think reading this article is the first step in your personal brand journey. Think again.
You already have a personal brand. So let’s not pretend you’re about to create it.
The best you can do is develop it — ideally, with purpose and passion.
“Brand” is a tricky thing to describe. In the classic marketing sense, most companies try hard to define their brand when, in reality, the market — or, more specifically, the audience — defines it.
Your brand comprises a handful of basic components:
- The impression formed when your brand’s name is read or said by consumers
- The sum of all of the experiences a person has with your brand over time
- The reputation your brand generates from its inception through today
- The way people describe your brand — not how you describe it to others
All of the above applies to your personal real estate brand. You don’t “spin” your brand. Rather, you live it. It’s what’s true about you.
When you achieve success with your personal brand, people recognize you as a specialist. For example:
- AJ specializes in helping foreign investors find the perfect properties to use as a vehicle for wealth generation.
- BJ is an equestrian trainer who works one-on-one with her clients to help them find the home that fits their family and their horses.
- CJ creates seamless relocation experiences for companies on the recruiting path.
- DJ is a community organizer who evangelizes eco-living residencies as a means to reduce our impact on the environment.
Each of these agents’ niches distinguishes them from other real estate pros in their market.
The longer you work in a particular area of real estate — serving luxury sellers, investors, first-time buyers, and so on — the more you establish your expertise and, over time, become the agent people associate with your niche.
Define your personal brand’s unique value proposition
Every meaningful brand has a unique value proposition (UVP).
It’s that thing that separates you from the rest and prevents you from becoming commoditized. As one of millions specializing in your field, to be recognized, you’ll need to develop and nurture a one-of-a-kind point of differentiation.
Who are you? The core of your personal brand is the person you are, the things you believe in and the gifts you aim to share.
Although many of the platforms you’ll use to drive down what I call “the road to recognition” will be digital, in personal branding, there’s no virtual reality.
Differentiation allows you to:
- Build a trusted identity
- Elevate and substantiate your personal brand in a competitive market
- Set expectations
- Be easier to understand and relate to
- Encourage engagement with like-minded individuals
- Turn audiences into advocates
It’s unlikely your area of expertise is unique. But you are.
I love the XYZ approach to finding your unique value proposition, but can’t take credit for it. It comes from PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), a European company that has created a network of people and professional services firms.
To teach lessons on personal branding and help support their members, they brought in the expert William Arruda of Reach Personal Branding.
The approach, abbreviated here, works like this:
Define your X-factor
Your personal brand is strong if — and only if — you can be clear about who you are and where your strengths lie.
Begin by documenting your top strengths.
- In what types of roles do you excel?
- What are your go-to skills?
- Which skills are you most excited to use daily?
- Which are most helpful for achieving your career goals?
Validate your X-factor strengths and skills by bouncing them off your friends and associates in your brand community.
Understand your Y-factor
Next, you’ll focus on your values, passions and purpose to create a roadmap focused on steering your career in the right direction.
This is your Y (or “why”).
- Begin by identifying your most important values. Rank your top five. Define what each means to you.
- Perform a self-assessment to measure how they align with your values. Create a scoring system.
- Document your passions. What are your favorite activities? What would you do if money were no issue?
- Explore your purpose. What’s your vision? What would you most like to achieve?
- Print your top values, passions and purpose and place them somewhere where you can see them every day.
Eliminate your Zzz-factor
PwC claims you must investigate ways to be “a keeper, not a sleeper” (hence the zzz-factor). Reading excerpts from your resume won’t cut it.
Now, how can you transform your UVP into a little story? (This is commonly called an elevator pitch.)
Imagine yours now. Try drafting it.
“I love urban planning and historic preservation, which has inspired me to sit on the board of our local preservation society, study architecture, and bring great building and passionate owners together.”
Wow. You could reel that off to me in the shortest of elevator rides, and I’ll rack my brain trying to think of a way I can help you achieve your goals.
A great elevator pitch is brief. The person you’re speaking to is about to arrive on the floor they’re being elevated to.
Make it easy to understand, as compelling as possible, as unique as possible — and, of course, 100-percent true.
Commit to your digital footprint
What’s your digital presence? Long gone are the days when you could rely on plastering your face on newspaper ads, billboards and bench ads to generate all of your business.
Today, all of your offline activities need to be complemented by an online presence that provides value for the tech-savvy consumer.
This starts with a website — plain and simple. It’s your home on the web, the hub of the content you create, and a destination for each and every member of the network you’re building.
The short answer? You absolutely do!
The content you post on social media networks belongs to those networks. You need to own your brand and purposefully direct it. You do that first and foremost with your brand website, which allows you to:
- Project yourself the way you want in a way you control
- Stand out from competing agents in your market
- Globalize your reach and connect with like-minded people
- Create a calling card that’s far more compelling than a business card
The modern web experience features rich, relevant, search-optimized content your core demographic(s) will find invaluable, and that will ultimately help them buy or sell a home with you as their sales representative.
Craft incredibly compelling content
I’m considering hiring you. I do a search for your name. There you are: Your website and blog, your social media profiles, maybe more.
What I’m about to see — your content — after I click through is going to make some sort of impression on me.
Your personal brand is largely defined by the content you create and publish.
You may or may not be a digital native, but at least now you have an idea of what I’m talking about: the need for a comprehensive and thoughtful online presence.
But do you know what it takes to elevate that online presence to the next level — the one in which you turn your site into a lead-nurturing machine that attracts the right prospects who end up choosing you above anyone else?
Investing in content is investing in your career
Content marketing is essentially publishing valuable content to attract and engage a targeted audience.
It’s been ridiculously hot for a decade, and it’s impossible to fathom that its popularity will change anytime soon.
Nearly every personal brand aiming to build its business via digital channels produces content of some sort. You must do the same. Why?
Because your content:
- Showcases your skills: You put your knowledge on display and make it accessible.
- Attracts an audience: Content is discovered via search, social and other channels.
- Engages your audience: Great content gets people interested in you and can start a conversation.
- Increases your reach: When your content is easy to access and inspired, it’s often featured by other content creators and shared.
- Fuels your social media presence: Your content is the focus of what you share via social media channels.
In short, the way to secure more site visitors you can transform into bona fide leads is content marketing.
No, I don’t simply mean blogging once a week and creating a buying or selling checklist for your audience.
What I’m talking about is building a full-fledged content strategy from the ground up, organizing your content ideas in a structured editorial calendar, producing and publishing that content to your site with great regularity — the cornerstone of developing a 21st-century personal brand in the real estate industry.
What should you create?
Let’s explore your content creation options now. A blog is a smart place to start, but it’s certainly not your only option.
For starters, here’s a short list of what people are looking for from content:
The best content delivers a combination of two, or all, of the above.
Let’s move on to how people consume content:
- Look at
- Listen to
Again, you have the option to use them separately or in combination. A multi-media approach will often improve engagement.
Now here’s a list of popular content formats:
- Blog post
- Case study
- White paper
- Slide show
- Quiz or assessment
Regardless of the specific content you decide to create, it’s essential to build a comprehensive content plan that’s ongoing, garners you more site traffic over the long haul and gives you an easy path to more easily convert new prospects.
Leverage outside help when you can
Many agents working at small or mid-sized real estate operations today may not think they have the financial bandwidth to get support for their branding efforts, like leveraging public relations pros who can craft press releases and set up speaking engagements for them.
The truth is there are many service providers out there that are both affordable and capable of getting you the results you desire for your marketing.
You can tap into the local blogger network to identify folks who like to spotlight local businesses and professionals, and work with them to get a profile piece or two.
You can reach out to local radio and TV stations to offer your insights for one or more of their future broadcasts on real estate-related topics.
You can even sponsor area events, like festivals and farmer’s markets, to get more word of mouth for your agency.
The point is, there is no shortage of options for you to bolster your personal brand in your community — all it takes is finding the best avenues to allocate your money and marketing efforts and ensuring you drive results needed to get more people on your site and, ultimately, in your CRM.
Find other agents to model
We learn best by modeling. No, I’m not suggesting you start a side career as a fashion model. I am referring to choosing good role models.
Find someone who does what you want to do and model their behavior. One of my favorite motivational speakers, Jim Rohn, famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
If that makes sense to you, then you will want to choose your role models with care because they can influence the speed at which you can achieve your goals.
Take a look at these real estate professionals’ sites, content, and the way they position themselves in the market.
This will shed some light on how you could construct your digital branding and, thus, earn more brand awareness (and even new leads). Here’s a small sample of some of my favorite Realtors who have built recognized personal brands:
All of these personal brands have done an exceptional job of humanizing their businesses, making it easier for the consumer to “know, like and trust” them.
At the end of the day, it’s the cumulative effect of researching your identity and learning all of these marketing activities that will dictate how big a personal brand you’re able to create for your business and how many of your business goals you’re able to achieve in the long run.
Re-write your personal brand story
You’re not going to achieve massive recognition quickly.
It takes time and perseverance. You’ll encounter obstacles. Some of your ideas may get rejected. People will turn you down. You’ll make mistakes and get distracted.
Pursuing your dream is hard work.
Where you currently are in your career is based on decisions you made along the way.
Maybe you have a habit of being late. You’re not comfortable with technology. Or you believe you don’t have enough time.
These aren’t inherent character traits. These are things you have decided.
It’s often easier to accept things about ourselves as truths rather than choices.
For example, I remember deciding I couldn’t draw. I was 10 years old and didn’t take into account that I was comparing my budding drawing skills to my art professor father, who had been practicing for 35 years.
From that point on, I ignored all of my art class instructors and didn’t practice.
Is there a story you’d like to rewrite about yourself? It’s your story. No one can stop you from authoring it the way you’d like.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Share them in the comments below!