The other day I was trolling the Internet looking for ideas. I am still building some pages into my Web site and writing a value proposition. I need that magical page and those paragraphs that answer the all-important question: Why should I hire you?

I already have the virtual bus bench on my site that plainly states: "I am all that AND a bag of chips," but I don’t think that is really a value proposition. The virtual bus bench started as a joke and then took on a life of its own. It became viral when one of my clients e-mailed it to 50 or 60 of her closest friends.

It really isn’t enough to say I am all that AND a bag of chips. It sounds silly as I write it, but as I looked over numerous Realtor Web sites looking for inspiration I saw the same type of marketing that was worded a bit more elegantly.

The Web pages are like big ads for the real estate company: They tell how wonderful the company is. There are 10- or 15-year-old photos of agents on some of the sites. I can tell they are dated because of the hairstyles. I managed to find one agent who had a mullet-style haircut. (Maybe not exactly a mullet, but very ’80s.)

Advertisements are meant to promote a product or service, but I question how well consumers relate to large corporations when they are searching for such a personal service. Realtors provide highly personalized services to meet each client’s needs. Can a large corporation do that? We know that agents sell real estate, not real estate companies — but our advertising says the opposite.

After viewing how wonderful the real estate company is I see the information about the agent. Often there are a bunch of initials after the agent’s name. They are called designations. The pages do not define what a "CRS" is. It could be done simply by using the words that the initials stand for and providing the consumer with some useful information.

Most people know that "M.D." stands for medical doctor, but I am not all that sure that they know what "GRI" stands for. If they did, they might be impressed that the agent has taken that extra step.

Some of the agent pages list awards like "president’s circle" or "top seller" for their office or company. That might be something that would impress prospective sellers — most would want an agent with a track record. …CONTINUED

I was one of the top sellers in my office, and then I moved to a larger office and stayed in the middle for a few years. The top seller had far fewer transactions than I but specialized in multimillion-dollar homes.

I am not sure he would even know how to market the kind of homes I sell. Now that I am in a company that has three agents, maybe I will be in the top one or two.

The pages I viewed were all very similar. As I attempt to refine my own message it is important to me that I distinguish myself from my peers. I want to stand out as a local agent who knows her market: a specialist, not a generalist.

My competitors have Web pages that tell the world how wonderful they are, but I think consumers want to know what is in it for them. They want to know what that agent can do for them.

The pages don’t answer that all-important question: Why would I hire you?

What is your value proposition, and what makes you a better choice than the cute young man listed on the page next door?

Should I entrust one of the biggest purchases of my life to someone who wears a mullet, or is fashion sense irrelevant?

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.


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