As an agent-turned-real estate marketer, I’ve witnessed how agents run their businesses firsthand. While many treat real estate like an actual business (and it is), there are still too many agents who don’t seem to give their profession the attention it deserves.
As real estate agents, you already struggle with the misperception that all agents are greedy rather than helpful, scamming rather than trustworthy and amateurish rather than professional.
To make things worse, many of you unwittingly tell yourselves lies about your business that only feed these negative ideas. I believe it’s time that we all — agents and marketers — work together to change this perception to one in which we can all take pride.
Here are the four biggest lies many agents tell themselves.
1. Design doesn’t matter.
If you have ever looked at a real estate agent’s website, you’ll know this lie is alive and well. Basic design principles have somehow escaped the real estate industry.
We don’t think of the user first by asking questions such as:
- Is this easy to read?
- Is this easy to navigate?
- Does this website make me want to visit more often and for longer periods of time?
Facebook is constantly tweaking its design because, though users might complain at first, the company knows the tweaks will result in better (and longer) use.
Poor design also gives people a bad first impression of your business. Have you ever shied away from using a professional because of the look of his or her website and marketing?
Good design tells people that you are a trusted professional and that you take your business seriously.
2. You don’t need to specialize.
Oxford’s definition of specialize is to “concentrate on and become expert in a particular subject or skill.” This means that you can’t specialize in eight things at once.
I see this all the time in profiles and about pages — someone specializes in first-time homebuyers, move-up clients, condos, luxury homes, empty-nesters, newlyweds, growing families — and the list goes on and on.
Do you think Michael Phelps could have won 18 gold medals if he had focused on more than just swimming?
You’ll never become an expert in something unless you devote all your attention to that one thing. Gary Keller’s latest book, “The ONE Thing,” is about this very topic.
When you specialize, you become the go-to person. I’ve even seen agents refer business to other agents who had more expertise in a particular area.
This also becomes a huge selling point for your business and makes it easier for you to stand out among your competitors.
3. You can run your business with a monthly marketing budget of $100.
Here’s a truth for you: Your real estate business is a business. You have revenue and expenses just like any other business. You should not treat it as a personal hobby, and your commission should not go straight into your pocket.
Successful agents understand the importance of spending money to grow. Nobody would ever expect a small business to start, grow and succeed with little to no marketing budget. You shouldn’t expect this for your real estate business, either.
An article on sba.gov recommends that businesses under $5 million in gross revenue spend an average of 7 percent to 8 percent of their revenue on marketing costs.
If you want to grow, you should be spending 10 percent to 15 percent. This spending includes branding, marketing collateral and advertising costs.
4. Your business is mainly referral-based; you don’t need to worry about online marketing.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the millennial generation is now the largest generation, surpassing the baby boomers by 7.7 million.
This generation was raised with the Internet and technology — one that uses the Web for everything in everyday life. I should know — I am one.
When people refer professionals to me, the first thing I do is look them up on the Internet. I want to see what they look like online, what they’ve written and what others have written about them. What I find will shape my impressions and help me decide whether to use them.
Having a website and social media accounts are no longer value added to your business — they are now your starting point. They have become a given, like having an email address and a cell phone.
These tools become valuable to your business when you use them to answer questions like these: What makes you better than any of the other agents out there? How well do you understand my particular needs? How well do you answer my questions and address my concerns? (By the way, this is a perfect reason it’s so important to specialize.)
I believe that if agents can quit telling themselves these lies about their profession, it will raise the perception of agents across the board.
Clients will start seeing you as a real professional who takes your business seriously, and there will be far fewer people doubting or questioning your value.