In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This spring, go Back to Basics with Inman.
Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent six years working for Zillow Group. He retired in August 2018 but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His weekly Inman column publishes every Wednesday.
Your real estate agent profiles — those pages scattered about the internet that invariably include your photo, an “about me” section, and maybe areas to display your listings and past sales — are often the first places potential buyers or sellers will find you as they begin the process of deciding which agent to hire.
Given that reality, real estate agent profiles should be crafted with care and consideration. After all, you’re marketing yourself, so you want to put your best foot forward anywhere you have the opportunity to connect with a potential client.
Yet the web is filled with — let’s be honest — some pretty bad profile pages. You know the type: fuzzy images, outdated copy, sales speak. The list of grievances is almost endless.
Why are some profiles disasters while others are marketing masterpieces?
I don’t know. Maybe some real estate agents aren’t sure why profiles matter or don’t understand how to make them consumer-friendly. Crafting a good one probably seems overwhelming. Often, people quickly build a profile page and never look at it again.
Whatever the reasons for subpar online profiles, now is the time to give your web presence a second look. Start pulling up your profile pages, and ask yourself a few questions:
- Is there a high-quality photo?
- Are my education credentials meaningful and up to date?
- Do I communicate my unique selling proposition well?
- Is there “agent speak” (terms consumers might not understand) in my profile?
- Am I trying too hard to sell?
Let’s take a closer look at each of these focal points.
Pick the right photo
Have you ever seen marketing material from a real estate agent and said to yourself, “Wow, I wonder how old that picture is?”
You know you have.
Don’t be the person in that photo! You don’t need to update your headshot every six months, but if you’re using an image that looks more like your high school yearbook photo than something taken in the past couple of years, it’s time to make a change. “Glamour Shots” were a thing — 30 years ago. Today, not so much.
Avoid the “headshots” that are simply logos. People want to connect with you, not a logo. Ditto with your dog, your cell phone, a “Just sold!” rider or any other prop. Get a professional headshot, cropped so your smiling face is the focus of the photo. Don’t clutter it up with stuff that doesn’t matter. Just you and your face.
Clarify your education credentials
Think back again to real estate profile pages you’ve seen. Does this look familiar?
Jay Thompson — MBA, ePro, ABR, CRS, CRE, CIPS, GRI, CPM, SRS
Not really. Don’t get me wrong, education is important — crucial, even. But how many consumers — you know, the folks looking at your profile and deciding whether or not to hire you — know what any of those abbreviations after your name mean?
The answer to that rapidly approaches zero.
So, spell it out, but not just by saying, “I am an accredited buyer’s representative!” That still doesn’t mean much. Try something like this:
“I believe in continuing education. It helps me to be a better agent for you. I’ve spent 200 hours in the past two years training, learning and refining my craft — so that I can better serve you.”
If you really want to get into the details of your credentials, consider linking to pages that explain what you learned in those designation classes.
Define your USP
Your USP — unique selling proposition — is what sets you apart in the sea of sameness. Odds are pretty good that there are a lot of real estate agents in your market, all competing for limited buyers and sellers. What makes you different from all of them?
It is not an easy thing to define, but a good USP, if it’s communicated well, will really help a consumer understand what you can do for them. And remember, it’s all about them, not you.
Here is a good article on building a USP. Give it a run-through (be sure to watch the video, too), and get that brain thinking about what makes you stand out from the pack.
Watch the agent-speak
“I closed 43 sides last year — I can sell your home too!”
As real estate sales professionals, we know exactly what that sentence means. But what about that potential homebuyer? The guy who hasn’t bought real estate since he grabbed a cheap condo nine years ago sees “sides” and thinks “baked potato or fries?”
It’s very easy to include words and terms that you see and use every day. Take a step back, and look at your real estate agent profile from the perspective of a consumer. Spell out abbreviations. Define industry-specific terms — or better yet, just avoid them.
Don’t force potential customers to try and translate your agent-speak into terms they understand. The simple fact is they won’t translate; they will move on to the next profile.
Stop the hard sell
Your real estate profile is your biography. It’s a place for someone to learn about you, how you work, and what you can do for them. Although you use it to market yourself, it’s not an overt advertisement. Hard selling on your profile might cast you as “one of those agents” who seems to only care about their next commission check.
I’ll say it again: It’s about them, not you. Your profile is a place for potential clients to get to know you. Real estate is still a very personal, face-to-face business, and your profile may well be your first chance to impress. Don’t make that impression be of a pushy salesperson. Make it reflect the professional, helpful and caring real estate agent that you are.
Profiles are important. They are often the first thing your potential clients will see, and first impressions count. Many people will use profiles almost exclusively to determine which agent to reach out to. I did, and I am far from alone.
You should have an optimized profile on every available site. Zillow (your Zillow profile is automatically ported to Trulia), realtor.com, your brokerage website, your website, Google My Business. Check your MLS and local association, they might offer profiles pages, especially if they have a public-facing website.
If you’re in Texas, the Houston Association of Realtors provides profile pages for any agent in Texas. See if your chamber of commerce offers a business directory.
Most sites charge nothing to build a profile. Some, like a local chamber, might require you to be a member before you can build a profile. The time you spend building — and updating — profiles is time well-spent, and the return can be significant.
Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and retiree in Seattle, as well as the one spinning the wheels at Now Pondering. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty. “Retired but not dead,” Jay speaks around the world on many things real estate.