The real estate industry has never been more competitive than it is today. Thanks to the internet, the widespread adoption of smartphones, and the ever-increasing popularity of social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, the real estate playing field has essentially been leveled.
To successfully attract new clients, close more deals, and continue growing your business today, you have to do more to stand out from competition. To do it:
- You can’t just be the best salesperson, you have to be the best resource.
- You can’t just network with people, you have to be the best at building authentic relationships with people everywhere—both offline and online.
- You can’t just rely on traditional advertising, you have to invest in new channels like social media marketing, content marketing, video marketing, and yes… even Pokemon Go.
- You can’t just call people over the phone, you have to be willing to send them text messages, instant messages, Facebook messages, emails, and tweets.
To achieve all of this, you have to invest in personal branding. This guide will give you all the information, tips, tools, and resources you need to develop a strong personal brand that you can leverage to grow your real estate business.
What is Personal Branding?
Put plainly, personal branding is the practice of marketing yourself as a way to advance your career or grow your business. The goal with personal branding is to ultimately create a recognizable identity through visuals and voice style that you can use to establish and maintain a positive professional reputation for yourself, connect with more leads, build trust and loyalty, and close more deals.
In an age when everyone is relying heavily on Google to constantly perform their own research about friends, coworkers, employers, and businesses, a strong personal brand can make all the difference when it comes to convincing someone that you (and not the other guy or gal) are the one they should be working with.
“Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.” — Tim Ferriss
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” — Tom Peters
For real estate agents in particular, a strong personal brand is essential. It’s almost impossible to grow your business if no one in your local community knows who you are or recognizes your name. It’s extremely difficult to land new customers without a strong reputation that is supported by genuine testimonials and regular referrals from happy clients.
You have to make a name for yourself, and you have to be proactive about maintaining and strengthening your personal brand.
So, the question is: where do you start?
Getting Started with Personal Branding
Growing and maintaining a strong and effective personal brand to support your real estate business won’t be easy, but there are a few specific steps you can take right away to make sure you’re headed down the right path:
Step 1: Identify Your Audience — Before you get too far into thinking about who you are and what makes you different, it’s important to first think about the audience you’re trying to reach. To start, think about who your ideal customers are, what they do, what problems they have, what motivates them to buy, where they spend their time online and offline, and how you can effectively build relationships with them. Taking the time to zero in on your target audience will help you build a personal brand that doesn’t just make you look good, but one that actually helps you effectively connect with prospects and grow your business.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: How to Define Your Target Audience by Neil Patel for QuickSprout
Step 2: Focus on What Makes You Different — Once you’ve identified your target audience, your next step is to start thinking about what makes you different than your competitors. The answers you come up with will ultimately help you shape the core of your personal brand. To zero in on what makes you different, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do my customers work with me instead of other agents?
- What are my areas of expertise?
- When it comes to real estate, what am I passionate about?
- What am I known best for?
- Who do I love to help?
- Why did I become an agent? What are my career goals?
In addition, you can also zero in on what makes you different by asking your past clients the following questions:
- Why did you choose to work with me and not another agent?
- What was your experience like working with me? What stood out to you?
- What mattered most to you during our interaction?
- Would you refer me to your friends? Why or why not?
- What can I do better for my future clients?
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: The Brand Called You by Tom Peters for Fast Company
Step 3: Hire a Designer — In order to build a strong personal brand for yourself, you need to develop a strong kit of branding visuals that can be used everywhere you plan to market yourself. Specifically, you should hire a professional freelance designer to help you develop the following assets for your personal brand:
- A logo
- A color scheme and font family
- Graphics for your website
- Graphics and photos for your social media profiles
- Graphics for your blog
- Graphics for your print media and advertising collateral
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: How To Design Your Personal Brand Image In 10 Steps by Mary Stribley for Canva
Step 4: Secure Your Domain — This goes without saying, but if you haven’t already it’s highly recommended that you purchase and register [YOURNAME].com. Securing the rights to your full name domain is one of the easiest ways to maintain and control what shows up in Google when people search your name.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Do’s and Don’ts of Securing a Domain Name by Jane Porter for Entrepreneur
Step 5: Build Your Blog & Start Sharing Value — A big part of building your personal brand will involve doing what you can to leverage yourself as a helpful resource to your target audience. One of the easiest ways to start sharing value with your current and ideal customers is by launching a blog on your website and investing some of your marketing budget into content marketing. Publishing new content on your blog each week can help you differentiate from competitors, build trust with your audience, and get your name out in front of more people.
Step 6: Start Participating on Social Media — In addition to blogging, you’ll also want to start engaging with your current clients and target audience on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Before you dive in though, it’s important that you take the time to build profiles and pages that align with the personal brand you’re working to build. That means utilizing the professional graphics and visuals you had made in step 3 the answers you came up with in step #2. In general, you should use your social media profiles and pages to:
- Engage with prospective clients
- Feature stories and testimonials from past happy clients
- Post about open houses and new properties on the market
- Answer questions about real estate
- Tell stories
- Interact with other local businesses and partners
- Advertise your business
- Share your blog content
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Social Media for Real Estate Agents: 21 Tips by Wishpond
Step 7: Find Offline Opportunities — At the end of the day, personal branding is about getting your name and face out there in front of people. There’s plenty of work to do online, but in order to truly build a successful personal brand, you need to also spend time participating in offline events that allow you to interact with more people in your community. For example, you can attend:
- Business networking group lunches
- Chamber of Commerce events
- Local sporting events
- Happy Hours at other local businesses
- Festivals, farmer’s markets, and other annual events
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: How to Network Like You Really Mean It by Minda Zetlin for Inc
Step 8: Invest in The Right Tools — There are a number of tools you can use to boost productivity and success when it comes to building your personal brand. Here are a few worth checking out (some have already been mentioned):
- Typeform – use this tool to send surveys to clients when trying to identify what makes you different.
- Mention – use this tool to track mentions of your name in real-time and engage with people who mention you on social media sites.
- Buffer – use this tool to schedule and publish social media updates to your personal brand social media pages.
- 99designs, Upwork, Behance – use these tools to find a graphic designer who can help you develop your personal brand identity.
- Buzzsumo – use this tool to come up with blog ideas and to find interesting content to share with your social media followers.
- A Small Orange – use this tool to buy and register your personal brand domain, [YOURNAME].com.
Step 9: Fine-Tune Your Strategy & Go All In — To build a successful and long-lasting personal brand, you have to be consistent, you have to try a lot of different strategies, and you have to be willing to fail. Once you’ve made it through the first 8 steps and you have your personal brand off the ground, go all in and embrace the identity you have created for yourself. From there, test out new tactics, get as much feedback as you can from your target audience, make small changes to your strategy as needed, and allow your personal brand to evolve over time.
What else have you been doing to build your personal brand? Share your ideas in the comments section below!