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How-To Guide: Personal Branding for Real Estate Agents

Over the past decade, the real estate industry has increasingly become more competitive than ever before. Thanks to the internet and the increasing number of smartphone users across the United States (and indeed across the world), the real estate industry has been given a level playing ground for all the players – big or small.

Unlike years ago when only big real estate agencies can afford to generate publicity for their brand and ultimately listings, while the small guys focus on cold-calling etc, these days, even small agencies and real estate agents can generate thousands of traffic to their brand and listings too.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter, have connected the world together. This presents an opportunity for real estate agents to show their expertise, get heard and drive traffic to their own website, blog, and listings. But there’s a problem; because social media is huge with thousands of conversations going on in real-time, it is essential for you to STAND OUT from the noise in other to be heard. In order to do that, you need to create a personal brand. Building a personal brand is the key to successfully:

  • Attracting new clients
  • Closing more deals, and
  • Continually growing your business every day

According to recent statistics; a whopping 84 percent of all business decision makers start their buying process with a referral – and Google is the first place they look after getting that referral.

Building a personal brand is easier said than done. It needs commitment and consistency. This guide will give you all the information, tips, tools, and resources you that you’ll need to develop a strong personal brand that you can successfully leverage to grow your real estate business.

What is Personal Branding?

Simply put, personal branding can be defined as the practice of marketing yourself in a strategic way to advance your career or grow your business as the case may be. The ultimate goal with personal branding is to create a recognizable identity through visuals (color, images, and videos) and voice style (writing and brand messaging) that you can use to establish (and maintain) a positive professional reputation for yourself. This will help you connect and engage with more leads, build trust and loyalty with these leads, and eventually close more deals.

In a world when everyone is constantly dependent on Google to perform their own research about their needs, pain points, employees, other agents and local businesses; having a strong personal brand is what will make all the difference when it comes to convincing potential customers that you (and nobody else) is the best agent for them and as a result it is you that they should be working with instead.

“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

As a real estate agent, you must understand that your personal brand is essential to growing your business. It will be quite difficult to grow your business if nobody in your local community knows who you are or recognizes your name. It will also be nearly impossible to get new clients without a strong reputation that is complemented by genuine testimonials and constant referrals from past clients who have been happy with your services. In other words, in order for you stand out from the competition and get the attention of potential customers online, you need to make a name for yourself. You also need to be pro-active about building, maintaining and strengthening your personal brand.

Getting Started with Personal Branding: A step by step guide

The question most real estate agents ask when they’re considering how to build, grow and maintain their personal brand is: “how do I get started?” Although it is not an easy task to build a personal brand from scratch, the following steps will help you get started on the right path:

Step 1 – Identify Your Target Audience

The first step in getting started with your personal brand is to identify your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? Your personal brand has only one goal: to help you sell more homes by building a personal brand people can trust.

When building your personal brand, you need to start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Think about who your ideal customers are; their demographic, age, social status etc – you can easily check your previous past clients and see if they have anything in common
  • Find out what they do and what problems they have – you will need to dig deeper to get information such as these. You can research your past clients on social media or you can simply reach out to them directly. If they’re happy clients, that shouldn’t be so hard, right?
  • You also need to find out what motivates them to buy and where they spend their time online (and offline) – this information can help you build effective relationships with them.

By taking the time to identify your niche target audience, your strategy, messaging and overall branding will be consistent and you will generate more qualified leads.

 

Step 2 – Focus on your Value Proposition

The next step after identifying your target audience is to build your brand message. Your brand message hinges entirely on your value proposition – what makes you unique. Ask yourself; what makes you different from all the other agents in your target market? The answer[s] you come up with will define your personal brand.

In order to find out what makes you different, you need to honestly answer the following questions:

  • Why do my customers work with me instead of other agents?
  • What are my areas of expertise? Am I better in commercial real estate or not?
  • When it comes to real estate, what am I deeply passionate about?
  • Who do I love to help? Young families? Retirees?
  • Why did I become an agent? What are my career goals?

By answering these questions honestly, you will be able to main consistency in your brand messaging. Once you know your value proposition, you will need to look for subtle ways to communicate it, through your website, social media updates and blog posts.

Step 3 – Build and Brand your Online Presence

Once you completed the above steps, you have a fairly good amount of data; who your target audience is and what your value proposition to them is. The obvious next step would be to build your online presence – and develop a kit of branding visuals which you can use on all the marketing channels you will decide to use.

When building an online presence, you will need ALL of the following:

  • A website: Your website is the virtual equivalent of your office, without one, people won’t take you seriously – even a home office is better than no office. Like many of the things on this list, you will probably need to outsource your website design and development. Make sure your website is mobile responsive and you use high-quality images for your listing
  • A personal domain: This is one of the easiest ways to brand yourself online. Because people love doing their own research, even if someone they knew recommended you as a great agent, they will want to do a little research and that means typing your name in Google. Your registered domain will help you rank on the first page of Google and this shows professionalism and builds trust immediately.
  • A logo, color scheme, and font family: This is a very important aspect of branding. These three work together and it helps people quickly identify [with] you quickly. The secret to good branding is associating emotions with your brand – think apple.
  • Social media profiles: when you’ve created your website, you will need to drive traffic to it. The best and cheapest way to do that is through social media marketing. When creating your profiles, you need to ensure that your brand messaging is consistent across all profiles. Ensure your logo, images, and color scheme all match. When someone looks at your social media feed, your visuals should have a similar look – this is what makes branding stand out.
  • Graphics for your website, blog and social media profiles. Color scheme and font family must be consistent throughout all images. You can hire a graphics designer to help you with this.

Once all these components are in place, it is safe to say that your online presence has been established and the next step would be content to promote your brand and eventually, your listings.

 

Step 4 – Start a Blog to Promote your Brand

Content marketing is going to be a big part of your marketing budget, while the rest will go into promoting that content. Your blog acts as the sales person for your personal brand – one great blog post can attract thousands of readers for years to come thanks to the immortality of the internet.

As a real estate agent, the best way for you establish your brand as one that people can trust is by being a resource for high-quality information. Let your blog posts be educative, informative and entertaining.

Having a blog on your website helps you:

  • Rank high in search engine results. The more blog posts you publish, the more search engines will crawl your website for new content and the more likely your content will rank higher in search engine results.
  • By publishing new content on your blog every week, you are clearly setting yourself apart from other agents who aren’t doing the same. By consistently publishing new and high-quality content, you build trust with your audience and get your name out in front of more people because of the higher chances of your posts being shared.
  • You have content to repurpose for your social media platforms. Slides and Infographic versions of your blog posts can be posted to your LinkedIn account and your blog images and links to your blogs can also be shared on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles as well.

Here’s an additional resource you can read to have a better understanding of content marketing for real estate agents – Content Marketing for Real Estate Agents.

 

Step 5 – Use Social Media to Promote Your Content (and Brand)

Social networking platforms like Facebook have millions of users from the United States, and LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. These websites, like many others (Instagram, Twitter, YouTube etc), have one thing in common: they help people connect to people and information and brands that matter to them most. They also use it to learn about new opportunities, entertainment and intellectual discussions e.g Quora.

The opportunity that these networks provide you are endless, however, in order to take advantage of these opportunities, you need a strategy. Your strategy should include your brand messaging, target audience information and content creation process.

Below are some of what you can do with your social media profiles:

  • Engage your audience with Q&As
  • Feature stories and testimonials from previous clients (the happy ones)
  • Post about open houses and new properties on the market, use videos for Instagram, YouTube and Facebook
  • Answer questions about real estate with a variety of content types such as videos and Twitter chats.
  • Post links to engaging blog articles on your Blog at least 3 times EVERY WEEK
  • Interact with other local businesses within your local market
  • Advertise and promote your business with social media ads

 

Step 6 – Network Offline to Build Your Online Brand

To build a successful brand is more than people recognizing your logos and color scheme, it is about knowing you. You are the face behind the brand. It is you people will deal with eventually, so don’t be afraid to get out there and meet people in the real world.

Get noticed by local businesses, get involved in the community, get involved with the local press. Here are examples of how where can network offline:

  • 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

Make your networking about building real relationships. Get to know people, talk with as many as you can and try to have a relaxed and good time with everyone. Make sure you exchange contact info such as email or Twitter handle etc.

 

Step 7 – Organize your strategy and Take Action

In order to build a successful and long-lasting personal brand, you have to:

  • Be consistent with everything; your messaging, your posting schedule on social media and your weekly blog post creation.
  • Be willing to fail. You will try a lot of different things, some will work and some will not. Focus on what works and try to make it better.

Going through these 7 steps will help you get your personal brand up and running, but from there you have to keep building momentum. You have to constantly test and iterate what works and what doesn’t, encourage feedback from your target audience and make use of this feedback to fine-tune your personal brand to attract more leads and eventually, more sales.

What tips and tricks do you have when it comes to building a personal brand? Share them in the comments section below, we’d love to hear from you.

 

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Improving Your Real Estate Website Content

The first thing that popped into your mind must be why you need to hassle with creating multiple pages of excellent writing, dozens of images and hours of video content when your business is about real estate and selling properties.

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Top 3 Tips on Ending a Writer’s Block

It is a nightmare for any writer to experience a ‘writer’s block’. Being a writer, you learn to make yourself heard through your words. Writing is the only way for you to express yourself be it any emotion or situation. A writer’s block freezes your ability to do so and you end up feeling uncomfortable. At times, things start to jumble up in your head and as soon as you’re about to write it down, you’re blank. There are different types of writer’s block and whatever the reason might be, it’s a pause to your creative abilities. Here are some tips to help you knock off that writer’s block:

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Content Marketing Soft Skills Needed by Real Estate Agents

I have found there are some “soft skills” that can really help your content marketing plan move the needle for your organization. While finding the right content development team is paramount — and every organization needs something a bit different — here are some of the traits I suggest looking for:

  • An understanding of the customer:
  • A love of learning: Content marketing is a field that is rapidly evolving, so to keep up with the trends, you need to find someone who’s constantly reading, learning, and applying the new skills they gain. Remember that sometimes the best learning experiences and most inspiring moments occur when you make the effort to break out of your regular routines.
  • Willingness to innovate/experiment/fail: The best ideas are often not those that cost the most but rather those that are most creative. And, to be truly creative you need to be OK with failing sometimes. Look for someone who is willing to try new things — and learn from inevitable missteps.
  • Comfort in working with technology: There are a lot of systems involved in content marketing — from email marketing to web platforms to marketing automation tools and more — and even though a managing editor does not need to be a master at all of these, it helps to have someone who has a basic understanding of how these tools work and is comfortable with incorporating new systems into his or her existing processes.
  • The ability to communicate well with others: Content marketing is very much a team sport, and a managing editor needs to communicate with many different people. On one end, you need someone who is clear and diplomatic. But that person should also be strategic, business-minded, and able to communicate and justify programs with management.
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Content Marketing Strategies for Real Estate Agents

The process of content marketing entails selecting and delivering useful information to customers to establish credibility. Surprisingly, this and other content marketing practices can also be applied to the work of a real estate agent. 

Content marketing is a multi-step process, whereby businesses select and publish useful information that helps their customers and prospects make better decisions. Enriching the lives of consumers is a sure pathway to credibility. Engaging your audience helps you establish yourself as an expert in your field  which translates to increased leads and sales. Real estate is a media (content) rich industry that uses photographs, videos, virtual tours and articles. You can tailor all of these types of content to educate and entertain your audience, and create a steady flow of prospects who will become loyal customers.

Plan Your Content Marketing Strategy

Successful content marketing requires strategic planning. This means that real estate agents have to plan what to say, as well as how and where to say it. This involves knowing your buyer persona (who you are selling to), and the channels where they are best reached (Internet vs. print). Two basic Internet-based content marketing channels that will help you market your business are social media and blogging.

Why Choose Social Media?

Education and income are two qualities that are favorable for real estate customers to have, and both groups are available in abundance on social media. According to the Pew Internet: Social Networking study, 71 percent of all social networking users make at least $75,000 yearly, and 72 percent have a least one college degree. Social network users are also more likely to be urban and suburban than rural. These statistics are good news for real estate agents! So making social media a part of your real estate content strategy is a good idea.

Not all social media sites are created equal. Another Pew study, “The Demographics of Social Media Users (2012),” found that Facebook has the lion’s share (67 percent) of social media user involvement. Twitter engages 16 percent, followed by Pinterest (15 percent), Instagram (13 percent) and Tumblr (six percent). Each channel has its own demographic mix that will help you to analyze and decide which content channels are best for your business.

Blogging

Blogging is a great platform for sharing in-depth, valuable information. It’s also a reliable way to establish your company as an authoritative voice in your real estate market. Blogs help to build relationships that will help you to generate leads especially when you combine engaging writing with specific calls to action and forms that help you to collect information, such as email addresses and phone numbers. Customer information gathered on your blog is transferable to your print marketing efforts.

Social Media Ideas

Social media is a great way to get short blasts of useful information to your audience. Ask open-ended questions to find out what your followers are most interested in. Try posting houses of the week, luxury houses, celebrity houses, events, and local news. Self-promotion will not serve you well, but education and entertainment will.

Maximize Your Blogging Activity

In addition to posting regularly, having social media and subscription access on your blogs, these are some additional tips for blogging success:

Additional Resources

Successful blogging requires that you plan your content. A WordPress Editorial Content plug-in will help you to organize your blog posts.

Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger – one of the most well respected content marketing sites – who started off his career as the owner of a successful real estate brokerage firm, has launched AgentPress Library, which contains free case studies, reports and other content to help real estate agents succeed. Registration is free.

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The Basics: 17 Must Learn Terms For Social Media Beginners

If you’ve ever traveled the world or been a toddler, you already know how frustrating it can be to not speak the language. Seemingly simple tasks become more difficult without knowing the necessary words to properly express yourself. The same is true with social media and online marketing. Keeping up with the lingo is as important as keeping up with the technology. To that end, we offer you a short glossary of terms to familiarize yourself with in order to get the most out of your online efforts.

App – Short for “application,” apps perform a particular task and can be accessed through your computer or smart phone.

Blog – A regularly updated website or “web log,” on which an individual, business, or group of users post opinions, information, and content.

Content – Text, pictures, video, and audio material posted to any website, blog, or social-media platform.

Domain Name – The identifying name or address of an Internet site (i.e., www.akzomedia.com).

Facebook – The largest and most popular of the major social-media sites. Facebook has more than 500 million users and is increasingly used by businesses, as well as individuals.

Feed (RSS Feed) – An RSS Feed is the process through which content is syndicated online. RSS (commonly defined as Really Simple Syndication) is the program a website uses to provide subscribers with new posts and articles without them having to visit the site.

Groups – “Communities” within social-media sites that allow users interested in particular topics and activities to share information, posts, and messages with other members.

LinkedIn – Launched in 2002, LinkedIn is the largest business-oriented social-media site and has more than 70 million registered users. LinkedIn gained popularity among professionals looking to network within their communities and industry.

Links – Highlighted text (usually blue) on a website that, when clicked, opens up another page containing related content or source materials.

Profiles and Pages – The web pages on social-media sites where a registered person or business is able to display their contact information, bio, pictures, posts, and files.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The process of improving and increasing the traffic a website receives from search-engines, such as Google or Bing.

Social Media – Websites offering a platform through which like-minded communities can communicate and engage with one another online.

Social Networking – The act of networking through social-media sites, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, that allow you to create a page and contact other members.

Twitter – Popular micro-blogging site where members post “tweets” or messages of 140 characters or less to share with fans and followers.

Wall – The shared portion, or discussion board, displayed on social-media sites.

Widget – An application offered through a social-media site or blog that performs a specific function, allowing users to better customize their profiles or blog.

WordPress – A blog-publishing platform offering users an easy-to-use, template-based process for building and maintaining their own blog.

Subscribe to our blog or follow us on our social media platforms to stay up to date on the latest lingo.

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Stat Sheet: Small Business & Social Media

Sometimes social media can feel like a roll of the dice. Maybe you’ve registered your business online and are crossing your fingers that customers find you. Maybe you’re hoping that you’ll get rich quick if you just sign up for Facebook, Twitter, or whatever’s the hottest social-media site of the…

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Actionable Real Estate Content

ac·tion·a·ble  (ˈak-sh(ə-)nə-bəl)  adj.  Relating to or being information that allows a decision to be made or action to be taken.

So, you’ve just written up that great post on the new development in your neighborhood – or whatever it is you talk about on your website.  Good for you, that is what the Internet is all about.   Now, before you publish that web page do me one little favor – give your readers something to do with the information you’re giving them.

See, it is good to give your readers a lot of meaningful and useful content – the more useful the information, the better.  It is even better to tell them how to use that useful information.

I’m a big fan of actionable content.  A blog post that tells me how to do something is immediately more helpful than a news story about local market conditions.  Actionable content is good content and it makes you almost immediately more relevant.

Rather than being the blog post someone reads and forgets about, you become the blog post that gets bookmarked or printed out for some upcoming project.  You become the “go to” blog to help with all of their future needs.

It also gives your readers the possibility of an immediate return-on-investment.  The investment being the time and energy it took them to read your blog post, the return being the results they’re going to get from doing what you suggest they do.

But that’s the key.  You have to suggest they do it.  Hell, you can even demand that they do it.  But you can’t assume they know what to do.

use-ful (ˈyüs-fəl) adj. 1) capable of being put to use; especially : serviceable for an end or purpose  2) of a valuable or productive kind

Looking at your content, what is the takeaway value someone should get from it?  Should they just file it away as reference material?  Or is there some useful application of the information that they can put into effect almost immediately?

For some real estate bloggers, looking at content through the prism of actionable content is also a good way to decide whether it is content worth publishing at all.  If your readers can’t do anything with the content – meaning they can’t use it – then how useful is it?

Here Are Three Basic Things You Can Tell Your Readers To Do:

1. How to Do Something

Give them an action plan to do whatever it is you’re talking about.  Go into as much detail as necessary, but allow them to apply your information fully.

2. Next Steps and/or Further Reading

This is for those things where a complete action plan isn’t practical but you want to give them a nudge on what to do after reading your content.

3. Call to Action

Here we want them to make a decision and to take action on that decision.  We want our readers to do something (hopefully simple) that is in direct relation to our content.  It could be that we want them to inquire about some materials, or simply subscribe to our website – the point being we want them to do something. Ideally, we want them to take an action that turns them into a lead (send us an email, fill out a form, ask for information on a property).

Lastly, while it isn’t as helpful to the readers, almost all writers can always give their readers at least one thing to do, regardless of the content:

Ask them to tell you what they thought about your post.

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Editorial Calendars Can Boost Your Real Estate Content Strategy

We all know a long term strategy to developing content is necessary for our sites to become known as authoritative and for us to get leads.

Yet most agents tend to think of content along two lines:

  1. Quickly conceived short postings about current news and developments in our neighborhoods (this is what most real estate blogs are known for)
  2. Thoughtful link bait that attracts inbound links from other webmasters and bloggers

But what if we wanted to think longer term about how we developed and released content to our audience?  What tool might be useful?

Think Big, Just Like Old Media

For decades, or even centuries, newspapers and magazines have used editorial calendars to plan and organize their content development many months ahead of time.  This was, of course, necessary because of the long lead times in producing and distributing printed publications.  Even daily newspapers would have most of their stories written days or even weeks ahead of time, but they always left room for any breaking news.

An editorial calendar lays out what you’ll be writing about months in advance.  It is used by printed publications to not only plan what will be written, but to help the salespeople sell more targeted advertising far ahead of time.

Making Readers Want to Come Back

Obviously, how you organize your content and what you write about will depend on a lot of things (your niche, your audience, your expertise, etc.), but a good way to get started is to think about some different ways you can give your readers something to look forward to.  Again, big media can give us a few ideas:

  •     Regular Columns or Features
  •     Annual Guides
  •     Continuing Series

Lets take a look at each of these.

Regular Columns or Features

These have long been a staple in newspapers, magazines, and even television news for a long time (I think ‘A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney‘ predates the invention of TV itself).

The great thing about a regular column is that if you’re swamped with too much work and you can’t commit to writing it yourself, then you can always outsource it. One thing about regular columns is that you have to commit, at least for a period of time.

If you decide to abandon the idea later on, you need to tell your readers and give them at least some reason why: we’re replacing it with something better, the guest blogger has moved on, I just want to take things in a different direction, etc.  To do anything other than this is to cheat your audience, even if it is only a few dozen regular readers.

Annual Guides

This is another area where real estate agents have yet to catch on, even though they are uniquely positioned to do so.  An annual guide is great for a few reasons.  By its very nature, it should be comprehensive and authoritative so it’ll attract a lot of attention and hopefully links from others.

It can also be very newsworthy if it is backed by some well thought-out polls, surveys, and interviews.  And, as such, it is excellent press release material.  The reason agents are ideally positioned for releasing an annual guide is because they cover areas of interest that a lot of bigger media outlets overlook.  No matter your niche or neighborhood, you can probably write a guide about it.

If you have enough imagination, you can release an annual guide a few times a year, covering different topics at different times.

Continuing Series

This is probably the best way to bring new readers back, especially if you announce it.

A continuing series should be like acts in a play or chapters of a book.  Think story arc.  You should leave your readers satisfied with what you’ve given them at the time, but enough of a teaser/cliffhanger that they’ll want to come back.

Conclusion

Planning your content weeks or months in advance allows you to deliver more value to your clients, gives them something to look forward to, and turns the casual visitor into a regular reader.  Subscribe to our blog or follow us on Facebook for other ways to boost your blog!

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6 Facts About Outsourcing Your Real Estate Content Marketing

As a real estate agent you have a lot to worry about: prospecting for listings, getting referrals, showing houses, writing contracts, etc.

The last thing you should have to worry about is your blog content.

You may find yourself wondering – does everyone write their own content?

I have an answer for you – no, they don’t.