Build your personal brand in Real Estate

Whether you’re a solo agent just getting your feet wet in real estate or a seasoned veteran aiming to enhance your bottom line and broaden your business horizons, crafting a personal brand that earns you recognition in your market can mean the difference between being viewed as a commodity or a valued resource.

Investing in your personal brand is a no-nonsense way to generate awareness for your business, establish a reputation and stand out in your market.

Formulating a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others helps nurture relationships when you’re not in the room so that when you do show up, your reputation has already paved the way for success.

Here, discover how to use personal branding as rocket fuel for your digital marketing.

Start with authenticity

You might think reading this article is the first step in your personal brand journey. Think again.

You already have a personal brand. So let’s not pretend you’re about to create it.

The best you can do is develop it — ideally, with purpose and passion.

“Brand” is a tricky thing to describe. In the classic marketing sense, most companies try hard to define their brand when, in reality, the market — or, more specifically, the audience — defines it.

Your brand comprises a handful of basic components:

  • The impression formed when your brand’s name is read or said by consumers
  • The sum of all of the experiences a person has with your brand over time
  • The reputation your brand generates from its inception through today
  • The way people describe your brand — not how you describe it to others

All of the above applies to your personal real estate brand. You don’t “spin” your brand. Rather, you live it. It’s what’s true about you.

When you achieve success with your personal brand, people recognize you as a specialist. For example:

  • AJ specializes in helping foreign investors find the perfect properties to use as a vehicle for wealth generation.
  • BJ is an equestrian trainer who works one-on-one with her clients to help them find the home that fits their family and their horses.
  • CJ creates seamless relocation experiences for companies on the recruiting path.
  • DJ is a community organizer who evangelizes eco-living residencies as a means to reduce our impact on the environment.

Each of these agents’ niches distinguishes them from other real estate pros in their market.

The longer you work in a particular area of real estate — serving luxury sellers, investors, first-time buyers, and so on — the more you establish your expertise and, over time, become the agent people associate with your niche.

Define your personal brand’s unique value proposition

Every meaningful brand has a unique value proposition (UVP).

It’s that thing that separates you from the rest and prevents you from becoming commoditized. As one of millions specializing in your field, to be recognized, you’ll need to develop and nurture a one-of-a-kind point of differentiation.

Who are you? The core of your personal brand is the person you are, the things you believe in and the gifts you aim to share.

Although many of the platforms you’ll use to drive down what I call “the road to recognition” will be digital, in personal branding, there’s no virtual reality.

Differentiation allows you to:

  • Build a trusted identity
  • Elevate and substantiate your personal brand in a competitive market
  • Set expectations
  • Be easier to understand and relate to
  • Encourage engagement with like-minded individuals
  • Turn audiences into advocates

It’s unlikely your area of expertise is unique. But you are.

I love the XYZ approach to finding your unique value proposition, but can’t take credit for it. It comes from PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), a European company that has created a network of people and professional services firms.

To teach lessons on personal branding and help support their members, they brought in the expert William Arruda of Reach Personal Branding.

The approach, abbreviated here, works like this:

Define your X-factor

Your personal brand is strong if — and only if — you can be clear about who you are and where your strengths lie.

Begin by documenting your top strengths.

  • In what types of roles do you excel?
  • What are your go-to skills?
  • Which skills are you most excited to use daily?
  • Which are most helpful for achieving your career goals?

Validate your X-factor strengths and skills by bouncing them off your friends and associates in your brand community.

Understand your Y-factor

Next, you’ll focus on your values, passions and purpose to create a roadmap focused on steering your career in the right direction.

This is your Y (or “why”).

  • Begin by identifying your most important values. Rank your top five. Define what each means to you.
  • Perform a self-assessment to measure how they align with your values. Create a scoring system.
  • Document your passions. What are your favorite activities? What would you do if money were no issue?
  • Explore your purpose. What’s your vision? What would you most like to achieve?
  • Print your top values, passions and purpose and place them somewhere where you can see them every day.

Eliminate your Zzz-factor

PwC claims you must investigate ways to be “a keeper, not a sleeper” (hence the zzz-factor). Reading excerpts from your resume won’t cut it.

Now, how can you transform your UVP into a little story? (This is commonly called an elevator pitch.)

Imagine yours now. Try drafting it.

“I love urban planning and historic preservation, which has inspired me to sit on the board of our local preservation society, study architecture, and bring great building and passionate owners together.”

Wow. You could reel that off to me in the shortest of elevator rides, and I’ll rack my brain trying to think of a way I can help you achieve your goals.

A great elevator pitch is brief. The person you’re speaking to is about to arrive on the floor they’re being elevated to.

Make it easy to understand, as compelling as possible, as unique as possible — and, of course, 100-percent true.

Commit to your digital footprint

What’s your digital presence? Long gone are the days when you could rely on plastering your face on newspaper ads, billboards and bench ads to generate all of your business.

Today, all of your offline activities need to be complemented by an online presence that provides value for the tech-savvy consumer.

This starts with a website — plain and simple. It’s your home on the web, the hub of the content you create, and a destination for each and every member of the network you’re building.

“But wait!,” you might say. “I have a Facebook page; I’m big on Snapchat. I have all kinds of stuff going on in social media channels. Do I need a website, too?”

The short answer? You absolutely do!

Having a personal Real Estate Agent website makes it possible to supply potential clients with information they are searching for and establish a connection in doing so.

The content you post on social media networks belongs to those networks. You need to own your brand and purposefully direct it. You do that first and foremost with your brand website, which allows you to:

  • Project yourself the way you want in a way you control
  • Stand out from competing agents in your market
  • Globalize your reach and connect with like-minded people
  • Create a calling card that’s far more compelling than a business card

The modern web experience features rich, relevant, search-optimized content your core demographic(s) will find invaluable, and that will ultimately help them buy or sell a home with you as their sales representative.

Craft incredibly compelling content

I’m considering hiring you. I do a search for your name. There you are: Your website and blog, your social media profiles, maybe more.

What I’m about to see — your content — after I click through is going to make some sort of impression on me.

Your personal brand is largely defined by the content you create and publish.

You may or may not be a digital native, but at least now you have an idea of what I’m talking about: the need for a comprehensive and thoughtful online presence.

But do you know what it takes to elevate that online presence to the next level — the one in which you turn your site into a lead-nurturing machine that attracts the right prospects who end up choosing you above anyone else?

Investing in content is investing in your career

Content marketing is essentially publishing valuable content to attract and engage a targeted audience.

It’s been ridiculously hot for a decade, and it’s impossible to fathom that its popularity will change anytime soon.

Nearly every personal brand aiming to build its business via digital channels produces content of some sort. You must do the same. Why?

Because your content:

  • Showcases your skills: You put your knowledge on display and make it accessible.
  • Attracts an audience: Content is discovered via search, social and other channels.
  • Engages your audience: Great content gets people interested in you and can start a conversation.
  • Increases your reach: When your content is easy to access and inspired, it’s often featured by other content creators and shared.
  • Fuels your social media presence: Your content is the focus of what you share via social media channels.

In short, the way to secure more site visitors you can transform into bona fide leads is content marketing.

No, I don’t simply mean blogging once a week and creating a buying or selling checklist for your audience.

What I’m talking about is building a full-fledged content strategy from the ground up, organizing your content ideas in a structured editorial calendar, producing and publishing that content to your site with great regularity — the cornerstone of developing a 21st-century personal brand in the real estate industry.

What should you create?

Let’s explore your content creation options now. A blog is a smart place to start, but it’s certainly not your only option.

For starters, here’s a short list of what people are looking for from content:

  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Inspiration

The best content delivers a combination of two, or all, of the above.

Let’s move on to how people consume content:

  • Read
  • Look at
  • Listen to

Again, you have the option to use them separately or in combination. A multi-media approach will often improve engagement.

Now here’s a list of popular content formats:

  • Blog post
  • Article
  • Infographic
  • Video
  • Podcast
  • Case study
  • E-book
  • Book
  • White paper
  • Webinar
  • Event
  • Slide show
  • Newsletter
  • Quiz or assessment
  • Image

Regardless of the specific content you decide to create, it’s essential to build a comprehensive content plan that’s ongoing, garners you more site traffic over the long haul and gives you an easy path to more easily convert new prospects.

Leverage outside help when you can

Many agents working at small or mid-sized real estate operations today may not think they have the financial bandwidth to get support for their branding efforts, like leveraging public relations pros who can craft press releases and set up speaking engagements for them.

The truth is there are many service providers out there that are both affordable and capable of getting you the results you desire for your marketing.

You can tap into the local blogger network to identify folks who like to spotlight local businesses and professionals, and work with them to get a profile piece or two.

You can reach out to local radio and TV stations to offer your insights for one or more of their future broadcasts on real estate-related topics.

You can even sponsor area events, like festivals and farmer’s markets, to get more word of mouth for your agency.

The point is, there is no shortage of options for you to bolster your personal brand in your community — all it takes is finding the best avenues to allocate your money and marketing efforts and ensuring you drive results needed to get more people on your site and, ultimately, in your CRM.

Find other agents to model

We learn best by modeling. No, I’m not suggesting you start a side career as a fashion model. I am referring to choosing good role models.

Find someone who does what you want to do and model their behavior. One of my favorite motivational speakers, Jim Rohn, famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

If that makes sense to you, then you will want to choose your role models with care because they can influence the speed at which you can achieve your goals.

Take a look at these real estate professionals’ sites, content, and the way they position themselves in the market.

This will shed some light on how you could construct your digital branding and, thus, earn more brand awareness (and even new leads). Here’s a small sample of some of my favorite Realtors who have built recognized personal brands:

All of these personal brands have done an exceptional job of humanizing their businesses, making it easier for the consumer to “know, like and trust” them.

At the end of the day, it’s the cumulative effect of researching your identity and learning all of these marketing activities that will dictate how big a personal brand you’re able to create for your business and how many of your business goals you’re able to achieve in the long run.

Re-write your personal brand story

You’re not going to achieve massive recognition quickly.

It takes time and perseverance. You’ll encounter obstacles. Some of your ideas may get rejected. People will turn you down. You’ll make mistakes and get distracted.

Pursuing your dream is hard work.

Where you currently are in your career is based on decisions you made along the way.

Maybe you have a habit of being late. You’re not comfortable with technology. Or you believe you don’t have enough time.

These aren’t inherent character traits. These are things you have decided.

It’s often easier to accept things about ourselves as truths rather than choices.

Is there a story you’d like to rewrite about yourself? It’s your story. No one can stop you from authoring it the way you’d like.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and wondering where you are going to get the time to do all this individual branding, don’t worry. The nice thing about wearing so many hats is that you have the ability to hire someone else to organize them for you. With the strategic use of virtual assistants, freelance writers, marketing and branding consultants and other support staff, you can create a personal brand that will build buzz for you and your business. Give us a call 876.616.4813.

Here’s to your success!

Why Your Business NEEDS Social Media Marketing

Did you know that social media marketing has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing? Or that 84% of B2B marketers use social media in some form? No matter what you sell and who you sell it to, using social media as a marketing tool can help you grow your brand and pad your wallet.

At this point in the game, not having an active social media presence is kind of like pulling out a flip phone at a business meeting and then not understanding why your boss keeps giving Brad all the new accounts.

But some people still own flip phones, and some people dig in their heels and say, what is social media marketing going to do for me? Do I really need it? Yes. Yes you do — and here are some of the most compelling reasons why:

The Importance of Social Media for Web Traffic

  1. Social media posts can be used to drive targeted traffic. Creating a new page on your site is like taking a really great selfie. You want the world to see it and bask in its brilliance, but you don’t want to beg for attention (or worse, pay for it). That’s why for selfies and landing pages, well-placed social media posts can make all the difference. We’ve seen a single link on Reddit drive over 20,000 visitors in one weekend and links submitted to StumbleUpon can take a page that was consistently earning a handful of visitors a day and increase that number to hundreds. Who wouldn’t want to capitalize on that?
  2. Using social media for business boosts your site’s SEO. Search engine crawlers know which pages are consistently earning traffic and which are just floating out there, forgotten and ignored. A killer content strategy for SEO is the most important part of earning top spots in search engine rankings, but driving traffic to your optimized pages will cause them to climb much faster in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Quick case study:In less than a year we got the website for one of TCF’s clients to rank in the top 100 SERPs for 15,000 new keywords – as a result, traffic to the website has increased dramatically. A solid and consistent presence on Facebook, Twitter and other social channels was a BIG part of that success.

Social Media Is THE BEST Tool to Connect with (and Learn from!) Consumers & Industry Leaders

  1. If you’re doing it right, social media will lead to real relationship building. Part of what makes things like Twitter and Instagram marketing so cool is the interaction you get to have with your customer base — you can read their tweets and status updates to get insights into their daily lives (and maybe adjust your marketing strategy as a result). What products are they buying and why? What are they doing on the weekend? What kind of posts do they love to share, and from what websites?

You can also use social media as a tool for connecting with complementary, non-competing businesses, thought leaders and tastemakers in your space, as well as journalists who cover your industry. Sometimes, becoming besties starts with a simple retweet.

Of course it doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile. When we saw that our client was mentioned on The Celebrity Name Game by Rick Fox, we quickly jumped on the opportunity to create a gif and mention both accounts on Twitter. This resulted in interaction not just from Rick Fox, but from the Celebrity Name Game account as well!

  1. Users are receptive to your messages. People view Twitter and Facebook as social networks, not marketing machines. As a result, they’re less likely to see what you post as an advertisement and will be more likely to hear what you have to say. This translates to serious web traffic when you link to your site and posts that market themselves as your friends and followers share what you’ve posted.
  2. Social media ads allow targeting and retargeting. One of the reasons social media is important is because of the highly customizable nature of social media ads. Facebook ads, for example, allow you to target users by things like location, education level, industry and even purchase history and the pages they’ve liked. You also have to the option to install a Facebook pixel on your site and use it to retarget the users who visit you — these people are far more likely to convert into solid leads and sales!
  3. Social media can help you get noticed at events, and even generate earned media coverage. Whether your business is sponsoring a charity fundraiser or attending a major trade show, there’s no better way to leverage your presence than with the help of social media. In fact, we once sent a tweet during CES that lead to a client getting a feature article written about them in Wired magazine (check out our guide to marketing your business at trade shows and events to learn how you can achieve similar results).

The Importance of Social Media Marketing for Brand Image

  1. You can respond to problems immediately. If there’s a problem with your product or service, you want to know about it right away. With the feedback you get in the process of social media marketing, you’ll be the first to know when there are issues – and you can take steps to resolve them right away. Study after study has shown that consumers appreciate companies that respond to customer complaints (and don’t hesitate to rant online to anyone who will listen when companies don’t take the time to make things right).
  2. A strong social media presence builds brand loyalty. A report published by Texas Tech University found that brands with active social media profiles have more loyal customers. It’s easy to imagine why: when you’re engaging and interacting on social media (not just tossing your posts out onto the web hoping someone will stumble upon them) you become less like a corporation and more like what you truly are — a unified group of people who share a vision.

    The Right Social Media Marketing Strategy Can Help You Slay the Competition

    9. Your competition is getting social, so you should too. Did you know that 91% of brands are using more than one social media platform? This isn’t something you want to fall behind the competition on, because it’s much harder (and more expensive) to play catch up than it is to get in on the game early. If your competitors get to your potential customers first, they’ll earn their loyalty and you’ll have a hard time winning them over. If you’re active and engaging on a variety of networks, you can gain those friends and followers first and your competition will be playing catch up instead of the other way around.

    10. The social media marketing arena is a (fairly) level playing field. Some brands may have bigger ad budgets than others, but all companies start off on pretty equal footing when it comes to social media marketing. The people and brands who thrive and go viral in are those with the most clever, attention grabbing tactics (and the most ridiculous gifs) and the most useful, link worthy content. In short, they’re providing value to their target audience while also showing personality and being entertaining. If you want to get lots of traffic and really increase your sales online, you’re going to have to outwit, outnetwork and outwrite your competition while offering superior products and customer service. Isn’t that what business is all about, anyway?

    11. When it comes to newsjacking, social media is king. Sometimes your brand is mentioned on a cable TV show. Sometimes it’s not, but you know just how to slide your product into the story to aim the spotlight in your direction. Facebook, Twitter and even Reddit marketing give you a front row seat to the news that’s becoming viral right as it’s happening. Jump in at just the right time and you’ll earn some major media attention — and that’s something you just can’t do with a traditional ad campaign.

    The Importance of Social Media Marketing for Sales and ROI

    12. Social media marketing will get you more sales. Did you know that 70% of business-to-consumer marketers have acquired customers through Facebook? Or that 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions?

    Not surprisingly, when you stay in front of your customer base, they’re more likely to buy from you when they need the products you sell. Social media marketing doesn’t just keep your company’s name in front of potential buyers, but it also gives you the opportunity to constantly give them incentives to buy. Try sharing coupon codes, with a unique code for each social channel – you may be surprised at which social network drives the most sales.

    13. You’ll find customers you didn’t know existed. If you set up streams to follow keywords in Twitter (Hootsuite makes this simple), you can find people who are looking for the products you sell and direct them to your site. Using Twitter for marketing is great that way – telling people who want your products how to get them from your company is just an @ away.

    14. Customers you didn’t know existed will find (and buy from) you. In the process of marketing with Facebook, you’ll probably join a ton of groups related to your products, industry and customer base. By posting links in these groups, you’ll help influence customers to check out your site. Answering questions on Quora is another option. Post a link today, and two weeks/months/years later you might see a sale from it.

    You Can’t Beat the Price (or ROI) of Social Media

    15. You heard that right — it’s free. How can you argue with that? If you handle your own social media management, running a social networking campaign is as cheap as it gets. If you hire a social media management or online PR agency (like us), it will cost around US$3,000-US$7,000 per month, but it’ll be an investment that you’ll be likely to see a return on. If you’re intimidated by interacting with people online or your writing skills leave something to be desired, hiring an online PR agency is definitely the way to go. Posting poorly written content or conveying the wrong kind of messages on social networking sites can seriously affect your digital PR presence.

    16. The ROI on social media ads is unbeatable. The average cost per click on Google Adwords is between US$1 and US$2 and depending on the keyword targeted, you can end up paying US$50 or more for a single click. Through targeted boosted post, we’ve been able to send traffic via Facebook and Pinterest for as little as US$0.12 per click. Why pay ten or twenty times as much for each visit when social media ads make earning that traffic quick and easy?

    Why Is Social Media Important?

    Why is social media important to businesses? Because your brand doesn’t really exist online if you’re not represented across all social channels – and regularly interacting with your followers, journalists who cover your industry, thought leaders and tastemakers, etc.

    Here’s one very important reason you may not have considered — it’s fun! Hosting a Twitter chat to celebrate a new product launch, getting your geek on while you A/B test Facebook ads, or sharing pop-culture polls for your followers to weigh in on — these are all activities that build brand awareness, boost web traffic and lead to loyal customers. But unlike many traditional marketing tactics with the same goals, these tasks are actually fun in addition to driving real value for your company.

    Are you ready to rocket ahead of your competitors and take the social media world by storm? Want to see your search engine rankings climb and your traffic soar? Pull out that flip phone and give us call. We’ll get you on the path to success.

Advantage and disadvantages of using Shopify

Shopify has now grown into one of the largest eCommerce platforms in the world. However, there are important limitations with its offering that should be considered before selecting this solution for your business.

My review is within the context of Shopify vs a self-hosted eCommerce platform like wordpress / woocommerce for small eCommerce businesses. Each one has multiple strengths and can possibly be the perfect solution for you to build an eCommerce store with.

First,  which one of the two is actually going to fit your specific needs better, Shopify or WooCommerce for creating a fantastic online shop? Which is more feature-rich? Which is cheaper? Which is better-looking? Which is more flexible? Which is the easiest to work with?  

Shopify is the cheapest, easiest, and most convenient way for someone who doesn’t want to deal with any code to set up a store and start selling right away. If you’re non-tech, you want your own ecommerce store, you’re selling standard items and outgrew a marketplace like ebay or amazon, and just starting out, go with Shopify.

1. Much better UX/UI… for the right customer
Shopify is very clear who its customer is and if you are the type of business that fits its customer profile you are going to love Shopify much more than any other self-hosted ecommerce platform for the better user experience.

2. Much more economical at the beginning
1 year subscription at the lowest tier is about $348 USD including cloud hosting and customer support. Technically, if you use open-source ecommerce alternatives, you only pay for hosting which can be as low as USD$80 per annum since the software is free, but to get up to par with Shopify stores, you probably need some professional help setting it up. This can go up to thousands of dollars.

3. Really good app integrations with SaaS services
SaaS ecommerce service companies love Shopify because they have a customer base that is familiar with paying for services monthly. That’s why you’ll most probably always find whatever innovative new service you need on Shopify first before anywhere else, and some of them offer very good free plans. Conversely, SaaS companies don’t really like platforms like woocommerce or opencart because… the people who use them don’t really pay monthly subscription. So a lot of really convenient services are not integrated on these platforms.

4. End to end service integration
Blog marketing? check. Shopping cart – check. Payment gateway – check. Inventory management – check. Printing address label – check. Shipping & Courier integration – check. The workflow for Shopify is so convenient it just works with a bit of tweaking out of the box. In comparison, none of its open source peers could provide this kind of convenience without some rather extensive customization.

5. Security & Reliability
Shopify is a global hosted service, meaning they have people monitoring their network 24/7 for any attacks and they can help you deal with any problems that arise. In addition, their add-ons generally have a certain standard and will not pose the risk of giving you trojans or viruses or other monkey business. Plus, you can opt for SSL or even PCI compliance to accept credit cards and store sensitive information without having to know the technical details of how it works.

Open source alternatives CAN get this level of security & reliability, but not without paying a premium for managed hosting e.g.  Caribbean e-Commerce Solutions Limited provides in-house hosting for instance.

6. Better loading speed
Shopify has the advantage of being a globally hosted solution with strong infrastructure. This means they can load the website much faster for you because they optimized their hardware and software. In comparison, third party open-source solutions need quite a bit of work to catch up to this kind of speed. The speed difference can be anywhere from milliseconds to seconds, so could be potentially quite noticeable.

The main problem with Shopify, however, is also due to its main value proposition – shopify customers don’t do any custom code, value convenience and support and they’re willing to pay for it. So you get a whole ecosystem of services that spring up around this concept.

1. Pay monthly for every little thing
The most popular sales add-on on Shopify is the sales motivator app. This app adds… one line to the top of your screen telling you how much more you should spend on your order before you get a discount. For this service, you pay $4.99 per month. Need social login? Pay $9.00 per month. And so on. In comparison, you would not believe the kind of rich functionality you can buy from a one-time $28 plugin on a theme marketplace for woocommerce or opencart. The monthly costs may be low but it quickly adds up as you add more functionality to your site. Pretty soon you’ll be paying hundreds per month and thousands per annum, and that’s when a custom platform starts to look very attractive.

2. Less customizability
Shopify app store has a lot of very good functionalities, but it pales to the wealth of plugins available for platforms like woocommerce, a lot of which are free (yes there are free, bug-free and very powerful plugins, kind of like having your cake and eating it too). In addition, because Shopify only allows you to change a certain part of its functionalities, it is not as customizable as open-source solutions that can potentially allow you to change mostly anything.

3. Content management
Well duh. Shopify is not a content management system and its optimized for selling products. If you want to add a lot of rich content like videos, carousels and whatnot on your site together with the stuff you want to sell, don’t go with Shopify.

4. Service lock-in
Sure you can export your orders, customers and all that other data from Shopify, but chances are you won’t, because it’s a lot of hassle and you lose whatever custom setup you have on your site too. But remember shopify is a hosted solution. As with all hosted solutions, your data and website is not 100% yours. If they decided to change their fee structure, come up with some unreasonable policy or to implement additional fees for close to standard features (social login anyone?) , there’s not a lot you can do about it except suck it up and do what they ask. Once you’re in, you’re in for a long time. For this reason, I don’t really encourage clients to use shopify as a short-term solution if they are planning to jump to another small business ecommerce platform like Woocommerce sometime later.

Consider Working With A Full-Service eCommerce Provider

Working with a full-service e-commerce provider that manages everything from web design, hosting, and payment processing can save you time and money, and allows you to stay focused on building your brand.

Contact to learn how Caribbean e-Commerce Solutions Limited can help with your online store by providing the enterprise-level functionalities that Shopify cannot.

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