Wendy Cole is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.
Build Your Marketing Prowess
Three approaches can help you develop a sharp personal brand.
January - February
1. Become a Household Name
People know A Cole Realty in Raleigh, N.C. That’s because broker-owner Angie Cole focused on building her personal brand after she left a major franchise company eight years ago. She realized that having a corporate name behind her meant far less to her clients and prospects than the quality of her dealings with them. Cole focused on building those connections personally. Here are her tips to help you develop your brand identity.
- Don’t rely on a company name to further your reputation. What people connect to is you.
- Figure out what image you want to project, whether it’s edgy, sleek, or another quality that conveys who you are, and be sure it’s reflected in your logo and other communications.
- Be transparent on social media. Be a person others can really know and trust. Your posts should include a mix of business and personal content. While Cole has both business and personal Facebook accounts, she says 95% of her business comes through her personal page.
- Tag clients in posts so you’ll be seen in their feeds. That’ll help spread the word about you with little effort.
- Show what your work day involves. Create posts showing walkthroughs, design tips, and successful closings—but always with your clients’ permission.
- Accept all friend requests on Facebook, except for spam, of course. If you reach the 5,000-friend limit, as Cole has, go through your lists and delete names that seem unlikely to lead to new business to free up space for others.
- Sponsor a community event. Before the pandemic, Cole bought coffee for every customer who showed up at a local Starbucks from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. on the third Tuesday of the month. She looks forward to resuming the customer appreciation practice.
2. Leverage Online Leads
The coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest last summer have been tough on the downtown Chicago real estate market. But—like other large cities—the Windy City is experiencing a surge in inventory as more people look to leave crowded urban areas. Condo specialist Matt Laricy and his team of seven agents had their best year ever in 2020, with sales volume exceeding $200 million on 450 transaction sides. That’s largely because his outreach has always cut a wide swath, focusing equally on entry-level units in the $150,000 price range and multimillion-dollar luxury listings. Leveraging internet leads and social media has been central to Laricy’s success. He offers suggestions for more effective lead generation:
- Start small. Pick one platform and stick with it. “Do one thing and do it well,” he says. Buy ads on- line in one ZIP code. Don’t expand your reach until you’ve made enough money to cover the costs of advertising on another platform.
- Take advantage of what’s free. Even more important than having many Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections is your engagement with the people in your network. “Say happy birthday to everyone on Facebook, or congratulate everyone on a new job or work anniversary,” he says. In addition, Laricy likes or comments on five people’s posts every day on every social platform that he’s on. “If you don’t engage, they don’t see you in their feed.”
- Provide relevant content, and boost your Facebook and Instagram posts. Listing videos, podcasts, and video blog posts about the market keep Laricy connected and generate leads. For a small fee paid to the platform—typically about $10 for 1,000 impressions on Facebook and $7 for 1,000 impressions on Instagram—you’ll get yourself in front of an audience you can define. “Hypertargeting is essential. You can be sure the post will only go to the audience you choose,” he says. “With a monthly budget of about $250, you could likely afford to boost four posts each week.”
- Create a Google My Business page. This ensures you will pop up prominently in Google searches, and your reviews will be seen. “People look at reviews. I have 1,165 reviews. If you do your job, you will get good reviews,” he says.
3. Ace Instagram Stories
Clients like seeing you in action, and Instagram Stories is a way to engage almost in real time. Harrison Beacher of Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, D.C., posts five or six story segments every day, which keeps him connected with his sphere and real estate colleagues. He currently has more than 4,700 Instagram connections and has received as many as 600 engagements with a single story. (Follow Beacher on Instagram at @hlbeach.) Here are his tips for what makes a great Instagram story:
- Don’t overthink it. The point is to show what you’re doing throughout the day.
- Post a mix of business and personal situations.
- Shoot vertically.
- Find ways to inject humor. Beacher added GIFs with tigers and bears to his story when he shared a seller’s comment that “animal noises” were a benefit of living close to the zoo.
- Vary your camera view. Sometimes you should talk into the camera, and other times you should point the camera at your intended focal point.
- Don’t cut off people speaking in mid-sentence, and be sure the audience can see the full face of everyone who’s participating.