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If you’re a real estate agent or broker, you can significantly grow your leads, sales, and overall business by implementing one key marketing strategy:

Building a personal brand.

At January’s Agent2021 conference, I gave a lot of tactical advice to agents in the real estate, auto, mortgage, and insurance industries on building their personal brand and leveraging it in their respective industries.

Here are four personal branding strategies you can use to get ahead as a real estate agent:

1. Build your personal brand instead of just paying for referrals

In the real estate industry, most agents funnel money into lead gen sources like Trulia or Zillow to advertise homes.

That’s a sales tactic. You’re essentially paying a referral fee and capturing customers when they’re near the point of purchase. You’re paying an dollar amount to get a lead.

And that’s perfectly fine. I’m not saying real estate agents should avoid doing that. It can work well.

But the truth is, it’s FAR more valuable to build a brand so people come to you.

Companies like Zillow knew that Google search was going to be huge in the early days, and they ranked at the top of search for many of the high-intent keywords. They siphoned all the attention from people who were looking to buy homes, and now, they’re selling that attention back to real estate agents for a price. 

But here’s the problem if you’re building your business off of sites like Zillow:

There are a LOT of people competing in the real estate game. And if you’re an individual agent, chances are there are a lot of bigger companies trying to sell homes in your area that have more money than you do.

They’d be competing for that same attention too.

If and when you go head to head with them, chances are you’ll lose because they’d be able to pay more for that attention than you can.

The best way to combat that?

Build your brand.  

Focus on building your personal and distributing your content across social platforms. That way, when people think about buying a home in a certain area, they think of you.

That’s how you differentiate.

Paying for leads on Zillow or Trulia isn’t a bad thing. If that’s working well for you, then you should keep doing it. But it’s not a good strategy over the long term because it leaves you vulnerable to the price of that attention and others competing for it.

You can build brand by putting out content and engaging with your community. 

For example… go to Instagram, and navigate over to the “Places” tab.

instagram places tab

Type in the city where you’re looking to sell homes.

Comment and engage with those posting in that area. Add your two cents to what they’re posting (without directly promoting yourself). Show that you’re a part of the community.

It’s what I did when I was building the “GaryVee” brand. I spent years replying to people on Twitter for 4 – 8 hours a day before people knew who I was..

Brand is how you differentiate yourself and win customers when you’re in a “commodity” business.

2. Figure out your value proposition and own your truth

A lot of real estate agents struggle with coming up with their “unique” value that separates themselves from other agents.

Your “value” is who you are. Based on your personality, you’ll appeal to different people.

Some buyers won’t buy from you because they don’t like the way you say “hello.” Literally. Other buyers are more technical. They might want to know all the specifics of the past homes you’ve sold in the past and make their decision based on that.

My advice is to first figure out what your value propositions are (i.e. if you can leverage your past experience, your charismatic personality, your detail oriented nature, etc), and then sell on offense, not defense.

In other words, too many real estate agents try to win deals by scaring customers away from the alternatives. They’re playing “defense.”

I think people should go on offense and sell according their personal strengths.

For example, I just really like good people. I like being friends with them and doing business with them. If I met a real estate agent who just struck me as an empathetic, kind, good person, I would be much more likely to buy an expensive home from them.

People make decisions based on humans. Not just in real estate, but in every business. That’s why owning your truth is so important.

Ask yourself… what are you about? Who are you? Are you caring? Are you driven by money and competition? Do you love the New York Knicks? Did you get bit by a spider at 7 years old?

Yes, your real estate experience is important. But people make decisions on who you are first – that’s where your unique value stems from.

3. Deliver content to your audience in the most effective way possible.

Delivering content about your day-to-day as a real estate agent is an incredibly powerful way to build your brand.

In other words, document your life — as much as you’re comfortable with.

A lot of people tell me that their lives are not “interesting enough” or that people won’t want to watch a “show” based around them. But the truth is, everyone is interesting. Everyone is relatable. It’s just that we tend to take the things that happen in our lives for granted.

I guarantee you there are things that happen in your office everyday that would be hilarious to other people, but you might take it for granted because it happens everyday. If you document your day, those things will come to the surface.

If you’re really not comfortable with that, you might also do a Q&A show where you answer questions people have about buying homes, so that when people type in the question in Google, your video pops up.

If you’re good on audio, you might do a podcast where you interview different people in your town about what they think about buying homes and real estate in your area.

You can distribute that content through Facebook or Instagram advertising by targeting people in your town (or the town where you’re selling homes).

facebook location targeting

4. Become the “mayor” of your town

If I were an agent, my main marketing strategy would be reviewing the areas around the places where I’m selling homes.

Become the “popular person” in your town.

I would interview the teachers and talk to them about the school system. I would review the subway system, the other local businesses, or the wine shop. I would interview people who have lived in the town for 50+ years.

There are a lot of different reasons people buy homes.

Sure, they might do it because it’s close to their work. But they also pick homes based on the things to do and the “amenities” in that area — the school systems, the playground, crime, the stores, attractions, and other things.

If you create content reviewing the establishments in a 10-20 mile radius where you sell homes, you’ll create emotional appeal around your area that would persuade people to buy in your area.

And because you were their source of information, they’d be more likely to buy from you.

Why Modern Real Estate Marketing is So Hard

Real estate has traditionally been a sales-driven industry.

That’s why most agents aren’t doing these marketing strategies — they’re more focused on short term sales than they are on brand.

When you’re interviewing teachers and business owners and promoting those interviews by running ads in your area, you might not see results for the first couple of months. You might spend a few hundred or a few thousand dollars without seeing anything come from  it.

And that’s where people give up.

In sales-driven industries like real estate, people don’t like investing money in things where they don’t see immediate ROI — and brand takes time to build up.

But real estate agents who invest in their brand will significantly outsell their competition.

Listen to the full podcast episode where I talk more about this on Spotify: