This blog title sounds a little know-it-all stuffy, which really isn’t my style or intention. But there’s a terrifying ice storm threatening my county today and so I’m in a comfy writing mood, and on my third cup of coffee (aha! there’s the culprit), so it felt like a good day to finally unpack a topic I’ve been simmering on for quite some time.
Through my work in the real estate branding space, I’ve run into two “myths” that Realtors and teams seem to use every day, so deeply ingrained in their psyches that we rarely question them anymore.
It seems we’re so conditioned to seeing the fruits of them in business, in the way that we think + behave while presenting ourselves online, that perhaps we’ve missed an opportunity for more healthy + ongoing marketing critique…the kind that helps us grow.
Before I tell you what the myths are and how I feel about them, a little disclaimer: I’m not a marketing guru, a real estate coach, or Gary Vaynerchuk (BUT WOULDN’T THAT BE COOL). What follows are my humble, and probably overly passionate, thoughts as someone dedicated to both branding and real estate. You all are my people and I care deeply about your success.
MYTH #1 ABOUT REAL ESTATE MARKETING
The myth: “I need to talk about real estate.”
I know, I know…that probably sounded as dumb to read as it did for me to write. Bear with me for a moment.
I once read about a B2B digital marketing consultant named Andrew Walker who did something most of us are too lazy or scared (I wholeheartedly include myself in this category) to actually do. He ran an audit on every single piece of communication his company put out and the result of his hard-nosed review was, in his words, “overwhelmingly bad.”
“Every page on our website, every article we’d written, every e-newsletter, every piece of collateral we’d produced focused on: How good we were; What we had done, why we were number one; Our products and features.
“We had absolutely nothing written on how we understood the pain points of our customers and prospects or how we could solve their issues.”
May I suggest that if more Realtors undertook a similar exercise, they’d discover the same thing.
If your real estate business is a cocktail party, the average agent is the one who traps you in the corner going on and on about his designations, new listings, and savvy market trend opinions.
Which is weird and unfortunate, because I know first-hand that the vast majority of Realtors are wonderfully intelligent, entertaining, gracious people who would never monopolize the party. But as soon as they pick up the microphone—on social media, on their website home pages, in their email marketing—something changes.
They lose the two-way engagement and start talking about real estate, and mostly/only real estate, when most people would rather just chat.
Here’s my newest shiny listing.
Here’s another listing, omg.
Just a friendly reminder that if you’re looking to buy or sell, give me a call.
So proud to be have been named the Top [insert brokerage achievement award] for this year. I’ve worked so hard for this!!!
(Qualifier: absolutely, you should promote your listings. There’s a fine line here. I think many agents really miss it, though. More on that, particularly when it comes to social sharing tips, here.)
Now, you HAVE worked hard. And you DO have pretty listings. And at some point (in fact, at many points, because you run a great business and you do good work), another fully cooked lead WILL call you, ready to buy or sell.
But we have some things to move past first. Doing that means embracing some tough love truths.
Like, it’s easier to talk about ourselves most of the time. It’s hard to admit that your aren’t the right agent for some people out there, or the first one on their minds when a need arises.
Most importantly—you’re forced to realize that your home buying and selling services are just a tiny slice of your prospects’ actual, whole, everyday lives.
This is where the myth becomes dangerous and leads to fatal assumptions. Realtors on Instagram, on Facebook, and via email believe that most of their audience spends a lot of time thinking about whether to buy or sell, and that’s just annoyingly, categorically false.
Think about the brands you love the most. If they took this approach, what would you do? Give a polite exit laugh and walk away to the more interesting people at the cocktail party, is what you’d do.
That said: one beautiful trend I’ve seen is more real estate pros putting down the microphones and unmasking themselves as people. Human beings with hobbies and kids and favorite cereal brands. Not just agents with another brokerage award or clever taglines about home.
We all know easy it is to cook up crappy marketing, but how many of us are brave enough to acknowledge the only real path to GREAT real estate marketing?
Which is: be realistic about the lives, attitudes and cares of your audience. Show them you want to start there. Be a lifestyle real estate brand.
(Yes, I just said something big and vague there. I aim to practice what I preach, so my next blog post will be all about being + becoming a real estate lifestyle brand. Please hold.)
MYTH #2 ABOUT REAL ESTATE MARKETING
The myth: “Building a bigger following will build me a bigger business.” (I.e., more leads who become clients who become revenue.)
Whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, or any other social media platform you fancy, your “followers” aren’t really following you, nor are they your friends, nor are you really in their circles.
There’s really only one pathway to getting people to follow you, be your friend, or invite you into their circles.
Earning their trust.
For you, this is way, way harder than getting someone to click “Get my Free Home CMA” and pop into your inbox, hot to trot. For me, it’s way, way more layered, inconvenient, and emotionally demanding than getting you all to fall in love with my pretty portfolio or click my IG link-in-bio to snag my template freebies so you get something from me (free stuff) and I get something from you (a place in your inbox).
Because really, our followers are mere strangers who have MAYBE given us a few seconds every month to tap their shoulders or their iPhone screens.
Which means that obsessing over or celebrating “likes” or follower count is a bit of a denial game.
We’re ignoring what matters on social media and in branding as a whole: earning trust + a marketplace reputation as a smart, consistent, entertaining Insight Giver.
I would rather see a smart, consistent, entertaining Realtor with 50 Instagram followers than the shiny Realtor who has the IG swipe-up feature and posts non-interesting content into the webosphere every hour. We all know that Realtor.
“Followers” are myths until earning their trust gives them a reason to be anything else. (For real, pause. Look behind you. See anyone eagerly waiting for your next new listing post? Were you impatiently waiting to read another one of my happy client testimonials? Thought not.)
So how DO you earn the kind of trust that pulls you off your Must Talk About Real Estate soapbox AND converts follower-strangers to friends?
You do it one way. I can hear your voice now: Wait for it…Caroline is about to say something about braaaaanding again.
I am—GOLD STAR FOR YOU!—but in saying so, I mean so much more than your visuals. I’m a big raving fan of well-done visuals, naturally, but busting these real estate marketing myths calls for bigger guns than looking pretty.
It calls for Realtors who are actually committed to creating + sharing clear, interesting, useful, enthusiastic, lighthearted, smart, articulate, beautiful, findable, compelling content.
Content that helps your would-be buyers and sellers do life better in some way.
This is what creates sales journeys worth taking, and inspires followers who consider you worth inviting you to friendship.
In saying all this, I am reminding myself and my team to be as accountable as the next small business marketer. It’s tough out there, but if we can move past the myths and prioritize quality content over average-and-frequently-produced guff—we can win hearts and grow our bottom lines.
And if you made it this far without walking away offended (or worse in my book, bored), then I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
I’m trying to learn and do better just like you all. It starts with conversation.
Care to chat?