Real Estate Marketing- Does Personal Brand just mean Being?

personalbrandAt what point do we try so hard to twist everything into a marketing cliché that “simply BEING YOURSELF” is branding?

There has been a disturbance in the force…

Over the last few days, some the brightest people I know.  People I really respect have taken positions on both the effectiveness of Social Media as a lead generator and whether a blog was lead generation or branding.  These conversations irked every fiber of my being.

I mean, I do this for a living…well.  I have copious clicks to prove that Twitter and FaceBook drive traffic to Virtual Results websites and these sites, painfully configured to convert, create leads. So if my clients use Social Media to drive traffic to their VR website and the website convert this traffic to leads…  This is not an opinion…This is MATH.  I will not argue whether or not SM is lead gen, again.

se·man·tics Pronunciation: si-?man-tiks  the study of meanings: a : the historical and psychological study and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms viewed as factors in linguistic development.

Yeah, semantics.  You see, I believe that a Brand is a promise that you make to your audience.  “I am the hardest working Realtor in California” is a promise, a brand.

Here is the wiki on Personal Branding…

Personal branding is the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands. It has been noted that while previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging. Further defined as the creation of an asset that pertains to a particular person or individual; this includes but is not limited to the body, clothing, appearance and knowledge contained within, leading to an indelible impression that is uniquely distinguishable. Personal branding often involves the application of one’s name to various products. For example, celebrity real-estate mogul Donald Trump uses his last name extensively on his buildings and on the products he endorses (e.g., Trump Steaks).

So how is blogging branding?  Well Rob Hahn, here gives the impression that any marketing created that does not target a key group of prospects is branding.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I have MAD respect for Rob. I hang on his every word…  (and you should too.) But in this case? I disagree.

Branding is a concerted effort to make and keep a promise to your audience.  If a Realtor blogs about his community, the parking, stores, community issues, etc.  If a Realtor blogs about everything except the Realtor, how can this be branding…

Is simply Being, now Branding?

Blogging is an effective marketing tool for agents, here are its benefits.

1)      Long Tail Serp results (lead gen)

2)      Content, Google Loves Content (lead gen)

3)      Blogs create Authority (branding?)

4)      Blogs create relationships. (branding?)

5)      Blog contain Call-to-actions. (the focal point for you SMM efforts) (lead gen)

Most of the benefits are either to help with Serps, create call to actions, or establish a relationship with your reader.  Establish a Relationship… hah…branding? Lets dive in.

Scenario One:  If I am a door to door vacuum cleaner salesperson, and I knock on your door…  I hear and see your 6 Persian cats…  My conversation turns to, “I love cats.  How many to you have?”  Over the 20 minutes, we speak about cats, our lives, my job, your job, etc…  I am creating a bond. I am creating a relationship. I am being me.  Even if you tell me you are not in the market for a vaccum cleaner, and I come back every day for a year to speak to speak to you about your cats, until you are in the market…  AM I BRANDING?  NO.  I am selling.

Scenario Two:  I tweet “We have had 93 days in a row of perfect weather in Laguna Beach.. You really should move here…”  You go to my blog and see my post on Laguna Beach Weather.  It has a call to action, “you really can afford it here… check out these homes for under $500K” Branding? Nope.  Sales.

So creating conversation, is not branding.  And creating Business from that conversation is not Branding..  What is Branding?

Best I can tell, this is the new description…  Being You. But only if the person reading is not in the market for what you are offering.  If they are?  Lead Gen.

Just Not Buying this.  Here is my advice.  Stop Branding.  BE Honest, BE Transparent, BE Consistent…  BE.

3 thoughts on “Real Estate Marketing- Does Personal Brand just mean Being?”

  1. Jim – love that we’re continuing the convo. 🙂

    My question back to you:

    “Scenario Two: I tweet “We have had 93 days in a row of perfect weather in Laguna Beach.. You really should move here…” You go to my blog and see my post on Laguna Beach Weather. It has a call to action, “you really can afford it here… check out these homes for under $500K” Branding? Nope. Sales.”

    What if it doesn’t have the “call to action”? What is it then?

    Because that call to action negatively impacts your BRAND — yeah, that’s right — because now, I’m far more likely to view the rest of your post about perfect Laguna weather with a gimlet eye.

    I still don’t understand why you think branding is necessarily fake and inauthentic. Fake brands exist; they’re just that — fake brands. They collapse under examination/experience. Real brands are authentic; they deliver what they promise.

    What’s worse… your first example of the cats… man, if I felt that the reason why some guy was coming around to my house for a year was so he could sell me a house somewhere down the line, I’d feel pretty used. That guy isn’t my friend; he’s just another salesman trying to “build relationships” with me so he can sell me a vacuum cleaner down the line.

    It’s like these guys who befriend a girl so he can get close to her, and then over time, make her “fall for him”. That ain’t no kind of friend — just a guy putting the moves on a woman over a long, long, looong period of time. If anything, THAT is fakery.


  2. Rob,

    But being a Realtor IS part of my brand. I am a Realtor. Granted, being a used car salesperson is bad for my brand. But ignoring completely that I invest 16 hours of my day being a Realtor is just not genuine…

    Please tell me WHERE you see anything from me stating the Brand is either fake OR inauthentic. Quite the contrary. Branding ONLY works if it is 100% authentic. The best brands in the world are organic, not hatched. Lets stop saying that, K?

    Revisit my Cat scenario… I clearly stated that I LOVE cats and revisited simply to talk and see the cats. This was genuine and who I am …

    I think we are merging the two topics here… again, my opinion…

    1) Is Social Media Lead Gen. YES, and I have Math to prove it.

    2) Is Blogging ALWAYS Branding. Here is where we have subtle differences.. I believe a Brand is “Stated.” I am the top agent in the world. I also believe that a Blog that STATES a brand, has no credibility. You believe that a Realtor simply having a conversation via blog, is exerting a brand. I believe this is not branding. This is simply being.

    So, this leads us to the end of the conversation, unless you with to discuss one of these two subjects… (we agree on everything else)

    1) Social Media IS lead Gen. ( I am not saying it cant be custy service, branding, indentity management, etc.) but it is CERTAINLY lead gen.

    2) Blogging is not always branding. Every time I open my mouth and speak about my community I am not branding. Every time I write a market summary, I am not branding. I am just informing, I am being.

    Rob, diggin this too… When I debate you, I learn.

  3. Juicy stuff, fellas. I like the dialogue. I’ve realized that, for me, the most interesting things in life are both a science *and* an art. Defining the science part can be eaiser: numbers, spreadsheets, analytics. The art part is sometimes more difficult to reduce into mere words. Something about social media and blogging feels to me like such a hybrid.

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