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How to Build & Grow Your Personal Brand

by Greg Herder

Greg Herder

The hot topic being thrown around the marketing world today is hyper personalization. 

In other words, a company has to adapt its marketing to each person who clicks on one of its ads based on his or her browsing history and the mountain of information that Google, Facebook and the rest of the world are collecting about everyone as they interact with the internet. 

The point is that marketing is getting more personal and intimate by the day. So what does this mean to you as a real estate professional – especially if you don’t have the resources to take advantage of all the information about your prospects that big companies are tapping into? 

What it means is that your personal brand (what I have called your personal brand advantage for the last two decades) must be more focused, emotional and, in short, personal than ever before.

The problem is that most agents resist being both focused and emotional because they believe it will limit their options by honing in on a particular segment. These are the same agents who complain they have tried personal marketing, and it is not effective and does not produce a decent ROI. So, they figure, it is best to go back to cold calling, door knocking and holding lots of open houses to generate business. 

The problem is that what they tried was not personal in any way. They tried personal marketing with broad appeal, thinking if they cast out as wide a net as possible that they will surely catch something. The reality is that mass appeal is dead. 

The amazing thing is that in today's socially connected marketplace the best way to become a household name is to start by focusing on a small targeted group of people to whom you can provide real value and who are a perfect fit for your personality. Then, build a deep emotional connection with them through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Over time, you can broaden your appeal by small amounts so that your core target market spreads your message through social media to the next level of influence. To do this you have to take the risk – to be personal to expose who you really are. In the book Daring Greatly, author Brene Brown talks about how powerful this is but how fearful most of us are from taking the risk to expose who we are, flaws and all. 

I have been creating marketing campaigns for real estate agents since 1986 and, without fail, when agents are willing to create their campaigns around who they really are, it works. "It" could be their passion for family, their values, their beliefs, an activity they truly love. And it never works when an agent tries to focus their campaign on how hard they work, how much they know or what great service they provide. 

In today's socially driven marketplace it's the personal, emotional information that spreads virally and allows you to build and grow your brand. That is why YouTube videos of listings that just focus on the house don’t get lots of views. But videos, in which an agent gives a tour of the home and lets her natural personality come across to build an emotional connection, get watched dramatically more often. 

So let's make this practical. The key to creating an effective personal brand as a real estate agent is to first look inside yourself and make a list of the three most important values or beliefs that you have about yourself. Then look at the marketplace you are working in and ask, "based on my values (who I am at my core), is there a segment of my market that would naturally be attracted to doing business with me because we share common values or beliefs?"

Campaigns that are built around a shared set of values or beliefs are always the campaigns that produce the best results. Agents often ask me, "Greg, if that is true why don't I see more agents who do it?" The answer is simple: because it is very scary, and an agent has to be willing to look at herself, flaws and all, and risk being rejected. 

REALTOR® Priscila Rodriguez in Chula Vista, CA is a great example of what I am talking about. Her slogan is "Rising to the Challenge." Priscila's basic message is that she will face any challenges that arise for her clients because she has overcome challenges in her own life and shares those challenges with her prospects. When you talk to her, she is exactly the person that her marketing talks about. 

Robin Milonakis is another example of an agent who shares who she really is with her prospects and it has paid off in a huge way. She is one of the top agents in the OC in a hyper-competitive real estate marketplace. Robin is known for posting everything that she is thinking and feeling on her Facebook page. Some would say she can be over the top, but mixed in with her passion for football, hating stupid people and relationship challenges, Robin shares how she is fighting for her clients and her clients talk about why they love working with her. 

Robin admits that she is in your face with her opinions and if you have a problem with that, that it is clearly your problem, not hers. Her clients will tell you the reason they work with her and love working with her is because she always "Keeps it Real," and they want and need someone who is willing to tell it to them like it is. 

The bottom line is this: To build a strong personal brand you have to be willing to be personal. It sounds easy, but most agents are simply not willing to take the risk because it requires you to put the real you out into the world. No list of accomplishments to hide behind. I know it's very scary, but it is so very powerful.

Greg Herder started his first business at the age of 14. Today, he is the CEO ofHobbs/Herder Advertising and a sought-after speaker on self-mastery, personal development and personal marketing.

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