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When it comes to building your real estate online presence, you can’t compete with Zillow at its core competencies. For one, it has data on 130 million homes in America, including comprehensive, detail-specific information that enables your client to completely school you on the property you’re about to show. Zillow also has  196 million monthly unique users (as of 9/30/19) BTW we sell about 5.5 million homes a year so what are 191 million other users doing on the site?

Zillow also has brilliant mobile functions and tools that make it downright addictive. One can argue that it has completely revolutionized how consumers approach buying and selling (and snooping on neighbors).

Even if you do have the big money to throw at making a multi-faceted online presence, why copy Zillow? Chances are you didn’t get into real estate because of your amazing computer programming skills, to generate web traffic or to be everything to everyone who might be curious about what their home is worth.

Instead, why not focus on your innate strengths, flush out your unique offering, and then build a web presence that conveys all of that with laser focus? You need to find your “human factor,” the thing that sets your service above and beyond the information-dump available on online, and then infuse it into your online footprint.

Focus on your strengths

Focusing on one’s strengths leads to much greater success than relentlessly struggling to improve weaknesses. Harvard Business Review has a great article on Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) called “How to Play to Your Strengths.” It outlines the research that shows how focusing on positive traits leads to much higher productivity and achievement than flushing out negative ones. Basically, the article says you won’t complete more transactions just because you get better at organizing your files! Hire an assistant to help you with your weak areas and move on. Because, as the article says, “Why should a natural third baseman labor to develop his skills as a right fielder?”

Flush out your unique offering

A great way to hone in on your strengths is to utilize Jim Collins’ “hedgehog concept.”  (You may have heard of his book Good to Great.) 

Your mission is to find the intersection of your passion, your skill, and your profit. I will use my own thought process as a demonstration.

Passion: My passion is marketing and business development. Truth be told I don’t really like the real estate transaction process. I love the thrill of the hunt and the “Win”. When a lead develops into business. BAM! I am one happy dude!

Skill: What are the very best at. I often ask my clients to write down everything you do. I learned this from Darren Hardy Once you journal for a week everything you do break them into two parts. Personal life and work-related. Now examine the list and pick the top three things you are amazing at. Be realistic. Are you great at marketing, advertising, blog writing, contracts, conversation, negotiations? Find the top three no one else could do in your place. This is your Skill. Hone in on this skill set. Then begin to delegate everything else. Focus on what you do best and your business will excel.

Profit: Collins refers to this as your economic driver: How does your business break down as “dollars per x”? For me, agents/brokerages are my economic driver. Not just any agent and or brokers. I only work with amazingly successful agents. Agents who are serious about growth and investing in their business. Who is your ideal client? Or, do you work with anyone that comes along? You will find defining your ideal client and going after them is much to work with and tremendously more profitable.

Who do you naturally attract? It might change and develop as you mature in your practice. For example, when I first started I took on just about any agent wanting help. Now not only are those agents still with us, but they are hugely successful. Now I focus on success and those striving for it.

Now, put this all together to articulate your unique offering. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm with friends and family and ask what do you think I am good at or what makes me unique. Mom might not be the best to answer. But listen and then write those answers down and examine what makes your unique offering. As an example, Jacquelyn Leahy who was the inspiration behind rewriting this article (See the original article here) says after brainstorming with others she found that “refreshing” and “genuine” came back. Using this positive feedback, she came up with the tagline, “A fresh and friendly approach to real estate.” Love this. No go tow work and find yours.

Take it online

The key to all this planning is to develop a web presence that delivers your message in an elegant manner. Here are a few suggestions for places to start:

Bio: Does your bio reflect who you are as an agent, who you like to work with, and what it’s like to work with you? Or does it induce a snooze? Here’s a reworked bio page for one of our clients. Be sure to update all your profiles – your website, company website(s), Zillow, Truliarealtor.comFacebook (personal and professional), LinkedInGoogle+. And update your catchy tag lines on Instagram and Twitter, too!

Headshot: What is it with agents and their 10, 20+-year-old photos. It’s time to get real. Yes, we all get old, some of us get fat and we all change as we grow. With all the consumers conducting research online prior to meeting you, you need to make sure you are who they expect when they open the door. Staring a relationship off with a lie never ends well. Ok, enough. Your photos should also convey who you are, If you are analytical and a numbers person then a more serious phot is in order. Stay away from anything cheesy. On the other hand, if you are expressive then by all means have fun. Stand in front of a home with a sign reading I am adorable inside is the perfect reflection of fun… The point is who you are and if it takes a couple of different attempts to get it right it is worth it. Remember YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION Make it count!

Single black man in suit smiling Autumn portrait arms crossed with real estate background

Blog: Here’s where you can really let your personal brand shine! What are you seeing in your day-to-day life? What problems are your clients running into? Your real-life thoughts and experience will resonate with exactly the people you want to work with. Sure, they might go back to Zillow for their pre-market listings and whatnot, but Zillow just can’t deliver these human qualities. Blogging to someone is so cumbersome and or scary you don’t do it. Having a blog on your site allows consumers to really understand who you are. We create weekly and or monthly bog posts for our clients that are heavy SEO and very real estate-related. But you should be focused on you, your market, statistics, what’s happening, etc.

Website: If you are luxury then be luxury, if you sell $200,000 homes, or $400,000 homes your site should reflect your market, be local. Focus on local and most importantly be all about you, your value proposition, your unique offering. It amazes me that agents sell millions of dollars in homes, earn upwards of $200,000 in income and their website is trash. Or it’s an off the shelf generic home search site. Newsflash *** no one ever searches for homes on your website unless you create an advertising campaign and drive traffic to a specific home search landing page for the purpose of generating leads. An agent’s website should be a personal listing presentation and cover all your marketing. You won’t find this in three paragraphs on the company/see-our-agents/your-name page.

True story. I received a call from a friend agent working in San Jose who proceeded to share with me that a friend of his had recommended him to some friends who planned to sell a $4 million dollar home. A week had gone by and my agent friend had not heard from the referred potential clients. He called hi friends to check in and inquire about the opportunity and was told this “I spoke with my friends yesterday and they told me that when they tried to look you up online they didn’t find you.” the potential $4 million dollar sale was gone, off to another more successful agent. The thing is, my friend regularly sold $30 to $40 million a year and just never took the time to invest in his online presence. Not anymore. Now he looks very much like the rock star agent he is. A personal brand is everything and you need to be front and center with you, your brand, and leverage your company resources but remember it’s all about you!

Testimonials: Get them! Bribe your past clients with Starbucks or cupcakes or whatever it takes, because real user reviews demonstrating what it’s like to work with you are worth their weight in gold. Ask them to post via Zillow, and then you can upload them to your website, Trulia and Trulia sends them a confirmation email and it magically appears, while just lets you post it. is probably the single best investment you could make to generate referrals.

Social posts: These days, you are what you post. (And if you’re not posting, are you even relevant?)  Are you sharing interesting real estate and market content consistently? Sure, you don’t want to beat your followers over the head with “SELL YOUR HOME NOW!” messages, but make sure you’re known for your unique offering. I love that this was written in 2014 and it is still IMPORTANT Get your message out. The average Facebook user has over 500 friends. Do you think your one post a week makes an impact? Com’on! Let’s do this. Multiple posts a day, lifestyle stuff. Think of Sunset Magazine. You read it for the articles about home, health, and wealth, and life in California. You tolerate advertising because the articles are so good. This is what your Facebook page is supposed to look like. Stop paying companies to post real estate related crap three times a day. It’s fine if you are adding 7 more lifestyle articles but stick with an 80/20 rule. 80% you, lifestyle, fun, and 20% business. I see agent Facebook pages and it’s nothing more than a long stream of Property Promotions including every property listed, pending, in contract, sold. These are super important but if there is nothing in between you have completely lost all sigh of your audience.

In the end, your best solution might be to hire (Me) someone to do this for you. After-all unless marketing is at the top of your “What you do best” list you are wasting your time. If you are interested in a conversation about you, your brand, and developing an amazing online profile let’s chat. Email me here

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