The Burden of the Faceless Realtor, which was instigated by a couple of real estate marketing companies who will remain nameless, is in my opinion the greatest threat to the personal marketing efforts of any real estate agent. This threat has been ignored by the marketing companies that have spent the better part of the last two decades proliferating the concept that an agent would be better off having their own personal brand than using that of the company they worked for. However, much like the coyote who hunts independent of his pack, this practice is a losing proposition.
At the beginning of May, in one of my first public appearances as MaxWell’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, I asked the agents in attendance what I could do to help them sell more real estate. Immediately one of the agents responded, “Increase the advertising budget and get the MaxWell Brand in front of every set of eyes in Western Canada.” While the answer was obvious, the irony of the situations was sitting in front of that very agent – a stack of flyers that not only deviated completely from MaxWell’s brand, but that were completely absent of the MaxWell logo. Clearly, it is ridiculous to ask MaxWell or any real estate company to spend more money on advertising if you yourself are not even putting the company’s logo on your own advertising material. A company can spend all the money in the world on advertising, but if the consumer can’t tie your personal marketing to the national advertising, then you might as well be faceless, and your company might as well spend its money elsewhere. BRANDING AND ADVERTISING START WITH YOU.
Ask any world class marketer (and by world class I mean Fortune 500 level) and they will be the first to tell you that deviating from your company’s brand is the worst strategy possible for the majority of agents. It is like the owner of a McDonalds franchise changing the color of the golden arches because he prefers blue to yellow. It would instantly be the biggest mistake that franchise owner ever made. So why is it that real estate agents think that this same practice is a good idea? It is ludicrous! Unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in advertising, there is ZERO chance your personal branding will ever garner enough attention to make it recognizable by consumers. Furthermore, every effort you make to promote your personal brand takes away from the exponential potential of the herd (your company).
To put the exponential potential (I love how that sounds) into perspective, lets examine how a sound wave works for a second. If you take two identical sound waves and lay them on top of each other (think two speakers), what happens? Does the sound double or more than double? The answer is that the sound wave more than doubles, and for each additional speaker you add, the sound wave grows exponentially to the point where infinite growth is possible.
On the other hand, if you take two opposite sound waves and lay them on top of each other, what happens? The sound waves cancel each other out and you get a flat line. This is the concept that noise cancelling headphones are based on. In medical terms, a flat line (no heartbeat) equals death. To translate this into marketing terms, if every McDonalds franchise owner chose a different set of colors to use, what would happen to the brand? It would die! It would die fast! So the question is, why when this is so obvious for McDonalds owners to use the company’s branding, is it so unclear to real estate agents that this same practice is valid?
Personal branding that is not in line with the company you work for is not good branding. In fact, it is detrimental to your own personal brand and your company’s. Furthermore, the primary reason that we hear from realtors when we ask them why they think they need their own brand, is that they do not like their company’s colors. Well, that just goes to show that there is a fundamental flaw in the way most real estate agents think. You see, it’s not about you. It’s not about what color you like, or what type face you prefer. It is about the impression you leave with your clients and consumers in general. It is about your client recognizing that you are a part of a cohesive and clear unit.
If you aren’t part of a cohesive and greater herd, well then pretty much every penny you have spent on developing your own brand, colors, look, and feel, has pretty much been a waste. Quite simply, every penny you have spent on your own look has made you harder to identify in the eye of the consumer and as a result has rendered you faceless. Your friends and family might like your personal look – but those who don’t know you won’t know you.
Yeah, you may not like the colors your company uses, you might have other colors you like better. Unfortunately, if you are more concerned about what you like than about the impression that is being left with your client, well then, from a branding and marketing perspective, you my friend, have already lost the battle.