In the last post - It’s Time to Get Personal – I wrote about providing opportunities for connections you may have with potential clients on your “About” page or bio.
This is true for any business or service provider, but I believe even more so for real estate agents. Clients have many options for whom to work with, and they’ll want someone that will meet their needs, provide great service, and who they can spend (possibly) a lot of time with.
Buying or selling real estate is an intimate process. Finances are discussed, family goals and aspirations are shared, and your client’s privacy may be put on hold for a period of time while strangers examine their home sweet home, critiquing, looking, examining.
Add in a relocation, and the stress levels rise. As the son of a Military father, I was constantly moving when I was younger. Nine moves in fact by the time I was 14. I don’t remember all the gory details, just the sense of upheaval.
For all these reasons, potential clients will be investigating you. Providing common connections will help increase the chance that when they find you, they’ll find something to bond with. And doing it in a creative or unique way will make it memorable.
Snapshot Bio -
Before we get too creative, it's good to have a base to build on. It’s a good idea to have a well-written Snapshot Bio on hand – you never know when you’ll need a concise paragraph or two about yourself or your agency. Think of the last paragraphs on a press release where they identify the company. It’s usually short and sweet, but dense with facts and information. Having a snapshot bio ready to go could come in handy if you’re quoted by the media, recognized for an achievement or award, or referenced on a blog.
You may even consider having one written in the first person and one in the third- depending on the venue that it will be used.
This type of quick bio could also form the basis for your longer biography – just remember to have it proofed by several people, and not just for typos. 10 people will provide 10 ways to ‘make it better’ – and some may even be right! Use the feedback though, whether you implement it or not. Others often see things we miss, and maybe that piece of personal info you’re sharing is only interesting to you.
One Page Bio -
On a web site or blog, you probably have more space to provide more information about yourself – and more opportunities for connections. So make use of it.
Go deeper than your snapshot bio by expanding upon the info you provide. Instead of just mentioning the University or College you went to, tell your readers how attending changed your life and has subsequently made you a better real estate agent.
Instead of just mentioning that you like to travel (who doesn't?) – tell your readers where you’ve been and some of the experiences you’ve had.
Ten years ago I had the chance to go travelling to Central and South America for three months. I was in Costa Rica and got to stay on a Leatherback Turtle Reserve – protecting newly hatched eggs on the beach. I even had the chance to see a Leatherback giving birth! In Ecuador I visited some of the most amazing outdoor markets I’ve ever seen – buying thick sweaters from the locals that made them, with volcanoes in the background. But the highlight of my trip was hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. Three days of walking through the jungle, hiking up and down the Andes, and visiting Incan ruins – all culminating on the fourth day with watching the sun rise over the Lost City of Macchu Piccu.
Up to now, this has been my main travelling experience. When I think of travelling memories, these are the ones that I draw on, and have for ten years and counting.
And every time that hear someone has also been to Costa Rica, Ecuador or Peru – my interest is piqued and I feel a connection. Whenever I see a program on Leatherback turtles or the Inca Trail, I watch. Whenever I see a colourful thick wool sweater, I smile. These are all connections I’ve made. And if I was reading this in your bio, I’d feel that connection with you.
Here's a great post I recently found on ActiveRain - nothing to do with real estate, but I feel like I know the author Eric Kodner a little better after reading about some of his life experiences. His story takes place in a different part of the world at a different time - but it reminded me of travelling.
Photo Bio -
If you’re looking to do something a little different with your bio – or to supplement it, consider a Photo Bio. Tell your story with photographs instead of words for a greater visual impact. Lots can be said with a picture.
The above travelling anecdote could be made a little more interesting with some photos of the trip.
If you support Breast Cancer Research – why not have a picture showing your support; participating at the Run for the Cure, hosting a fundraiser, presenting an oversized-cheque.
This can extend to any worthy cause you believe in. And the benefits are two-fold. Promotion for what you’re passionate about, and the chance for a personal connection. Is this crass? I don’t think so. The affects of Breast Cancer has affected my life and my family, and I always take note when someone else has an interest in it or is promoting awareness. Even just wearing a pin. This is a connection or bond I’ll make for rest of my life with anyone I meet.
What other photos could tell a story? If you’re a local expert, play tour guide in some pictures. Show your knowledge of the local area.
Won some awards? A photo of you receiving the award, or your acceptance speech may be more compelling than a list of accomplishments. Even a nice photo of the award itself if it’s visually attractive. And remember – this is your bio. So brag a little. Show your awards and accomplishments because you’ve earned them, and they speak to your experience, quality of service, etc.
Photos can also be a great method of reinforcing your branding, especially for any niche marketing or specific experience you are highlighting. Do you specialize in waterfront properties? A photo of you in front of water conveys this message better than a headshot.
Specialist in golf communities? Photos of you on local courses demonstrate your knowledge of the area, it shows you practice what you preach, reinforces your image as golf community specialist, and is an easy conversation starter for someone with similar interests.
If your clients are primarily families with school aged children – you can tell your clients you know the local schools, or you can show them you know. Do a photo shoot in a classroom, on the football field, or in the stands of the gymnasium.
Some of these pictures can of course be used elsewhere in your marketing – to highlight the community, etc. But if you’re claiming to be an expert in any given area or niche, a photo of you in action can speak volumes. And it says a lot more than a typical headshot or waist up photo usually found on bio pages.
Video Bio –
Just as photos can tell your story, so can video. It’s a very efficient medium as well – any video you create can be used online, in your office, as part of a promotional package. And with the web, distribution is free.
A video could be anything from a personal introduction, to a video biography, to a narrated tour of the area. A montage of scenes from the community is compelling content, and with your branding, voice and images – you’ve created a personal commercial that can be watched over and over.
I watch a lot of video on the web. And if I start to watch a video, and it looks good, I usually adjust my posture, and lean back in my seat. I’ve ceded my attention and gotten comfortable. Then I watch.
Does this ever happen when I’m reading a web page? No. I read and move on.
A video can bring undivided attention from your audience. And it can deliver lots of messages – verbal, emotional, visual and implied - in a short period of time.
If you're watching this on Tracey's site, you're engaged for up to one minute and 39 seconds.
Web 2.0 Bio –
If you’re all over the internet marketing and promoting and yourself and your listings, let your potential clients know. It will give them more opportunities to investigate you further, away from your blog or web site. If you’re on Facebook – and so are your potential clients - and they discover that you have mutual friends, or you’re both part of the “More Green Spaces for My Town” group, you’ve highlighted some connections and common interests.
If you’re on ActiveRain (maybe that’s where your clients found you), then advertise and promote that fact. If your clients ask why, tell them you use it as a networking resource to meet other agents (out of town buyers), to market their listings on Localism, to promote the community (future buyers), learn marketing techniques. If they know the value of ActiveRain as a consumer, they’ll appreciate the fact you’re part of the community and what it means. If they don’t know about AR, you’ve now educated them about another resource in your own marketing tool-box. Further evidence you’re an expert and committed to your profession.
Social networking is more and more popular these days. If you’re into photography and like to share digital photos, you’re probably on Flickr. So are some of your potential clients. Since I’ve started using Flickr more and more in the past year, I take notice when someone else is a member. It’s easy to check out their profile and photostream, and you get a window into that persons world (yours). It’s also a connection.
I recently had some conversations with an agent who was a potential web design client – and I was happy to see we both hung out on a few common social networks and web sites. Using these sites will be part of an overall marketing strategy – and our shared familiarity of the sites made for small connection and bond, a few shared experiences through conversation, and a discussion on what we thought would be a good feature on one of the sites. A small example – but it was something we had in common, and I’m sure it played a small role in the overall decision making process of that client deciding whether or not to work with me.
At the very least – when we talked about social networks and blogs and Flickr – I could show him what I meant with my own experiences in those areas. And he loved my Inca Trail photos. He hadn't been to Peru, but he'd travelled, and that led to a conversation about his trip abroad. And another connection.
What's Working for You?
Do you have a creative way you’ve shared your personal info, knowledge and expertise? Has something you’ve done – and shared on your About page – really resonated with potential clients? Let me know in the comments.