Almost Famous

THEY SAY IT CAN take anywhere from six months to six years to become known as a trusted real estate advisor. But who has time to wait? Geoff Grist shares some personal marketing and branding strategies that can set you head and shoulders above your competition.

Anyone famous is famous because they are known for doing something. In this business it’s better to be known for doing something good than the alternative. What can you do to generate a positive spin that makes vendors want to hire you?

Let’s start with prospecting. Everything you do should be considered as some type of prospecting activity – and I don’t mean prospecting by making endless phone calls. Every activity should be peoplebased, creating opportunities for you to meet people, not prospects.

Start by making yourself known as a community volunteer who also happens to be in real estate. Join a community networking group, be on the committee of the Chamber of Commerce, join a men’s shed, deliver meals on wheels, volunteer at monthly market day, assist at the annual fun run, and generally offer to help at every opportunity. I have done all these things and can tell you that if you become known as someone who is prepared to lend a hand then business will naturally follow.

These are great opportunities to showcase your professionalism and demonstrate that you go the extra mile. We all smile and take names, but can you answer any question about the home before a buyer asks? If you are not the ‘expert’ on the home you are selling, who is?

Have your homeowner list and detail everything about their home in advance so you are in control. If you are confident and an authority, people will listen to you and remember you. As well as the glossy brochure, I offer a full specifications list about every aspect of the home, plus a neighbourhood summary including parks, schools and bus routes.

About half of the buyers who inspect at open homes also need to sell; are you the agent they would hire to represent them?

We all remember a picture better than we remember a name, so you are more likely to become almost famous by incorporating a great photograph of yourself in your own marketing material. But be sure the photo looks like you do now, not from ten years ago!

You need a great head and shoulders photo for all your marketing activities, so pay a professional photographer to take a shot that represents you for who you really are. Then use it consistently on websites, memberships and even the back of your business card. Make it a location shot; get out of the office and into the community, and don’t forget to smile and have a little fun on your way to becoming almost famous.

Every community has a variety of sports activities that need sponsors to be able to operate, and that’s your golden opportunity to step in and help. Kids play soccer, rugby, league, touch, let alone nippers, surf lifesaving and even baseball. I sponsor AFL and Junior Hockey and we have our logo on their uniforms, plus it’s great exposure to be the guest speaker at the annual awards.

Growing families need bigger homes, so you are a natural fit; if they know you and like you then they will call you. I also sponsor a lawn bowling club and the croquet club, where the members are older people in large houses who are looking to downsize. Become their trusted supporter by helping them out, not by helping yourself. It’s not just about throwing in some money; you should have an interest in the club and its members, as you are going to need to spend some hours getting to know people and letting them get to know you. It’s a two-way street that beats cold calling hands down.

We all remember people who make us feel better for meeting them. Don’t go home without doing something for someone that they will remember. Offer to carry groceries to the car, buy a coffee for the person next to you, or take the time to stop for a chat with someone you have seen before but never spoken to.

Or take it to the next level; I give out free coffee vouchers at open homes to thank buyers for inspecting, or movie tickets or a car wash voucher to my best prospects after an inspection. It’s not about the business you will get today; it’s about building your business for the future. People will notice and remember you if you make it more about them than you. The exciting part is you never know who you may help along the way.

We are in the real estate business; we help people move house and yet there are thousands of homeless people who are looking for shelter on a day-by-day basis. So instead of putting a photo of yourself on a billboard, become known as someone who helps others in need by supporting a charity that feels right to you. I support Backpack Beds for the Homeless and donate a bed for every appraisal I do and every home I sell.

Actor Richard Gere recently dressed as a homeless man on the streets of New York and was not recognised by a single person, because no one took the time to stop and ask, ‘Are you okay?’ So on your quest to become almost famous, start with a generous spirit and give generously; then others will recognise you as the real estate agent who makes a difference wherever you go.

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Geoff Grist

Geoff Grist has spent the last decade selling residential real estate on Sydney’s Lower North Shore for Richardson & Wrench Mosman/Neutral Bay. He is the author of Sold Above Market giving potential vendors the information they need to sell for the best possible price.