One of the hallmarks of the residential real estate market is its reputation for personalized service. Rather, the industry has more than its share of personalities -- including brokers with a sense of style and flair -- who have their assortment of "business idiosyncrasies" (concerning negotiations, presentations, staging and charisma) that make them celebrated figures within their respective offices and among their current or prospective clients.
But all that influence and identity dissolves online: The art of the deal, the talent to unite buyers and sellers, and the warmth and electricity a broker possesses -- all of it vanishes, it does event exist, in a binary world of ones and zeroes, hyperlinks and optimized text.
The responsibility brokers have, both to themselves and their clients, starts with a mindset about their method of communications. Meaning: They must convert their in-person strengths -- the advantages that make them elite and admired professionals -- into something equally powerful on the Web.
And yet, they must also remind themselves that, as independent contractors, they should preserve the ambitions and fiscal sanity of a small business owner. Which is to say, they should marry quality with affordability on behalf of the single greatest marketing tool at their disposal: Themselves.
I write these words based on experienced, inspired by my role as Co-Founder of Workshop55.com, which designs, develops, optimizes and promotes a customized online identity for a variety of small business owners.
And, from my work with Fortune 500 companies and through my management of digital marketing campaigns on their behalf, I have no hesitation issuing the following certainty: A distinctive, original and effective website -- infused with personality and excellence -- is not (and should never be) beyond the finances of a real estate broker or any other entrepreneur.
Alas, the misconception about web design in general -- that it is the exclusive province of big agencies, for big clients, with big budgets -- is just that: A misconception, which, if it persists, will undermine the communications strategies of all brokers, consigning them to the conventional (and mostly unsuccessful) environment of print advertising, radio spots, sponsored content, billboards and cable TV commercials.
These tactics, while popular (as a matter of default and custom) among brokers and other executives in different industries, nonetheless ignore hundreds of millions of people -- the citizens of the Web, the men and women who transmit, analyze, commercialize and systematize everything from news and business transactions to real estate prices and economic trends worldwide.
Engagement with Personality: The Power of an Effective Website
The takeaway theme to this discussion is about the power of technology, both as a leveling force and as a gateway to enhanced quality. Or, where things may cost tens of thousands of dollars for some, they can be a mere fraction of the same -- without any diminution in craftsmanship -- for the vast network of small business owners, real estate brokers, entrepreneurs and new companies around the globe.
Again, quality is not a sacrificial commodity; it is not an unachievable goal for those of modest means. It is, in fact, a mutually beneficial relationship: It is a summons to brokers to embrace the Web -- with a voice, resonant in tone and unmistakable in its message, that is anything but generic.
Visually, a broker's website will reinforce that point with innovative features, iconic design and a look-and-feel that best encapsulates the ideas, insights, projects and professional accomplishments of a real estate broker. That presence extends a broker's influence, expands his or her credibility, and is a business development tool unto itself.
This shift, in technology and collaboration with a specialized team of experts, is another milestone in the democratization of the Web. My advice to brokers, the overriding principle I choose to emphasize for the good of all professionals, is simple: Quality is accessible, talent is available and pricing is reasonable.
All of which is a reminder that brokers have a duty to use the Web with intelligence and sustained messaging. With the right identity, articulated with the right combination of design and copy, a personalized site can be a broker's greatest ally.
Now is the time to make these expectations a reality. Now is the time for brokers and small business owners to seize this opportunity.
|Vasily Kamyshanov is the Co-Founder of Workshop55.com, which enables small business owners to conveniently have a strong and customized online presence. A veteran digital maketer for a variety of global brands, Vasily works with entrepreneurs across a diverse spectrum of interests.|