#214 Mail-Right Show With Special Guests Tonya & Michael From Brandfacestar
How To Successfully Build & Launch a Local Real Estate Brand 2019?
Tonya Eberhart is the founder of BrandFace® and the author of four books on personal branding. Tonya’s humble career began while selling vacuum cleaners door to door to pay her way through college. That led to a job in radio, where she observed local business owners who were featured in their own advertising and positioned as local celebrities in the market. That’s when she realized the power that personal branding has on a business. Almost two decades and many successful brands later, she founded BrandFace®, a personal branding firm comprised of a book series, training series and speaking series that is designed to help real estate agents differentiate themselves.
Michael Carr is America’s Top Selling Real Estate Auctioneer and the Abundant Life Broker. During his 26 years of experience, he has been actively involved in over 74,000 transactions and licensed in as many as 27 states in the continental U.S. as a broker and an auctioneer.. Michael first met Tonya in 2013 when he became a client. He immediately put her exclusive personal branding concepts to work at his own brokerage, and as a result, his business quadrupled over the next year. On the heels of that success, they decided to co-author BrandFace® for Real Estate Professionals, which became a #1 international bestseller on Amazon. And today, he is a partner and COO of BrandFace®.
Their mantra is, “People don’t do business with a logo. They do business with a person.”
Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the Mail Right Show. This is episode 214. I’ve been looking forward to this discussion. We have got Tonya and Michael from Brandfacestar with us. We’re going to be talking about why in 2019 if you want to be a successful Real Estate Agent building a personal brand is your main objective. And I’ve got also my great cohost Robert Newman. Tonya and Michael, would you like to give a very quick introduction about yourselves and Brand Face?
Tonya: Sure, sure. So Brand Face started about six years ago. And I actually started learning about personal branding myself through selling vacuum cleaners door to door. I did that to pay my way through college. And that’s when I learned the power of presenting your story and presenting yourself in a way that would get people to open the door. And so from there I landed a job at a radio station when I sold a vacuum cleaner to a radio station engineer. And I spent about 18 years in the media world on the sales side of things. And I I learned a couple of different things. I would see business owners walk into an event and they would be kind of like rock stars. And I thought, my goodness, what are those people doing? And it was almost always someone who was the face and the voice of their own business.
They were on their radio commercials and their print ads and their TV ads and they became local celebrities. And they were really working to push forward their personal brand and connect that to the business. So people would understand that they were doing business with a person, not a logo as we like to say. So that’s how I kind of got into personal branding and it just became a common thread through everything I did. And about six years ago I started writing the first brand face book in the series. And then I met this guy and I’ll let him pick it up from here.
Jonathon: Well at least keep it there on did introduce Robert first and then we can go into that. Robert, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?
Robert: Yeah, well I am the founder of inbound REM, which is a real estate inbound marketing company. One of the few. And for those of you who are not watching, I look like Pepe Le Pew. I just got my hair done. So I strongly recommend that you check out the YouTube video. Other than that you can talk and take it.
Jonathon: So with Michael’s agreement, I like to go into the nitty gritty of the interview, Tonya both of you. So in 2019 I believe in your core message that if you’re going to be a successful Real Estate Agent and compete with all the online competitors and everything that’s going on the industry. You have got to build a really fantastic local personal brand, easy to say. What are some of the key things that you think that agents got to be aware of to be able to achieve that objective?
Micheal: So there are three things that brand face does. Tanya taught this to me in the real estate business. It’s how we met and there are certain things that brand face does for all entrepreneurs. And we started it with real estate agents because of me. We defined. We develop and display a good personal brand. And those are the three keys that we stick to begin to differentiate somebody. Because we realized that she realized actually, which wrote the book the importance of that differentiation? So if we wanted to get it down to the three things that we do, we define what a personal brand is going to be. We help them develop that personal brand and everything that would encompass that. And then we help them display that across equally across all of their platforms.
Jonathon: Right over to you Robert.
Robert: So when you say differentiate, what I hear as a guy that’s read a lot of marketing books is, is that unique selling proposition? Is that basically the equivalent? Like you’re figuring out what they can show them.
Tonya: Yeah. You got it.
Robert: Just in case, some of the people that are listening to the show may not understand. Do you have a couple of examples that you could toss out that might be a differentiator?
Tonya: Oh yeah, absolutely. So we have I’ll just talk about this lady’s awesome lady that’s in our program in Texarkana. Her name’s Jacquelyn. And Jacquelyn came to us and she wanted to focus on people who were more upscale in her area. But we’re also making a life change and purchasing a home potentially the second time around. So in other words, it was almost like life the second time around, they were middle age, they were making a life change, maybe a transition into downsizing. Or professionally climbing that ladder, moving into a bigger home. But they were more on the luxury end of things. And so we were looking for what we call that brand identifier, that marketing hook that Michael said that just kind of kicks open the door. And that would be like a tagline or slogan in other words, we call it a brand identifier.
So Jacquelyn’s brand identifier is real estate refined. And what that really instantly means to people is that is a refined approach for people who want the finer things in life, a more upscale, more luxury type of approach. And of course then we build that brand around that point of differentiation. So everything about why her tagline is real estate refined and what that looks like is built into the brand. That’s where we get into the development phase. Everything from photos of her to her imagery to her logo, to how her brand is, the brand message comes across, how she communicates, why she is known for being real estate refined. So that is just one example of many. That’s kind of where we start is that brand identifier because that gives us the foundation and then we build around that person.
Robert: Okay. I gotcha. So using like ancient marketing school language that I fucking hate by the way. But it’s still, it’s what that people cue into that have actually taken a class. So it’s a marketing persona is what you identify. Then you connect it to a USB, which is brilliant. I love it. And then you help that client. So the last part, if I understand your services, so you help them identify the marketing persona, who is their customer, and then what is your unique selling proposition? And then the last bit, if I understood you correctly, is now that you’d have those first two bits figured out. The third bit would be how do you use that information?
Tonya: Yeah, yeah, and yeah. Pretty much the same. Yeah. And that third bit is display. Now we’ve got. So in the first phase is defined, we’ve got who their ideal customers are, what their point of differentiation is, what makes them different from all the other agents? And then that brand identifier that kind of gives us the form to go with. In the second phase, we’re developing everything about what that looks like, feels like and sounds like. And then the third phase we pull it all together with graphic design, with messaging, and then we make sure that new brand is displayed correctly and consistently across all of their marketing platforms.
Robert: Can you give me a couple of examples of your past clients? Like when you’re saying marketing platforms, real estate, there is a surprisingly large quantity that you could theoretically be talking about. Would you mind sharing with me a couple that you find are common amongst you?
Micheal: Well you’re hitting on the point right there that I think that she brought to me originally. You know all of us real estate agents that we’ve got the same platform. We’ve got Zillow, we got realtor, we got the MLS`s, we’ve got our door hangers, we’ve got billboards, we’ve got our park benches, we’ve got our shopping cars. Like everybody’s got that. And the problem with it is, and we get our clients all the time that says hey, marketing doesn`t work. Marketing doesn’t work. I’m spending money, I’m not making money. Marketing doesn’t work, marketing doesn`t work. And so much of it, as y’all know, is right here. And then right here, whether or not number one you should be in that industry. And number two, do you love that industry and are you working on industry correctly?
So once that’s right, right here and there, they love the idea of real estate and all the good and bad that comes with it, and then what we do is show them that differentiation. So they’re not using all those same platforms that all of us know about. Cause there’s no real secret. In fact we’ve got one of our blogs that are out is this the secret. Because there’s no magic formula that’s going to bring in all these leads that just turn into millions of dollars without any of the legwork or the mining or all that. So Brand Face doesn’t take that away. But what Brandfacestar does is it gives you that step up. So now when you do show up on all those displays, you’re showing up much different than other people are showing up. And there’s more than just a picture.
Because you know, it might be easy to digress it down to say, Oh well anybody can take a good picture. Any of us that have been in the business for a long time, we know what glamour shots look like. Glamour shots made billions of dollars off of real estate agents. And so did it make a difference? Yeah, a little bit here, a little bit there. But it’s the brand face brings in the mindset of all of that. So you can’t use a different picture on your shopping cart since you do on your park bench that you’re doing your Zillow. And so many agents do that. There’s not any consistency to it. And it really boils down to the same as no consistency. If you go out, we have agents tell us, I’ll send out 10,000 postcards and nobody called me, you know, and we’re like, well, you would have been better off to send, you know, a thousand people, 10 postcards.
Cause that’s really more the marketing mindset, the repetition of. But then our sophisticated world we live in nowadays, there’s so much more to it than that. People, everybody are checking us out, they’re checking out our social media, they’re checking out our Twitter feeds. They are checking out our LinkedIn, they’re checking out our websites, they’re reading through the website. They’re doing as much research on the real estate agent as they are the houses that are going to look for. And that’s a statistic that Real Estate agents have been screaming for 20 years.
As we’ve seen the internet grows, and grows, and grow and grow and grow. But it just seems like there’s this big lag behind the messaging. And our thought process is people you need to be at attacking your ideal customer. Media and the internet world is a great way to do that. But then when they get there, you got to have a consistent message. And you also got to tell them how you’re going to be able to help them. And you’ve got to catch them pretty quick because there are so many shiny things that are going to steal.
Jonathon: To follow through Robert’s question. You know, especially in large city, Metropolitan areas like the Bay Area out of Boston, Dallas. When you’re in a very large metropolitan, I think I’m not sure this word exists, but I created it. You need to nichefy. You need to find your niche. Do you get a lot of resistance when clients first approached you about actually zeroing on a particular target audience?
Tonya: Yes. In a word yes. Yeah.
Micheal: Almost always.
Tonya: Yeah, almost always. But you know, what we tell them is if you try to help everyone, you’ll just help yourself right out of business. So you’ve got to figure out who those ideal customers are. Think about it this way. When you start to market yourself, no matter what platform you’re on, you start to put a message out there that is designed to attract someone. How do you know what message to put out there unless you first know who it is you’re trying to attract. And as we used to say in radio, people used to say, well I want to target, you know our listeners are age 25 to 54. I want to target age 25 to 54 and I would say that’s not that a target audience. That’s a family reunion. And so there’s nothing that a 25 year old has in common with a 54 year old.
Very little, right? So your messaging would be different to those people. The image you’re trying to portray this going to attract those people can be quite different. It isn’t always, but it can be. And you know, back to Robert’s question of the marketing platforms I want to get across one thing really clearly. Is that your brand is what you market. The marketing platforms, vehicles, tools, systems, whatever that is. That’s the vehicle you market your message with. But your brand is your message in your image that you market on those platforms. So what Brand Face does is we give them that whole image and message and every single puzzle piece they need to market themselves on any platform free or paid. So it could be organic posting on Facebook versus Zillow or any other lead generation platform out there. Learning how to use lead generation platforms can be done in about 30 minutes. There are so many different ones. It’s a matter of how you use that platform, not which one you use.
Jonathon: Yeah, I would agree with that. Just a quick follow-up question before we go for our break. Obviously in large metropolitan areas like the say I think finding that niche. But what would be your message to the individual that’s in a 50 to 250,000 population areas, town, and small city. They would say there is just isn’t enough volume out there to nichefy. What would be your message there?
Micheal: So if I understand the question, you’re saying like if the metropolitan area.
Jonathon: If they’re based in a small town, if they’re based in a small town city, 50 to 200.
Micheal: Yes. Caught up with you. Yeah. Well we, you can brand yourself for different things. Like it doesn’t have to be, it’s personal branding no matter what it is. That’s very important. It is facial recognition and it is learning who you are and messaging being correct towards your ideal customer. You can still niche in small towns. For instance, a town that I live in is only 10,000 people. Like we’re 40 minutes North of Atlanta. So I’ve got the whole metropolitan area covered with agents. And two other offices that span the entire Northern part of the arc of Atlanta. And we cover probably 12 different counties. But we inside my own small town, I can still use my identifier.
And so my identifier was that I’m America’s top selling real estate auctioneer. No personal broker who sold more real estate residentially than I have because of my experience through the 2006 2013 debacle. And we survived that and came out. And then when Tonya came to me, my brokerage had anything real estate, which is very prominent in the small town that we’re in because of the way that we market.
So when we come to niche, you know, you’re right, it’s hard to pick a niche that says, okay, I’m only going to deal with first time home buyers in my particular area. That would never work because we don’t have enough of them. So anything real estate though, obviously absolutely covers that. And the reason it’s not such a broad thing like a niche is because when you go to our website, our messaging describes the fact that we deal with investors. We deal with rental property and we deal with brokerages.
Jonathon: So what you’re really saying is just a little bit broader than a target of high population Metropolitan area.
Tonya: And too Jonathan, you know, I want people to understand that your niche doesn’t always have to be your ideal customer. They’re two different things a lot of times. So your niche could be what you want to be known for. You could be known for your responsiveness. You could be known for the fact that you embrace and understand and can sell the lifestyle of that area like nobody else. It could be that you understand waterfront properties. It could be that you know negotiations like the back of your hand. You get people to the closing table on time or even faster. So I just mentioned five different possibilities for niches there. And it just depends on what you find when you drill down into it as to where is your strength. Your niche isn’t always defined by geographic area or your ideal customer, although it can be. Very often it is defined by your attributes or your experience or your expertise.
Jonathon: That’s great. We are going to go for our break. When we come back, we’re going to be delving in this very broad area of personal brand building in 2019. We will be back in a few moments’ folks.
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Jonathon: We’re coming back. We’ve had a great discussion with Tonya and Micheal about personal branding. I think it’s going to be a great second half. Over to my cohost, Robert.
Robert: So I wanted to tag on to two things that you said in the previous part of the show. The last five minutes. I’m not a big interrupter. I don’t like to jump in. But I do want to say that you made a blanket statement, which I thought was a little inaccurate about lead generation platform. You said they take 30 minutes. My experience as a person that uses many of them is that that oftentimes they can take more like 30 hours to learn how to use.
Tonya: It was a bit of an exaggeration for sure. But the point I was trying to make is that it’s not so much which ones you use. Because as long as your ideal customers on the other side of that lead generation tool, then it should work for you. What really is the determining factor as to whether or not at work is what message you put out there on it.
Robert: I don’t disagree with that. I just wanted to make that comment because I kind of stubbed my foot here. I should’ve given you guys a better introduction into the show. I was slightly distracted which John is used to.
Jonathon: Never Robert never.
Robert: But the way is by really digging deep and giving huge deep analysis into real estate lead generation like services. And that’s like my website gets about 200 or 300,000 visitors in the real estate space per year. And it’s all focused on people that want in depth answers. That’s why I felt like I had to respond because that’s my bailiwick and you made a comment on it. But I agree with everything else you said.
Tonya: Perfectly fair, perfectly fair.
Robert: The other thing that I wanted to say is I love the conversation. And you covered it, but I did want to add my own 2 cents, which was when it comes to niches, personal history is, should and could play a huge piece of what your niche is. Like I ran call centers for 20 years. I haven’t done it in a long time. I’m a tech guy now, but I absolutely have that conversation with all my real estate clients. I want to talk to me about ISH. I still have two decades of experience in terms of call center stuff and I know that world like the back of my hand, like working with the Philippines.
And all that different stuff in real estate, I’ve found that like people that were in the military, that’s a huge thing that should never be discarded. Like you should always focus on that. If you’re in the military or have been in the military for God’s sake, include that as part of your personal data.
Tonya: Absolutely you’re nailing it Robert. Like you are so speaking our language. Because there are some agents who come to us brand new. A lot they’ve been in the business where they run the gamut from brand new to 35 plus years in the real estate business, but they all come with this rich history. We have several agents in the program, believe it or not, that have a nursing background. And we had two recently that have a background in assisted living communities. We’ve had them that have a background, many that have background in the military.
We have a gentleman in Virginia who is known as our American dream agent. And he really focuses on his background is military and he focuses on helping people realize the American dream is that beautiful double entendre. Because he spent his whole life defending the American dream. Now he’s helping people to realize that. So using that rich history, you nailed it.
Robert: One of my favorites, and I’m going to be transparent with everybody in the show. I’m going to use this to maneuver into one of my favorite topics in 2018, 2019 and now 2020. And John probably can guess what it’s going to be, but it’s gonna be question. But I love teachers and one of the reasons I love teachers is I get to drop this particular tip, which is, if you can teach, you can be wildly successful in online marketing. That’s my general opinion. But I leverage video and I’m kind of curious, like I leverage it heavily in my own business, heavily. And I’m curious to know if the both of you have an opinion about video in the Pantheon of these branding strategies that you’re promoting.
Micheal: Yeah, we’re video heavy. Like we love video, video, video, and video. We teach it all the time because she taught it to me. I come along and we realize a lot of things we need and we don’t prioritize it correctly. And I had not done that in the video realm and she brought it to me about how important it is and it continues to grow. I think it’s more, none the number one way. Because people are interested in how you look and how you talk. And those nuances that they pick up on the shows just like this. It’s important to them because now they know what they’re going to be dealing with before they ever pick up the phone.
Robert: I call it a virtual handshake. And in my spirit a little different than your guys cause I’m on the real meat grinder side where I track down to the minute thing, the actually registration part on websites. Websites to have that video introduction, especially a personal one like us sitting here talking to each other. Has a deep impact on lead conversion, a DTS like three, 400% better conversion if you a personal video like talking about an area or giving a personal mission statement, which is what I have on my homepage of my website. Which is just what are you about?
Because people don’t know that when they are like text does not communicate that in my opinion anymore. Our expectation as a world as consumers is that we’re going to get that video that we want more. And I think the video is a great way to deliver more is my thought.
Jonathon: I think someone’s just trying to get a hold of you Robert. Maybe you should switch off. I have got a question. A lot of our agents, obviously they join a brokerage. And you know, I’m not anti-brokerage, it’s a partnership. I want to make clear, but then they have to use the brokerage tools and they have to pay a fee and they get a brokerage website. But I think it’s a real problem because they really need their own website and their own brand and their own Facebook and their own social media. Because not only they lose control of their database, but they’re basically helping build a brand for the brokerage, not for themselves. So would you agree with that? And it’s a bit of a tricky situation. Have you got any insights about how or any advice you could give to real estate agents around that, Tanya and Michael?
Tonya: I’ll tackle that one you can add on. But yeah we hear that a lot of times. In fact, a lot of agents come to us and say, you know, I’m tired of promoting my own brokerage. I’m just building their brand and their brand. Now on one hand, we are very brokerage friendly. We understand that obviously Michael owns a brokerage, he has agents underneath him. And so I know what that means to carry the risk, carry the load and lead. And then have people underneath you that you want inside your culture, helping to support what you stand for and what you have built.
And at the same time, the best brokers, the most creative and most successful brokers also look at their flock. And notice that okay, each one of those people is different and has their own strengths and their own right. And so if I’m going to succeed as a brokerage, I want each of my people to succeed in their own right and on their own strengths and merits. Because that is the sum of the parts. Or how do you say that? Michael says it best.
Micheal: Well, it is the broker. When you build a brokerage, like you want the whole to be worth more than the sum of its parts. Because every one of those are excelling at the highest rate possible for each one of those individuals. And we were very open about it. Like she said, we’re obviously being a fellow broker and being a fellow real estate professional. I’m fine with the way the laws have set it up and the regulatory agencies have set that up. I’m fine with apprenticeships underneath brokers that should be done.
There’s a lot of people get in real estate and they don’t necessarily have all of it figured out yet. And they need somebody to sort of work with them. But we also at the same time, encourage any agent, like if you’ve got a broker that is not supporting you individually, you need to go to another brokerage.
And I’ll be very vocal about that because the broker is there to help that person grow themselves. Because what good is that brokerage, if you have just a bunch of people that run around it don’t know what they’re doing. But unfortunately, we’ve lived in a world where that’s not necessarily the overwhelming thought process. For years and years and years I’m the broker, you work for me. You got to do this, you got to do that. And over time, especially with the internet, we’ve seen that change and we’ve seen that change.
And regulatory agencies have even thought about, okay, what’s the difference? And the state of Georgia, they only difference in a broker in a real estate agent is you got to know a trust accounts. You got to go through what they want you to do, three years’ worth of work as a full time agent.
And you guys go through the course again and you’ve got to sit for your broker’s test and you got to learn some end. The only difference though, between an agent test and curriculum and a broker is management and escrow accounts. That’s the only difference. So I still think there’s a world for both. I am still a broker, but I personally, everybody, I handpick agents that come to me. I don’t take every agent that comes. We do take a certain amount of newbies every year, but we also merge that in because I liked the idea of a boutique brokerage where people can still get in touch with me. So I can be on a phone call with a sales call, you know, with a day’s notice. I’m on the phone call if they need just a little bit more help to get that deal underneath their belt.
And at the same time, all of our marketing not only has the brokerage brand, my facial recognition my promise and mission statement to every one of our clients, even if I can’t touch them. But we also do that in equal part with the agent they’re actually going to work with. Because what good is it if they know my face and what I do, but then they’re going to work with Tanya on the everyday part of it and they don’t really know who Tanya is. So it’s definitely a partnership and it hasn’t always been seen that way. I think that’s changed.
Tonya: It’s easy to marry those in personal branding though. You can have a very strong personal brand stand on your own merits and at the same time recognize and stay compliant with the broker.
Micheal: We’ve had very little kickback from brokers. Like there have been a couple of for instances, but for the most part they understand that person is promoting themselves. They’re promoting that brokerage at the same time.
Jonathon: I thought that was a fantastic answer. We are going to wrap up the show. Hopefully Tonya and Micheal can stay on for some bonus content, which you can see the whole interview plus the bonus content on the Mail Right YouTube channel. Tonya, Michael, what’s the best way for people to find out more about you and your great company?
Tonya: Brandfacerealrestate.com is the best way to learn more about us.
Jonathon: That’s great. And Robert, how can people find new listeners and viewers find out more about you and your company?
Tonya: You can always email me at Robert@inboundrem.com if you want to like get a personal response from you or something. But my website inboundrem.com is chockfull of information on real estate, lead generation. How do you use social media? How do you use real estate platforms? Like all of the big ones fall there.
Jonathon: Okay. And if you want to find out more about Mail Right, and listen to our great interviews, over 200 of them with leading experts like Tonya and Michael. Go to the Mail Right website, and they’d be full transcriptions of the interviews. Links is a great resource. We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.
Hosted Jonathan Denwood & Robert Newman.