RISMEDIA, January 11, 2011—These are interesting times we live in. Ironically, in an age where technology has made it possible to instantly connect with copious amounts of people 24/7, we are simultaneously experiencing a big deficit when it comes to trust.
Maybe it’s all the negative things people are communicating about. Let’s face it—there doesn’t seem to be enough good news to go around these days. As a result, people are less trusting, more guarded, and, truthfully, sometimes just plain hostile to all the noise out there.
But while people may be more selective about whom they choose to trust, that trust means so much more once it is earned. Today’s climate presents a unique opportunity to create more loyal relationships than ever before. That’s why it’s time to step up and become an “ambassador agent.”
Becoming an ambassador agent means becoming a cheerleader for your city as opposed to spending all your time promoting listings and sales. You must also let people see the real you—you must get personal in order to forge meaningful relationships and build trust. Many ambassador agents utilize the Web and video to make this happen. As REALTOR® Ozzie Marten from Passaic, New Jersey, says, “video helps capture your personality.”
Thanks to social media, people are banding together into loose networks or tribes based on common interests. But these connections are often only skin deep and don’t do much in terms of building trust. This is a perfect time for agents to create meaningful relationships by establishing themselves as non-sales oriented, non high-pressure marketers, but rather community advocates and information providers.
“Maintaining your personal image and your professional image is a balancing act,” explains real estate agent Ryan Hukill from Edmond, Oklahoma. “An agent’s primary job should be to show off their community. We must keep up with the new things happening in our area and share that with our networks.” Visit ShowMeOKC.com to see Ryan’s approach.
I once heard someone say that people don’t like plastic flowers. Guess the same applies to us. People bond to us when we reveal who we really are—what our own brand or style is. If they sense a “fake,” they’ll head in the opposite direction.
Ambassador agents recognize that if you can think strategically and understand certain principles, you can build and maintain a following that will last for decades. Their marketing tool of choice is Facebook—which is a smart move considering that over 80% of the population in the United States is reported to have a Facebook profile. These agents post at least once a day—95% of the time about things happening in their city. In a time of negativity they focus on the positive and humanize both their community and their business.
Start building personal business relationships by sharing:
– Positive things about community
– Little hidden, off-the-beaten-path treasures
– Fun things to do
– Best secrets about the area
– Wonderful stories about service providers
Real estate professional Jill McGovern from Dana Point, California, for example, sent out flyers about her wonderful insurance agent, who then forwarded the flyer to over 1,500 of his friends. Talk about viral!
Ambassador agents also utilize blogs—but they keep them short and sweet. They know that everything they post as well as every link they use must first answer, “What’s the value in the end to our reader?”
Hulkill also uses guest bloggers. What better way to show your confidence and credibility as an expert than by turning the microphone over to other experts and members of the community. Some of his most popular guest blogs have been: “Adventures of a first-time home buyer;” “The downsizing challenges of an empty nester;” and “Stager stories and strategies.”
No doubt, many of you are thinking, “But this all takes so much time—time I just don’t have.” There are strategies to overcome the not-enough-time obstacle, however.
Marten, for example, has doubled his business in the last 12 months by creating “Marketing Mondays.” On Mondays, Marten spends almost the entire day focusing on his marketing activities for the week. Talk about effective time blocking!
Also consider signing up for Google Alerts. Select a few narrow, key phrases—i.e., “job growth in Oklahoma City”—and start an automatic stream of content that comes directly to you. Use these content streams as fodder for your posts, tweets and blogs. This cuts down enormously on the time involved.
Build trust by putting yourself out there with helpful information…no strings attached. And remember to be real…no plastic flowers, please. Today’s consumers are crying out for credible communication and meaningful relationships. Become the community ambassador they’re looking for.
George “Gee” Dunsten, president of Gee Dunsten Seminars, Inc., has been a real estate agent and broker/owner for almost 40 years. Dunsten has been a senior instructor with the Council of Residential Specialists for more than 20 years. To reach Gee, please e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.