These days introductions are hardly needed for Teresa Boardman here in the Real Estate Blogosphere. She’s sassy, honest, insightful and clear. We love her contribution, calling it as she sees it each week. This week the real estate blogging goddess knows it’s not her face that has you recognizing her name, it’s what you’ve learned from her.
By Teresa Boardman
When a consumer, or potential client goes to your web site what is the first thing they see? Let me guess, is it your face? If you are like most of the 2.8 million real estate professionals out there I guessed correctly. I’ll bet you have a wonderful face and you are very proud of it too, and so is your mother.
Other agents ask that question, when they visit my real estate web site or blog but I have never heard a potential client or consumer ask. My face can be found, or at least half of it on both my web site and my blog by going to profile pages. I was once asked if I am hideously disfigured, I’ll never tell. Last week I was asked in an interview “what’s up with Realtors® and their faces?” I had a lot of fun with the question, and I am sure when the interview is broadcast my peers will let me know that my opinion is just wrong.
We have been taught to market by using our faces. I have been told that my face is a way to brand, and that it is a friendly approach. I would argue that a face not only detracts from what the consumer is really looking for which might be homes or neighborhood information, but it also makes the site look like a marketing piece. Of course it is a marketing piece but it might be more effective to make it about the consumer, or the information that they seek instead of making it look like it is all about a real estate agent. Maybe good effective marketing materials should be for home buyers and sellers and not about the person doing the selling.
My philosophy is that people look at property brochures to find out more about the home, they use my business card to get my contact information, and they come to my website or blog because Google tells them that I have the information they seek, and we all know Google is always right. When and if they need to see my face I am happy to show it, but prefer to focus on them until we have been properly introduced. After all when they are on my web site looking at houses I can’t see them either. How fair is that?
I change the picture in the spot where my face should be on my web site almost monthly. It would look bad to have a big gaping hole in such a prominent spot, so I feature a seasonal photo. My site currently features one of Saint Paul’s finest on horse back writing parking ticket. They probably don’t know that the officer is writing tickets, and are impressed with the old world charm that can be found in our city.
If they knew that living here involves a lot of parking tickets they may want to move to Minneapolis where they don’t have any parking at all. After a person has looked around and are interested in what I have to offer they can easily get my contact information and if they are just dying to know what I look like they can find my face on my profile page.
My blog has pictures of St. Paul, and other graphics designed to go with the content. The most important parts of a web page are in the left and right corners and on the top, and that is often where I find a Realtors® face. I use the space for contact information, so they know who’s blog they are reading and for a home search button so that they know they can skip the reading and start the searching.
This is kind of a delicate subject but I think it needs to be discussed. I won’t show any examples but there are pictures of real estate agents on the web that are really bad, almost frightening. One of my favorites is of a particularly, lets say average looking couple, holding their dog. The dog has a red ribbon in her hair. When I visit the site I am so put off by the picture that I don’t notice much else. It is nice and friendly to show a face and a pet, I understand the concept but think that the picture detracts from the content that consumers go to web sites for.
Real estate web sites are all too often all about the Realtors®. I am noticing the same trend with the real estate blogs. On the other hand, let’s pick on the Tomato. Jim’s face isn’t on the front of his blog. Instead we are greeted with a tomato, and a banner that states that juicy news for online Realtors® can be found on the blog. On the left top corner there is a whimsical call to action that kind of looks like a box for cereal or maybe crackers. On the right side we notice that he has readers, and maybe think to ourselves that we should read some of the blog too. If the headline doesn’t grab us, our eyes might wonder to the “popular articles” link on the left.
We came here to read the ‘juicy news’ and there it is right in front of us. After reading the Tomato for awhile, we eventually click on “about”. Jim’s picture can only be found by readers who look for it because we want to know what he looks like. He is actually kind of cute, but his face glaring at us while we read would break up the theme on his blog and distract us from our mission to find the juice.
He provides information for us, we read it, and then we want to know more about Jim, so we go look at him. He does not force himself on us and we don’t have to see him if we don’t want to. When we are curious to know more because we have been properly introduced we go take a peak and there he is staring up at us. I don’t think it would improve his picture to include his dog, even if the dog was adorable. He looks like someone who is working, yet he looks friendly and approachable.
My own lack of face in marketing materials sets me apart as a Realtor®, so please ignore everything I have written on this post.
Teresa Boardman is an exceptionally professional Realtor in the St. Paul, Minnesota area.
Her website: www.TBoardman.com
Her blog: www.StPaulRealEstateBLOG.com
Thank you Teresa. As always, it’s a pleasure having you ‘on the Vine’.