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Only a Realtor Without a Personal Brand Would Say This

Do you agree?

Recently, I saw someone say something on Twitter that I disagree with. Watch the video above and share your thoughts in comments about branding.

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Written By

Specializing in luxury condominiums in Vancouver, Ian has thorough knowledge of Yaletown, Coal Harbour and Downtown's new urban markets. As well as being a leader in marketing luxury penthouse suites, Ian also gives equal attention to all listings from entry level studios to waterfront townhouse villas.



  1. Daniel, The Real Estate Zebra

    April 2, 2009 at 10:52 am

    You’ve got to do both if you have any hope of having a successful business for any significant amount of time.

    Sure, marketing the property should be your chief focus as a listing agent. After all, the goal of what we do is to satisfy the client, which means we need to sell the property, which means we must market the property. Duh.

    But to say that one shouldn’t market oneself is ludicrous. After you sell the property, that you successfully marketed, then what? How would other sellers know that they could achieve similar results with you if you don’t let them know about your brand.

    It is basic business branding. It goes on all the time. Simple example: Burger King is in the restaurant business, they sell food and satisfy their customers by creating and serving tasty food efficiently and affordably. They market the food and the service they provide. They also market Burger King because, if you like the food that they sell and the service they provide, you need to know where to get it.

    Real estate isn’t much different. We work in what is largely a service industry that helps move a commodity. If we do that successfully, we want people to continue to come back to us in order to continue doing it. In order for that to happen, we need to market ourselves in conjunction with the property.

    If you just want to sell one property that you already own, then there would be no need to market oneself. If you want to be in business, then you had better be marketing yourself, too.

  2. George O'Neill

    April 2, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Hi Ian,

    I am not sure how one can separate advertising the agent from the property, despite what some MLS rules seem to think and try to accomplish (for example, in Toronto, nowhere on a virtual tour site linked to from the Toronto Real Estate Board -TREB – MLS can I mention my name or branding – this is a rule of the TREB – I can’t even say see my website where there is a much richer suite of information for buyers to look at!). TREB thinks the buyer can get all the information they need from the MLS itself, which is crazy since the MLS was designed for the pre Web world.

    But, I do believe agents need to be honest with sellers and tell them that advertising benefits both, and quite frankly that is the reason the seller should be using that agent. In my listing presentations I explain that on all my marketing material my website is prominently displayed, which drives traffic to the their listing. Pretending that advertising the property does not advertise the agent is ridiculous. Kudos to you for pointing this out.

    I saw a note on Twitter from a fairly well known real estate consultant who is selling his own house through an agent, tell his agent to advertise only the property, and not the agent. Now with only 140 characters in Twitter things can be taken out of context, but if what he said is true, it is a naive request, and one that in fact may not help sell his house.



  3. Katie Minkus, R(B)

    April 2, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Aloha from the Beautiful Big Island of Hawaii! Another agent and I were just talking about this yesterday. He has a seller who wants him to take an expensive print ad out in a local real estate magazine and he told his seller, “No. I have enough listings already, thank you.” The Seller was naturally perplexed until the agent explained to him that while a print ad of the property does “advertise” the property, we don’t actually SELL homes through this marketing medium, we sell ourselves! Which means we wind up with new listings and that dilutes the time we have to focus on selling the listing inventory that we already are committed to selling. At the end of his explanation, the Seller no longer wanted this agent to take out an expensive print ad – brilliant! Warm aloha, Katie Minkus, R(B).

  4. Ken Montville - The MD Suburbs of DC

    April 2, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    I like Katie’s approach. What a great way to avoid the expense of a print ad.

    In the beautiful MD Suburbs of DC, we must advertise our Broker, by law, in a “meaningful and conspicuous” way in all advertising whether it is for ourselves or our listings. So, since we’re advertising the Broker we might was well put us in there, too. Besides, how would the listing agent convey who to contact if someone was interested in the property? The Seller, directly?

    My take is that if a Seller doesn’t want the agent identified with the property they should do a FSBO.

    The property and the agent marketing the property are really hard to pull apart.

  5. Jim Gatos

    April 2, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    It’s virtually impossible to separate agent from property.

    Many a time I have wanted to show a home and roll my eyes when I see who the listing agent is..

    Like anything, I think it’s not possible to separate the two, neither should they be.

    Although real estate is a commodity, it’s also an emotional commodity. That’s why you need the agent differientation.

  6. Jessica Murr

    April 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    There is no way a successful agent will ever market either just themselves or just their listings. To think that a Listing Agent should not market themselves is ridiculous. I sell a lot of my listings myself because I include in all my advertising my contact information along with a photo and relevant information about my listings. Buyers come to me when they see my marketing and I then sell them my listings. You have to have enough faith and enough pride in yourself and your business to market yourself as well as your inventory. Walmart doesn’t only advertise it’s products, it advertises its name and its policies and it’s values. That’s what you must do when you market yourself.

  7. Ken Brand

    April 2, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I’m with you. I’d down with how Apple does things. They don’t say, we’re just here to sell music, so we have this thing called an iPod/iPhone for that. It’s the whole experience, design, function, marketing, colors, packaging….everything matters. They don’t have to scream Apple, but make no mistake about it, everything is marketing, what their stuff does is all a by-product of marketing. Products, services and stuff drive marketing and marketing drives products, services and stuff.

    3cents for the day.

  8. Matt Thomson

    April 2, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    You have to market the property to sell the property, you have to market you to stay in business. For Sale signs that are just huge agent photos are ridiculous in my opinion, but it’s definately both.

  9. Brad Rachielles

    April 2, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    The strongly branded agent will be a draw for the property listing, and the well done listing brings credit to the agent. Doesn’t each support and feed on the other at the same time?

  10. Sheldon Pearce

    April 3, 2009 at 9:59 am


    Yet another good point brought up by you. I have been talking a lot lately to other Realtor’s and marketing people about developing a personal brand. One said to me, “You are nothing if you don’t have a personal brand”. You can have the most glamorous website, print ads etc. but if you don’t have a brand you will not make it. I sell “me” when I go to a listing presentation. If I have a strong personal brand that helps me be more professional and people will in turn trust me more than if I don’t.


  11. Inga Wilson

    April 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Wow! These comments are interesting. Our team ( 4 people) have been selling luxury real estate on Sanibel and Captiva Island for the past 15 years. Our brand now comes before the listing. We are so well known on the island, that people now associate us with the best listings before they even see the individual property. They trust our brand to be associated with the best product. So ABSOLUTELY is it YOUR BRAND and then LISTING! And I can tell you the same in Miami as well. Zeder team and Audrey ross are all about the brand and everyone now knows they have the best product.

  12. Brendan Aiello - Team Tapper Realtors

    April 3, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I think that it should be a combination of both. However, marketing a listing is always a first priority; Marketing yourself comes second.

  13. Brad N

    April 4, 2009 at 10:14 am

    I have been fortunate to work along side several great agents while I am working towards my license. One of the things I have learned is that you must Market Yourself. If you have taken the time to develop a strong brand in your local community then it becomes an asset when you list a property and is a key selling point when going to a listing appointment. “Not only do you get your listing marketed, but you get it listed with the power of my brand name behind it” Kind of statement.

  14. Missy Caulk

    April 5, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Not sure you can do one without the other. We market the hilt out of the property, along the way consumers see who we are and what we do.

    That makes the phone ring for future business.

  15. Melina Tomson

    April 5, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I think your marketing is a reflection of your brand and so the two are intertwined. I mean if you do a crappy black and white brochure then you are saying that your brand is not professional. Not a good reflection on the listing agent.

    When I was looking for a graphic designer I looked at materials. What looked professional, clean, well done? They pointed to one company. That is who I went with.

    Their names were on a small little line at the bottom. The good marketing was their ad. So…I think that generally speaking you want to advertise the property professionally and with yes…your information on it.

    I just don’t think that the listing ads need to have a picture of the agent taking up 1/3 of the flyer.

  16. Jason Farris

    April 6, 2009 at 12:27 am

    timely post… I think Brad Rachielles says it best “The strongly branded agent will be a draw for the property listing, and the well done listing brings credit to the agent. Doesn’t each support and feed on the other at the same time”

  17. Mike Price

    April 6, 2009 at 7:13 am

    I think a reasonable amount of branding to the agent is acceptable, however, if the marketing is more about the agent than the listing, how does that benefit the seller? If the idea is to draw attention to the listing, there should be more said about the features and benefits of the listing than the person that listed it.

    I’ve seen my share of ads and listing collateral that were clearly designed to promote the agent over and above the listing. If I were a seller, I would certainly question the effort.

  18. Tim O'Keefe

    April 6, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    The larger the brand the larger the reach and the larger the chance that the brand will help sell the property.

    An agent can work all day at selling a home but have zero buyers, or a player with a brand has the combination of his or her brand working to sell not just one property but many. Success begets success.

  19. Brad Officer

    April 7, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Basically impossible to market a home without marketing yourself. If you are doing your job of marketing a listing to the best of your ability, you are inadvertently advertising yourself as well.

  20. Claude Labbe

    April 7, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    You need to do both, market property AND market self, though the proportion of the balance is different based on the market audience and the intention of the campaign.

    A strong brand adds to the listing (and it’s sale), rather than taking away from it.

    Strong listings add the the brand.

    The more seamless the better, but you really can’t do one well w/o the other.

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