One of my favorite TV shows is The Apprentice, so much so that I even watched the US version and developed a slightly worrying crush on Martha Stewart. Some of the best bits about the apprentice are the short interview sound-bites which the producers continually show us to remind us how driven and unhinged the contestants are – effectively the reasons why they are a threat to normal society.
One of these sound-bites that has got the nation laughing recently is from a guy called Stuart Braggs, who has come out with the classic “everything I touch turns to sold”. But the statement that he’s received most abuse for is “I’m not just Stuart Braggs, I’m Stuart Braggs the brand”.
Whilst I have laughed along with the rest of them and I can see that the way he presented this view is pretty funny, I can also see that he has the right attitude and that his business success depends on his personal brand. And to be fair on Stuart Braggs, the youngest ever UK Apprentice candidate at 21, he launched his own telecoms company at the age of 19 and is clearly successful in his field.
On my recent visit to the US, I saw how seriously you take building your personal brand and it seems to come as second nature to those I’ve spoken to and connected with online. As one speaker at NAR said “it is in (y)our DNA” and is no doubt considered as a vital ingredient to being a successful real estate agent in the hugely competitive market you have.
It’s not in our DNA
In the UK however, whilst we accept that people buy people, there is very little focus on repeat business or building personal brands. We simply don’t have it in our DNA. We don’t actively promote ourselves as brands and the idea that a real estate agent would build a long-standing relationship with the home-seller for future business and referrals very rarely exists.
My view is that business owners should train their employed real estate agents to be personal brand builders; in the same way they train them to provide great customer service, to be good negotiators, even to answer the phone correctly. It should be a skill that all business people are trained and encouraged to develop.
There seems to be little desire for this to happen, neither from the individuals nor from the real estate agency business owners. They are almost solely interested in meeting their immediate need for business and bringing quick results, but not focused on long-term opportunities.
If this remains the case, then it certainly gives those who do build their personal brand the chance to stand out from the crowd, hopefully in a more positive way than “Brand Braggs”.