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What does God have to do with Real Estate?

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Foundations

I am a pretty active guy, always on the go and always pushing toward the next goal. I get up, go to my desk start working until I”m exhausted and can go to bed. Working, making time for my daughters and my wife allows for precious little quiet time or time for reflection. However, in the quiet hours of the early dawn, when the sun is just breaching the horizon, my mind starts turning, its at that time that mistakes of the past, failures and missed opportunities start to haunt. In these moments my belief system guides me toward peace and brings clarity to unanswerable questions. My faith is strong and it’s what I rely on to answer the haunting of failure and the screaming of pressing goals. Its what drives me to desire a better balance to my work and personal life, to be more to my children than my parents were; to love my wife the way she deserves to be loved. My essence is defined in the foundation of my belief in God.

However, my foundation is not something that I will use to gain an upper-hand on my competition.

Misconceptions and Perceptions

When first licensed, I branded my business as a “Christian Agent”, I wouldn’t advertise in the church bulletin or pass out cards at church, but I perceived that my belief system would bring like minded clients. The heterogeneity of beliefs is a funny thing. Being a person who believes in God, or any other Deity means so many different things to so many different people. I quickly found that regardless of what we called ourselves, the clients that were drawn to me through the use of religious imagery on my business cards or webpage, did not necessarily think the same way that I did. Within my first year, I dropped using any reference to religion in my business marketing. I was far better off once I had made that separation. The perception from competition is typically, that they think you’re merely using your church as a way to gain an unfair advantage. The perception of most consumers is that they don’t care or will see you as an easy target.

What about Fair Housing

As a Fair Housing instructor, I get tons of questions in class, e-mails and phone calls tattle-telling on one agent or another who has a fish or a cross on their business card. Recently I saw an advertisement for an agent stating that she was “The Lord’s Realtor.”  I personally find this exclusionary marketing line, offensive. However, so long as these marketing venues of the practices of the agents aren’t ‘limiting the choices” of a protected class, there is nothing illegal about them. Do I think they are a good idea – no.

Are you Attractive or Offensive?

Beliefs are typically very personal to people. It has been my experience and feedback from other consumers that they do not feel comfortable working with people who are so zealous about their beliefs as to use them a marketing ploy. You also have the group, who may believe the same as you, but are offended that you would try and use their beliefs as a gimmick. My personal experience is that the folks who I’ve worked with in the past, who profess to be on the same belief are typically the most difficult to work with. When you combine all of these ideologies and experiences – what exactly was the benefit of using religious imagery in your marketing?

I feel the same about religious bumper stickers 😉 No one drives well enough to be a banner for your Deity!

Let Your Passions Influence Your Work

If you are passionate about your beliefs than continue to let them be a guiding force in how you conduct yourself and your business.  I completely encourage you to allow your faith to be a cornerstone, however it shouldn’t be a stumbling block.  Not everyone believes in a Deity or religion for that matter, and they certainly do not all believe the same way.  One of my very best and most trusted friends has completely opposing views as I do, on this matter; but she is trusted and cherished as a friend, non-the-less.  There are many good, ethical people out there practicing real estate and it has nothing to do with their attendance at a  Synagogue, Mosque or Church.  Treat clients fairly and honestly regardless of the personal beliefs.  People will start to sense your passions soon enough – regardless of if you “advertise” them or not.

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is TheAgentTrainer.com.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Mariana Wagner

    October 31, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Thank you, Matt.

    I think that we should LIVE our beliefs – not advertise them.

  2. Craig Barrett

    October 31, 2008 at 8:56 am

    You said: If you are passionate about your beliefs than continue to let them be a guiding force in how you conduct yourself and your business.

    How absolutely true. It doesn’t matter one iota to my clients if I believe, what I believe, or how I believe. An ideology, religion or belief system is personal and is better served through intrapersonal communication and/or reflection.

  3. Poppy Dinsey

    October 31, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Great post Matt.

    Speaking from the UK, I always find it bizarre that religion is used in marketing in the States. I see lots of real estate pros using their religion in their email signatures, business cards, websites etc and just think ‘OH MY GOD (excuse the pun) WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?’. I’ve never ever seen it done here.

    For some reason the whole thing just angers me and I can safely say that I would never work with someone that wanted to ram their religion down my throat. I find it offensive. And I know a lot of other people would feel the same, it just isn’t relevant to business.

    I’m very proud of my faith, but to wear it as a badge of honour seems silly. As you say, my religion influences my behaviour and ethics anyway…so why do I need to stamp it on my business card?

    It doesn’t matter if you’re an atheist or a Muslim, what matters is how you conduct yourself in business. And there are plenty of people of my own religion that I wouldn’t want to work with 😉

  4. George Wynn

    October 31, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Great post, Matt!
    “Let Your Passions Influence Your Work”

    This statement alone stresses the fact that we need to go on living with so much passion to everything we do. Do things that you dont want to and you’ll be having a hard time doing it right?

    You perfectly brought the idea and I can relate to it well.

    Thanks for posting!

  5. Missy Caulk

    October 31, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    My faith motivates and undergirds everything I do, but it is only for others to see not for me to wear on my T-Shirts or broadcast.

  6. Paula Henry

    November 1, 2008 at 6:34 am

    There is a time and place for everything and I agree with you. I used to have my car wrapped with my name, business and phone number – it looked good, but it meant I always had to drive nice. I’m just not that good.

    Passion is the one thing you can not hide or fake; when people see you have passion for your business and conduct yourself as a professional,religion doesn’t matter.

    I never put the fact I am a Christian on anything business, because once again, I am just not that good.

  7. Bill Lublin

    November 1, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Matt;
    I am not one to advertise or proselytize and therefore my faith is not something that I would discuss or even think of in a business situation. Frankly, I am bothered by agents who qualify their vocation by being a “blank” agent or broker – it seems to indicate to me that they have a predisposition that is not part of the real estate transaction.

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I care so little what faith an individual finds comfort in that I don’t even want to discuss it in any context that is not philosophical or educational. I am not judgmental in any manner about someone Else’s faith, I just don’t need to have that impinge on things that are IMHO unrelated to the business experience we are sharing.

    My faith does ask that I act as a righteous man, am charitable to others, and act in a manner that “heals the world”. In my own way I do these things every day, and that brings me a measure of comfort and a sense of fulfillment. And that’s what works for me. Everyone else needs to find their own answers.

  8. Brian Block

    November 1, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Matt,

    Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

    It is the way that we act and operate in our daily lives and our business that shows people much more than words or taglines how we believe and what our core values are.

    How many times have you been rudely cut off in traffic by someone with half a dozen religious bumper stickers on their car? It happens.

    How about the religious advertising agent who gets involved in an ethical dispute, or even something more benign like “buying a listing”?

    As in politics, with religion, I judge someone by their actions, not by their words.

  9. Vicki Moore

    November 1, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    I agree and really like how Mariana said it as well. I don’t do business or not with people based on their religious or political beliefs. I think those are things you learn about people should I decide to continue to work with or be friends with them because of how they act and treat me, not what they believe. What they believe may determine how they act but I want to see it, not hear about it.

  10. teresa boardman

    November 2, 2008 at 8:16 am

    thanks for writing this. I recently got into a struggle with a company over this issue. They want me to do something for them but their marketing is “hyper Christian”. I respect all religious beliefs but have some strong opinions on using religion in marketing. I also have a core value that what we actually do is so much more important than what we say. I never discuss religion but those who know me know what my values are as they see them in my actions.

  11. Matthew Rathbun

    November 2, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Thanks gang for reading and commenting. I was a bit nervous posting this, but feel that it’s a common issue that folks struggle with.

    I do want to add on top of all the comments that some of you have added, this observation:

    Too often in the practice of real estate, things just don’t seem “fair.” Those strategic recommendations I make to the seller-client may not be perceived as “fair” to the buyer-client.

    The reality is that in the course of representation, often times one party needs to have a “smaller win” than the other. (for those unlike myself who believe there are no losers in RE).

    If I’m marketing myself under my religion, than those folks who don’t “win” in the transaction will use it as one more evidential fact that (insert your religion here) is hypocritical…

    Keep your convictions out of your marketing, but let them guide your service.

    I’ve had a few off-topic comments to the contrary of my post and I am thankful that those folks at least gave me the opportunity to chat with them. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

    Bill: I FULLY agree that you, of all the people I know, truly walk out your faith. You’re one the most self-less RE folks I’ve ever met!

  12. Karen Rice

    November 2, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    I need to chime in and agree. As a “born again Christian” I find it distasteful to my Lord to try and use Him in order to secure business. I glorify Him with the way I work. I know of a certain agent who has bible verses all over his profile – but I wouldn’t want him to help me buy a dog house.

    It’s not being ashamed of Christ – as some may suggest. It’s honoring Him so much as to not make a commercial spectacle of my faith.

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Business Marketing

What entreprenuers can learn about branding from trendy startups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) What’s the secret of focused startup branding, and how can you apply it to large enterprises?

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A set of wine from Craft Hugo, showing off pleasing branding in labels.

Think of your favorite brand. Is it the product they offer or the branding that you love? Exactly – brand ethos reigns supreme, especially with those trendy, aesthetically-pleasing startups (I never thought Glossier had good makeup, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t visit their website once or twice a month).

So let’s break it down.

Co-founder of Red Antler – a company that assists startups in creating successful branding – Emily Heyward believes in a few branding truths.

Firstly, you have to make sure not to market your brand as a single product or experience. Doing so, she says, will pigeonhole you and thus truncate your ability to expand and offer new products and services (she gives MailChimp, known almost exclusively for email marketing, as an example).

What Heyward does say to do is instead market an idea. For example, the brand Casper (one of Antler’s clients) markets itself as a sleep company instead of a mattress company. By doing this, they kept the door open to eventually offer other products, like pillows and bedding.

Heyward states that this “power of focus” is a way to survive – with countless other startups offering the same product or service, you have to position your company as offering something beyond the product. Provide a problem your customer didn’t know they had and offer an innovative solution through your product.

Ever used Slack, the app-based messenger? There were other messengers out there, so focus of Slack’s branding is that regular messaging is boring and that their app makes it more fun. And customers eat it up.

How can this logic apply to mid-to-large enterprises? How can you focus on one specific thing?

Again, placing emphasis on brand over products is essential – what is it about what you offer that makes your customers’ lives better? It’s more cerebral than material. You’re selling a better life.

Another thing to remember is that customers are intrigued by the idea of new experiences, even if the product or service being offered is itself not new. Try not to use dated language that’s colored by a customers’ preexisting feelings. Instead, find an exciting alternative – chat solutions are desperately trying move away from the word “chat”, which can bring to mind an annoying, tedious process, even though that is in fact what they offer.

Broadening the idea of focused brand ethos to a large company can be difficult. By following these tips and tricks from startups, your company can develop a successful brand ethos that extends beyond your best product or service.

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Business Marketing

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.

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Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.

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Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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