Standing out, in a good way
July 8, 2009 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm in Real Estate Sales. I want to stand out & be different. What are some creative ways to capture that in my Agent photo?

Disclaimer - sure some people think agent photos are cheesy and not needed and while I think there is some truth to the idea that they are overused I do believe they have a place and time.

With that being said - I do not include my photo on my card and I do not have any mugs or frisbees with my face blastered on them, but I do have a website that I want people to see a photo of their agent and I also want my automated emails to have a small shot.

So far I was thinking about taking a photo with a "For Sale" sign in it, with a house in the background. Leaning on the post, or having my arm over it or something, then a friend also suggested it might be funny to have a photo of me hugging a building or otherwise changing it up with some comical shots.

The idea here is to break the norm of craptastic blue background photos and stand out from the pack without seeming childish or unprofessional (its a thin line to walk)

posted by crewshell to Work & Money (18 answers total)
Get the woman who does the stipple portraits for the Wall Street Journal to do a stipple portrait of you. Professional, but different, plus the degree of abstraction reduces the 'crappy real estate photo' factor a little.
posted by jeb at 8:53 AM on July 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm a real estate broker in Missouri. I appreciate your interest in standing out, but my only warning would be to not appear too "silly", which is what those ideas scream out to me. People generally want a personal connection with their agent (around here, people go for outdoorsy fishing shots, etc), but they want someone who appears professional and competent. If you want something to stand out, find a good photographer in your area who can give your shot an interesting look, not the regular straight on head shot.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:25 AM on July 8, 2009

Wow, that's a great suggestion by Jeb!

I think doing something too cheesy in a photo is a turn-off to some people. Doing something too creative will be a turnoff for others. My Mom's real estate photo was actually very nice. It was an outdoor photo by a professional photographer. She got her hair and makeup done beforehand and she looked lovely -- warm, casual and put-together. Honestly, I think that's the best tack unless you ARE a quirky real estate professional and are grabbing for a niche market. Unfortunately, I think that a lot of real estate people really aren't in to marketing and don't understand how to effectively target that market. Thus, spending your money on a great photo that works across a broad spectrum of interests is probably best.

That said, I think those photos you talk about -- suit, interior lighting, boring blue background are SUPER dull and don't have much personality to them so you're right on there.
posted by amanda at 9:26 AM on July 8, 2009

ditch the agent photo. it's just like you stated - every other agent does that. you want to stand out, so be smart about it, not jovial and funny.

let's talk about those photos first: do you think you are more trustworthy because of a certain smile? do you think your customers look at agents photos and decide "hey, crewshell looks like a decent person, let's call him?" you're smarter than that. they call because of what you provide, not your personality. they come to you because you know things they don't.

I'd use that space to make an argument. tell me something true. tell me a secret. give me knowledge. make a list of the five most important things your customers should know. write one on each card and suggest they go to your site for the other four. share the dirty little secrets of your industry. that way you'll drive traffic to your website and establish yourself as a straight talker.

your customers are currently not approaching you because it's you but because of your inventory. you just come with it. the key is to change that so that they do approach you even when you don't have something they want right now. this is about turning yourself into a brand and for that you need to stand for something your competitors don't. that's why straight talk. what other salesperson can claim that without people starting to giggle?
posted by krautland at 9:26 AM on July 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Be the best at what you do. If you're not there yet, work at it. Be the top seller in your brokerage, area, town, county. Become the expert in a particular niche: green homes, victorians, lofts, etc. Build an impressive stack of credentials. That is your cake. Anything else is just the dish you serve it on.
posted by spoons at 9:27 AM on July 8, 2009

Response by poster: I agree, more or less, with all thats been said here - but it is marketing fact that those who are taking on such a large transactions want to feel connected to, and able to trust, their agent.

A photo goes a long way for someone who has not met me yet (thats why I am using it primarly for the web).

I definitely don't want to come across as comical, again, just trying to stand out a little.
posted by crewshell at 9:45 AM on July 8, 2009

If you insist on a 'For Sale' sign, make sure it includes the 'Sold' sign as well!

(I can't help but think of the billboards from "I Love You, Man".)
posted by steeb2er at 9:50 AM on July 8, 2009

Consider the kind of client you are looking for. shinynewnick alluded to it in the first post, know your market. What appeals to them?

Seth Godin has some interesting ideas about marketing, one I'm keen on is making the invisible visible. What do you already do? Make it a feature, for example: "I'm there with you through the whole process"

Finally, what is your personal or professional brand? Are there aspects that can be played up like: Do you wear Bow ties or wear broaches? Have cool glasses? Like wearing nice shoes?

Once you decide on a course of action, work with it for a while see if it sticks
posted by tobiaswright at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2009

Hire a professional photographer. It is amazing how good you can look in photos taken by someone who knows what they are doing.

DISCLAIMER: I am a photographer, but not your photographer.
posted by nineRED at 10:20 AM on July 8, 2009

You can make yourself a character of sorts.

Check out Montgomery's own "Hat Lady," Sandra Nickel:
posted by jefficator at 10:31 AM on July 8, 2009

If it were me I would go over the top trying to make one photo look like it came from the 1970s or something. Tacky blazer with HUGE collars, gigantic eyeglasses with a smoky tint, nice mustache or something. Then, I would have another pic of normal looking me leaning against a for sale sign in regular nice shirt or whatever.
posted by ian1977 at 10:39 AM on July 8, 2009

My neighborhood is super-dog-friendly. One of the realtors has a photo on her cards and postcards of her with her big fluffy dog. That sounds a bit cheesy, but it looks professional and seems to make her more human than some of the other suit-and-tie robots.
posted by vickyverky at 10:41 AM on July 8, 2009

I -- soon to be in the market for a real estate agent and just starting to sift through reasons to hire or not hire any given one -- would love to find an agent who offered a little "I do not take myself too seriously" tip-off. I think you could do something like put one professional picture of yourself in a fake nose-glasses-moustache combo in with a few other professional pictures of yourself without losing credibility. FWIW the 'I am a professional, dammit! Professional professional professional!' of some agents' patter grates -- I am not looking for a person to autopsy my murdered mother; I would like a hint that you can crack a joke here and there.
posted by kmennie at 10:55 AM on July 8, 2009

There's a group of realtors in my town that drives around in a Hummer plastered with photos of all of them and their dachshund, who's the mascot of the real estate team. Their billboards also feature the dog. I personally find the face-emblazoned Hummer kind of creepy and weird, but the dog is kind of cute. If you're a dog person, a photo with your pet might work.
posted by MsMolly at 11:50 AM on July 8, 2009

We have bought and sold 5 homes over the past few years and generally speaking I don't look at the photos when we're looking for an agent. I look at how many company signs I see around the neighborhoods I'm shopping. However, since you asked, two things are a turn off for me:

-- Keep your photo up to date. We've seen the brochure photo for some agents and found when we met them that they were using pictures from years ago. If you aren't honest in your photo how can I trust you with other information?

-- Don't include your family or pets. I'm buying a house not marrying into your family. What are agents thinking when they show me their kids and spouses? We will certainly get to know you during the course of our house search but, no offense, I don't plan to become your life-long friend. Just show me what you look like now.

To be honest, I'd be more impressed if real estate agents could put their sales records on their cards in place of a photo. I don't care what you look like if you can sell my house or help me find the house of my dreams.
posted by birdwatcher at 1:00 PM on July 8, 2009

Ditto hiring a professional. I was just browsing real estate in my area, and was amazed at how bad most of the real estate and real estate agent photos are. Good pictures on the web will help sell the house. If you have a bad photo, I will not trust you to get good photos of my home to post on the web.

I agree with birdwatcher, but I suspect many people hire a real estate agent based on Hey, look, he has a Golden Retriever, too.
posted by theora55 at 2:16 PM on July 8, 2009

Thirding the suggestion to go find a professional and creative photographer. Don't make the mistake of trying to do it yourself. There's a reason pros buy $20K+ in camera gear and lights.

I'd go here and search for "portrait" sorted by interestingness. Hopefully you find a really talented amateur. :)

An hour or two spent with a photographer, plus however long it takes to do all the photo processing, is time+money well spent. It'll be on the order of, say, $250-$750. In my experience, you just can't tell what's going to work and what won't. 90% of the time, my "planned" shots suck while the shots I take on my way to the location, or setting up at the location, or standing around yakking are WAY better at capturing personality.
posted by paanta at 2:42 PM on July 8, 2009

A good rule for real estate marketing: if you want to stand out from most realtors, don't be tacky.

(I swear, there's no market with worse taste. Maybe hairdressers.)
posted by rokusan at 4:51 PM on July 8, 2009

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