How many times have you looked at a real estate agent’s business cards, yard signs, brochures and website and seen a glamour shot of the agent staring right back at you?
Is it cheesy or is it smart marketing?
What do you think? Does a photograph of an agent’s smiling mug hurt or help? Read on for a few opinions from industry experts, then leave a comment below to let us know how you feel.
Think about all the people you meet every day. In most cases, you don’t really have much time to get acquainted with them. What if they hand you a business card with their photo on it? Does this make it easier to remember them? Does it affect your impression of them (for better or worse)? There’s no doubt that you can look at that card months or even years later and remember the impression the conversation left on you.
So you can understand why most agents believe that using a likeness of themselves on their business cards helps in the long run. Whether someone met you through a Facebook networking event or in line at the grocery store, your picture will conjure up emotions about the meeting and remind them of a (hopefully) positive encounter they had with you.
What about using your photo on other marketing materials? Some agents say you should get your face “out there” any way you can to help potential clients remember you. Clients might also feel reassured when they meet you for the first time that they’re actually meeting the person they saw online or on a business card. Anyone meeting a stranger alone at an otherwise abandoned property is going to feel somewhat ill at ease. Seeing the familiar face could help.
So if the headshot is a common tactic, why do some agents say it can be a bad idea?
If you work in real estate, you’ve no doubt seen a few of those goofy glamour shots that show the agent with the soft focus glow of a Barbara Walters interview. These kinds of photos are more likely to make you the butt of jokes than to help you build a professional reputation. As for using old photos? If a client meets you and you end up looking a lot older than you look in your photo, it can be off-putting.
Worse still, using photos can invite age, race and gender discrimination. Some agents (usually ladies) have gotten unwanted attention after putting their photo on marketing materials. You can put business cards into the hands of whomever you choose; but your photo on yard signs and on your website can be seen by anyone and everyone.
Teresa Boardman, a broker in St. Paul, Minn., says she puts her headshot on her LinkedIn profile because “online profiles without profile pictures are creepy.” Beyond social media (where photos are expected), she says such a personal touch may not be necessary.
“My face isn’t my brand,” Boardman says. “Sometimes a person’s face distracts us from their inner beauty and amazing real estate skills.”
Boardman advises agents who opt to use photos to have a professional portrait taken. It should have a neutral or white background. Stay away from fenceposts, fake backgrounds and other “senior portrait” gimmicks. Make sure you are professionally dressed. And leave the family pet at home. For that matter, leave the family at home—you’re the only one who needs to be in the photo.
Finally, outdated hairstyles and clothes are a huge no-no. Make sure you update the photo at least every five years so when people finally meet you face-to-face, they won’t be caught off guard.