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There’s no personal branding without common sense


drawing a self-portrait from a mirror

A local independent real estate agent initiated a personal branding and marketing campaign about six months ago. Unfortunately, the individual confused personal branding with do-it-yourself marketing.

• The earliest featured hand-addressed outer envelopes.
• The letter inside included my name in the address field.
• Every paragraph began and ended with “I.”
• Worst of all, the letter was filled with typographic errors.

The frequency of the letters has increased. The mailings now feature better paper stock, laser-printed addresses, and 4c images of agent. The brand logo—a national luxury real estate firm—is also prominently displayed. Surprisingly, the number of typos and marketing mistakes have increased proportionately. Basic business letter format is also woefully absent. This represents an embarassment to the agent as well as to the supporting national brand that specializes in high-end, landmarked properties.

The person obviously lacks professional marketing experience and hasn’t contracted an expert. The agent’s database targets me as a potential customer.

Ok—let’s play along with this for a moment. As a potential customer, what may I expect of services should I want to buy or sell through this agent? Obviously, the agent and management office won’t take time to hire a professional marketer, proofread one another’s letters, or run a spell check. If they can’t follow the format of a business letter, what can be expected of their contracts and title services? What other professional services are neglected or moved to the do-it-yourself list?

A follow-through call to the general office delivered surprising results. I noted the letters in general (not mentioning the agent by name), typos, and its reflection on the brand. The manager explained that I was mistaken in thinking that the brand was diminished. The office included independent, licensed agents who proofread their own materials.


There isn’t a license for common sense. But for anyone who strives for personal branding, it should never be crafted at the expense of common sense.

Your own thoughts are welcome. Is there a middle ground to crafting a personal brand and doing your own marketing? What is it and how do you follow it?


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