Hey everybody, and welcome to another episode on the Influential Personal Brand podcast. This is AJ Vaden here today. And before I introduce my guest, I’m gonna put a disclaimer out there because every so often we will do an episode that is super niche for a very unique audience, and today is one of those days. And what we’re gonna be talking about today is how to use a personal brand to help you. If you are a real estate agent, you could be a real estate developer, a broker, you could be a loan officer, you could be in any sort of role that’s kind of touching this mortgage and real estate industry. And we decided to do this because one, at Brand Builders Group, we have a ton of audience members who serve the real estate industry, but also because the real estate industry is a little bit tumultuous right now.
And one of the biggest questions that we get in terms of a personal brand is, well, how do I use that to actually leverage and differentiate myself to generate more leads when the market is interesting? I’ll just say that. But then also so many of people in these industries are also coming to us going, how do we diversify our income streams where the income stream that I had have been my main thing has kind of disappeared a little bit, or it’s, it just looks different today. And so I invited a newer friend of mine, Phil Treadwell, to be our guest on this particular show today because I got to meet Phil because I was on his podcast. And when we were talking at the end of that, I was like, you know what? I would love to have you on to talk about these niche topics on the influential personal brand.
So now let me formally introduce Phil to you guys in case you don’t know him. So Phil Treadwell is a mindset coach. He’s a national speaker and a fellow podcaster. He’s also the founder of M one Academy. And as I mentioned, he’s host of the Mortgage Marketing Expert podcast. So if you’re in the real estate industry, that is a must listen to podcast, he’s also received lots of cool awards, like the 40 most Influential Under 40, Hey, but then also Top 20 Mortgage Professionals by Yahoo Finance. So it’s always good to tout some of those credentials while we’re having you on the show today. So feel welcome. So glad you’re here.
Well, thank you so much. That was a incredible intro. I’m excited to have another conversation. We, we covered a lot of cool topics on my podcast and it’s gonna be fun to do it again.
Yes. Well, I’m so excited, and I also love getting to do these super niche podcasts that serve a really, you know, specific part of our audience. And so let’s just jump right in. So here’s the big question, right? It’s like, you know, real estate’s kind of crazy right now. It’s up, down all around. Interest rates are real high and making a lot of people not wanna buy, which means a lot of people in the mortgage industry are going, oh,
I think that’s a great question. At the end of the day, a personal brand, as you all know, needs to be about the person more so than the brand. We have some of the largest corporations on the face of the planet that are trying to personify that company. Well, mortgage and real estate, it’s about the person they work with, the realtor, the loan officer, the individual person. And yet we have so many professionals in the industry that are trying to create a shtick or a logo or a brand. And we need to be continuing to emphasize it’s about the person. Mm-Hmm.
You have a unique how you do it. And so it’s a matter of showcasing that with your own personality, with your own ways that you can get those people’s attention. And that’s really where people are, are thriving. Even in this market. There’s opportunities in every market. I don’t care whether interest rates are high and supply is low, people pay for solutions to their problems. And it’s just you using your uniqueness, you as a person and your ethos as a professional to solve those problems for people. And a personal brand just gives you the opportunity to put that out at scale, put it out at a really high level for people to find you and realize that you have the solution that they need.
Yeah, I love that. I remember when I started I was part of a team of people who started our first company in 2006. What a great time to start a business in 2006. But we were so naive, we didn’t know, like we didn’t know what a good market was. We definitely didn’t know what a recession was. And I remember someone telling me in those first couple of years of starting our first company, and they said that during the Great Depression in the twenties, that more millionaires were form were formed during that 10 year period than any other 10 year period in US history. And, and that’s because it’s like you’re gonna, it’s all about how you view it, right? There’s op opportunities in every market, just like you said, it’s just gonna be like, who’s the one who perseveres gets creative, stays persistent and does something a little different. So what would you say are some of the things for, you know, the real estate professional, the, you know, mortgage expert, what would you say, what are some of, of the things that you’re seeing out there that really lends itself to working right now when it comes to building your personal brand?
Yeah, great question. Most mortgage and real estate professionals, when they know that they need to be on social media, they know they need to be creating content, they start putting out educational content, which in and of itself is a great idea. However, we have to realize that when people get on social media, they’re typically on social for a reason. In Texas, we, I talk about the, the God forsaken D M V. Now, that’s not what’s on the sign, but everybody that’s been here knows you wait in line for hours. It’s, it’s just a terrible experience. Well, when people are in that experience or you’re in the waiting room in a doctor’s office or in line to pick up the kids or whatever it is mm-hmm.
Instead of coming out and saying, Hey, here’s the biggest myth about the housing market right now, here’s three things you need to know. If you wanna start investing in real estate and coming up with a hook and letting people know, I have a solution that you need. I have an opportunity to show you how to do something. There may be a misnomer. And that’s what’s really working and getting people’s attention when it comes to educational content. But I think the other thing where people are, are grasping and, and really getting, gaining a lot of ground in this market is realizing that social media is also about social proof. And what I mean by social proof is if, if five years ago I said, you need to use aj, she’s an awesome loan officer, she’s gonna have an incredible process. She’s gonna take care of you.
If she says she can get it done, she can. Five years ago if I said use aj, they just wouldn’t use aj. Mm-Hmm.
It’s why when we meet someone, the weather, it’s the first thing we talk about. It’s the one thing we have in common with that person at that time. And so we realize that our aunt’s, brother’s cousin went to the same school as, you know, whoever they had. And, and we, we uncover all of these things that are in common. Social media is the perfect opportunity as you build your personal brand to find these quirky little things that are about you, that you like to do for hobbies that you notice about the world and share those with people so they can make that connection and solidify that referral that you worked so hard to get in the first place.
Oh my gosh. Like, we’re gonna have to go off on a tangent because there are so many things that you just said that if you’re just listening and you weren’t really listening, you probably just let that slip by. And I cannot let that happen. So let’s talk about this for a second, because these are really, really good because everyone talks about social media. Some people talk about how much they hate it and how they can stand it. Other people don’t talk about it because they’re too busy on it and Right. And then there’s a whole group of people who are the I would say the educators of social media who are constantly teaching PE are trying to teach people how to use it, right? And it’s just like this funny, it’s this funny combination of how this really works. But at the end of the day, social media is a tool, right?
Just like any other tool, food is a tool, right? Our, our money is a tool and there are good things and bad things about every tool, depending on how you use it. A hammer can build a house or it can be a, a weapon to hurt somebody. It’s a tool, right? And this is like such one of my pet peeves when people go, oh geez, social media is, you know, the number one just destructive thing for our youth. And it’s like, as probably we could say the same thing about food or parenting or a hundred other things, right? It’s a tool. So let’s talk about how to use this tool effectively in business, which that’s how I treat it. Like this is a business tool, right? And so I use it like I would in any other business tool, like my email. I’ve gotta have a schedule and I gotta manage it.
So there’s a few things that I think are really important just to kind of come back on, as you said, ask yourself this question or this is what I heard anyways, which was ask yourself, why are people getting on social media? Mm-Hmm.
You know, I, I don’t know that I would recommend one topic I’m a big fan of and versus, or, and we get caught up in that a little bit now. I would say if you’re gonna do long form educational video type content, then YouTube and Facebook are probably going to be better suited for, for that type of content. If you’re going to do short form content that drives traffic to some of these other platforms, you’re gonna look at reels on Facebook and Instagram or potentially TikTok. But to your point, you’ve gotta know who is your audience. I have a a basic marketing formula that, that I kind of walk people through. And that’s the very first question. Who’s your audience? Who’s your target market? Who is it you’re trying to serve? The next question in there is what problem do you solve? What value do you provide?
Message you provide that particular audience? And then the third piece of that is, what’s the most effective medium to deliver that solution to that audience? And so where to find that audience is very dependent upon what problem you’re solving, what message you’re providing, so that you can create the most effective medium. Cuz especially in real estate, we have a lot of people that know a team that creates a lot of leads with a YouTube channel. So I’m gonna go out and create a YouTube channel or I, I love the, you know, podcast. I listened to a lot of podcasts. I’m gonna go start a podcast. Well, the reason I started a podcast specifically was I was a regional manager that was trying to reach more people and add value to their business that I could network with, potentially recruit. And I felt like a podcast was the most effective medium to deliver a valuable advice to build their business.
I didn’t know a lot of loan officers that sat on YouTube for hours. I didn’t know a lot of them that were even really on social media a ton because this was around 2018. But I did know people that listened to Audible and listened to podcasts cuz they could do it in their car. They could, you know, while they’re at the gym, walking around the house, even the background at work. So the platform is super important from the standpoint of is it the best place to give this message to that audience? Now we all know too, Facebook is kind of aging up or has continued to age up for a while. So if you’re looking at Gen Xers or, or older, Facebook is a great platform for you. Instagram, it’s gonna be solidly millennials, you know, TikTok has been Gen Z, but I’m gonna be honest, there’s probably as many millennials or more than there is Gen Z on TikTok anymore.
So a lot of it is about posting content different places and really understanding is my audience there When I post a video even now, and I’ve spent a lot of time, you know, researching some of this stuff, having conversations and testing content, I still take the same video and I post on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, shorts, LinkedIn and TikTok to really understand, okay, the message of that video, the problem that I’m solving there is that audience on that platform resonating with it or not. So again, the the audience and who you’re trying to reach is, is very important. But when determining that platform, I think that that that messaging in there is a, is a critical piece.
Yeah. You know, that’s so interesting. And I just wanna reiterate what you said. It’s like one for all of you listening it’s, and this doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, but it’s like, until you know who is your core target audience, the rest of this is a moot point. It’s like, if you don’t know that you’re just slinging mud on the wall and hoping some of it sticks, which just, just isn’t a good strategy, right? It’s just not. So step one is you’ve gotta really know demographically and psychographically speaking who your core target audience is. And then I love this part of what you said, it’s, and then you need to know why they’re getting on social media, right? Like to your point, it’s like if you’re, if this is a way to, you know, kill 15 minutes at the D M V, do I really wanna know what, you know, the, you know, definition of amortization is probably not.
Or it’s like I want something that’s quick light, you know, probably more inspirational or entertaining in that moment. But if I was gonna sit down and go, Hey, and now I’m trying to learn something, would I go to Instagram or would I go somewhere else? Right? If I really wanted to have an in-depth conversation about what’s happening with interest rates in the mortgage world, I probably am not going to Instagram in general for me. Right? And that might be different from your audience, but those are the questions that you’ve gotta be asking. And I think that’s so good. It’s just sitting there going, why would my audience get on this platform in the first place? And am I, am I appealing to that or am I automatically going, no, I don’t, that’s not what I’m getting on here for. I don’t want this. That’s exactly right. All the work and effort you’re doing feels like it’s not working because you’re just doing it wrong.
Yeah. And, and you bring up a great point around what they’re getting on there for. Cuz it goes back to this, this conversation and business about solving someone’s problem. In those environments where people are trying to escape and they wanna be entertained or inspired, you need to solve that problem. They’re gonna pay you in time and they’re gonna give you their attention for that solution. So your content does need to be entertaining. And I will say when it comes to a well-rounded personal brand, I believe your, the majority over half of your content needs about who be, excuse me, the majority of your content needs to be about who you are, not just what you do. Mm-Hmm.
And as I’ve started to share that story with people, I now get five to 10 people a week that take a wing pick and tag me in it. And it’s become part of this relatability that you have with people. You ha i I think it’s important as you’re thinking about this, this question that you’re posing, why are people getting on social media? I think it’s to relate to people. And so the content needs to be relevant. If you’re working with first time home buyers, you’re typically gonna be steering towards a younger demographic in most cases. So what type of content do they wanna see? Mm-Hmm.
Yeah. And I love what you said too earlier, it’s at the end of the day, and I think this is a, this is like the second thing that I wrote down, a really good reminder to everyone. It’s like a personal referral isn’t even enough anymore. It’s like, like you said five years ago, you say, Hey, use aj and it’s like, great, I’ll use aj, but now it’s like, well, let me learn about aj. Right? And that’s because the ease of doing so is like mm-hmm.
And it’s like, I clearly, you know, I believe in this and anyone listening knows I believe in this is my business. But it’s like, it, it’s really true. It’s like people are going to go to Google and type in AJ Vaden and it’s like, what pops up or what doesn’t pop up, right? And it’s like if I go, I don’t care who you recommended me to cuz I do this all the time. I’m like, I need a new dentist, I need a new hair stylist, I need a new, if there’s no website, there’s no chance I’m using you. I don’t care how much you tell me you’re awesome. Right? If I can’t find Google reviews or some sort of social proof, I’m out. Cuz I’m just like, what, who did you refer me to? Like, don’t even have a website. There’s no reviews, there’s no social media. And so I would just love to hear your opinion on, for this unique industry, right? Calling, I’m just calling it the real estate industry mortgage included. What’s a, what’s enough like, right? Yeah. Like what’s the bare minimum and what would be like, this is what you should have.
Yeah, that’s a, that’s a tough question because it is obviously is subjective to each person. I get a lot of questions around how often should I post, how much is too much, what’s not enough? And my answer that I give about the frequency of posting is you need to be consistent. If it’s once a day or it’s once a week or a few times a month, I don’t know that there’s necessarily a wrong answer so long as you’re consistent. Because people will look at your profile and see, okay, you posted three days ago, but the last post before that was six months ago and it was three months before that, or two years before that. Right. People do pay attention to that. So I think it needs to be consistent more so than anything. I also think, like I’ve said before, there needs to be a good mix between personal and business content. Mm-Hmm.
I know that name. I know Scott. I was like, this sounds so familiar. Yeah,
Scott’s a is a, is a, is a friend of mine. He’s he’s been on the podcast several times and he was telling a story about a guy who was a top producer and was just having a, a bang out year, you know, 20 20, 20 21. And one of his best friends ended up buying a house but didn’t use him as his loan officer. Now to his credit, the, the loan officer went to his friend and said, Hey, you know, just curious, did you felt like you didn’t couldn’t use me or whatever. And the response was super interesting. The friend said, Hey, I knew that my wife and I would have a ton of questions and we, we really needed to understand the process better. And I noticed that you kept posting that you guys were having record months and you were doing all these, these transactions and doing all this volume and we didn’t wanna slow you down.
And I think that that’s powerful for people to realize some of these things that we put out there. Yeah. To boost our reputation can potentially be working against you. So reviews and testimonials are good, but whenever we try to, what I kind of do ego posts where we, we kind of stroke our ego a little bit, sometimes that can have the opposite effect. There’s ways to show your experience, your credibility, position yourself as an expert within that context of that personal brand without deterring from it. So again, the frequency just needs to be consistent and mix it up. But just be careful. Why is your audience on there? They’re not on there to see that you have, you know, all of these accolades and that you’ve done all this stuff. There’s a time and a place for that. And a lot of times that’s not on social media.
That’s say that for your website.
I think that’s really good. Now that lends me to another really quick question, and then I’m gonna change, change directions on us here. Do you think that in this world social media is enough? Or do you really think people need to have, even if it’s like a quick splash page or just a one page landing page? Do you really think people need to have a website or a blog or a podcast or a social media enough?
I, I personally believe you need a website. Now, I’m not saying it has to be a super robust website, but at the end of the day, your website, in my opinion, is your digital business card. Your social media platforms are gonna cater different types of content to different people. But social media is also about directing all of that attention someplace. If marketing’s about getting someone’s attention, we don’t really make any money on marketing. Where we make money on is sales where we create a customer. And that’s a lot of times more difficult to do if, if not impossible for most in mortgage and real estate to do. You need to have a website, you need to have a place that you can drive traffic. You need to have some type of a, of a call to action in that way. Again, it doesn’t need to be complicated, but having that is, is extremely important in, in today’s day and age for sure.
Yeah, I think that’s really good. And I’ll just share one really quick thing. If you’re going hi, a website here’s just one really quick thing that I learned that’s really helpful. In interim, if you don’t have the time or the resources to actually go and get, even if it’s a mediocre one page website, which quite honestly today is you could probably whip something up for 1500 bucks if you just use a template, let’s just say you don’t even have time or capacity for that. Just at least go by your name, just by, you know, in my case, aj vaden.com and then have it redirected to whatever your most robust social media profile is. Right? Yeah. And it’s like, I did that for years when I was like, I don’t have time for this, so I just had it redirect my LinkedIn profile until you’re ready to do whatever. So, but at least secure your name and have it a redirect somewhere. Would you say that could be a good workaround for the very short?
A hundred percent. Yeah. And, and there’s lots of places and like I’m a big fan of Link Tree mm-hmm.
And one thing that I wanna make sure of when we talk about social media being enough is I have a personal belief that social media is about creating relationships. It’s networking. In the 21st century, you have to take the relationships offline. Mm. You, you can’t just have conversations with people, at least in mortgage and real estate and expect to have a long-term sustainable foundation for a business by simply just trying to interact with people online. Now, what does offline mean? It doesn’t necessarily mean in person. That might be email, that might be text, that might be in the dms, but it can’t just be in the interaction on the social media profiles because you’ve got to at some point create relationship. Mm-Hmm.
Yeah. I love that
That’s a, that’s a good question. I’ve, I’ve not actually been asked this question before and I’ve done hundreds of episodes of my podcast and, and been on on a lot of others into the hundreds as well. So I love this question. And I think my first instinctual or instinctive, excuse me answer is let’s go ahead and take some of our own advice. Meaning if we’re teaching people how to build wealth with real estate, a great way is to invest in real estate yourself. Hmm. You’re gonna create that much more credibility by saying, Hey, I actually own a couple of rental properties, or I have some Airbnbs or VRBO os and now I can show you in a different way how to utilize these things as well. I, I mean there’s even here in D F W, some, some top loan officers that make more money passive income through their real estate portfolio and, and things that they’ve built on the side than they even make, especially now in in their mortgage business.
If you have an audience of a specific amount of people and there’s certain type of products that that audience really needs or wants, there are ways to make money on advertisements or affiliates or things of that nature by just spreading the word about products, you know, that you believe in. So once you create a certain amount of attention and following, there are are numerous ways that you can do that. And I know a lot of people that have made their side hustle their full-time hustle, and you can still participate in real estate, you can still be a loan officer by pursuing this thing. And in today’s day and age, entrepreneurship is, you know, obviously kind of a buzzword, you know, in the eighties and nineties, I mean, you didn’t have a job and then now it’s, you know, this this key to financial freedom. But for most of us it’s about really staying consistent and persistent over time. And as those things build up, it opens up so many opportunities. So the answer for those that haven’t built a brand yet is you need to spend a lot of time doing that and you’ll find all kinds of ways to monetize it. And whether you have a personal brand or not, you can invest in real estate and start doing the things that you’re teaching people to do already.
Yeah, I love that. I think that’s so good. And I’m gonna just throw this in cause I, you mentioned this, like you were just on a two and a half week jaunt around the country. And I think speaking would be one, it’s like, no, you’ve gotta have expertise and you have to have some stage presence. But how did you get into that? All right, so how did you make the transition from regional manager to podcast hosts to, you know, you’ve got content you’re speaking, so walk somebody through the trajectory of like, okay, this is what it really looks like if you’re interested.
Yeah, it was, it was a happy accident. You know, I started the podcast to build my region and all kinds of cool things happened because of that. I was able to speak on some panels at industry level conferences that you’re not necessarily getting paid for. They may cover your ticket to the event, but then you start networking with a lot of people. And I think there’s a ton of mortgage and real estate professionals right now, regardless of how big your business is, that has a specific area of expertise that you can reach out to industry events and say, Hey, I have a proficiency for this. I’d like to know, is there anywhere in your event where that makes sense for me to be a panelist or for me to have a little short spot where I can just kind of share this thing and, and have it very defined.
And then from there, as you start meeting other speakers and you start continuing with your craft, I’ve never been to an event where they’ve reached out to me to speak that they haven’t said, Hey, who else do you know that might be a fit mm-hmm.
I took a few workshops on showing up better in communication and speaking to where I, all of a sudden someone reached out and said, Hey, we want you to, you know, fly to this place and, and speak. We’re gonna cover your travel and your ticket. We can’t really pay you anything. But at that particular event, there was a Hall of Fame football player that spoke right after me and then Rudy Rudiger for the one for, for Rufi, if everybody’s seen the movie Rudy. And so it was me and then Darren Woodson, who’s a hall of fame cowboy football player and ESPN n commentator. And all of a sudden I’m like, okay, well I didn’t get paid for this event, but all of a sudden I’m on stage with these people and then it just turns into, you know, paid speaking gigs. And so there, there is a, a huge opportunity, especially for mortgage and real estate because there’s so many types of businesses within our business.
Not all real estate teams are the same. Not all mortgage teams are the same. So whatever your skill is, listen to podcasts on it, read books on it, get educated, take workshops, invest in yourself and then come up, here is what I’m good at. Here’s what I’m proficient, here’s what I love talking about that I can, I can bring some passion to and then literally start asking people to do that. I still will reach out to events and say, I all the speakers you have on there, I love what they’re doing. I have some friends on there, here’s where I think I can add value. And then there’s at the same time other places that reach out and say, we want you to come, you know, speak at our event. That’s become something I really enjoy doing and, and want to do a lot more of. And it, there’s, there’s opportunities for everybody, especially in this space to, to be able to do that as well.
I love that so much and I think that’s such a great reminder. And the number one thing that I gleamed from what you just shared is sometimes the best opportunities are not the ones that you get paid for. That’s right. But you’ve gotta be willing and you’ve gotta, you know, be a little opportunistic. Yes. And it’s like you’re gonna get paid eventually. You just may not get paid in that moment. And I yeah. Know so many people who are turning things down cuz it didn’t offer to pay. And I’m like, well, have you ever been paid before? No. Well, it’s like
And I, that is such a great reminder of like, man, the gift is in the practice. It’s in honing the skill, it’s in the networking, it’s with who you meet. It’s like that’s the gift. Like that’s how you get paid until one day you get paid even more.
Yes. So there’s, there’s two quick things that I wanna, I wanna put an exclamation point on that. The first one was I, this last two and a half weeks, I spoke eight times in five different cities. And as I came back and was kind of debriefing with, with my coach and my mentor a guy who’s done Ted Talks and, and has a very high speaking fee and, and really coaches me on this side of my business. And he was just asking me to kind of give my impression on it. And the first thing that came to mind is almost exactly what you just said. There were things that I learned throughout each of these hour long, you know, onstage me talking to an audience, you know speaking events. There’s things that I learned that I could only have learned by doing that thing.
And we need to remember that you can’t dial in something, you can’t get better at something, you can’t fix something that you’re not actively doing.
So good and such a good reminder to, to all of us. And I probably could come with like, come up with like five more questions that I’m like, I know everyone is gonna want to hear. However, we’re out of time. And so if you really want to learn more about what’s happening in the industry and how to build your personal brand to grow your business, diversify your income streams, then I would encourage you to go check Phil out at his website. You can go to phil treadwell.com, I will spell that out in the show notes, but it’s phil treadwell.com. You can also go follow him on all the social media sites, which is everything is at Phil Treadwell. So Instagram do you have a social media platform of choice that you want people to go to?
I mean, Instagram’s probably where I’m most active, but I’m active on all the socials. If you, if you DM me on one of the social media platforms, I’ll get it and I’ll respond.
Awesome. Phil, thank you so, so much for being here. So many good nuggets, so many good tips. And y’all, so much of this is transcends the real estate industry. This is just good business advice, but I think for this unique opportunity to serve the real estate mortgage professionals and our audience, this one’s for you. Stick around for my summary episode next and we’ll catch you next time on the influential personal brand.