If you are anything like me, you watched Kanye West’s 11-minute rant at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) last month and thought to yourself, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Why is this guy still on stage?” But, if you are anything like me, you also didn’t turn him off. How did Kanye grab my attention for 11 minutes? Better yet, how does he continually grab the media’s attention day after day, year after year? I’ll give you a hint: It isn’t his musical ability. Kanye has proven himself to be a marketing and branding genius.
Good, bad or indifferent, Kanye West’s antics have skyrocketed him to the limelight and have provided us a blueprint for growing our real estate businesses.
1. Portray absolute confidence
Comedian Dave Chappelle speaks of his first encounter with Kanye West as being hilariously arrogant. Chappelle said West was a brand new rapper that he had never heard of but who ended up on the set of Chappelle’s TV show while it was filming. At one point, Chappelle overheard a friend ask Kanye how he got the opportunity to be on set while filming “Chappelle’s Show,” and Kanye replied, “Because I’m dope, and I do dope sh*t.” (Translation for our older demographic: “I am a very nifty guy. Thus, I have the opportunity to do incredible things.”)
Building a real estate practice requires the same unparalleled confidence in yourself and your ability to be successful. Well before you ever have a resume that supports certain self-assurance, believe in yourself and the future you plan to create — and act as if it has already happened.
2. Be your brand
As a real estate agent, you are your product. You don’t sell houses; you sell yourself. Because if you don’t first sell yourself in a listing or buyer presentation, you’ll never be given the chance to sell a house.
Look at the way Kanye West has become his brand. He doesn’t just create music and then sit back while his record label sells albums. He owns his image and utilizes media to create a name for himself. As Jay-Z puts it, “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.”
3. Create a strategic partnership
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, Kanye West married reality TV star Kim Kardashian. I’m sure they married for love, but on the off chance they didn’t — seeing as how Kim’s last marriage ended before the milk in my fridge went bad — they certainly partnered well for press coverage. Suddenly Kim’s fans are now following Kanye and vice-versa. In fact, because of the overlapping of fans their wedding picture became the most-liked picture on Instagram with 2.4 million likes.
Strategic partnerships are often the difference between good and great. I’m not advocating marrying a Kardashian for increased media coverage, but by partnering with a local non-profit or correlating business you can instantly double your sphere of influence. This works especially well for guest lists while hosting events.
4. Stay relevant — all the time
Kanye West finished his VMA acceptance speech last month with, “I have decided in 2020 to run for president.” Only minutes later, the social media world was buzzing with #Kanye2020. It doesn’t matter that he was kidding (or the fact that my fingers were trembling even typing “Kanye West for president”), he gave people something to chatter about socially. He gave the world a reason to mention his name — a constant with this self-proclaimed Yeezus.
For real estate professionals, this relevance will look different. It is unlikely that we will ever trend on Twitter, but we could certainly host an event or write an article in a local newspaper. Better yet, have fun with it and do something that makes people laugh. The point is to push yourself into new positions, opportunities and roles continually that will give people a reason to talk about you.
5. Don’t just do it for the money
An executive friend of mine said that it’s easy to get his salesmen to make $100,000 a year, but it’s nearly impossible to get them any further. He found that once people get to a place of comfort financially, their true motivations become evident. Do they persist in the grind and continue to learn and excel as a person, or do they settle in and get comfortable where they are?
I can assure you that Kanye West has enough money to buy a private island and retire on the sand. So what pushes him to continue to make music, begin new ventures and remain in the public eye?
He strives for greatness that is out of this world. As Kanye puts it, “I think I do myself a disservice comparing myself to Steve Jobs and Walt Disney and human beings that we’ve seen before. It should be more like Willy Wonka … and welcome to my chocolate factory.” As sickeningly arrogant as that statement is, I am impressed by the inner drive that is offended by the comparison to greats such as Steve Jobs.
Rapper has mastered the art of branding himself
Kanye West pushes the expression “There is no such thing as bad press” much further than I would feel comfortable doing. However, I look at what a mediocre musician has done in building his brand identity and know there are implications we can transfer in real estate.
So dare I say that Kanye West is my mentor? Lord, have mercy.