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Brand management is critical IMHO, I agree completely that a strong brand and strong agent = success. Consumers may pick you because of you, but in most cases the favorable recognition of the brand is what allows you to start the conversation in the first place. A strong brand will open many doors for its agents
Yes and yes, if the company is incurring cost to set up and operate a full features consumer centric site then a return in the investment is warranted. For every lead you collect a referral fee on, there are countless others that will contact agents directly from your site as well, which in the end leads to more closed business for all
I'm always interested when things devolve into a "big brand vs. no brand" conversation. Jim, if the balloon does little or nothing for you, why do you pay them? Barb, I think you are exactly right, strong brand+strong agent=win.
If it weren't for your online presence, I would never have heard of Nextage. I think a brand absolutely needs to establish itself online, provide guidance (training, etc) on using SM effectively, and assist the local and regional entities in leveraging the nation online presence.