As I sat at the local marketing session sponsored by my Realtor® association a few weeks ago, I listened as those agents who were holding their properties open pitched their listings in hopes that the agents would stop by and preview the homes. Some agents offered perks such as a free lunch—one was even offering a lobster rolls flown in from Boston. Another was offering entry into a raffle for a department store gift card. At a third home, the seller was offering a large cash bonus to the buyer’s agent, and the fourth home was offering the buyer a one-year lease on a car if the home closed prior to the end of the month.
Instead of focusing on the session itself, after hearing these offers my mind began to wander. Is that what it takes to get people in the door these days? Do we actually need to bribe or entice people to get them to do what we want?
“Start With Why”
In his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek asserts that when you start with why (instead of what or how) your message will have a significantly greater impact. He gives examples of huge companies (such as TiVo, for example) that have had excellent products but who have grossly missed the mark by not leading with why. Put simply, he points out that most people who use the word “tivo” to describe the fact that they are recording a movie (saying I tivoed it) don’t even own a TiVo machine, but instead have a digital video recorder from their local cable company.
Sinek also suggests that if the “why” is strong enough, you don’t need to discount your products. Your followers, consumers, or clients will come back and use your product of service again and again. If your “why” connects with your clients or customers, they will become your biggest referral source. In fact, Sinek points out, that some of your biggest fans will go out of their way and ignore any inconvenience if they really like your “why.”
On the other hand, when you offer a discounted price (a cash bonus or even a one year lease on a car), you are not addressing your biggest group of followers. Instead, you are groveling to find someone (anyone) to buy your product or use your service. You have, in essence, thrown in the towel. You’re actions imply that you have no “why” and so you have resorted to attracting anyone by throwing metaphorical spaghetti to the wall.
How Sinek’s Principles Apply to the Real Estate Industry
The implications of Sinek’s principles to the real estate industry are interesting. Every seller is looking for top dollar on his or her home. Every buyer is looking to get the best deal that they can. So, how can you overcome this challenge in order to get homes sold and deals closed and still embrace the “why”?
The answer is in the marketing. According to Sinek, people generally have difficulties in articulating feelings. For example, some people cannot explain why they love something; they just do. However, feelings are most often part of “why.” For many people, you buy a home because of how it makes you feel—how you think you are going to feel hanging out with the family in the yard on hot summer nights or how much fun those pool parties will be for the kids. Sure, it’s in the right school district or near the right supermarket, but how does it make you feel? If listing agents would spend less time on listing the benefits and features and more time on leading with what buyers will feel when they live in this home, the conversion will be easy.
Two ways to achieve this goal are through photography and copywriting.
- Photography. Hire a professional photographer to showcase the home and put together professional advertising that demonstrates how prospective buyers will feel when they are by the pool, at the barbecue pit, or relaxing in the family room. When you lead with why, you won’t need to give away the farm.
- Copywriting. If you are not a strong writer, hire a copywriter to generate your marketing copy. Think outside the box and challenge yourself or your copywriter to avoid the same old advertising text. How can your marketing materials inspire individuals to feel something different about your property listing or even about you as a real estate professional?
It may be a struggle to come up with an answer to these questions and to rethink the traditional things that you do in order to drive people to your listings. Realize, however, that as you continue to discount your services more and more, you attract a very different type of client or customer. If you want to create a lifelong pipeline filled with people who will refer you over and over again, you need to quite offering a coupon or a discount and instead you need to start with “why.”