Numbers Don’t Lie, But Wherein Lies the Truth?

Said with enough conviction, you can make almost anything sound true. Preface the fabrication with “according to a recent bi-partisan government study,” and you’re three quarters of the way to selling the lie to a lot of people. Seriously, try this.

The next time you’re at a dinner party or having coffee with friends, pepper this little tidbit into the conversation: “I read something really interesting the other day. According to a recent bi-partisan government study – I think it took them three years to get it all done – middle-aged men who drive either a Toyota Camry or a Honda Odyssey have more testosterone than younger men who drive either a Ford F150 or a Dodge Charger.” You’ll get some raised eyebrows and looks of mild disbelief, but don’t let that deter you. Just lift up your hands, palms outward, and say, “I just think it’s interesting, and it makes sense when you think about it” – and then change the subject to something completely unrelated. Guaranteed, your friends will repeat what you said in another setting no more than two or three days later: at the office, standing in line at the grocery store, overthrowing a Marxist regime in a third-world country, etc. It’ll take on a life of its own, believe me.

In the real estate and mortgage world, we’re driven by data – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We want to be sure we’re spending our time and resources wisely, so we want to know what’s been proven successful and where the next trend is going to take us. However, we have to be careful how we receive and interpret that data – it behooves us to do some digging and get to the heart of whatever piece of information is being shared with us. Here’s an example – and it’s true:

• A study conducted this summer revealed that an overwhelming majority of a person’s “digital time” is spent on a mobile device (smart phone).

If you took that at face value – there’s nothing false in what was stated – that might lead you to believe that you should devote all your marketing budget to mobile devices or that you should spend all your time house hunting only on your phone. Before you do anything hasty, here’s the statistic in its full-blown glory:

• A study conducted this summer revealed that 57% of a person’s “digital time” is spent on a mobile device with 32% spent on a computer and 11% spent on a tablet.

Nothing in the first statement was false or even misleading. A “majority” simply means the bigger half – the use of the adjective “overwhelming” is simple poetic license. However, if you took that statement to mean that you’re wasting your time on anything other than mobile devices, you’re cutting yourself out of exercising 43% of your options. If I’m an agent, I’d rather have 100 potential clients than just 57. If I’m looking to buy or sell my home, I’d rather have an agent who reaches 100 people than just 57.

For example, whether you’re an agent or a client, telling someone that you won’t entertain a VA loan offer because “they’re too complicated” or “they take too long”, you’re cutting out a large number of potential buyers – and you’ve obviously had a bad experience with the wrong lender because neither of those reasons is remotely true. There’s something to be said for the old saying, “You can’t be everything to everyone.” However, the more options you make available to yourself, the better off you’ll be. That’s simple logic – and you don’t need a bi-partisan government study to tell you that.

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