Preaching to the Choir
Whatever you like to do in your spare time (keep it legal), I would like to recommend that you carve out a little time to read a book called All Marketers Tell Stories by Seth Godin. You’ll enjoy it, I promise, but if you don’t, send a letter to Mr. Godin instead of sending one to me.
From the book jacket, we read, “All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche Cayenne is vastly superior to a $36,000 VW Touareg, even if it is virtually the same car. We believe that $225 Pumas will make our feet feel better – and look cooler – than $20 no names . . . and believing it makes it true.”
No major “aha” moment in that piece, right, but it did make me think of our industry. As real estate and mortgage professionals, we do this to some extent all the time – and there’s nothing wrong with that. For example, an agent is showing a home that has breathtaking views to her client and notices that he has that same look in his eye that a young man gets when he’s fallen in love (or lust). The agent knows it’s time to seal the deal on the house, but the client asks one last question in something akin to a hormone-infused stupor: “How are the schools in the area?”
If the local schools were notorious for churning out criminals, meth heads, and homicidal maniacs all the while breaking records for the lowest graduation rates in the state four years in a row, an ethical agent wouldn’t evade the truth and just tell a fluffy story. However, if the schools were just average, she’s not going to say, “Meh, they’re average.” She’s going to tell a wonderful (true) story about how three of her friends graduated from the local high school and went on to have very productive lives,and the client’s going to believe her because he WANTS it to be true. He really couldn’t care less that the agent’s friends, alumni of the local high school, are productive members of society.
Mr. Godin goes on to say that to be a successful marketer, confine your efforts to those people who share your world view (his words) rather than trying to convert people over to your way of thinking. The moment I read that little piece of advice, the words “preaching to the choir” immediately popped into my head, but it made sense. In our industry, many of us spend time, energy, and money on trying to convince people living in apartments that they’ll be better off if they gave notice to their landlords and bought a house. We have the numbers to PROVE how wise a move that would be, right? However, Seth (I feel I’m on a first-name basis with him now) tells us that we should leave the converting up to our customers and keep marketing to the people who are already singing our tune. He adds that when someone is already converted to our world view (usually through the efforts of a friend), they’ll embrace our stories and buy what we have to sell; buyer’s remorse doesn’t exist.
Whether you’re reading this while sipping wine from a $20 glass or a $1 mug, this much is true: this one little tweak to our marketing can make a huge difference. We may not save enough money to trade in our Touaregfor a Cayenne (or buy a Touaregfor that matter), but we’ll look and feel cooler regardless of the shoes we’re wearing.