Branding

A love letter to your customer

Author
Marc Davison
No.
868
Please excuse the mess. This page is currently under construction.

Ask real estate people why they got into this business. “I love helping people” is a common response. That reason feels like a great starting place for marketing copy.

But that rarely happens.

If you want people to love you, show them how much you love them

Over the years, we’ve hammered home the importance of design, image quality and content. All things that engender a good user experience.

But your customers expect that. Like a doormat by the front door or a greeting card sent to a loved one on a special day. These things convey intent, but they require the right words to show the truest sentiments behind that intent. Hence, the word Welcome printed in bold on the doormat, and your own words added to the greeting card.

A website is no different. It requires words – the right words – to become something other than a generic Hallmark card.

Consider this: You do great things. You do what you do because you believe in something real. Everything you’ve done in business has been defined by that value and belief.

Yet all too often the real estate industry laments over the love lost on consumers.

While many of you invest heavily in your website’s content, architecture and design, you often miss the cherry of great copy on top – the words used to emotionally connect with and move your customers to action.

NAR provides a great example of what I mean:

NAR homepage

Realtor.org houses the association’s history of lobbying for important consumer housing rights and its representation of a million hardworking members that support its causes. These are actions worthy of making the Realtor brand lovable. But they are missing here.

Visitors could spend a few hours digging through the site to discover NAR’s good, but few people will do that.

A simple, strong statement that expresses the care, commitment and values that fuel the brand’s intention could accomplish a lot here. Something like:

NAR. Creating a better real estate industry for everyone.
NAR. Protecting your dream of homeownership.  
NAR. Shelter is an inalienable human right. We exist to keep it affordable and attainable for all.  

Copy of this sort immediately answers the visitor’s top two questions: what is NAR and why should I care? It sets the stage for everything else the site has to offer.

If you think this is a bit much for an association, look at the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees’ homepage.

IA homepage

They exalt their members. As a result, their members love them back.

Digital hug

At some point, we’ve all been told a website is and should be a place to collect and convert leads, a content warehouse architected and designed to deliver a great user experience across all devices.

All true. 

But a website can also be your love letter to your customer. A digital hug.

The welcome copy on Zendesk‘s homepage strikes a perfect balance between what they do and why they do it. They’ve added a human side to what otherwise is simply software.

Zendesk
Scroll down the site. This bit of copy projects even more of Zendesk’s human side:

zendesk2

Uber’s headline does the most important thing copy can do – it acknowledges who the user wants to be and positions the brand as the deliverer of that reality.

uber

Scan the product name and detail copy used to describe this garment on ModCloth:

modcloth

This is marketing and branding of the highest order. Every retailer sells clothing. Modcloth is a storyteller. Artisan. Painter of life experiences. They curate garments that suit the wonderful lives they wish their customers to have.

Missed opportunities

This past weekend, I viewed every major brokerage website in New York City hoping to find one that uses real words to do this for its users. I was searching for headlines riddled with the heart- on-the-sleeve, in-your-face personality that’s baked into every New Yorker I know.

I came up empty handed. Some had declarative statements about who or what they are. None answered the why, which matters so much more.

Just listed. Quick search. Integrity. Log in. Generic phrases and words used by every real estate brand. Sure, they serve a function, but they also display of a lack of creativity or care for how they want people to perceive their brand.

Imagine if one of these New York sites offered a twist on Quick search and instead used Search New Yawk Listings as the replacement copy. For me, being born and raised there, it would have triggered a smile and created an emotional connection.

The opportunity isn’t relegated only to position copy. It lives in areas across a website that you may have never considered.

Corcoran (and many others), whose website is noted for its usability, fell into a conventional copy trap. Note the category heading below: Featured Open Houses.

corcoran

The salient point beyond it being too generic for a company with a powerful brand heritage is that NYC residents typically don’t live in “houses.” We call them condos, co-ops and apartments. An alternate phrase, Featured Open Condos would’ve shown a commonality in language with their customer and their market.

Given their efforts in branding themselves as a local New York City company, it’s the little things like this that drive that brand point home.

Words

At 1000watt, when we first meet with clients, we spend a couple days onsite at their offices. We listen to how they speak. We note how the words they use make us feel. We spend time in the community and listen.

The words we hear dangle before us waiting their turn to be grafted into the client’s copy.

When these words and phrases are read, they resonate. They cause readers – customers – to ponder. Daydream. Smile. Chuckle. They make them feel good. And liked.

Then a funny thing happens. When you make people feel that way, they extend those very same sentiments back on you.

Remember that next time you’re wondering why the lack of customer love toward real estate.

First, you have to initiate the romance.