This broker/owner was thirty-something. He looked a lot like me. And sounded unlike any real estate executive I had ever spoken with.
I had asked him, in the course of a discovery meeting that kicks off many of our engagements, to answer a simple question:
“Why do you do what you do?”
His answer nearly made me cry. Or almost cry. I think I was successful in stifling visible signs of weepiness.
I am a hidebound skeptic. I have the emotional intelligence of linoleum. Handshakes top hugs in my book.
But this guy hacked his way past that. He did it with a simple and sincere soliloquy on the Dream of Homeownership.
The dream lives
I can’t replicate what he said here in detail without doing it harm, but I’ll share the broad strokes.
He decided he wanted to own a real estate company because he had always messed around with home projects as a kid. Homes we’re like chests of small treasures to sift through.
Homes were interesting.
As a young adult, he and his circle of friends were renters. They lived in a world of thinly spread white paint, exposed water heaters and cheap stoves. Houses with gardens into which personalities were never turned.
Then he bought a home. In a modest neighborhood.
And a funny thing happened.
All of his buddies started hanging out at his place. It became the center of their social world. Because it was his. Because he took the time to paint the walls with the things of his life. Because the yard became something he cared about.
Because, whatever rate, whatever price, whatever prospects for appreciation â€“ this was a home, a place where he (and, in time, a wife and daughter) would live, love, and take shelter.
They would care for it as an extension of themselves.
He’s doing what he’s doing to help other people feel that.
This firm’s target market is Gen X. Lots of first time buyers. In other words, people a lot like the owner and his partner.
They are their market. And their marketing will therefore be filled with a golden quality: empathy.
The story above, this “reason for doing what you do”, is real.
People respond to real.
We are going to help this company do great things. Not because we’re hot stuff, but because they also possess another quality that’s good as gold from a marketing perspective: confidence.
They understand that their vision, powerful as it may be, is not for everyone.
They will tell people if buying a home is not a great idea.
They will walk way.
They will deny themselves the easy few grand that no one would ever know they pocketed if it’s not right for the client.
They will continue to reject agents who don’t do the same.
You can’t do that unless you’re confident that what you do believe is real. That it will, over the long-term, see you through.
You might call this dialectical if you wanted to be fancy about it. But it’s really just good business.
Finding your own way
While others in this company’s market will be whining about the media questioning the value of homeownership, they’ll be lighting it up
While others will be parroting the plastic bullshit dropped on the marketplace from on high, they’ll be connecting with people down in the weeds who feel like no one in real estate speaks to their fears and aspirations.
They’re going to do it their way.
What is your way?
You’ve got to be good. Really good.
Here’s the bottom line: Data won’t save you, nor will technology. Recruiting people who can’t represent the meaning you create in your brand won’t either.
You’ve just got to be damn good at what you do. A good writer. A good thinker. A good marketer.
And you need to be able to articulate a vision strong enough to pierce the defenses of a weary customer.
A vision that’s your own.