What to say

“What do I say, Mommy?”

My five-year-old asked me this last Friday as we fired up her first virtual play date with a friend from school she’d been missing a lot.

“Be yourself. Say what you need to say. Ask her how she’s doing.”


What do we say?

That moment with my little girl was a reminder that all of us right now — whether schoolmates, parents, siblings, colleagues, bosses, service providers or company leaders — are struggling with what to say.

This is especially amplified in business, where we know we need to say something, we need to keep marketing, we need to continue marching forward, but we’re all looking around thinking, but what?

We are in a rare situation that requires all of us to be more ourselves, to show a little more vulnerability, to keep moving and yet stop “business as usual” long enough to listen to and understand the context of the words we now use.

Having a clear message with a clear point of view that is helpful and relevant to our core mission and our customer’s current realities has never been more critical. We don’t have to stop marketing or building business, but we do have to think harder about what we can and do offer as it relates to the state of the world around us. 

Our message, as real estate people in a pandemic and economic crisis, can’t be pulled from a bucket of generic content marketing tips. It can’t be frivolous or the usual pile on of what everyone else is saying.

Our message right now can’t try to sell something that either ignores the elephant in the room or is squarely positioned to take advantage of it.

What we say and do needs to be clear, human and valuable. It needs to be focused exclusively on the customer’s needs.

Some thoughts for you:

If you lead a company, what are your people asking themselves as they lay in bed at night wondering about their job stability? Message to that. 

If you have a product, what are your customers thinking as they weigh the cost of what you provide against the prospect of not having any business the next few months? Message to that. (Sans desperation, of course.)

If you’re an agent who had to freeze transactions with buyers and sellers, reach out and see how they’re doing, ask what specifically they are worried about and figure it out for them.

You’ll never have people’s attention the way you have it right now. Ask yourself how you want to be remembered a year from now coming out of this. Use that answer to guide what you say.

Also, keep in mind that in uncertain times like these it’s more than OK to say you don’t know. In fact, I think we all benefit a lot from admitting we don’t know about a lot of things rather than pretending.

Now is not a time for egos or formalities. Terrible things are happening. What’s going to make it all OK is knowing we’re all human and we’re all here in the same place experiencing this big thing together (albeit apart).

Message to that.