Marketing

Stop with the name game

Author
Marc Davison
No.
165
Date
03/03/08

Once, only the best young athletes received trophies.
Now every player
get one.
They have all been deemed superstars.

The trophies have
come to mean nothing.

Abracadabra

At John L. Scott, agents
are now referred to as "Real Estate Specialists". According to Lennox Scott, in a session at last Summer’s Real Estate Connect conference, "Our agents are
known and trusted through our relationships. We’re respected and valued through
our competency taking it up to new levels through professional development." Lennox considers this a "paradigm shift of heightened proportions". 

I don’t.

Realty Executives
International
has taken a similar route. When you join their organization, you
are no longer an agent. Abracadabra: You’re an
executive. They
believe, I suppose, that the American consumer would rather conduct their estate business with an
"executive" than a real estate agent. Maybe they are right. But if every agent is an executive or can become one by just joining the firm, at what point does that term begin to mean nothing too?

What’s wrong with
calling them salespeople?

Brad Inman, in the same session, asked,
"What’s wrong with just calling them salesmen? Isn’t that what we really
want when we hire an agent? Someone to sell our house? What’s going on
here?"

Agents are sales people. And isn’t this a transparent, honest, accurate
term that every consumer understands? Doesn’t it accurately describe what the consumer is actually looking for? Why mess with a perfect thing?

The problem with calling everyone an "executive" or "specialist" is that in many cases it’s a lie. Not every agent is one. Some are. Many aren’t. In a time when transparency is heralded as an ideal such euphemistic "paradigm shifting" is not all that heightened. I can’t imagine those agents who have spent a lifetime cultivating successful careers by virtue of education, experience and diligence think so either.

I also think the brands advancing such titles are also damaged by the sheer hyperbole of these appellations. After all, not all kids are superstar players and not all company agents are professional executive specialists. John L. Scott knows that, Realty Executives knows that and, psst… the consumer knows that too.

Nevertheless, this artistic license continues to perpetuate itself. Anything goes I guess. Anyone can wave a wand, pull the curtain away, and — boom … a specialist or executive is born.

Stop with the name game

Agent. Salesperson. These are noble designations. They are truthful. They are dignified. If you think the term "salesperson" carries a stigma, think hard about whether or not that really has anything to do with American’s low regard for the real estate industry right now. Think about whether or not these shallow and superficial attempts are the right fix.

Today, there is something profoundly righteous — and effective — about being who you are. About not wrapping yourself in the gauze of tone deaf marketing. About being a company that levels with it’s marketplace.

A real paradigm shift would involve making it clear who in real estate is really a doctor and who is a physician’s assistant, who is a rookie and who is a time-tested professional.

Davison