04 Aug Prescriptive Writing is Killing Your Sales.
Prescriptive Writing is Killing Your Sales.
My guess is that you’re firmly in the Prescriptive Writer camp.
def: A set of rules about language based on how people think language should be used.
Right & wrong language, in other words. Commas in the right place, whatever they taught in school.
You’re an estate agent, after all.
A respected member of the community. Letters after your name. Some might even call you an ‘expert’, although that sobriquet has now somewhat lost allure.
The problem you have, and this may come as no surprise, is that you’re not made for creative writing.
So naturally you don’t.
Instead we get this waffle for a £500k+ home:
“comprises six well-appointed townhouses with flexible space providing ample accommodation to suit todays modern living.
These substantial townhouses offer two and three bedrooms, two and three bathrooms, some have study spaces perfect for working from home whilst others have laundry rooms.
Each property comes with secure parking within the gated courtyard.
Contact Us To Arrange A Viewing.”
That’s it? ‘Fraid so.
The prescriptive offering from an agency that some will mistake as one of Birmingham’s leading agencies.
Terms & conditions on an accountancy website have better inspired.
What’s dispiriting though is that copy is sales.
It’s meant to inspire and hook a reader. Not bore them to death.
Because one form of copy will turn some buyers on. The other, them off.
And even though your estate agency would ideally like to be ‘everything to everybody’, it’s not possible.
What you end up with is a vanilla blandness that leaves out the very thing your potential clients seek when they buy or sell a home – EMOTION.
Making them feel something.
Descriptive writing, on the other hand, seeks to paint a picture with words. Complementing the stunning pictures that your agency already has in place. Consider this from a well-known, leading Notting Hill estate agency. At the top of their game.
“This charming house manages to be at the centre of the Notting Hill universe, yet in a world of its own. The world passes by your front window, so you will never feel lonely, but the office (or playroom) at the back looks over your charming garden, in total peace. Cabin fever will be but a distant memory. The whole place is beautifully decorated, (no acres of white here, so refreshing), and the formal reception rooms are a delight.”
Grammatically correct, of course, but this time with feeling.
Visitors to any website have either visual, verbal or kinaesthetic preferences.
Great photos or great words make them ‘feel’ something.
Copy gives readers a sense of what your company stands for. Its tone of voice.
Tone of voice in writing can be anything your agency wants it to be. Professional, approachable, friendly, helpful. It’s your call. But bland & boring? Is that what you want to get across?
Things don’t improve, either, when we look at the About Us page on many agency sites.
The Prescriptive agency example above has this page header:
Why we’re Different.
Here’s the gist of why they’re deluded enough to think they’re different.
- High profile well located City offices
- Lots of Birmingham properties
- Lots of useful information, every property regardless of price features colour photographs
- Branded Mini’s
- Continuous training through the G.P.E.A
Not a simple About Us page, but the vague and boastful Why We’re Different!
They’re no different to hundreds of other estate agencies.
The work of an in-house marketing executive, or a copywriter that doesn’t truly understand an audience their agency seeks to attract. Either way, mediocre and uninspiring.
Contrast that with London agency, Foxtons.
- Our business ethics – Fee transparency, Complaint resolution, Strict codes of practice.
- As a local business, we have responsibility to the communities in which we operate and one of the most enjoyable parts of the job is meeting our neighbours and getting involved with local events.
- Foxtons is also proud to support a number of London’s most inspirational charities. Unanimously chosen by employees, Foxtons is dedicated to contributing towards their ongoing work into caring for our capital’s society. London’s Air Ambulance – UK Social Mobility Awards – Making The Leap – Veterans Aid – Gone for Good – Local Schools – Community events.
Targeted at the community they serve, it gets to the very heart of the culture within the business. Energetic, sociable & rewarding is how they describe their work environment. And yet, there is an underlying sense of giving something back to the community. A feeling of using their success to help others.
Not perfect by any means, but certainly not bland & boring.
So whilst your sales particulars describe the home, prescriptive copy often kills the moment.
The style of writing needs to be descriptive. Injecting a sense of joy, a sense of that passion that every agency claims for themselves.
If that means abandoning grammar to make a point, go with it.
Your vendors will thank you.
And if you’re not actually made for this creative writing stuff, get in touch.
Sneak a peek at our web site, www.andsothestorybegan.co.uk
There’s a form on the contact page that wings further information to your inbox about Personal Branding and the power of great storytelling. We’re happy to inject a sense of emotion into your bland and commoditised brand.
Thanks for reading.
If you would like to hear when I next post, simply fill in the form on the home page. No spam, no unsolicited calls, no messages.