01 May The Attention-Seeking Realtor.
The attention-seeking realtor.
You’re a realtor. You simply must have everyone’s attention.
From the cradle, a baby cries to get its mother’s attention. It’s automatic and hard-wired into all of us.
Look at me – Now – I need your attention, NOW!
And, generally, once we get that attention, we’re happy.
Until the next time. And the next.
Each occasion requiring us to re-enact what got us the attention in the first place.
For estate agents/realtors that comes, in its most basic form, through advertising, P.R, YouTube video, leaflets and the ubiquitous door-knocking. Each with a slight variance, to attempt differentiation, in a commodity marketplace.
There’s a whole industry built on the single premise of you never ‘growing up’.
Someone there to permanently hold your hand. As the hard-earned media budget slips through your tiny fingers.
Continuing with advertising that doesn’t work. With P.R that seeks to spin the truth into something else. With video marketing that requires more than herculean effort for your charming 5 minute video to stand out against the 500 hours of competing videos, uploaded within the very same minute. And, of course, door-knocking that requires other realtors not to do it. Pity the poor homeowner if they did. Forget the ‘ding-dong, Avon calling’ commercial. Avon wouldn’t get a look in if Keller Williams and a few others had their way. Ding-dong, on steroids.
The Attention Merchants, by Tim Wu, is the latest book on my reading list. My wife aside, recommended by perhaps the single biggest influence in my life. More so than Seth Godin. Than Gary Vaynerchuk. Than Nicolas Cole and Jay Heinrichs. More than Tony Robbins.
He’d disappeared from my horizon for a couple of years. We simply went our separate ways. Did I miss him? Hell, yes.
But now again, our paths cross. I listen to his latest podcast and, as a result,
The Attention Merchants.
It highlights the ephemeral nature of automatic attention.
The loud noise in the street. We pay attention. For a few seconds.
The headline in the paper that screams, ” Out-of-Date-Pasty Sold To Young Mum.”
The real estate T.V commercial that featured a flock of birds, going nowhere, with the strap line, “We’re starting a movement.” As with the commercial, that ate up their investors cash, the online estate agency went nowhere.
“Attention isn’t sufficient” said Seth Godin in his article, Successful Media.
“Attention – Enrollment – Trust – Permission: Too often, particularly online, people just worry about the first one.
It’s a race to go viral, to go low, to make a bunch of noise. The quick hits, the shortcut, the inflammation. But attention is insufficient. Enrollment means that your audience wants to go where you’re going”.
Enrollment. Said differently, controlled attention.
An audience that wants to go where you’re going.
We see it all the time, especially in T.V series.
A favorite of mine right now is riches to rags, Canadian sitcom, Schitt’$ Creek.
A stellar cast of characters from the wonderfully staid, generous and socially awkward patriarch, Johnny Rose, to his sarcastic, fashionista son David and the bubbly and bratty socialist sister, Alexis. We see all the characters grow in a slow evolution of love and hilarity. As the former billionaire-lifestyle family adapt to their new, impoverished circumstances, it becomes apparent that their wealth held them back from being the kind, loving people they always were.
Right from the start, viewers become hooked on the characters, rather than the story arc.
We connect with them first, as people we would like to know.
Not because of what they do, but because of who they are.
I’m forever rattling on about the need for emotion in real estate marketing. Making a vendor feel something.
Check out the award-winning six series of Schitt’$ Creek on Netflix if you want an example of emotional manipulation.
That controlled attention – where the character arc hooks us into the plot – is essential for real estate agents.
Automatic attention is fleeting.
Controlled, with intent, is where the vendor becomes hooked on your character as an agent and is prepared to follow your advice unquestioningly.
The simplest way to gain controlled attention is through personal brand and with story.
Personal brand illuminates who you are. Story leads the vendor to the logical conclusion.
We read/listen to feel first. Then to understand/learn.
Vendors that know, like and most importantly, trust you. Before you tell them how you do, what you do.
Far removed from the ‘shout ever louder’ philosophy of those agencies with deeper pockets and little interest in who they target.
If you don’t have a personal brand, as a realtor/estate agent, vendors sometimes might notice your agency.
Might pay attention for the eight seconds that a Microsoft consumer study of 2013 found. Less attention span than that of a goldfish. Just be aware – that trend from 12 seconds to just 8 seconds is getting shorter. To the extent that we’re now in almost the no-attention era.
The wealth of available information results in a poverty of attention. In a landscape littered with brands and media conglomerates attempting to connect with a new generation of audience, everything about your agency had better stand out.
Here’s what the media owners and media agencies are probably thinking, but won’t say to your face. Let’s not hesitate.
” There’s too much information out there. Most of it rubbish content and rubbish ads, We don’t blame you for making the effort to get attention – but, it’s not going to happen. Plus, we’ve nothing else to sell you except hope.”
Whether that’s Facebook ads, national press, T.V, email, local press, or billboards, less than eight seconds is all you have to make a vendor feel something.
It’s not impossible.
But your attempt at portraying the local housing market as anything other than dreary will likely be in vain.
The local property expert?
What will that make homeowners, the community overall, feel?
Nothing is the answer. It was a rhetorical and facetious comment.
They aren’t interested in how many homes sold. The average price achieved for a 4 bedroom detached home. What was the trend. Average days on the market. They can get all that information in two seconds from Google. Or, from asking the agents they invite to an appraisal. If you imagine that being seen as the expert somehow brings you advantage, think again. It brings you a few seconds of attention.
Competence is not your biggest strength.
There are realtors/estate agents out there just as competent. It’s not enough.
Your biggest strength is most often hidden away.
Your authenticity. Your originality. Your self-awareness. Your integrity. Your values.
Instead, an agent defaults to claiming competence. To being the best, whilst being unable to prove it.
Some, not many, attention-seeking realtors do mature. They embrace creativity and spontaneity. They deliberately do things differently. Why would they do anything else? Why would they lower themselves to compete when they are unique?
The others? They still, figuratively, have to learn to walk. They still seek attention. Wherever they can get it.
And whilst the majority of realtors are seeking that attention, the quick learners have figured out that they have to control the attention, once they’ve earned it. That they have a story to tell that inspires and compels the audience to follow.
Real estate isn’t for kids. It’s time realtors/agents stopped acting like that,
“I WANT A LEAD. SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE ME A LEAD. I’VE BEEN GOOD, WHERE’S MY LEAD?”
Time for them to reach adolescence and to attract attention through their character. Then, to control that attention with story.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear from you if you have a comment. Even from those that might consider throwing their dummy out of the pram:)
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Any questions on personal brand for realtors/estate agents, I’d love to help. My advice is always free.