06 Jun What’s Really Missing From Estate Agency?
What’s really missing from estate agency?
Six seasons, eighty episodes of my favorite TV show, the comedy Schitt$ Creek, had come to an end. I’d watched every episode. More than once. And, just when the withdrawal symptoms had all but disappeared, along comes a documentary that takes an inside look at the making of the final season of this acclaimed comedy.
Conceived and produced by father & son actors, Eugene and Daniel Levy, everything that’s missing from real estate can be found in this one illuminating Netflix documentary.
“It’s a character-based comedy. You want an emotional investment in the characters.” – Eugene Levy.
That’s it, right there – that’s what is really missing from estate agency.
Emotional investment in the character.
“We’d worked on the back story for weeks, to the point where it was, Dad, can we just move on? He was like, No, we can’t move on until we know exactly who these people are.” – Daniel Levy.
Turning what might have been a moderately successful series into a stupendous hit.
The characters make the show. That emotional investment in the characters makes the viewer want to follow their journey. Episode by episode. Right to the very end.
“Zero to sixty. The thing we all try to do. In books, in art, in music, which is by the end of page 1, you’re emotionally bought-in. You’re hooked, you relate to this character, you feel for him, you have empathy. It’s a zero to sixty emotional buy-in. That’s very rare.” – Edward Norton, Actor.
I’ve long advocated that estate agents use story to build an audience. And that the story arc should be episodic. Each episode culminating in a cliff-hanger to inflame the viewer/listener/reader’s curiosity.
So preferable to advertising the Free Valuation on a leaflet that gets filed under W.P.B. Or, incessant re-targeting from a site that wasn’t of interest and which is now becoming a creepy nuisance with its persistent stalking.
Story is the past, present and future of real estate – no matter how much agents try to ignore it.
They’re telling themselves a story in every moment of their working lives.
Always have. always will. It’s just that some share story with intent, whilst others have it told for them.
Told how to think. What to say.
Particularly What to say when people tell them No.
Character is my defining quality for any estate agent/realtor.
Don’t tell me you’re passionate. Don’t tell me you’re determined.
Tell me what made you so. And what other values you bring to the party.
So much more than whether, or not, the initials M.N.A.E.A follow your surname.
I’ve had competence up to here.
The country is over-endowed with competent agents. All perfectly capable of doing the job that I require of them.
What’s in question, though, is whether I can trust any.
They have such a poor public perception, didn’t you know?
And the only way to cut though that perception is with the agent making some of that emotional investment.
Which shouldn’t be difficult.
“We are feeling creatures who think – not the thinking creatures who feel, we like to believe we are.” – Jill Bolte Taylor.
Adding to the emotional investment of the characters, Daniel Levy then explained how casting is often difficult.
“Our cast came in and sat so firm in those roles – they knew exactly who they were from day one.”
This wasn’t, however, a stellar cast. Aside from Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, most had limited experience of a long running T.V series.
Annie Murphy, who plays Alexis Rose hadn’t worked in two years.
Jennifer Robertson, who plays the part of Jocelyn Schitt had, the day before she landed the role, “filled out an online application to stack shelves in a supermarket, but realized she needed to drive a fork-lift truck for the job.”
David Levy had experience of T.V, but not much of acting. He’s a revelation.
It wasn’t past competence that won them the roles. They were simply a perfect fit for the roles that they were to make their own.
So for realtors/estate agents, it matters little that you’re up against the #1 realtor in your area. If you’re the perfect fit for that vendor, it will play out. If – they know who you are.
Another fascinating insight into character arc was when Daniel Levy mentioned wardrobe.
“Wardrobe is probably the most important element in storytelling, outside of actual writing, because we, as people, say so much about who we are and what we believe in, what we want, what we think of ourselves, by the way we dress. People look at you differently.”
It’s a common question in real estate. Should I wear a suit and tie? How should I dress?
There’s the stereotypical look, of course. The shiny suit and obligatory Beemer set of wheels.
Is that really who you are?
More pertinent, is that how you wish to be seen?
If jeans and a designer shirt are more in keeping, wear that.
It demonstrates authenticity – fundamental, in standing out.
Then, to end. This from film director, Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Vanilla Sky).
“Nothing happened too soon and the love that started to come in was well earned. Every line is classic, so well written, but they take the time to give you the moments between the lines.”
It’s those moments between the lines that resonate.
Daniel Levy, wringing every last drop of emotion from his facial expressions.
Disgust, sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise and his signature-look – that of contempt.
An acting masterclass.
What to take from all of this?
Estate agency has a few memorable characters, but to quote from the series they….
“kind of blend into the background. Like a smoke alarm.”
For the most part, agents don’t stand out. They’re not memorable. As a consequence, they’re forever having to sell themselves and their agency, anew.
It’s as if they have had all the emotion drained out of them and what’s left is an anemic shell of a realtor. Professing their competence, but with no way of knowing whether they’re telling the truth.
If there’s no emotional investment in the character of a T.V series, it’s unlikely to prove a hit. If there’s no emotional investment in the character of agents within your firm, there’s no way for a vendor to tell them, and your competitors, apart.
That’s what’s really missing from estate agency.
It’s easily fixed. And, for the most part free to fix.
What’s not to like?
Thanks, as always, for reading.
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Any questions, or comments, on personal brand/story, let me know. I’m happy to help.
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