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2008-03-24 17:38:00

Clients Want a Reason to Choose You - Give it to Them!

Picture it – You’re strolling the beach, foamy waves to your left, sand to your right.  

You decide to grace your office with a seashell paperweight.  As far as your eyes can see, sea shells in varying shades of white, cream, pink and tan scatter the shoreline, but amidst them is an odd-shaped shell in beautiful shades of orange and red.

Quick – Which shell do you select?

I’m betting most – if not all – readers will say the orange/red one.

Why? Because it stands out. It’s unique. It’s different.  And, because it’s different, you had a reason to choose it.  It gave you a reason to choose it, to feel smart about your selection.
And that’s what you have to do as a REALTOR®.

When I tell agents that they should offer unique information about how they do business and how they differ, many respond, “Why? Everyone knows what a REALTOR® does.”

Exactly my point! We all know the stereo type of what a REALTOR® does. Looking from the outside into the proverbial box of the real estate world, the public sees identical people doing identical jobs. You have to give them your out-of-box difference if you want to stand out and be remembered.

The Differences are Outside the Box

When vivid differences among REALTORS® are hard to find, prospects look for differences in what might seem to be trivial and inconsequential ways. They look for things that make an impression on them. They look for a reason to choose the REALTOR® they select. They want to feel smart in their decision.

How you position yourself makes all the difference.  For example, if you wanted to purchase a home on Cape Cod, who would you call first: Karen@GenericName.com, Dan@agency.com, or Stella@CapeCodHomeFinder.com? My guess is, all other things being equal, you’d choose to call Stella. She sounds like she specializes in that area. 

Services Need a Visual

When you refine your message to differentiate yourself, you automatically refine a visual too. Creating this visual is important because you’re selling a service, not a product.  Adding a visual to a service makes the service more familiar, more understandable.

A product is visual, tangible. You can see it, touch it, maybe even smell and taste it. A service, however, is intangible. A service does not even exist when you buy one. If you go to an accountant, you cannot see, touch or try out a tax return before you buy it. You order it. Then you get it. Prospects can visualize the house they want—the end result of your service; but they can’t visualize the service that gets them there. In most cases, prospects must buy a service touch, taste, feel, smell and sight unseen. That can be a scary thought.

So, unlike communicating about products, communicating about services must make the service visible, more tangible and real, and must soothe the concerned prospect. You can do this by the way you differentiate yourself and by how you talk about your services, especially in those initial 30 seconds.

Consider our example of Stella at CapeCodHomeFinder.com: Unlike Karen and Dan, the other two agents, we begin to get a visual of Stella working and driving around the Cape Cod area, becoming familiar with the houses, the terrain, the neighborhoods. Our visual of Karen and Dan, meanwhile, reveals two people trying to do everything for everybody and not specializing in anything in particular. You might not even picture them in Cape Cod. They could be selling homes anywhere. By and large, your service is invisible. It’s hard to sell the invisible. Instead, create visuals through specifics on how you differ from your competition.

To Broaden Your Appeal, Narrow Your Focus

In most service industries, and especially in real estate, there are a lot of look-alikes.

“Whoa,” you contend, “The way I offer my service is very different.” Sure, from your insider’s view it is. But to the generalist layperson out there (your market!), you look a lot like everyone else who works in real estate.

As such, the more alike two services appear, the more important each difference becomes. That’s why standing for one distinctive thing will give you a competitive advantage over the other look-alikes.

That thought scares many REALTORS®. Why? Because standing for one thing means you aren’t
standing for other things. You must sacrifice.

“Forget it! I can’t give up that business! I have to say I do this and that and this! I will lose opportunities!”

No, rather than sacrificing opportunities, a narrow focus often creates opportunities. You will actually broaden your appeal if you narrow your focus.

For example, do you listen when other service providers say they are leaders in their field? Are responsive and committed to excellence? Offer quality service? When a company pitches YOU that story, do you even listen? Do you jump right in and say, “Here’s my money. Let’s go!”

No, you don’t listen to clichés, and your clients won’t either.

Differentiate Yourself

Your focus, your distinction, your uniqueness could come from any of the following: hobbies, past times, unusual ways of doing business, organizations, successes, past experiences, passions, beliefs, traditions, physical traits, affiliations, unique education, charities, technology, volunteerism.

Let’s look at my favorite one on the list – technology. How can technology make you unique? Many of today’s buyers/sellers are – and most of tomorrow’s will be – tech savvy. They want to work with someone who can communicate with them in their language. This means, for example, one number that will reach you anywhere (find-me-follow-me). “You can reach me 24/7 on this one number.”  That’s a good visual! And, it sure beats the three or four numbers I see on most REALTORS®’ cards. Technology uniqueness could also mean bringing together voice, fax and web (unified messaging); web sites that are easy (or fun!) to maneuver; video tours with voice-over; podcasts and blogs; satellite mapping; email-to-fax capabilities; command of digital photography to edit more-perfect pictures; electronic signatures; and the list goes on.

The key is to identify your uniqueness, then to stick with it! As I note in my companion article, “How to Write a Compelling 30-Second Commercial—of Yourself!” you must repeat your message again and again. Marketing experts will tell you that prospects need to hear a message seven times before they accept it or remember it. Look at politics—if the news media repeats “dirt” about a politician often enough, people tend to believe it, whether proven true or not!

Bottom Line

Cleverness garners attention.  Familiarity breeds business. So, be clever in identifying your uniqueness, then make yourself familiar to prospects.

(Debra Traverso is the author of hundreds of articles and five books, published in eight languages, a speaker, marketing consultant for Fortune 50 companies, regular lecturer at Harvard University, and vice president of OneCall. She can be reached through www.makejustonecall.com.)

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