Is it Risky to do Business With You?
You might be stuck in a love-hate relationship with Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets, but there’s no denying that McDonald’s is successful, having celebrated their 50th anniversary a couple of years ago, with more than 31,000 restaurants worldwide.
You don’t have to be a fast-food McFreak, however, to appreciate the way McDonald’s positions and promotes itself. In other words, hate the food, but devour the marketing.
The problem is, ask five MBA professors to pinpoint McDonald’s biggest success strategy and you’ll get five different answers. One thing they do agree on, however, is that McDonald’s winning formula has removed the risk of buying (whether intentionally or not) because buyers know what they’re going to get and that has made all the difference. Removing the risk is a lesson we must learn in real estate too.
Early on, McDonald’s created a process-driven approach to delivering good quality (not great quality) at an amazing speed for a very low price. And, by applying the process uniformly throughout the chain, they removed the risk of eating in their restaurants. In other words, customers do not express their preference when they eat there as much as they eliminate their risk of having a bad experience elsewhere.
McDonald’s is a perfect example that most consumers aren’t worried about making the superior choice to handle their appetites and their business, but they are worried about making a bad choice. Specifically, getting into a relationship with the wrong service provider.
With that in mind, stop exhausting yourself in an attempt to be the superior agent (a lofty goal), and instead concentrate on being an excellent choice.
Avis Cuts to the Pace
Let’s look at another example: When Avis adopted the slogan “We’re second; we try harder,” business picked up dramatically. Avis acknowledged they weren’t the superior choice according to the numbers, and instead positioned themselves as an excellent choice. (Marketing historians even suggest that Hertz’s market dominance became a weakness as Avis became the 'right choice' in the minds of consumers.)
There’s a Pattern Here
Like Avis and McDonald’s, stop putting the "sell" in and, instead, take the fear out. Eliminate the risk of doing business with you, and you’ll become an excellent choice.
Prospects will feel smart in giving you their business. And isn’t smart how we all want to feel when we make a purchase or hire a service?
So how do you remove the risk? First, let’s look at how products do it. They offer warranties, free trials, rebates, money-back guarantees. Unfortunately, you can’t do that in real estate.
Clients must take on your service with loads of uncertainty and no guarantees. Even when a friend or acquaintance refers them to you, clients are still not sure what to expect. Thus, what you say, how you market, and how you differentiate yourself become very important in easing concerns. Together, they become the closest thing to what a product offers: a guarantee that the client will not need a warranty and have to suffer the claims process.
You Gotta’ Have Heart
Put yourself in your client’s shoes, then try these ideas for eliminating the risk of doing business with you:
- Identify the prospects’ concern. Whenever you discuss your services or prepare your marketing strategies, ask yourself, “What risks might a prospect see in hiring me?” Then, without reminding the prospect of those risks—which will only remind them of their concerns—eliminate the prospect’s fears, one by one. For example, statistics prove that most clients are concerned about the availability of their service providers; these providers could say: “Here’s my business card. You’ll notice that I have one number. With that unified messaging number you can phone and fax me anytime, anywhere, without having to figure out where I am. What I do is simply forward that number to wherever I am. If I can’t answer live, the service will still tell me immediately that you’ve called. I can even receive your messages online.” In other words, one number – always available. Now, compare that with a card that has four (or more!) contact numbers – oh, the confusion! How irritating!
- Identify the problem your service solves. For example, an agent addressing a group of entrepreneurs might say: “I help small business owners such as yourself find the perfect home. I know that it’s harder to get credit when you work for yourself. So, I’ve built my service with the assistance of several finance specialists who work with me on creative financing.” Now, compare that focused message with the message that you help anyone, anytime, anywhere under the sun because you are an expert in every aspect of real estate. If you’re a small business owner, which message appeals more to your fears?
Bottom line Remove the risk. Your clients will thank you.
(Debra Traverso is the author of hundreds of articles and five books, published in eight languages, a speaker, marketing consultant for Fortune 50 companies, a regular lecturer at Harvard University, and vice president of OneCall. She can be reached through www.makejustonecall.com.)