With many cities’ housing markets losing momentum, sellers are facing an increasingly competitive playing field and may have to work harder to convince potential buyers to part with their money.
But what if sellers could beat the slowdown by applying marketing techniques used by well-known brands? Since real estate agents consistently fare poorly in trustworthiness surveys (including Australian Reader’s Digest’s Most Trusted Professions 2013 poll, which ranked them just one place above prostitutes), the injection of fresh ideas into the property industry is probably well overdue.
As a seller, if you did decide to apply the marketing practices of the world’s top companies, the place to start would be analyzing the market, including your competition. Every successful company’s strategy is formed in part by conducting detailed competitive analysis – and that’s exactly what you’d need to do too.
The most effective way to accomplish this would be to attend sale inspections for houses similar to your own in the area. You’d need to take rigorous mental notes; just as high street retailers send secret shoppers to spy on competing stores, this is your best chance to see what you’re up against. What is the seller doing that you’re not (good and bad)? Steal the good ideas and be sure not to repeat the competition’s mistakes.
Property inspections are also your best chance to discover your target market. Imagine knowing exactly who’ll be walking through your door before they even reach your front step? This is your opportunity to see who’s in the market for a place like yours. And who knows, your preconceptions may be way off base – the bachelor pad you thought you were selling might actually be an ideal starter home for a small family.
Talk to prospective buyers at the inspections and see what they like and dislike about the property. They’ll probably point out things you missed, and you may find you were the lone admirer of that burnt orange feature wall. Don’t rely on your agent to tell you about the market, get out there and see its human face for yourself.
Keep an eye on the property in the following weeks – its sale price and time on the market will tell you if your asking price matches your target audience’s expectations.
Telling Your Brand Story
Well-known brands work tirelessly on their image and are constantly finding new ways to enhance brand sentiment amongst their target audience. Storytelling is an exceptionally effective way to do this, as Lois Geller of Lois Geller Marketing Group wrote in Forbes: “We marketed American Express Car Insurance for a while, and used a woman’s actual story as the main letter in the mailing. Her story was genuine, all about moving to a new city, getting into an accident and American Express taking care of it immediately.
“All the details of the story resonated with the reader, and we lifted response rate for the product by about 35%.”
It’s a technique that’s designed to shift a consumer’s purchase decision-making process from logical to emotional. And it’s the secret weapon to selling your property.
While your competitors rely on their real estate agent’s rhetoric and sales spin, you can sell your home’s actual backstory. Armed with your reconnaissance material, you’ll be able to paint a rosy picture of happy memories that will resonate with your audience.
But be warned – this approach is not for the faint of heart.
Firstly, you’d be violating one of the cardinal unwritten rules of real estate – that sellers should never be present at viewings. Many home owners become defensive and inflexible during inspections, treating prospective buyers like home invaders. They may bark at questions or unnerve viewers with stink-eyes and tightly-folded arms. They may even appoint themselves prison warden, ensuring prospective buyers file through the house in an orderly chain-gang-fashion.
You, on the other hand, will need to be the model ambassador for your home’s brand, of which you are an integral part. Smile. Keep out of people’s way. Stand up straight. Make sure you’re well-dressed. If you look happy and contented, prospective buyers will stop seeing the property as a house and start seeing is a home.
Here’s the tricky part though – it’s imperative you don’t get caught up in the emotion of the story yourself. Recount your home’s narrative enthusiastically, but at your core, you’ll need to be a rock of business shrewdness – a cool-headed salesperson who’s shifting a brick-and-mortar asset. Remember that while your audience wants to hear your home’s colorful story, turning into a sobbing mess will turn them off completely. Mastering this art is no easy task, so if you have any doubts, leave the inspections in the agent’s hands.
Get Your Storefront Shipshape
The other essential side to reflecting your brand’s premium nature is by making sure your storefront reflects this. Think of your house like it’s an Apple store. Everyone who walks within fifty feet of your storefront must be enticed by its visual appeal. And that’s not going to happen if your brickwork is crumbling and your wood rotting.
So paint anything that needs painting. Repair your garage door if it’s falling off its hinges.
Make sure your home security is up to scratch, but be wary that there’s a fine balance involved; your home should look secure in a way that puts buyers’ minds at ease. The ‘Fort Knox look’ will lead to conclusions that it’s a bad neighbourhood or that you’ve previously had break-ins.
Justin Booth, Sales Manager for Barry Plant real estate believes these kinds of cosmetic improvements are especially important for higher-value homes: “I tend to recommend work like this for tenders seeking an above average sale price.”
Close the Loop
And when it comes to the final sale, be a fearless negotiator. You’ve scoped out the competition and worked hard to present your brand in the best light possible – now it’s time to push the deal through on your terms and reap the rewards