By Bubba Mills for Forbes
If you were faced with the largest financial transaction of your life, how would you go about choosing who you want to help you? Every real estate agent should spend plenty of time pondering this question because it is essentially the foundation of your marketing. Of course, real estate agents understand better than most the importance of a solid foundation for a home. And the same is absolutely true about the foundation of a marketing plan.
Understanding consumer emotions is that foundation. Because it turns out, emotions are vital in sales scenarios — and real estate is no exception.
First, let's look at what's going on inside the head of a potential real estate client, be it a buyer or seller. Both are fraught with a chaotic tangle of emotions: fear, uncertainty, excitement, boredom, frustration and many more.
It's no big surprise that research tells us that consumers are more likely to act (buy/choose) when they're experiencing more positive emotions — feeling happy, excited, cheerful, etc. And remember this: Consumers buy because of what they're feeling — not necessarily because of what they're thinking. Plus, positive moods also increase consumers' willingness to seek variety and try new things.
So how can you move prospects' emotional meters toward the positive emotions that increase the chances of them saying yes? What can you do specifically to trigger the emotions and feelings that lead potential clients to see you in a favorable light and, more importantly, take action and choose you as their real estate agent?
Here are six things that I believe you can start doing today to improve your sales numbers:
1. Know your target.
There's no need for 10 commandments in marketing — just this one is enough: Know your target.
Companies have invested billions into understanding consumers. In fact, one has just unveiled a kind of smartwatch that can pinpoint the exact moment consumers feel subconscious responses in a sales situation. The goal is to help marketers refine their products and services so that they're more emotionally appealing to consumers.
Today it’s easier than ever to survey consumers to gain a better understanding of what they’re thinking about real estate. SurveyMonkey is one customizable tool that helps. But it also pays to take time to talk face-to-face with prospective buyers at your open houses to get their pulse on real estate related issues.
2. Build surprise and delight.
Sure, people complain when things go wrong. But they also talk when they're surprised or delighted. To build positive word-of-mouth, go above and beyond with your service. If you know of a real estate agent who's known for extraordinary service, take your service one or even two steps beyond what he or she is doing. When you surprise and delight, you build positive emotions. And you'll be surprised and delighted at how much it will help your business. For example, for every buyer that I represented, I had my preferred lawn company mow their lawn for free within 48 hours of moving in.
3. Build familiarity.
The more familiar you are in the eyes of prospects, the better. That's why marketing and advertising exist in the first place — one of their primary purposes is to build familiarity. Consumers almost always go with the familiar over the strange and unfamiliar.
Fortunately, today it's much easier to build that familiarity because of the web and specifically, social media. I recommend adding a healthy dose of social media to your marketing efforts by posting helpful, useful information that paints you as an expert. In short, be human and relateable. Remember, you want to build positive emotions.
4. Build trust.
Social psychologists often use the phrase "social proof." Basically, this tells us that consumers look for cues from other sources (typically other people such as family and friends, but these days, the web, too) that prove someone is trustworthy and competent. This is one reason I highly recommend using testimonials whenever and wherever possible. You don't just want to show prospects you're a good real estate agent — you want to prove it.
After you’ve served a client who seems particularly happy, simply ask them if they would share a sentence or two about what they specifically liked about working with you. In other words, strike while the iron is hot and your service is fresh in their mind. Be sure to let them know you’ll be using their feedback in your marketing materials and get their permission.
Another tip: Give all of your marketing materials and efforts a consistent look and feel. It may not seem important, but it all goes to building trust.
5. Build your likability.
Think of someone you like — I mean really like a lot. What words come to mind when you ask yourself why you like them? Now work to develop or enhance those qualities in yourself. We all tend to buy from people we like — and people who are like us. Practice a few habits to be viewed as a more likable person in any interaction. Nonverbal cues can have a significant impact on perceived likability. Real estate agents are a talkative bunch, no doubt, but nonverbal communication is just as important as what you're saying to prospects.
6. Build reciprocity.
Think about when you were in the grocery store and a nice lady in the frozen food aisle was giving out free samples of a new ice cream. There's a good reason you see these scenarios: They work. Why? Because when someone does something nice for you, you will feel indebted and more likely to return the favor. That's reciprocity, and it works. So think of ways you can add it to your marketing efforts. Give out calendars, maps, pens, etc. at your open houses, public workshops or one-on-one meetings — really, anytime you’re in the presence of prospects. If you want something, give something!
The key is to remember that psychology can work at work. And it can work in your favor if you take time to understand its basic principles: likability, trust, familiarity, reciprocity. They can help you all get your prospects off the couch and into the “sold” category.