When the going gets tough…

A close up of a tough looking football player in helmet

by Jay Zenner on June 23, 2010

The tough get going.

There’s lots of hand wringing in our industry these days. This morning there were dueling headlines.  One indicated that new home sales had increased over 19% in May. The other said that there was a record drop in May of over 30%.

There are several reasons for the apparent contradiction.

First of all, the two statistics were measuring different things.  The rise was in closings and the drop was in new contracts and the latter only included new homes.  However, the net is that the end of the homebuyers tax credits finds us still in a very tough market.

What is your approach to this tough market?

I see two prevailing approaches. The first is what I characterize as “The Secret” approach. You know The Secret, the book…movie…whatever… that urges you to wish hard enough and make it so.  Now I’m all for positive thinking and maybe if we all wish hard enough things will come around.  But, I’m sorry, if you count on that you’re a fool.

Because the population is still increasing and families grow we can expect some pent up demand that will need to be filled as economic conditions improve.  That’s going to happen whether we spend our time trying to tap some universal power or not.

But if we what to get it going faster, the needed approach is much more activist and it ain’t really a secret.

The old saw about “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”  is familiar to me from my days playing football in high school and college. I doubt that there is a high school athlete in the country that hasn’t heard this expression and it’s pretty clear what it means in football.

But what does it mean in real estate marketing?

Imagine if Steve Jobs was just a techie wizard and had no marketing skills. He would invent the iPhone and tinker with it,  show it to a few friends, who might show it to a few other friends who might all start bugging him to sell one to them.  But the fact is that Steve Jobs, or somebody close to him, is a marketing genius.  Apple could now introduce an I-toilet and a million would be sold before they were even available.

In real estate we have a tough marketing environment but not an impossible one.

To get tough and get going we need to be better marketers.

Yes, we need more leads. But if you’re thinking that means that you just want a bigger slice of the smaller pie, you’re missing the point.

We need more buyers.

We need to coax more people out of their hunkered down recession mindset and buy into the American dream again of living in a home that meets their needs and satisfies their desire for self-expression. We need them to desire a home the way people crave an iPhone.

Our role as real estate professionals is similar to Steve Jobs role. He has not only figured out how to stir up burning desire in gadget freaks. He’s stirred up his competition with cell phone providers, computer makers and other behemoths like Microsoft and Google who want to be players in the market Jobs has created for this cool stuff.

One agent in a market can not do it. But one agent who challenges another agent who challenges a firm that challenges another firm can start to make home buying attractive again. But it isn’t wishing or hoping. It’s learning, developing and applying more sophisticated marketing skills that spark the demand. It’s an openness to do business in a different way. It’s a willingness to look at the role of the listing agent as a marketing director and not just a transaction facilitator.  It’s an openness to different types of compensation.

Many old line agents will never get it but we prefer to think that the experience represented by John can be married with the marketing skills of Marty that is illustrated in the free eBook available on the left sidebar.

It’s promoting our listings, our neighborhoods, our communities, our amenities, and the many benefits of owning a home of your own.   No, home ownership is not for everyone, but it certainly is still an attractive option for enough people to create an attractive market to work in.

Our Manifesto is available in the right sidebar and this site is devoted to those agents and other professionals who are willing to do the tough things necessary to move the recovery along.

Have you got what it takes to be a better marketer?  Join the movement!

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