I was going through ad slicks at a local advertising agency the other day. One of the graphic artists is a client of mine looking for a house and asked if I could come by and go over her updated search criteria.
I know the general public is not used to dealing with artists. Time is an abstract thought to many of them. There are times when they ask to meet you at a certain place and they are no where to be found. I was an artist long before I became a Realtor. I still reflexively answer the question “What do you do?” with the response “I am an artist.” Of course, the Realtor in the back of my mind gives me a swift kick in the frontal lobe and I add “I sell real estate to support my studio.” It may read lame, but I have managed to pull it off.
Did I mention that artists occasionally lose focus? Ok, so I was waiting for my client. I noticed something and immediately wished I was in a single frame cartoon so I could draw a light bulb going off over my head.
There were ads from all sorts of professions. Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists (DDS don’t get your panties in a bunch, I know you are doctors too), Trades people, Restaurants, Gas stations and of course, Realtors.
None of the Doctor’s ads mentioned that they had done 2,500 physicals last year. None of the Doctor’s ads mentioned a quantitative number on any procedure. They seemed to focus on curing what ails you.
None of the ads for Attorneys mentioned that they had successfully won “X” number of lawsuits last year. Not one of their ads stated that their clients had been awarded any money total last year. They seemed to focus on confidence and availability.
I then re-checked the Dentist’s ads. Nope, nothing in there like – I filled 953 cavities last year. There was not mention of any number of braces successfully installed. They mostly focused on making sure the patient is comfortable.
None of the trades’ people ads mentioned we put on 157 roofs this year or I finished 52 basements this year. None of their ads mention any number of tasks completed. No, it seems that almost every one of their ads mentioned reliability.
There was no mention of number of dinners served by any restaurant and none of the gas stations mentioned the number of gallons they had pumped. Service industry ads dealt with superior service.
Notice a trend?
Then I came to the Realtor ads. They were filled with $10,000,000 sold or 25 houses sold last year. They mentioned things like a member of the $5,000,000 club or the Gold Club or the Silver Club. Every single ad was tainted with the look at me and how well I have done mentality.
Now, let’s forget what everyone charges for what they do. In many areas of the country there is the perception that real estate agents charge 6% for their services. Even people that have been involved in a transaction quickly forget that the agent had to divvy up the money. The general public sees those ads and immediately does the faulty math. One thought rolls through their mind…….My god, that agent made $600,000 last year or Good lord, in this market…25 homes sold. What is that Ethel? Figure $300,000 times 25. Why that is over $7,000,000. That rascal must have made almost $500,000 dollars or Five million dollar club; you know they are making over a quarter million a year!
And then they all think…Damn that is a lot of money for working weekends. We appear to be overpaid and we just throw gasoline on that fiery rumor every time we throw numbers out to impress potential clients.
We know it isn’t true. All the people that jumped on our bandwagon and got a license in the last couple years have discovered it is not true. Yet we keep on sharing honest or inflated production numbers like they are some measure of our success. We drive fancy cars to appear successful. We dress nicely to appear successful and then we run ads that create the image that we are getting filthy rich doing our job.
I don’t tout numbers. I don’t want to be mixed up in that batch of mud. It doesn’t take a genius to see that in many markets, our income has doubled in the last few years. Outside of Alex Rodriguez, not many people can make that claim. Now the economy is in a funk. It may be time to rethink what we are shouting from the rooftops.
I think more folks should focus on what they offer a client and less on their personal history. We are supposed to put our client’s interest first. Maybe it is time we addressed them in that fashion and left the chest pounding ego laden ads to professional athletes.
But then again, maybe I just don’t get. It could be, I am just too damn dumb.