In the entertainment industry or sporting arena, what separates an employee from a star comes down to the quality that many in the business call ‘The X Factor’. It is difficult to articulate exactly what it is – according to some you either have it or you don’t. For me, the difference between the chorus line and the soloist and the difference between the safe play and the playmaker, is how I feel when I’m watching.
Whether it is that experience of being moved by art or the thrill of anticipation that sporting history could be made – the X-factor, I’ve deduced, has more to do with the experience of the consumer than the event itself.
It was Maya Angelou who said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
eXperience is the X-factor and for personal and professional services like real estate, eXperience is the new ‘brand’.
Brand vs Branding
A trap for young players can be the confusion between ‘brand’ and ‘branding’. The design of your logo, your business cards, social media profiles, colour palette and fonts – that is ‘branding’ – it is not brand. Don’t get me wrong, ‘branding’ is important – these are the artefacts and the visual identity that will help people understand and interpret your intention in business – and it is also the way that people who haven’t met you yet eXperience you.
The undeniable goal of every customer acquisition is to move from a superficial to a substantial experience of ‘brand’. The eXperience layer of your brand becomes the sustaining force of that customer journey and should drive referrals and inbound.
Usually, precious little time is given to the design of that customer experience. Instead, it is often replaced by the gods of “efficiency” and “consistency” and “KPI” – it’s about the precision of process, not the creation of experience. It is easy to forget that while people want a McDonaldised outcome from McDonald’s – it is not what they expect from professional and personal services.
Delivered by knowledge workers, not process workers, the professional services such as real estate, consulting or finance are delivered by experts to individuals and so each eXperience ought to be personalised.
Talkaboutable vs Forgetaboutable
By way of contrast, so much of the experience delivered through the technology and practices adopted by agents has been the opposite of personalised. The generalisation of real estate – drag and drop your logo – might be ok for a segment of your data that is very low quality – but if it is your strategy for property owners, potential landlords and even buyers or tenants who need to transact is dependent upon mass and impersonal communication only, then it is time to ask yourself:
- What type of eXperience am I really giving potential customers?
- What would someone be willing to pay for that eXperience? And most importantly;
- How easily could someone else replicate the eXperience that I’m providing.
If, in the dark night of the soul, you think about question 3 and you are struggling to articulate what is both different and better about your eXperience from what is on the brochure of other real estate agents – then you know you’ll be discounting your answer to question 2 sometime soon.
The substance of a brand is what people say about it when you’re not in the room – it is the eXperience factor. If the eXperience is not “talkaboutable”, not different and not better than other agents, you will continue to pay more in marketing to scream louder than other people while you’ll earn less. It’s an economic process called commoditisation and it sucks.
Hitting them (all) in the feels
The antidote? Angelou had it right – it’s how you make people feel. The eXperience economy is open for domination in real estate through hyper-local, hyper-personal, and hyper-relevant communication and professional advice.
Delivering that at scale is hard – hence why the movements towards McDonaldsing the experience of real estate are so tempting – bulk communications, broadcasting, even portal advertising. Before tech was ‘smart’ – that was the only way to try and hit volume.
With the advent of artificial intelligence, data science and automation, however, tech is smarter and can deliver on the promise of a personalised eXperience at scale.
Ask us how.