Marketing expert Seth Godin said it best when he said,
“People buy stories, not stuff, and it’s stories that spread, not stuff.”
Every real estate agent has access to MLS listings and can post features of each home online, in brochures and newsletters.
The BEST agents go one step further to create a compelling story about each home – on their website, in their emails and in person.
Want to understand just how powerful storytelling can be?
Consider the following case study:
A few years ago, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn created the website SignificantObjects.com. The goal of the site was to conduct an experiment on buyer behavior and see whether stories really increased the value of a product.
Walker and Glenn believed they could take any ordinary object, have a writer tell a compelling story about that object, and then sell that object at double, triple or quadruple the value.
The amazing egg whisk. Purchased for 25 cents. Sold for $30. The power of STORY.
First, they would buy everyday objects from thrift stores and garage sales.
These objects would cost no more than one or two bucks; some were even free. The next step of the experiment was to write a short story about the object. The final step was selling the “junk” items on eBay.
The results of this experiment were amazing!
After purchasing $128.74 worth of thrift-store “junk,” they were able to sell the items for an incredible $3,612.51 – but only because each item had a story!
They discovered that each story raised the perceived value of the items by 2,806 percent! An old egg whisk they bought for 25 cents was suddenly worth $30 in their eyes after the whisk’s “story” was told.
According to Walker and Glenn, “Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively.”
Or simply put, “When someone likes a story about an object — or your home, if it’s on the market and you’re selling — that emotional connection is expressed by the buyer’s willingness to pay a higher sales price.” This, of course, earns the seller of the object a greater profit.
The Human Brain On Storytelling
- Dopamine – The brain releases dopamine into the system every time it experiences an emotionally charged event.
- Neural Coupling – A story activates part of the brain that helps the listener turn the story’s ideas into their own.
- Cortex Activity – When processing facts, only 2 parts of the brain are activated, compared to 5 parts when processing stories.
As humans, we will create a strong emotional (almost religious) attachment to products and homes through the power of story.
How Can You Wield the Profitable Power of Storytelling in Your Real Estate Business?
- First, identify the story behind the home. Maybe it’s the history of the town it’s located in. Or, maybe it’s the unique features the original owners added.For example, instead of selling a two-story brownstone in New Market, Maryland sell a “piece of Colonial history.” Instead of selling a 12-bedroom mansion in South L.A., sell a “touch of Old Hollywood that remains unchanged.”
- Second, paint a picture for the buyer. Instead of talking about the center island in the kitchen, help them imagine cooking appetizers for their guests while they sip wine, laugh and share stories about their summer vacations.
Instead of selling a renovated room in the basement, help them plan out their family movie nights, eating popcorn while watching “Lord of the Rings” movies on the big screen.
- Third, evoke emotion. Good property stories use emotion to make the buyer wonder “What will happen next?” or “What will it feel like to live in this property?”
- Fourth, use the power of “good vs. evil.” Having a common “enemy” in your story will increase its power. Is the home you’re selling centrally located? Maybe the enemy is a long commute. Buying this home will not just be convenient; it will “save them hours of drive time and help them gain a better quality of life.” Is the home located in a rural area with a generous amount of land? The enemy is business and a fast pace of life. This home will help them “slow down and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.”
- Lastly, don’t limit your stories to face-to-face interactions. Use blogs, e-newsletters, videos, social media and even your own website to widen each story’s impact. The more people who see it, the more likely it will sell.
You can use storytelling on an ongoing basis in your real estate businesses in several ways:
Real Estate Storytelling Through Social Media.
Thousands of real estate agents across the U.S. are already using Pinterest boards to feature each listing and showcase their properties. For agents who pair the right image with the right content, Pinterest can lead to many sales, as some people receive millions of visitors to their website.
Create a separate Pinterest board for every property you sell. Highlight its unique selling features, interesting historical facts and hidden benefits.
However, here are just a few words of caution.
Like other social sharing sites, Pinterest is not just about real estate.
You have to still offer value and avoid always selling a property. First, use high-resolution images that are appealing to the buyer. Then, mix in home decorating tips with featured properties to avoid coming off as a spammer.
Using Pinterest for Your Property Stories
There are two main components for using Pinterest to help attract people to your real estate website:
1. The content of your post
2. The images you use
Start with a strong headline that appeals to your target audience (buyers or sellers). “How to…” and “# Ways/Things…”
For example, you could write “How to Decorate Your Dream Country Cottage” or “42 Ways to Bring the History of Your Home to Life.”
Second, choose an eye-catching feature image.
Thankfully, there are also plenty of graphic arts tools out there to help you:
- Canva is one of the most popular ones on the market. Most templates are free to use, look professional and are already optimized in the right size for Pinterest.
- Another great tool is PicMonkey, which comes with plenty of free features, too.
- Also, if you’re running short on actual property images, use Creative Commons, Pixbay or Unsplash to find free, high-resolution photos that will help you tell the story of each home’s unique selling points.
- Here are a few more great social media management tools to use in your campaigns, and this post will teach you how to measure your success.
Real Estate Storytelling Through Video.
Brian Lewis, an executive vice president and real estate broker with Halstead Property in New York, uses a storytelling approach by turning each listing video into a property story.
In this video, Lewis takes the viewer on a journey of a Pre-World War I home that comes complete with a personal doorman, high ceilings, a grand entryway and a hideaway office. Using words like “glorious,” “grand” and “luxurious” he sells each feature in a comedic way that would make a buyer looking for a downtown condo ready to buy.
Another great example of a video property story comes from a real estate company out of Charlotte North Carolina, Savvy + Co Real Estate. Another video takes the viewer on a visual journey of the home, which highlights the beauty of its generous outdoor space. It progresses in a way that would appeal to anyone who likes to host events, such as: family BBQs, pool parties, outdoor cocktail hours or family Thanksgivings.
Want to know the best thing about making narrative real estate videos?
You don’t have to hire an expensive videography team to create a good one. There are a number of apps, cameras, filters and devices that can help you create professional results at a fraction of the price.
Some apps we love when it comes to smartphone video creation, include: Magisto and Camera Plus. Also, Periscope is a great live-streaming apps used for real-time property listings.
- Invite prospects to your live home tour.
- Think of what unique features you can use to take the viewers on a journey through their future home.
- Paint a vivid picture of what their days will be like in the kitchen, living room, family room or outdoor patio.
- Or take viewers on a historic tour of the home, explaining what 18th Century characteristics make the home stand apart and what hidden gems make it a lifelong investment worth making.
- To learn how to optimize your videos for Facebook, read this post.
Real Estate Storytelling Through Email Marketing.
Have a unique new property to sell?
Email marketing is another great way to get the word out! Below is a sample email campaign we created at Chatter Buzz Media to showcase a real estate listing with a property story based on the unique history of the home. See how we balanced both words and pictures to make the prospect fall in love with every part of the home.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Start your property story in the subject line. Here are great property-specific subject line examples:
- Claim Your Own Piece of Colonial History
- Explore Your Own New England Hideaway
- There is Hollywood History On This Here Lane …
- Where Beachside Comfort & Modern Convenience Meet …
- Continue telling that story in the body of the email. First, tell the story visually, through professional, high-resolution photographs.
- Second, tell it through the most powerful form of communication — the written word. Also, remember to balance words with pictures to strengthen the impact. Use one without the other, and you will lose 65 percent of attention from potential buyers, a point confirmed by a study conducted by Dr. Richard Mayer of the University of California.
- Remember the Rule of 3’s. “Today, we are introducing THREE revolutionary products.” – said Steve Jobs as he introduced the very first iPhone.
Three truly is the magic number.
It works for fairy tales, the sale of $700 iPhones, and it works for property listings too! Science has proven this point.
Whatever you do, DO NOT sell every little feature of the home you can find and leave the buyer confused. Instead, choose ONE feeling or idea you want them to connect to and sell three key features that communicate that idea.
Want to sell a home as spacious? Sell the double sinks, two-door garage and grand, vaulted ceilings? Want to highlight the creature of comforts of a home? Sell its Jack and Jill baths, built-in hot tub and stainless steel appliances. Want to sell convenience? Describe the local commuter routes, area grocery stores and easy highway access.
But stop there. Three, three, three!
New to email marketing? Here are some tips on how to make email marketing work for you.
The Bottom Line
Stories create an emotional attachment to a product for consumers, and a story told the right way can add significant value to even the most insignificant items — even an egg whisk.
When you follow the storytelling tips and strategies we listed above, you can and will see a greater return on your properties. Get your buyers where it counts – in their heartstrings!