University of South California Professor Robert McKee said it best when he said, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put new ideas into the world today.”
He’s just not a marketer, so he forgot to add that creating new ideas is one of the best ways to create more profits.
This is true whether you’re selling ergonomic tennis shoes, beauty products or million-dollar homes.
The savvy real estate agent does much more than TELL a prospective buyer or seller what features to pay attention to in a home or how to see hidden clues that exude property value. The savvy real estate agent SHOWS them the value of a home by weaving a story for them that has them signing the dotted line before the story is through.
Think about it: there are over 2 million licensed real estate agents in the U.S. right now, selling about 3.5 million homes. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for error and it leaves a lot of agents scrambling for scraps and looking for just that one technique, tool or trick to set them apart from the pack.
Forget MLS listings. Every realtor has those. Forget Facebook ads, social media and email marketing campaigns. Most agents don’t have the budget for expensive digital marketing campaigns.
And most agents are connected to the same groups, the same Chambers of Commerce and attend the same networking events in town.
When real estate agents share the same zip code, social circles and information as the agent down the street, which one closes the sale? The one who tells the most compelling story about the home on the market.
The Human Brain On Storytelling
Lucy Hawking, daughter of the infamous physicist and researcher Stephen Hawking, explains the science of storytelling and its power beautifully in the TED Talks video:
Explaining astrophysics to children using spaghetti as a connector might just make children fall in love with science again. Similarly, explaining to a new home buyer how their new living room can make their date nights more magical or bring family nights to a whole new level might just make them fall in love with the home of their dreams. Simply put, we create a strong emotional (almost religious) attachment to products and homes through the power of story.
How to Use the Profitable Power of Storytelling To Sell More Homes
- 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 brand new center island in the kitchen, help them imagine cooking appetizers for their guests while they share wine, laugh and tell 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? Maybe the enemy is business and a fast pace of life. This home will help them “slow down and enjoy the tranquility and 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 the reach and impact of each story. 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 east 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: ghe content of your post and the images you use.
- First, create a good headline that will appeal 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, you need 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, Pixabay or Unsplash to find free, high-resolution photos that will help you tell the story of each home’s unique selling points.
Real Estate Storytelling Through Video.
Create the same combined effect by creating your own video stories of each property. 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 the video above, Halstead Properties takes the viewer on a journey of through above a hill-enclaved home in New Jersey. Without saying a word, the view from above paints a picture of this breathtaking home in such a way that sellers looking for a natural landscape are ready to sign the dotted line before stepping a foot onto the property.
Another great example of a video property story comes from a real estate company out of Charlotte North Carolina, Savvy + Co Real Estate. The video below 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, Camera Plus and Viddy. 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.
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 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.
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% 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.
It works for fairy tales, the sale of $700 iPhones, and it works for property listings too! Science has proven this point. Then holds onto ideas and feelings that are delivered in threes.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.
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 “boring” ideas or things— even astrophysics.
When you follow the storytelling tips and strategies we listed above, you can and will see greater return from your properties. Get your buyers where it counts — in their emotions!