I can still remember the first time I heard that little sales axiom. I was working as the V.P. of Operations for a fledgling internet start-up in my early 20’s, and our buyer/graphic designer (yes, employees of cash-strapped dot-com’s had to pull double duty) was on the phone with a supplier out of New York City. They were discussing some new cubic zirconium earrings that we were looking to purchase for our “deal of the week” e-mail blast. After our buyer had asked a few questions about the size and “quality” of the fake diamonds, the supplier grew increasingly frustrated and said, “Listen man, we sell the sizzle, not the steak!” Truer words were never spoken.
It’s a simple fact that most people make purchasing decisions based on emotions, not facts and figures. For decades, sales gurus from around the world have been preaching the importance of highlighting benefits, not features when trying to sell a product. Good sales copy on cubic zirconium earrings isn’t going to reference the size, weight, color, and “quality” of plastic jewelry made in China. Instead, the focus would be on an emotional appeal, such as “get your boyfriends attention” or “impress your girlfriends without breaking your bank”…because “if you can’t tell the difference, neither can they.”
However, as unfortunate as it may be, this rather obvious concept in the world of sales is somehow lost by practitioners in the real estate business. Perhaps the vast and overwhelming amount of “features” to describe when dealing with a home is far too tempting to investors and agents when writing listing descriptions, or perhaps they’re uninformed, or just too lazy. Regardless of the reason, many homes languish on the market because their Realtors or owners spend too much of the marketing time and money selling the steak, and not the sizzle.
Homebuyers are just as emotional with their purchase as the broke college girl who needs a little sparkle on her ears for Friday’s big sorority party. They don’t buy backyard decks; they buy a “place to entertain family and friends”. They don’t buy Florida Rooms; they buy “a relaxing place to drink your morning coffee while enjoying the view”. As an investor or real estate agent, it’s imperative that your descriptions paint an emotional picture for the potential customer, moving them past features to benefits…and eventually to a buying decision.
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