“Digitalization = buyers take power over sellers” is one of my favourite quotes nowadays. Buyers always have another option, the sellers compete on buyers. Yet this is one of the best times to be in sales and marketing, since the competition is not about average products for average people. There is a clear connection between meaning, feeling and importance, being practically our main driving forces.
When looking for a place to spend our nights and days, we see it a bit more clear. We may search, analyze and narrow making choices between a few apartments – but the one that gets selected is not called an apartment afterwards. It is called home. We all know the difference, but during the time from search to popping up champagnes, it may be tough to pinpoint when the difference actually happened.
The role of salespeople and automated value models (AVM, Zestimate being probably the most famous one) is helping their clients in taking steps towards that invisible moment. They do it by creating meaning. They turn walls and windows into a special place, that is the most important and most secure place in life. Kids growing up, relaxation after day at work, closing doors and enjoying personal space. Or, for a Finn, enjoying the sauna.
What digitalization means here? Well, at least one shift in the competition. It is not about who happens to help taking that step – it is about who is the first one doing it. The time frame gets shorter and narrower. The meaning must be created ASAP.
How, where and when does it happen? Only one answer is clear: online. Many bet on virtual reality, and for a good reason: virtual visit is possible anytime, anywhere. Yet, respecting all technological advancements, our habits as buyers, giving and receiving meaning is not “one-size-fits-all”. We value different styles and pieces of information differently.
All this doesn’t, and will never mean that agents and brokers become extinct. It means that meaning is created in a new way. I bet most important being presence, availability, and variety of information. Virtual models, photographs, drone videos, written text, floor plans – none of these alone, but everything together. Individually, they are pieces of information. Together, they add up into a coherent story.
On real estate, AVM is highly expected and proven to work. It works the same way, connecting dots to create meaning. In this case, the dots are data: number of rooms, surface area, layout, price history, renovations done, electricity, plumbing, all other history data etc – making an Excel sheet into apartment, and later a home. This is also something that homebuyers value high, someone else has already made the story and meaning for them.
Yet there is another group of people, who need to apply the same idea of creating meaning through variety of information: vacation rental by owner and short-term rentals. At the moment many misunderstand their competition, and they might not create meaning in the best possible way. This needs an explanation on its own, so more about that later.
What does the story aim for? Creating meaning. Story gives meaning a recognizable form. What is the meaning you want to create?