Storytelling

I read a tweet the other day, (apologies to the author but I didn’t note who created it), which said something along the lines of: “it’s no longer about content, now it’s stories” and I couldn’t agree more.

We’ve been bombarded by content from every quarter and there’s just too much to digest and retain. A well told story however can last a lifetime. And I’d like to tell you one, about an estate agent who dared to be different. So, are you sitting comfortably? Then let me begin.

Once upon a time there was an estate agent who, at the end of a long hard day dealing with customers, making and answering 100 calls, accompanying three sets of buyers around four different properties, realised that he hadn’t spoken the truth once in almost 10 hours. “This is truly one of the best properties we’ve had for a long time” (Not true), “there’s a lot of interest in this house, I expect it to be sold by the weekend” (Not True), “you’re the first person I’m calling about this apartment” (Not True) and so on.

That evening he read a book titled, “The Wizard of Ads” by Roy H. Williams and was spellbound by the opening passage:

“Lean down so that I may speak into your ear, for the thing I am about to tell you is not for the others to know. I share with you now the secret knowledge known only to a powerful few. I give you the Nine Words which, if held in your heart, will transform Success and Failure into mere coins that you may pull from your pocket and bestow upon those you would favour.
Leaning closer, I could feel his weak and ragged breath on my ear as he whispered:
“The risk of insult is the price of clarity.”
Then he was gone.”

The estate agent realised that customers could see through his words that had been carefully dipped in milk and honey, could hear the slightly desperate tone as he implored them to make an offer and that he was all too often making them uncomfortable with his lies and half truths. It was time to change. From now on he’d be direct, faultlessly honest and yes, some might be hurt, upset, even insulted, but he knew that this was the defining moment for his career, the point where he would be governed by timeless principles and let these determine his future.

I first read “The Wizard of Ads” many years ago and it had a profound impact which lasts to this day. If you wish to truly engage with your customers you need them to connect emotionally more than rationally. It’s time to return to telling stories, to help people truly feel the new lifestyle they can experience in the home they’re thinking of buying or renting. To cause them to imagine how much better their moving experience will be with you at their side. To make them realise your true worth by picturing how you will be there for them night and day during this period of upheaval and why this is worth their paying you more than the others with their dubious facts and figures and sharp patter.


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