Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What Planet Do Realtors Live On?

New Ad Campaign From the National Associaton Of Realtors Suggest It's Not This One

By David Miranda

Let's see. On this planet, in this country, there has been "mass canaries deaths in the mine" signs that a housing bubble was at the point of bursting fueled by a complicit mortgage industry and a highly motivated real estate broker/agent community. As Newton pointed out, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Bottom line: greed got out of hand, reality bites. Code name? Recession. Outlook? Layoffs, foreclosures, consumer debt, bankruptcies up. Jobs, home values, expectations down.

Yet here is the optimistic view of the National Association of Realtors of the chilly economic waters? "Hey, jump in. The water's great." This is like the Captain of the Titanic, after hitting the iceberg, explaining to passengers "Oh, no worries. We just stopped for ice."

The front page headline from the recent issue of Advertising Age , from reporter Alice Z. Cuneo read "What housing crisis? Realtors' ads defy reality". Bob Garfield, ad critic for AdAge, escalated the dialogue in his column titled, Pay Heed to What Realtors Don't Say in Their Latest Pitch. Both Ms. Cuneo's article and Mr. Garfield's column took critical umbrage to the new $40 million ad campaign by the National Association of Realtors.

The above mentioned articles do a better job of stating the case on the NAR campaign than I can do here, but it is the lessons to be learned here that is critical for all marketers.

Consumers are not stupid and gullible as the campaign would suggest. They are realists and it is an insult to their intelligence to suggest or opine that things are better than they are experiencing. Marketers have always communicated the best attributes of their brands using thesaural hyperbole, i.e. "better", "new and improved", etc. They do not serve their brands (or causes) well, however, when the communicated message defies reality. As someone once said, "you are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts."

The fact of the matter is that the U.S. housing market is suffering and that means homeowners are suffering and that means the economy is suffering. Consumers need wise and considerate counsel, not irrational enthusiasm.

Let them know what they already know, "we've hit an iceberg, we're taking on water, we're sinking, save yourselves." Steer them to a lifeboat, not back to their "cabins" to enjoy the rest of the cruise.

If your customers are important to you, be upfront; be frank; be honest.

My friend and real estate guru, Gerry Davidson, has her own interesting POV on this subject on her blog, Real Concepts. I strongly suggest a read of her recent article on the subject and her always refreshing perspectives on the real estate industry. I nominate Gerry for NAR President.