In: On-Ramp Book
Author: Aaron Eden11 Feb 2012
We fell behind on our plan to release a new section of the book each week, but we will now continue our journey of helping real estate agents utilize the lean canvas to determine if they have a viable business model and create a social media marketing strategy through the same process. Below is a section from our new “On-Ramp: Your Social Media Roadmap” book. You can read the other sections of the book as well.
What problem does your target customer have that you can solve well?
Just like the customer segments box, we would like for you to brainstorm a handful of problems your target customer has which you feel you can solve well with your services. We’ll walk you through how to determine if these educated guesses were right or if you need to focus on different problems for your target customer.
If you’ve been at this for a while already you may recall specific situations that your customers were in when they needed your help. This is what you want to focus on for best results. Once you’ve figured out the problems you resolve you can begin to understand the emotional reasons the buyers & sellers are basing their decisions on.
Remember, you have to motivate the emotional side of their brain as well as their logical side in order to complete the sale or purchase!
What problem(s) does the purchasing of a property resolve for the buyer?
Try to get yourself to think beyond the buying or selling decision. Ask why a few times. A typical dialog between you and a buyer might look like this:
Buyer: We are interested in purchasing a 4 bedroom house on the east side of town.
You: Great, I’m glad you already understand how many rooms you need. Why did you pick 4?
Buyer: Well, we would like one bedroom for ourselves, one bedroom for the new baby, another for our home office and the fourth will be for whenever grandma comes to help with the baby because the area we are looking in will require that she drive further.
You: Oh, that’s so great that she is willing to come help out with her new grand baby! Which would be more important, having the space for grandma or being closer to her?
Buyer: We might be able to go down to three bedrooms if we were able to find a property that was close to grandma as well as to my husband’s office, but we looked a little in that area and most of the houses were outside our price range.
From this short conversation and by asking WHY a few times you can clearly understand the emotional and logical reasons this buyer is applying to make a decision about a house. You might be able to locate a property that includes a guest house or maybe just has a loft area that would accommodate the grandmother. No matter what the result, you would not be able to understand the potential trade-offs without understanding why the buyer is making these decisions.
Example Problems for our canvas:
As a result of clearly understanding the problems you solve for your customers it will enable you to:
Quickly infer what features buyers will need and what trade-offs they can make which they may not have known about. Refer to the dialog above for an example of this.
Taylor marketing content specifically to them. If you are helping new families like our example agent then you can create marketing content for these families which showcases how you can help them start to create financial stability for their new family while still staying within their budget.
Create online media content talking about these types of problems and to resolve them. This could be as simple as creating a short Youtube video for dangerous issues new families should watch out for like play areas being right next to the stairs or avoiding properties with landscape ponds because of the new baby.
Make trade-offs between different features, locations, etc to be able to help the buyer find a place quickly. We’re sure you know this one all too well, but imagine having the ability to make those recommendations for the home owner rather than them having to do it themselves. Imagine being able to say “I’m showing you this house because it is in your price range, balances your need for safety for the baby as well as space for the grandmother to stay when she visits. I imagine that she would be able to use this loft area rather than a fourth bedroom.”
Stronger relationships with clients – Think about the times when someone has taken the time to really understand your needs. It feels great! Through online and offline interactions with your customers you can create that feeling with them which will lead to a stronger relationship with them.
Shorter purchase cycles mean that you’re getting quality customers and because you understand their needs you can support their decisions and in turn speed up the process.
More referrals from happy customers. If you’re able to WOW the customer by showing them you understand them at every step of the process and helping to create a transaction that balances all of their needs they will be very likely to recommend you to their friends.
Social media allows you to participate in conversations with past, current, and potential clients like never before. We have been talking about solving a problem for potential buyers and sellers, but what do we really know? We don’t know what problems they are facing, but they sure do, and with all these new marketing channels, you can just ask them! Sure, you need to start somewhere, putting out blog posts and engaging with people, but as you go about this activity, why not ask your blog readers what problems buying a house solves for them? What are their dreams and aspirations that the house with the white picket fence answer for them?
By empathizing with your audience, and engaging them in the process, you get to develop that relationship with them while you hone your communication.
John Mijac shared a specific story of understanding his customer’s needs. When he was using Trulia as one of his marketing channels, very often the buyers looking at houses on that website took the estimates given on the site as strong indicators for the prices in that area. Because of his experience with the site, and with actual estimates from appraiser, he found that trulia sometimes quoted incorrect prices, and the buyers did not know all of the factors involved in the pricing of a house. This gave him an opportunity to both educate the people that contacted him from the site, and the chance to build some trust, and a relationship with them.
We would love to see some of the canvases you’re generating as a result of these blog posts. Please share using hash tag #OnRamp
See you next week!