Beyond Sight and Sound in Real Estate
In the 2005 best seller Brand Sense, author Martin Lindstrom says that as much as 83% of all marketing communication is limited to sight and sound. In the real estate business most of the marketing communication is done by sight. Ads placed in local newspapers, the MLS, and post cards announcing open houses etc
However, the most important marketing communication happens when prospective buyer crosses the threshold of a house.
This is very similar to the experience a shopper has when entering a store for the first time. It is at that point, that first impression, where you must use emotions as the media for your message.
The more senses you appeal to, the more dramatic the emotional response will be. I am not talking here of the old trick of baking cookies to get that smell throughout the house. Everyone likes it, but they know the trick so now, it appeals to their logic versus their emotion.
But what if you had a fresh basket of lavender at the front door just as they came in? For some reason, which they can’t even articulate, they feel welcome. It might give them a cozy feeling of when they were a child going to their grandmothers home (because we all remember the lavender sachets grandma had in her drawer). It feels right and it completely appeals to their senses, not their logic.
When staging a home for a retail sale, it is vital to appeal to as many senses as possible. For that reason I use a variety of what I refer to as “Pockets of Emotion” throughout the house. These are those moments in a home that surprise you and make you laugh, give you pause while enjoying a fond memory, or appeal to your senses on such a high level that often times, you can’t even describe why it feels so good-it just does.
I strategically place these “Pockets of Emotion” to suggest that “yes this is a perfect child’s room, because my child is playing right now” or “this is a great kitchen for our family holiday baking projects”. These Pockets of Emotion are designed to truly engage all the senses, not just the sense of sight.
In addition I use the sense of hearing when ever possible. If the home is in a high traffic zone, I may have light music playing in the background to take the focus away from the outside noise. Another great sense of sound is a fountain bubbling and birds chirping (and yes, I know how to make that happen at just the right moment!).
When I stage a house, you will find that I use not merely the senses of sight, smell, and hearing but of touch as well. I love having people touch something as the feeling stays in their fingers then entire time they enjoy the home. It is also a great reason to have them remove their shoes, if you have really wonderful carpet, so they can feel it on their toes. I also use interesting and textured fabrics to draw people into a room. It is so interesting to watch people as they are drawn into a room and encouraged to reach out and touch a window treatment or pick up a pillow. It helps them to fall in love with the property and feel as though they are home.
As for the sense of taste, I have found it is always a good idea to put a tasty surprise where prospective buyers are sure to find it. I often will put a bowl of big beautiful apples in the refrigerator, so it’s a surprise when they open it-with a sign that says “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away-enjoy!” or even seasonal cookies or candy inside an intriguing container that it is so attractive you can’t help but take the lid off.
Remember the more senses you engage, the more emotional the response will be and because of that response the more memorable the experience. Your ability to reach a buyer with a truly memorable experience can be summed up in one word: “Unforgettable”
Often in the blink of an eye, a prospective buyer will a sense whether the environment they have just entered is authentic or not. They will be able to get “feel” if the property is right or wrong. It is my job to make sure that it always feels right and to give them the opportunity to fall in love with their new home, on the spot. When they fall in love-we know the house is sold.
At Simple Appeal we always say “Anyone can make your house pretty. We make your house SELL.” Our system consistently creates environments that appeal to all the senses and gives a genuine and authentic feeling that the buyer is really home.
By Karen Schaefer, Founder of Simple Appeal, Inc. and APSD – The Association of Property Scene Designers. Through Karen and APSD, you learn more about home staging, marketing houses and selling houses quickly.