It’s a perfect Colorado weekend: two sixty degree days in the middle of winter. The rest of the world is out biking and skiing. I am painting the deck.
Our house goes up for sale in five weeks, and we are working with realtors to make it look as welcoming as possible. The realtors call this staging, but it’s essentially rebranding.
In B2B world, some folks are intimidated by the concept of rebranding. This is why my friend, marketing master Greg Olson, prefers to speak simply of branding, minus the re. “For the most part,” he says, “we’re taking what’s already there. We’re breaking it down, simplifying it. It’s more a matter of refining the focus, as opposed to building something completely new.” This is what I am doing at home.
My family and I are looking at content, simplifying wherever possible, while removing unnecessary distractions, like exposed wood on an outdoor deck. Our brand message will be clear and consistent, saying over and over, “Ignore the suspiciously high price the realtor pulled out of thin air. You want to live here.”
We are actually placing a great deal of trust in the realtors and their staging expert. Having made it our goal to find that perfect balance between experience and enthusiasm, we carefully researched their agency, much as if we were a startup looking for the branding team most qualified to help introduce our particular product line. This is, after all, a product launch, even if our product is being offered in an extremely limited edition of one. Proving we made a good choice, our agency has done a great job coordinating each step. As a veteran of numerous successful launches, I have recognized these components – and how essential each is to the overall process. Borrowing the appropriate B2B terminology, here’s where our realtors have placed their focus:
- Identifying our competition. Sitting at our kitchen table, they showed off their research, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of other houses on the market.
- Contrasting our product with others. Analyzing the data at hand, they noted the brand points that will differentiate our house from the competition. (This was, in fact, when our realtors came up with the target price, basing it on both on anticipated competition and established market history.)
- Positioning our product to sell quickly. The overall presentation, including an online virtual tour, will bring as many potential buyers into the mix as possible. Trusting the old adage, you must spend money to make money, our realtors have arranged to purchase an advertorial in our local paper to help generate interest. They know that building demand in advance is vital as it will not only provide the best return, but also reduce the amount of time our house stays on the market.
As for our role in the process, we have learned to look at our product through the eyes of prospective buyers, while ignoring our own attachments and biases. As such, the queen bed from our guest room has deposed the king in our main bedroom, making that room seem larger. Family photos have disappeared, first into boxes, next into storage, leaving naked walls that shout, “We want to display your beautiful family.” I have removed all hints that a writer ever lived here – reviews, awards, boxed away. As much as I want to think home hunters would find appeal in the knowledge, “Two books written in this house were well received,” others apparently will ask, “A writer? Aren’t they known for staring off into space while pine needles clog the gutters and raccoons take over the attic?” Our pop-up camper trailer – another sign of indolence, no doubt – made its way from the side of our house to Mom’s garage, where it is buried under boxes containing my favorite possessions, many of which I am starting to miss. Five weeks from now, when strangers roam freely through our kitchen and family room, they will be thinking, No one has ever taken care of a house like this one’s current owners, if indeed they ever lived here. Even at this price, it’s a great deal. Hell, the deck alone…
Our twelve year old isn’t happy to lose her “uninsurable deathtrap in the backyard,” which she still mistakenly sees as a trampoline. But she is learning the art of branding, and someday, when she’s working in a world in which marketing makes all the difference between success and failure, she will appreciate the education. She will have learned how branding, by focusing primarily on customer needs and perceptions, will get the best price, whatever the product. In a very literal sense, this is valuable knowledge, as we hope to be reminded in five short weeks. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a deck to finish painting. Snow’s in the forecast for Monday – this is Colorado – and we’re planning to make our launch date.