IT IS TRULY mind-numbing the amount of information we have at our fingertips. Just watch people at transit stops, in lines at the mall, in waiting rooms – even at your dinner table. It’s a constant scroll, scroll, scroll. We are obviously living in an epidemic of input, which, ironically, is hindering our ability to create good output.
More info makes for better decisions in the end, right? Well, not exactly. Depth is much more important than volume. It is in depth where good strategic decisions are made. Hanging out in the shallows of knowledge just sparks emotions, opinions and very poor decisions.
Multiple studies are now raising red flags about this constant barrage of information, showing that professionals and their clients are making increasingly less strategic decisions in their lives, investments and businesses. Fake news and clickbait wouldn’t exist as a growing part of our society if they weren’t effective in manipulating the populous.
Twelve years ago, access to this ocean of information wasn’t available to most people, and at that time, investors and homebuyers made more logical and strategic decisions. Instant news and opinions weren’t as ubiquitous, yet still we made great long-term-based decisions. Ah yes, the paradox of choice: The more choices we have, the unhappier we are. Today it is less of a paradox of choice and more a case of information overload.
Because research from the Real Estate Investment Network has been supporting investors and homebuyers for more than 25 years, I can say that today there are more people confused, or making poor decisions based on bad information, than I have ever witnessed before. And that is where opportunity arises for professionals like you.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that your clients, your friends, your cab drivers all have an opinion on the real estate market: It’s a bubble; it’s different this time; there are too many condos; there are not enough condos; it’s going to collapse; it’s a great opportunity; it’s better to rent than buy – and on and on.
The internet, parties, the media airwaves – they’re all filled with impending doom or unheralded confidence in the housing market. People are afraid and confused, and they will hide that behind bravado and strong opinions.
This is where you step in. People are looking for strategic and clear thought leadership. Right now – and I do mean right now – is the moment when professionals must decide what their strategic advantage is going to be and what added value they are going to provide. And frankly, that decision will determine whether your business is either frustrating or successful five years from now.
Human beings are hardwired for protection; therefore, when walking through a forest, you are more likely to think a rock is a bear (danger) than a bear is a rock (safety).
That is why we are drawn to clickbait and fear-based headlines. We skip over the important information to get to the perceived danger signs. It works, it manipulates, and it is starting to affect your business.
Fortunately, this worrying trend also brings an opportunity for those who adapt and prefer to thrive by looking at their industry a little differently. Your job is to build trust and to provide a calm, fact-based reality that will allow your clients to breathe, act strategically and want to refer people your way. You can become that sought-after port in the storm.
Remember, Blockbuster blindly continued to open video stores, even while streaming services were growing at an exponential rate. They didn’t believe they could ever become irrelevant. In fact, in 2005, less than a decade before Blockbuster shuttered for good, the company’s president at the time stated: “We believe we are well positioned for the future of digital and VOD demand.”
I’m now seeing this blind mindset in real estate professional circles. Those who see the future are adapting their business models and the value-adds they bring to the market, while others sit on the sidelines tut-tutting.
Look behind you – those are your customers in information overload. Look ahead of you, and you see a much different industry reality ahead. If you bridge these two by thinking less like a consumer and more like a strategic thought leader, your business will become what clients are looking for.