Marketing and Selling Real Estate Utilizing the Chinese Zodiac

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chinese zodiac Yesterday my friend Todd Carpenter wrote this on his Facebook wall:

I’m tired of reading "How to sell to Gen Y" posts. When is someone going to write about how to market to some other completely arbitrary group of people like they are all the same post? What about a post on how to market to people depending on how they fit into the Chinese Zodiac? Now THAT’s a post I want to read.

I thought this was a brilliant idea. After all, why limit my marketing skills to people born between 1982 and 1995? Let’s face it, there aren’t all that many 15 year olds buying homes. And the Chinese Zodiac covers EVERYONE – a much wider potential client base.

For those that aren’t aware, or who have never read the placemat at a Chinese restaurant, the Chinese zodiac consists of 12 animals and associates personality traits for a person depending on which animal corresponds to the year of their birth. For example, I was born in 1960, the Year of the Rat. Therefore, I’m a rat (according to the Chinese zodiac. And probably my ex-wife).

So for your reading pleasure, we present how to market to people based on their Chinese Zodiac sign (all traits come from www.ChineseZodiac.com).

The Rat: “Rats are full of good advice but they will never share their troubles with others. They are honest individuals and they enjoy living for the moment. They’re also capable of surviving any situation.”

This is perfect for the aspiring real estate agent. After all, who doesn’t want a buyer that will never share their troubles? You want to live for the moment? Great, sign this contract RIGHT FREAKING NOW and buy this damn house. Who cares if it’s not exactly right, you can survive any situation. Deal with it.

The Ox: “Oxen are capable of trusting others and will listen to their opinions with an open mind. However, Oxen prefer making decisions that are based on their own research.”

Dear Mr / Ms Ox – Thank you for trusting me. You should. After all I’m a real estate agent, and who in their right mind doesn’t trust a real estate agent? Since you prefer making decisions based on your own research, I won’t even bother to really help you. Go to Zillow.com, figure out a house value, and we’ll fill in the blanks on an offer. Thanks for the commission check.

The Tiger: “Tigers love to be challenged and will accept any challenge if it means protecting a loved one or protecting their honor.”

Sweet! You want a challenge? Try being one of forty-three buyers interested in that $32K trashed-out bank owned condo. Come on you spineless bastard, offer over listing price or you’ll lose this challenge along with what little personal honor you had before we started this home buying adventure 23 months ago.

The Rabbit: “Rabbits prefer to avoid conflict. In confrontational situations, Rabbits approach calmly and with consideration for the other party.”

Avoid conflict? Consideration for the other party? What a load of crap. Forget working with rabbits.

The Dragon: “Dragons prefer to live by their own rules and are driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks.”

Tell your dragon that buying a former meth house is full of challenges and a high risk proposition. They won’t care. They’re driven and live by their own rules. Cha-ching! Might as well hit the “That was easy!” button and rack up the credit cards. Your future commission check is golden.

The Snake: “Snakes are very materialistic creatures, preferring to surround themselves with the finest that life has to offer. This is especially evident in the home, where luxurious furnishings and surroundings help Snakes seek the peace they need in order to thrive.”

Sounds like another pain in the ass client. Leave snakes to the luxury market real estate agents.

The Horse: “Horses are perhaps a bit too centered on themselves and have been known to throw tantrums when situations don’t go their way.”

Great. I have no idea how to deal with these kind of people. I mean seriously, who ever heard of a real estate client thinking only of themselves or throwing a tantrum? Refer horses to agents you don’t like.

The Goat: “Home and alone is where Goats feel most comfortable. Goats prefer the couch because there they can relax and explore their minds.”

Home and alone? Relaxing on the couch? Did a real estate agent write this description? This is another slam dunk. Look Mr. Goat, this home is perfect for you. You can put a couch in the great room, the master bedroom and even the garage. Pick a spot to relax and explore your mind. Enjoy yourself, I’ll be in the Bahamas fishing on your dime.

The Monkey: “The Monkey possesses such character traits as curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness.”

Avoid. Monkey buyers are the ones that open kitchen cabinets, look under the beds, flip light switches and flush toilets. And really, who wants a clever client?

The Rooster: “Roosters are extremely sociable and prefer being the center of attention, always bragging about themselves and their accomplishments.”

What you have here, is the perfect seller. Just nod your head politely and say, “I agree, your home IS far superior to every home on the street. Why it’s worth at least $30K more than your neighbors house! You scored a major accomplishment with those granite counter tops. Sign here.”

The Dog: “The Dog symbolizes character traits such as loyalty, compatibility and kindness. Ensuring others are happy is more important to the Dog than wealth, money or success.”

Score! This is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. All you need to do to secure the dog as a client is generate a few tears as you explain living on a commission, waking up every day unemployed, and having no health insurance. If you have children, all the better. Leverage the fact that you can’t give your kids what they need and you have no savings for their college.

The Pig: “Pigs seek peace and will do what is necessary to maintain it. This trait, while admirable, sometimes makes it easy for others to take advantage of Pigs.”

They sometimes makes it easy for others to take advantage of them. ‘Nuff said. Just do it. Don’t feel guilty. You’re a real estate agent for God’s sake.

So there you have it – how to market to EVERYONE

For the record, this article is not intended to demean, berate or make fun of the Chinese zodiac, anyone of Chinese descent, or any animal. What it’s intended to do is demean, berate and make fun of all these “marketing gurus” who pump out one article after another containing drivel about how to market to wide and basically random swaths of the population.

This makes no sense. Okfine, I’ll grant you that some people in some population segments have some similar traits. But seriously, lumping people into arbitrary groups (“experts” can’t even agree on what “Gen X” and “Gen Y” really mean!) and applying marketing techniques to that group is just nonsense. Here are a couple of nuggets I found via a 30 second foray into Google for “Marketing to Gen Y”:

  • Customer experience matters. Really? I’m a “baby boomer” and customer experience matters to me. To who doesn’t it matter?
  • Gen Y is free spending. My son, who falls squarely into what most call Gen Y, is the biggest tightwad I know. I can’t even get him to move out because he won’t pry open his wallet. I on the other hand, a mere 10 days away from turning fifty, like to spend money like it grows on the proverbial tree.
  • Deliver a great product at a great price. Well this is stunning advice. Why didn’t I think of this strategy? But it only applies to Gen Y???
  • If you want to be taken serious by Gen Y, you need to know they love music. Why? Because they all have iPods? So do I. Granted I had to get my daughter to show me how to steal music off the internet download something from iTunes, but come on. Gen Y loves music? Boomers do to. Heck, I still have eight-tracks, albums and a turntable. This was the most idiotic “marketing to Gen Y” advice I saw…

I can’t even look any further. It’s just stupid. Gen Y, Gen X, baby boomer, millennial, WHATEVER, they are all people. Unique individuals with unique needs, wants and desires. Lumping people into “generations” based on population shifts on a graph and applying wholesale marketing techniques to them makes about as much sense as me telling you to avoid people born in the Year of the Rabbit.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go target dogs and pigs.

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About the Author
Jay Thompson

I'm a real estate broker in Phoenix, Arizona and the publisher of the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog. I tend to drive too fast and scream at the University of Texas and Denver Broncos football teams. My two kids are smarter than most adults I know and my wife is simply amazing.

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  1. Oh Jay – I SO agree with you! I'm so tired of these "so-called marketing experts" telling us that we have to do something differently to get a certain someone to use our services. To heck with that. I'll put myself out there and if they like me, they like me. If they don't, use someone else and I'll happily work with people I like!
    My recent post Tax Lien Sales in Kootenai County – Interested Here’s some info…

  2. This is a super cool post. A few years ago we sold a home to a Chinese family that said they had to have it as soon as they saw the address. It was located at 13888 and they said 8's are very lucky in Chinese culture. Sometimes if we have something similar in price I will try to list or or end the sales price with an 888. I know this seems silly but to them this home was it, they had to have it and they did. They paid cash and have held on to it now as an investment property and have no plans on ever selling it. :)
    Alex Aguilar
    My recent post San Diego Library Gas Leak and market update

  3. elizabeth c. golden says:

    Love it! I'm a pig…take it easy on me :) Go after the dogs, lol. I resent the fact that they say I'm better led, than to lead. (1959). The rest was right on, however!

    I guess I"m screwed because I don't own an IPOD….my daughter and husband do. Does that count? Guess I'd better go hang with the old farts…what group are they? Ha ha ha. Great read Jay, as always!

  4. @tcar says:

    This made my night. Thank you Jay. Of course we agree here, especially when it comes to something as serious as a real estate transaction.

  5. Maui Realtor says:

    LOL, being a ‘rat’, I’d like to think that we move fast and are very insightful.

  6. BawldGuy says:
  7. Real estate blog post of the century right here. Very nice!

  8. This is certainly every client group under the sun. I too am so tired of the 'how to market to gen Y'ers' posts. They are iNEVITABLY not written by Gen Y'ers. They tend to be mundane and useless.

  9. Ha ha ha, I had a good time reading this! I totally agree, marketing to a segment of the population like Gen Y's might have some value, to treat them like they are all the same is silly, kinda like the Chinese Zodiac. By the way, how come the the description of a wood dragon fits me so well? What's the deal with that? Oh, and i never eat at Chinese restaurants only at Asian Bistro's….

  10. Way to go on making your point Jay. Can't say I'm totally on the same page as you on the subject of generalizations of a particular demographic, but you do make some good points.
    My recent post Weekly Real Estate Market Update North Liberty IA October 11- 2010

  11. Loved this post! So entertaining…I think I have experienced nearly every one of these type of clients over the years. Where did all of the "Dogs" go?!?!

  12. Jennie Victorian says:

    Yas! I'm a dog and it sounds a positive thing for me. Fantastic! I always admire people who have such extraordinary skills. Thank you for compiling & posting this awesome list. Waiting for next post.

  13. dougster413 says:

    This does crack me up. But the target group has grown up during the "age of eBay" where people bid on stuff all the time, and there is a lot of joy in "the haggle" and winning the game. This phenomenon wasn't an every day experience for Americans before 1995 when eBay hit the world like a 2×4. Yes, people haggled over cars, but they didn't haggle over day to day stuff. That is the big "shift" in American culture… we now bid on stuff, look for internet discounts and reviews, and instantly haggle. I am sure Todd Carpenter understands that this cultural shift is what defines this specific U.S. age group of consumers. All of us now do it, but that group in particular has known no other way of life.
    My recent post House Hunting Fiction

  14. Ria Wise says:

    This was pretty amusing! I was born under the year of the Tiger, and I gotta say, challenge accepted? hee
    My recent post Five Reasons Why!

  15. Troon North says:

    Seriously you are onto something – you could probably hit the Chinese Zodiac people and Gen Y by doing another post on how to market using Feng Shui – in fact, that's a category that exists – maybe we need more Feng Shui stagers and agents in Phoenix.

  16. Rodney Ash says:

    This is one of the most enjoyable and entertaining post i've read in sometime. Good work on the creativity and time spent on this post. Like others I think "how to" info on marketing to gen Y'ers' is a bit tired. Keep up the good work and post. Thanks!! xD
    My recent post Getting Pricing and Builder Estimates for Your New Home

  17. myrontay says:

    Point taken and amusingly so. =) and most "marketing gurus" are twats anyway. Keep up the good posts.
    My recent post HDB enhances resale checklist to help sellers and buyers make informed decisions

  18. hahaha, it seems ridiculous but some of my friends here do this Zodiac's way. And they've made some success.

  19. Kristanna2010 says:

    Many people want to buy property in the form of like houses and real estate. The main reason is to save money. The informations for the real estate business was very good to hear. Thanks for the informative quotes in this site. Buying a own home is not a easy one really thanks for the post.

    AARP Health Insurance

  20. Hilarious post. Don't forget about prospecting using Facebook games like Mafiawars or Farmville. That's the next big thing for reaching gen Y, just watch.
    My recent post Proven Fire Safety Tips

  21. cabcot says:

    You would think that with all of the cool animals on this planet, they could find some cooler ones than a rat and a cock. Nonetheless, it is so important to understand where your client is coming from and what motivates them. The art of the deal is always in the people along with the numbers.
    My recent post Top Five Celebrity Log Cabins and Cottages

  22. This is absolutely hilarious…thank you for your honest, witty, sarcastic blunt commentary. Now how do I adapt this to mortgage…..hummm. I like the site redesign.

  23. Paul Francis says:

    I'm a Dog… thanks for a blog post idea to get ready for the upcoming Chinese New Years…

    Paul Francis… Your Las Vegas Real Estate agent loyal as a Dog. Your Happiness is more important to me then a commission check….

    Good stuff… Thanks!

    My recent post HAFA Guidelines Being Modified

  24. Paul Francis says:

    Happy Chinese New Years!

    It’s the Year of the Rabbit… Interestingly… I have a client that is a Rabbit and their short sale just got approved by B of A today with all future deficiency judgment rights waived…

  25. Tara says:

    I like the idea of combining the Chinese zodiac with the art of Feng Shui. That’s a powerful 1-2 punch. But I think it is less about what generation you are from and more about your gender. Both are examples of a topic that rates way higher in the female brain, regardless of age.

  26. Hey this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  27. I will have to commit that to memory.

  28. Maja says:

    Great post, I really had a good laugh. Thanks. According to Chinese Zodiac I`m a monkey. It’s good to know that you can segment buyers by a Chinese Zodiac.

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