The Bad Word Bucket – Humility is the New Pink for Spring



Steve has long had what he refers to as a Bad Word Bucket. It’s not a real bucket, of course. That would just be goofy. It’s more of an imaginary receptacle where he likes to toss the words and terms he finds most distasteful.

I agree with many of his choices. Plethora, exacerbate, and frankly (as in, “Frankly, I am lying through my teeth”) are all fine choices. Others are more questionable. Bane really bugs him. “Crabgrass is the bane of all homeowners.” Utter that phrase, and you will really get him fired up.

Top Producer. Neighborhood Specialist. Your #1 Choice.

Bad words.

For the real estate agent, it seems humility is the new pink for spring. And in a way, I think it is high time that we reconsider how we are portraying ourselves to the consumer. In my core market, virtually everyone is a Neighborhood Specialist, including the agents who haven’t yet closed their first transaction. Everyone is a Top Producer, whatever that means. Hollow terms that should be meaningful, but through overuse, just sound schmaltzy.

So, we should just toss all of these terms in the Bad Word Bucket?

Marc Davison wrote at Inman News about the agent and broker web site wasteland he sees online, a landscape of offerings lacking meaningful content, imagination and sincerity. In speaking of the revelations resulting from his search experience, he said:

The most obvious was the mechanical gunfire of platitudes rat-tat-tatting across every broker and agent Web site. The bullet holes murdered my ability to decipher and choose. It’s like the old game show, “To Tell the Truth.” Will the real local expert, market specialist, top producer, #1 expert please stand up?

But, here is the conundrum. What do you do if you are one of the more experienced and successful agents? Isn’t this a message you want to convey? Isn’t this a message the customer wants to hear? And, just how do you get the word out without using the Bad Words?

The mantra is now, “Demonstrate your credentials through content, and they will come.” I can’t argue with the whole “show me” concept, but in the real world, this is not enough. Our clients want to know that we have sold a home or a hundred. They want to know that we have some miles on us as agents. They want to know that we won’t be practicing on their transaction. When we ultimately meet face to face, I can provide the “top-producing” supporting data, but until I get that meeting, I need to at least convey the concept and instill trust. It’s generally considered poor form to post your Form 1040 on your web site, so we are left with generalities. And Bad Words.

In Marc’s article, I got nailed by a commenter. “Kris even uses the words ‘Top Producer’ which you mock.” I’ll admit this stung; I have been pretty careful to avoid these Bad Words on our web site and here on our blog. The comment sent me screaming to the About pages on each, fearing I had overlooked something and committed a major fashion faux pas.

Here is what I found. From the web site:

Kris and Steve Berg are top-producing Broker Associates. They have helped literally hundreds of families buy and sell…

And from the blog:

Veteran Broker Associates for Prudential California Realty, Kris and Steve Berg are among the top agents nationwide…

All true. I didn’t say we were Top Producers, but I did say we were top-producing, which we are. And, for the record, we are “among the top agents nationwide.” I was purposely wishy-washy so that it would always be factual. Some years the company’s production threshold includes the top 1%, others the top 2% or 3%, depending on market activity; it is a moving target, but I challenge you to argue that all of the numbers aren’t kind of close to the top.

So, I am going to take a bit of a contrarian position on how to dress my web presence this season. I will continue to focus, as I always have, on providing the rich search experience that Marc found lacking. At the same time, I am going to also continue giving the visitor a little information about who is providing the content. No, I will not call myself a Top Producer, but I will and without apology say that I am a top-producing agent, and if given the opportunity, I will be able to back that statement up. Tomato, Tomawto. I’ll wear the badge like a pair of yesterday’s legwarmers. I’ve earned the right.

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