Don’t Get Involved In The Race To The Bottom

August 20th, 2012

Seth Godin, the famous marketing guy of Purple Cow fame wrote a wonderful little post recently about staying out of the “race to the bottom”:

…There’s always the opportunity to cut a corner, sacrifice lifestyle quality and suck it up as we race to grab a little more market share…

Everyone these days needs to be looking out for this race to this race to the bottom. The final paragraph of Seth’s post somes up the message:

…The race to the top makes more sense to me. The race to the top is focused on design and respect and dignity and guts and innovation and sustainability and yes, generosity when it might be easier to be selfish. It’s also risky, filled with difficult technical and emotional hurdles, and requires patience and effort and insight. The race to the top is the long-term path with the desirable outcome.

So what can you do to stay out of the race to the bottom in real estate photography? For starters, you don’t just do what everyone else is doing, you innovate and come up with ways to be remarkable:

  1. Don’t compete just on price alone. Compete with your customer service.
  2. The personal customer service you provide and a positive relationship with your customer can be a more important competitive factor than the photos.
  3. The product a real estate photographer provides is much more than photos, it’s how easy you are to schedule and work with and it can include a lot of little extras like tours, slide shows, and rider signs and things you do to be remarkable.
  4. Constantly be thinking about and looking for ways to improve your products. This means you need to be talking to your customers and understanding how the world looks from their point of view.

The thing I like about Seth’s advice the most is the emphasis on thinking long term and building a sustainable business.

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4 Responses to “Don’t Get Involved In The Race To The Bottom”

  • When the product we offer is similar to others, yes, service is a great differentiator and should never be overlooked. But in real estate photography, the product can be so drastically different that both product and service are huge factors that can lead one to the top or bottom. Reinventing the wheel is not easy, but being innovative as Larry says, “understanding how the world looks from their point of view” is key to capturing aspects of real estate that one might not notice. It’s often the fine details that are overlooked that draw people to purchase one home over another.

  • Great post Larry! I couldn’t agree more!

    I would add a 5th item to your list. Make sure the technology platform is “top shelf” too. Not just good enough – the very best. That is why we are constantly reinvesting and adding to our technology platform at TourFactory. For example, we recently released an iPad version of our virtual tour that is specifically designed to take advantage of the unique hardware and UI capabilities of the iPad. We didn’t shoot for a “compatible” version of a single tour – a “lowest common denominator” approach simply wouldn’t do. We made a totally separate version so that the experience could be fine tuned for every mode of use.

    One of my favorite lines from Seth’s ditty about the “Race to the Bottom” is a question he asks. It has haunted me for years since I first heard it in one of his prior books. I remember it whenever I find myself in a discussion with an agent or photographer that seems hell-bent on getting the lowest prices in spite of any trade offs. The question is this: When you’re in a race to the bottom… what happens if you win?

  • From this Realtors perspective price is important, but not nearly as important as image quality and cutting edge options and opportunities. You may have to educate some Realtors but start with the top producers and work down…you will find the path to the top much shorter that way.

  • Coincidentally, I found this classic concept in my inbox this morning also… “and-then-some”

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