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You cannot make this stuff up, so I’ll tell it to you straight.

One industry in which I’ve done lots of marketing education in the last 20+ years is the real estate industry. And as you marketers will know, real estate agents sit at the bottom of the consumer “Trust Barometer” either just above or below, advertising and marketing types, depending upon the measurement report.

Two things my proprietary research has revealed over the years:

  1. Consumers believe most real estate agents try too hard to pretend they’re something they’re not – professional – by overdressing to impress.
  2. The bigger the photo of the agent in the real estate ad, the less that consumers trust the agent.

Last week I was reminded of this by a mate of mine, who is a very talented art director. He was recently contracted by an average suburban real estate agent in Sydney, to design their ads, brochures and some digital assets.

He was to work in their back room and not have any dealings with the public. Here’s what he wore on his first day at work:

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This is a typical day’s clobber for most in the advertising and digital world. Quality casual clothes. There are no shiny suits, no completely useless neck ties, no Russian clown shoes that stick out 4 inches in front of your toes curling upwards on the end (minus the pom-pom) – in other words he did not dress like a spiv who leaves you counting your fingers after shaking hands with you.

Within an hour of starting work, the female who contracted him – no fashion princess herself – rang the recruiter and asked him to tell my mate he was inappropriately dressed for the job. She demanded he wear a suit and tie to be a back room art director designing her marketing collateral. Seriously, she did. She wanted him to dress completely inappropriately for the job he was tasked to do, because she had bad fashion sense.

The recruiter rang my mate, fearing he was working in board shorts, singlet and thongs. My mate promptly sent the recruiter a photo of himself in his fully acceptable work clobber. The recruiter’s response; “I’m speechless”.

Suffice to say my mate didn’t go back the next day.

Then a few days later my mate gets an email from GQ with a recommended look for this season. Here’s the image – it speaks for itself:

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I have friends and relatives who are very successful real estate agents. They dress comfortably, they don’t overdress. They never pretend to be anything but who they are – a real estate agent. They know that if they overdress they lose their customer’s trust, because they look like they are trying too hard and therefore by implication, have something to hide. This translates into dishonesty, just as the consumer trust barometer reveals.

So maybe if the fashion fools of real estate started dressing appropriately for the job and focused on customer service, rather than their Jimmy Choos, they might move up the consumer trust scale.

Gotta go to work now. Where are my designer stubbies?

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Connect with me: https://au.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld