Perception Is Everything: What Do You Actually Do?
I use the term ‘real estate transaction’ instead of title a lot. I pretty much avoid using the word ‘title’ to describe a ‘title company’ as much as possible. I really believe that what a title company does is not well represented by the words ‘insurance’ or ‘title’.
A brand is how people perceive of a product or service and how it makes them feel.
The brand of title insurance has been unrepresented for so long, no one even knows what title companies do anymore, including title companies themselves.
If the people who pay money for your product, don’t understand your product… you’re in trouble.
And if a product serves as an unnecessary middleman in the way of the consumer – only to make it more expensive or slower – I say, it deserves to die. We’re living in the most free market environment of all time, no one can stop death at the sword of the consumer.
The thing is, unlike taxi cabs, travel agents, television, book stores, music as a product, encyclopedias, the phone company, magazines, video stores… title is harder to kill and what it delivers is extremely important. What all of these things deliver is important too and we can learn something from them.
- Taxi cabs thought the system of fares was the business. Getting me from here to there is the business.
- Television thought ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX were the business. Entertaining me is the business. Video stores too.
- Magazines and newspapers thought the experience of sitting and reading was the business. Transmitting information is the business.
The title business is removing and managing debts against real estate. That’s the meat, that’s the value. That doesn’t have to be done inside the construct of a title company, just like getting me from here to there didn’t have to be done by yellow cab, entertaining me didn’t have to be on ABC and getting me information didn’t have to be in a magazine. It just has to get done. The fastest and most convenient way to solve a problem wins.
Debts against real estate is a particularly hard problem because the rules, information and access to data is so local. It’s kept the need for humans in the process alive this long and avoided ‘disruption’. It won’t forever.
If people perceive that you have no value, you have no value.
Start asking your clients, people that refer business to you, buyers, sellers: what do you think we actually do? I bet the answer you get is different than the one you give.
Brand. If you’re in the t-t-title business (I even stutter when I write the word), start talking about what you really do that’s valuable. You manage real estate transactions. Tell everyone and say it again and again and again.