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In medicine, a placebo is a pill that you think will make you better, and so it does. In your business, a placebo is a prospect having the experiences they expect to have, and so they have them.

For example, you take your vehicle to get serviced. You walk into a clean lobby and are greeted warmly by a service technician. You think that it’s a quality service center. And so it is. After your vehicle is inspected, the service technician explains in plain English the service your vehicle needs. You decide the technician is trustworthy. And so he is.

You receive a coupon in the mail from a new dry cleaner in your neighborhood. It includes a picture of the owner who looks experienced. You take your first order to them and the service line moves quickly. You think the dry cleaner is efficient and professional. And so they are.

Social scientists have discovered that a person’s perception creates expectations and influences his or her experiences. If you’ve heard the phrase – Perception is Reality – than you’re familiar with this phenomenon.

Placebo effects are all around you. And if you’re not aware of them, they can work against you. Have you ever met a real estate agent and felt they made their mind up about you before having a true opportunity to demonstrate your services?

For instance, you meet a prospective Agent and they appear standoffish. The Agent has an immediate perception of expectations based on their previous experiences, even though those experiences didn’t include you or your firm. You learn that they have had many bad past experiences dealing with other lenders. You have to overcome the negative placebo effect to become trustworthy.

However, if you learn to manage placebo effects, you can shape an Agent’s expectations before this happens. If you shape expectations, you shape their experiences.

To Shape Expectations, Improve Your Materials

Do your materials create an expectation of trust, skilled, competency? Do your materials distinguish you? Do you look smarter, better, more successful? Are your materials made with better materials?

Usually, your materials are the first contact an Agent has with your service. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. First impressions are eternal.

Use two of the most powerful things in your materials: images and brevity. Images speak visually. Considering that Agents are bombarded daily with communication, use pictures to convey your message. And secondly, use as few words as possible. But make every word count. A simple, precise message combined with a matching image can effectively communicate your point with greater precision than an overcrowded message screaming for attention.

To Shape Expectations, Develop Your Website

Does it look professional, clear and easy to navigate? Is it inviting to Agents? Look at some of your competitors and notice how they only appeal to consumers.

Does your website shape the Agent’s perception of your service? Agents should find your site to be an educational resource of how your services differentiate from your competitors. It should address common concerns they have about lenders:

Poor communication Loans not closing on time Inadequate customer service

Use visual descriptions to shape their expectations differently.

To Shape Expectations, Review Your Touchpoints

Is your company’s image of service better than your competitors? Does it create an expectation of being personable, reliable, and dependable? Are the people who answer the phones congruent with the image?

Are messages returned promptly? Do you uncover problems before they arise? Do you fulfill requests before they’re requested?

Your touchpoints are any point of contact between the Agent, the client and your service. This includes product touchpoints, human touchpoints, and system touchpoints.

For instance, an Agent receives your invitation to meet and discuss opportunities. They’re impressed with the quality of your letter and materials and decide to respond (product touchpoint).

They call your office, which is answered by the receptionist. The receptionist is courteous and polite (human touchpoint) .

The Agent is connected to your voice mailbox and listens to your professional greeting. They leave a message and easily exit the system (system touchpoint) .

Your touchpoints are placebo effects that help shape their experience.

Without having met you, the Agent has a perception of what to expect from you. This expectation will influence their experience when you meet together – hence, The Expectancy Theory.

Jeff Nelson helps mortgage companies and individual loan officers increase loan originations by attracting quality relationships with real estate agents from the development of customized relationship-building strategies.

Click here to get a free copy of the Marketing Planning Guide, a 20-page workbook designed to help you outline a strategy to becoming an Agent Magnet.

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This Financial Services article was written by Jeffrey Nelson on 8/19/2005

In medicine, a placebo is a pill that you think will make you better, and so it does. In your business, a placebo is a prospect having the experiences they expect to have, and so they have them.For e