How can LEGOS help you sell more homes?

By Stan Barron, REALTOR® and Contributing Editor - Posted on
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But before I begin, let’s take a quick look at how the LEGO company was saved by a small change to their advertising… LEGO is not an American company.  It is an old company that has been around since the 1930’s. The company started in Denmark and by the late 1940’s they had expanded into Germany with easy success. But when they tried to enter the U.S. market in the early 1950’s their attempt failed miserably. Why? Because the company used the same advertising message that worked in Germany to sell to Americans. The company tried the same advertising a second time only to get the same failed response. It made a third run at the American market.  Once again there was no response and they were losing a lot of money. But on the fourth attempt, they made one critical change. LEGO hired an outside advertising consultant, Clotaire Rapaille.  Rapaille was known for “unusual” experiments to help businesses improve their advertising.  He steadfastly believes that companies are too close to their own situations to be objective. So, to help discover the underlying problem, he set up an observation room at the LEGO headquarters and watched how children actually play with them. Guess what happens when you give German children a box of LEGOS? They carefully unpack the box…they verify that all parts shown in the booklet are present…then they build exactly the few samples shown in the manual. When LEGO management saw this, they were not impressed because that is exactly what they imagined would happen.  But then, Rapaille brought in some American children. Guess what they did? They ripped open the box…tossed the instruction booklet aside…dumped everything in a pile and started experimenting.  What this proved was there was nothing wrong with the product, the price or target audience — the only “problem” was the advertising message. Everything was solved by literally changing one word! In the German market the LEGO advertising message told parents to buy the product if they wanted to encourage their child’s inclination for engineering (something we now know Germans excel at). Rapaille advised the LEGO company to re-position their product for the U.S. market as a toy that would encourage creativity.  The LEGO company management was highly skeptical of this minor change, but as soon as they tested the new ads, sales began to pour in. As we all are aware LEGO went on to be wildly successful in the U.S. market. The moral is: the wrong message can keep a perfectly good product from selling, and it happens all the time. This kind of research is never discussed in the typical business setting, but it is studied constantly by the advertising industry.  There are many instances of reversing a sales slide by simply changing the advertising message. For example, a failed new vodka brand was selling only a few hundred cases a year.  The packaging and advertising message were changed, and in two years it became the number one vodka brand (called Absolut Vodka). What do LEGOS or even the Vodka example have to do with YOUR business selling homes?…

How Houses Go From Unsold To Sold Simply By Changing the Message

Just like the LEGO company, you may be trying to sell every listing the same way even though the buyer of each home will be very different. You may have a listing (or several listings) that are not selling.  The price, location, and specs could all be “ideal” but the home isn’t selling because the advertising message is not communicating the right benefits to the type of buyer who will buy that specific property. Here’s an example of how small changes in the listing descriptions can sell even stagnant listings fast… EXAMPLE:  A few years ago I took over an expired listings after the home failed to sell in the traditional way.  The original agent listed the home in MLS and on several websites, had a sign in the yard, ran small ads in the newspaper, and used a typical flyer. I took the same house and sold it for FULL price in 11 days. I did TWO things to improve the advertising message of this home and to get it sold fast… 1.  Changed the headline. The previous agent failed to mention that the home was small.  I actually used the word “small” in the headline.  So, why use such a “negative” word in the main heading? That is a trick question because — to the right buyer — a “small” home is not a drawback, it is actually a huge benefit.  Besides, why gloss over an objection prospective buyers will discover anyway?  Doing so only attracts the wrong audience. 2.  Emphasized the primary benefit. Equally important as the headline, the previous advertising failed to stress the home’s primary benefit — the scenic and private back yard setting. My listing description stressed the “rain forest” theme.  When the message is properly executed…the right audience finds you. Here’s my “rain forest” ad I created to sell this home…click the image below to download a pdf.


  To wrap things up…it doesn’t matter if you’re the LEGO company or the owner of a house, the principle is the same: the wrong advertising message will result in failure. Start looking for these small tweaks to the message of your listings.  Remember, always always always, promote the specific benefits that are meaningful to your target audience.

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7 thoughts on “How can LEGOS help you sell more homes?”

  1. Great article. I’ve seen not only negative words/comments but also spelling errors, repetition, too much fluff, and no call to action with complete contact info. Too much to mention here. Example from my MLS: “backyard outside” Duh???

  2. It’s a wonderful article and stimulates Realtors to take more time to discover what each particular home offers that is different and special to a target buyer most likely to be attracted by this or these amenities. Excellent – stimulates the brain to really think about each home’s uniqueness and who would like it.

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