Bash Your Emotions Over the Head With a Club! (or use them to your advantage)

Here’s a reoccurring narrative I see:

I sit with clients in an initial buyer consultation, getting to know them, discovering their needs, and making a strategy with them. Before we go out and view homes, I ask, “What are some ‘must haves’ in your home?” Some say a fireplace, or a Jacuzzi tub, or a lots of kitchen counter space, etc. Others might say “We can not spend a penny over this”. So I write them down and we see houses with this in mind….

We view a few houses, but nothing really jumps out at them enough to make a move.

Then one day, they email a listing to me that defies their “Must Have”. The home looks great from the photos. It may not have that “fire place” or “Jacuzzi tub”. I address this before we show it, and they say, “Yea, that’s fine. We still want to see it”. And when we enter the house, I know within seconds that they’ll eventually start talking about writing an offer.

The buyers are drawing out long “OOO’s” and “Ahhh’s” and “WOW I love it!” But again, I bring up the issue, “Well, it doesn’t have that tub you wanted” or “it’s $3k over what you want to spend”. But suddenly, that “non-negotiable” feature just became very negotiable. Excuses are made to object the “non-negotiable”, like “Well, a fireplace just collects soot and hardly gets used anyway”, or “Jacuzzi tubs tend to capture bugs in the jets, we don’t need one”. And despite my best efforts to bring the client off Cloud 9, it’s as if the client has been hypnotized. Seduced.

And this didn’t happen once. It happens often.

What gives?

People are emotional buyers. No I don’t mean we start to cry like an adolescent girl when we sign papers, I mean when it comes to making purchasing decision, we tend to lead with emotions first — whether it’s a pair of tennis shoes, or a house.

Most people will say “Naw, that’s bullshit. Not me. Maybe others, but certainly not me”.

Imagine a man riding an elephant. The man is the rational self, and the elephant is the emotional self. The elephant is walking wherever it wants. The guy on top, he points, “Go over there elephant!” But in reality, the elephant is just going wherever it wants. The man post-rationalizes the elephant’s decision, to give himself the illusion he’s in charge. This is exactly what’s happening in a purchasing decision.

But, an emotional buy can’t be triggered without atmospherics.

Philip Kotlet, a renowned thought leader and innovator in marketing coined this term “atmospherics.” What is atmospherics? He defines it as:

“The conscious designing of space to create certain effects in buyers. More specifically; the effort to design buying environments to produce specific effects in the buyer that enhances his purchase probability.”

Kotler goes on to elaborate: “Atmosphere of the place is more influential than the product itself in the purchase decision”.


Think about it. Have you ever walked into a big retail store? Pick one out. Any of them. Let’s say Forever 21. Now for me, when I go into that place, I feel super awkward, out of place. I want out, quick. I know where the door is at all times, and if something weird happens, I have a well-timed exit strategy. Well, that’s because that atmosphere wasn’t created for me. Kind of like an entry level house isn’t created for a wealthy lawyer.

Now let’s visit Bass Pro World. As soon as I walk in those doors, I’m drawn like a moth to a light. I’m walking aimlessly from isle to isle, like a kid with ADHD — “LOOK! Senko fishing worms! Look! A Hobie Kayak! Look! A freakin’ crossbow!” 3 days later I look up and say, “What time is it?”. I’m not even sure where I’m at in the store, nor do I care. “Exit strategy? What, were leaving already??”

These retailers spend millions of dollars researching their primary client. They spend even more money researching atmospherics, and making an environment that appeals to the emotions of their target client. They understand “atmosphere of the place is more influential than the product itself”, as Kotlet put it.

Real estate provides us for a unique situation. The environment IS the product. Even more so atmospherics applies.

Unfortunately, agents are rarely considered innovative. Especially when it comes to marketing a property, in applying scientific staging, and making a retail-like environment that appeals to their target market. They stick a sign in the yard, cast a wide net, and hope and pray for the best for their client.

Would Forever 21 try making an atmosphere for a bearded outdoorsman? (and no, I’m not talking about those lumbersexual weirdos). Would Bass Pro Shop make an atmosphere for young and hip women? Of course not.

Furthermore, both retailers would severely undercut sales if they just stuffed their product on racks with no environmental appeal to the peripherals. So it would be foolish, reckless, and severely undercut your profits if we did the same for your house. A one size fits all approach to selling your house would be the equivalent to Forever 21 stuffing their shirts unto racks like ROSS does. There’s a reason ROSS is considered a discount clothing store. Unless we want to discount your product, i.e. your house (like ROSS does), it would be stupid to ignore atmospherics.

Takeaway Lessons

So for you buyers, this is critical to understand. Understand more often than not, you lead your purchasing decision with emotions. Maybe I’ll instruct all my buyer clients to read “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius before we view homes to combat these emotions with the ancient theory of stoicism. Because once the furniture is gone, and the place is bare — you’ll probably be pissed you didn’t buy a house with a fireplace like you initially wanted.

For sellers, you need to realize, failing to create a retail–like environment for your product, i.e your house, WILL short your profits. It will extend the time your house is on the market too. Likewise, not being able to define your target buyer and appeal to their “elephant” is a fundamental mistake. If you hire someone to help sell your house that doesn’t not study this concept intimately and this apply it in your home… Well— profit…there’s the window!

Originally published at

Like what you read? Give Corey Zant a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.