Stating the obvious

By Vern McClelland

January 12, 2017 12:00 AM

Sometimes I wonder if marketing companies have decided that we consumers are so gullible that messages need to be spelled out with words at a primary school level (it used to be grade eight).
Or is it simply a determined drive to appeal to our subconscious desire to fit the society’s ideals in order to prompt a sale?
The other night I got the urge for an evening snack and went to the pantry in search of some popcorn.
I threw the bag into the microwave then stood by reading the package. There it was; all the key words which today’s discerning buyer would want to see!
“100 per cent whole grain.”
No kidding, Jose?
This is corn, right?
Maybe I can justify this extra meal by rationalizing it as a good source of fibre too?
Even if it isn’t, and frankly I don’t know (or care), the “whole grain” label makes me feel better about eating it.
White bread isn’t allowed in our house.
“Cholesterol free natural oil.”
Score one for the canola growers out there.
Hey, now I’m contributing not only to a healthy lifestyle, I’m also promoting the local economy!
We won’t talk about the sodium intake.
A body needs salt, doesn’t it?
Maybe it came from the Sifto plant in Unity; again, a good employer in the area.
Now I really feel better.
But seriously, sometimes even spelling out the obvious goes over the head of some people.
I once had a sweet young thing phone me to ask if the house on her block with the Sold sign on the front lawn was still available?
Ah, no.
Last summer a lady came in to the office to ask if she could buy one of our For Sale signs as she wanted to sell her home privately, but thought a professional sign would make it more attractive to buyers.
She didn’t want the services of a Realtor, just the sign.
That’s like asking a car dealership to put a new truck in the driveway so your friends and neighbours can admire your good taste, but not having taken out the loan to buy it.
I sent out a flyer once to farm owners, advertising the availability of some land by tender and inviting them to consider bidding on it.
One gentleman came in to the office to find out what the seller wanted.
When I informed him that an asking price hadn’t been established, but we were giving everyone an equal opportunity to make an offer, he got quite cranky.
“What if I don’t bid enough?” he asked.
To which I responded, “Then you likely won’t be the successful buyer!”
“I will buy it right now if you tell me what the owner wants.”
To which I replied, “I honestly can’t give you an answer to that question,  but I encourage you to bid what it is worth to you and accept the outcome.”
“Well, that is a horse**** way of doing business!” he said, as he stomped away.
Turns out his bid came in at less than half the eventual purchaser was willing to pay anyway.
I’m not saying he was entirely wrong, feeling the way he did, as there is no doubt it’s easier to put a ship in the harbour if the captain knows where the harbour is, but the rules were the same for all the prospective buyers.
Sometimes as Realtors we fall into the trap of overexplaining property in our enthusiasm to reach out to a specific audience.
One recent MLS ad in the newspaper stated “...this bungalow is perfect for older adults as it has no stairs on the main level.”
Good to hear that the basic design feature of a bungalow hasn’t changed since I got my licence.
One of the first questions we often get on acreages is: “How far is this property from town?”
So, to forestall the inevitable, I sometimes state in the listing texts something along the line of “less than a 10 minute commute to the city by pavement”.
At least until the day I got a call from a buyer who wanted to know “How far is ten minutes?”
At first I thought he was kidding; but soon realized he was serious.
When I stated it was two miles north and seven miles east, he tersely replied that was of no help to anyone driving a car newer than 1970 with kilometers showing on the dash.
True enough.
Pardon me.
My age is showing.
I guess I need to trade in the Edsel.
Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

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