March 1, 2019

Memory and Imagination

If we broke human thoughts into two categories, we can find memories and imagination. Memories are the output of experience where we remember an event that has occurred. Imagination requires the merging of some known information with new, or unknown, thoughts to create something that is new. This ability to ‘merge’ is the only thing that separates humans from other animals and from artificial intelligence.

The ‘home’ (or shelter) is linked to our most primal centre and so when making decisions about the home, we use both of these types of thinking.

We draw on memories of the home experiences that we have already had and then we push our imagination to mesh that information with a new property so that we can see a ‘vision’ of our future in that property.

As real estate agents, when we market property, we are taking our years of experience and an understanding about how ‘vision’ is created in the minds of buyers to promote imagination as the predominant form of thinking.

Far from simply dropping home photos into the placeholders in a brochure, we (marketing agents) use our memories and imagination to create the framework for each individual property – where a buyer’s imagination can merge the property features into their subjective desirable lifestyle ‘vision’.

Understanding how memory and imagination function is critical to telling compelling stories about property.

First, let’s talk about memory. When a computer retrieves information from a database, it searches for the item it needs and produces that information exactly as it is. For example, if we were searching for the Mona Lisa painting, Google would retrieve the exact image from it’s image database and present it to the searcher in perfect reproduction.

The Mona Lisa is an image that most humans from the western hemisphere have seen represented hundreds of times. If human memory worked like a computer, almost everyone in the western hemisphere at least should be able to perfectly reproduce the Mona Lisa, recalling every minute detail including the colour of her robes and both the position and number of trees in the background. Something, humans can not do.

Human memory is inextricably linked to experience. When we remember something like the Mona Lisa, we don’t ‘recall’ images and detail, we re-experience seeing it. Unless we have ‘experienced’ that thing so exhaustively, we cannot help but omit and blur the original in our minds.

It is why Rami Malek who just won the Academy Award for best actor for portraying Freddie Mercury needed to watch the Live Aid concert recording 1,400 times in order to reproduce it as spectacularly as he did in the feature film Bohemian Rhapsody. That is over 450 hours he spent ‘experiencing’ Queen’s Live Aid performance so that he could reproduce it.

Imagination though, will hypothesise a new experience by sharing information across different parts of the brain. It takes the experiences we have of something ‘living in a small single story home’ and applies them to parameters such as ‘living in a two-storey home with a pool and tennis court’ and it starts to build images of us playing tennis, swimming, and descending majestic staircases. To do this, it might draw on real experiences we have playing tennis, or swimming, or walking up and down stairs. Those experiences will ‘merge’ and we come up with a vision of what life could be like.

I have essentially just described the process of how buyers create a ‘shopping list’ of features for property they are looking for: ‘Must have a pool’; ‘Tennis court’; ‘Preference for two levels’…It comes from merged experiences in the mind’s eye – imagination.

If we add some visual stimuli like a photo of a real pool, real tennis court, real staircase at a property – then our brains have the ability to merge those lived experience into a real context and buyers can ‘imagine’ themselves at a property. Once, that is achieved through marketing – the gateway is open to inspection, negotiation and transfer.

How we set that visual context – how those ‘stories’ come together is the smart marketing that sets our team apart. Deep connection to the community and a carefully crafted intuition about how each property’s story should be told is how we imagine and create powerful selling and buying journeys.