Friday, October 30, 2009

Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Finding Leads in Closets

How is your return on investment based on the time you have spent with online social networking from a business perspective? Here is a very specific and focused application of online networking that cuts through the confusion and can yield outstanding measurable results.

In luxury real estate marketing, there is an important difference between professional networking and social networking. It is true that social networking can yield referrals. But, professional networking with synergistic non-competitive professionals within your marketplace is more deliberate and focused when it comes to generating business faster.

Here is an example. In your marketplace, are there any luxury homes with pools? Doesn’t it make sense to meet the heads of the most successful pool maintenance companies in your area? How about taking the heads of the companies that design and install custom closets to lunch? Think of potential home sellers and buyers who reside in their address books! These professionals are looking for more business too, and you may be able to introduce them to your contacts, as well.

Business networking has been around since commerce began. The more non-competitive professionals you know the more potential referrals you get, and give. This may sound simple, but it is extremely important because it is easy to lose sight of the fundamentals with all of the hoopla of social networking. Take the internet out of the picture for a moment and consider this: Who you know has always been key factor in your success.

So, if increasing the number of quality professional contacts you have is a major key to success doesn’t it make sense to spend more time developing more professional relationships in a focused way, giving more referrals, and staying in contact with your sphere of influence consistently?

Bring the internet back in the picture. Can you see how using tools like Linked In for professional networking can exponentially increase the number of potential referral sources you have and actually save you time? It is simply a matter of focusing on finding and developing great relationships with more professionals within your local market.

Now that you are getting measurable results from deliberate professional online networking, have a field day on social networking sites. Without the pressure of monetary expectations you probably with spontaneously generate referrals from all the new friends you meet.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Syndicate YOU! Part 2

Photo by byj

In Part 1 of this blog series we covered the wonderful opportunity to not only syndicate your listings as a means of generating leads for your luxury real estate marketing practice, but also syndicating YOU by leveraging the power of the new media tools.

By creating a name for yourself on the internet, a one-woman or a one-man brand, focusing on publishing content that you are passionate about (not necessarily real estate), you can significantly expand your sphere of influence. What is truly exciting about this opportunity is the relatively low cost of entry into the field and the potential for tremendous return on your investment.

Recently, a movie that was produced for $15,000 generated $7.1 within the first two weeks of its release. The film’s buzz on Twitter and Facebook propelled it to #5 at the box office. Word-of-mouth advertising via social media also helped to make the movie, Julie & Julia (Julia Child) a hit. Barnes & Noble reported that they temporarily ran out of Julia Child’s, Mastering the Art of French Cooking because of the renewed interest that the movie triggered. And, the book is once again a best seller.

An important key to becoming a one-woman or one-man brand, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, through new media syndication (blogging, video, podcasting, article distribution, etc) is finding an uncontested niche. If you carve out a newsworthy market space and generate compelling stories, others will help you spread the word because they are excited to “join” your brand.

Here is an example of a potential uncontested niche that you could cover as a syndicated columnist and also, contribute extraordinary value if you are passionate about the subject: Local sports. This does not include major league baseball, basketball, football, soccer, etc. It does include the little league, the high school sports scene, beach volleyball, the ultimate Frisbee league and more.

The entire purpose of this exercise is to engage more and more local community members to interact with you and each other, and also become well known and well thought of in the process. You will be surprised at how much real estate business can flow from syndicating YOU, without ever mentioning a thing about real estate. Just feature your real estate credentials along with some calls to action (to contact you for specific real estate needs, e.g., a CMA).

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Syndicate YOU!—Part 1

Become a One-Woman or One Man Brand

There is no getting around it! To gain the competitive advantage in your marketplace, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, you need to embrace the evolving media of the internet. To accomplish this you need to delve fully into and understand the concept of syndication both listing syndication and the syndication of YOU.

Those agents who focus on listing properties understand the advantages of syndicating their listings on as many web sites as possible. That way they achieve maximum exposure for their listings by reaching consumers wherever they begin their property search.

Coldwell Banker, for one, promotes that their listings are now distributed to more than 350 web sites. A single listing can become a workhorse to generate leads. Point 2 offers listing syndication to dozens of web sites. In both of these cases, once the luxury agent uploads a listing (something that an assistant can easily do) the rest is automatic.

But, what about syndicating YOU? Personal syndication via blogs, videos, pod casts, articles, e-magazines and more enables you to reach even more potential clients and referral sources, providing you have something that is interesting to show and/or tell. Being interesting, newsworthy and buzz-worthy is the key. But, you need to make it easy for others to find your publications in a sea of content.

To syndicate yourself via the internet, you need to become a one-woman or one-man brand. You need to become synonymous with a specific niche or category in which consumers are interested. And, you do not necessarily need to publish content about real estate as long as it is clear that real estate is your “day job”. It is perfectly OK to follow your “other passion” and become famous for something apart from real estate.

An example of a one-woman brand in the culinary arena is Clotilde Dusoulier. Her name may not sound familiar, but her blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, has become quite well known. The brand name itself is memorable and buzz-worthy (you just want to tell others about it). The logo and website/blogsite stands out visually and is easy to navigate. Plus, the content is excellent.

Ms. Dusoulier explains, “It is a good metaphor for my cooking style: the zucchini illustrates my focus on healthy and natural eating: fresh produce, artisanal goods, and a preference for organic and local ingredients. And the chocolate represents my decidedly marked taste for anything sweet in general, and chocolate, glorious chocolate in particular.” She began writing her blog in September 2003, in both English and French. Since then she has written best selling cookbooks and received national and international awards. Her recipes and commentaries on food appear on several web sites.

So, luxury real estate marketing professionals, we encourage you to take some risks. Discover and explore your passions beyond real estate. Dive into the new world of syndicating YOU! Be sure to read Part 2 of this series for more details.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

The Antidote To The Social Media Dilemma

Photo courtesy of Swanepoel Social Media Report 2010

The Titanic shift from traditional media to social media has confounded businesses of every type. Luxury real estate marketing professionals are no exception. With the Do Not Call laws, telemarketing is no longer an option. People are tossing direct mail in the garbage more so now than ever, without even looking at it. The ability to record TV programs and “zip through” commercials while on mute has significantly reduced the effectiveness of advertising on broadcast TV. Even banner ads are being ignored online.

All of these major changes pose this important question: How do you effectively reach your targeting market? The answer: You do NOT reach your target market. You allow them to reach to you by being accessible and offering extraordinary value.

The Social Media Dilemma: A Plethora of Choices, plus a Scarcity of Time

In the not too distant past we had three basic choices in the US when viewing TV: CBS, NBC and ABC. With the advent of cable TV, suddenly there were over 500 channels. Today Direct TV has about 130 HD (high definition) channels alone. Now, with YouTube and the ability for just about anyone to produce and publish video there are literally millions of choices for viewers to watch.

While viewers have a plethora of choices for online entertainment, they ironically have a scarcity of time. This means that in any given category of entertainment they only can retain a couple of names of websites or other media channels in their minds. The same holds true for any category of product or service.

The Antidote: Become the Break-Away Brand

The plethora of choices coupled with the scarcity of time poses what we have coined as the primary marketing ultimatum: Stand Out or Bow Out!™ If you do not stand out, and occupy the top of mind location on a short very short list of brands in a specific category, you might as well settle for crumbs at best when it comes to market share.

Here is an example of how this works. What is the first adhesive cellophane tape that comes to your mind? Can you think of another brand in this category? Do you have time to research more brands? 3M’s Scotch Tape is the “category killer” in cellophane tape category. To become the category killer you must become the bread-away brand.

To stand out and become the break-away brand, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, you need to select an uncontested category or niche in your marketplace that you can dominate with passion by offering extraordinary value, better than anyone else. That is how you get your target market to reach to you and recommend you to their friends. Being remarkable in a specific category triggers word-of-mouth advertising or buzz which can be amplified through traditional media and also spread virally through social media.

Take the antidote to the social media dilemna or settle for crumbs. Stand Out or Bow Out!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The New Imperative of Personal Branding in Social Networking

English Astronaut Piers Sellers, Photo by NASA Astronaut, Michael Edward Fossum

The key to building a high-volume luxury real estate marketing practice is developing an abundance of high-trust relationships. The more you make the more you earn. Personal branding accelerates the process of building trust in cyberspace.

According to a recent survey by the Luxury Institute, about the ‘Social Networking Habits and Practices of the Wealthy', 7 out of 10 affluent consumers are now members of social networks. If you want to connect with more potential clients and referral sources, reach out and invest more time on these sites. It can yield big dividends if you go about it in a focused manner so that your valuable time is well spent.

With the right focus you can “stack the deck” in your favor to develop more high-trust relationships in less time. Developing a strong personal brand accelerates the attraction of high-trust relationships and referrals through the power of focused communication.

Personal brand done right harnesses the power of focused communication by making your core, authentic identity, i.e., who you are and what you stand for, explicitly and instantly clear to your target market. Sharpness of focus quickens matchmaking because you and your target market can tell, right off the bat, if you are on the same wavelength.

Like-minded people like to do business with people like themselves because it feels so good to be on the same page. The faster you can let your potential clients and referral sources know that you are a match, the faster you can build trust. The faster you build trust, the faster the referrals flow provided there is reciprocity in the exchange of value for value. That is why personal branding in social networking is an imperative for luxury real estate professionals who seek market leadership.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Breaking New Ground, Don't Be a Copy Cat

Blue Frog by Michael Galber

The best way to take advantage of the new opportunities in social media, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, is to identify an uncontested market niche where you can run circles around your competition and even make your competition irrelevant. The sure way to fail, or get mediocre results at best, is to become a copy cat.

Microsoft is at it again. They are a company in search of a new identity in the new world of social media and cloud computing (software as a service via the internet, like, vs. software located on your computer). Instead of breaking new ground by finding an uncontested market space they are settling for being a copy cat.

Right on the eve of the launch of their new operating system, Windows 7, which is supposed to be absolutely outstanding, they are copying Apple by opening two retail stores, one in Phoenix, Arizona and one in Mission Viejo, California. What are they thinking? Certainly they will be able to roll out new products in their stores and engage face-to-face with customers. However, this is just a case of becoming a “me-too” brand. Supposedly, they are going to have the equivalent of Apple’s Genius Bar. There is nothing new here.

Perhaps they can demonstrate huge computer screens that run Microsoft software. But, they are not the manufacturers of the screens or other devices that run MS software. If they carry the devices in their store they will be competing with other retailers in the same shopping centers.

When you think of an MP3 player, what is the first brand that comes to mind? If you are like the vast majority of people you will say iPod. Can you even think of another brand? Very few people can even think of the Zune, Microsoft's “me-too” brand because they own such a small slice of market share in MP3 players.

If market leadership is your quest, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, steer clear of being a me-too brand. Find a niche that your competitors are overlooking, one that you can be passionate about and dive in. Break new groun, don't be a copy cat.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Leveraging Public Relations

Photo by Valerio Capello

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, how can you achieve top of mind status in your marketplace, overnight? One word: Publicity! The right publicity can help you stand out from the crowd. Here is an example of how one Italian restaurant leveraged public relations to stand out.

Italian restaurants represent the largest population of ethnic restaurants in the U.S. For example, several years ago the famed Golden Triangle in Beverly Hills (a few short blocks surrounding Rodeo Drive) was home to 18 Italian restaurants. New York has the most number of Italian restaurants in the world outside of Italy.

Two years ago, Nino Selimaj, who runs six restaurants in New York, introduced the “Luxury Pizza,” which sells for $1,000 for a pie, or $250 for a single slice. This outrageous 12-inch pizza is lavished with crème fraiche, six kinds of the finest caviar available and thin slices of lobster. It is sold exclusively at Nino’s Bellissima restaurant in New York. The luxury pizza must be ordered 24 hours in advance.

Nino’s luxury pizza may seem extravagant, especially today, when high net worth consumers are shying away from conspicuous consumption, at least in public. But, it is the newsworthiness of the story that is at the core of the real message here. We recently caught the story on the Travel Channel which means that the story has “legs” (longevity). It was covered on many TV news features.

For those who travel to New York, having heard about the $1000 pizza, but have not spent a lot of time there, it is very likely that Nino’s restaurants may very well occupy top of their mind when selecting an Italian restaurant. What can you do, as a luxury real estate marketing professional to generate this kind of buzz in your marketplace by leveraging public relations?

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tooting Your Own Horn

Attention, luxury real estate marketing professionals, who seek market leadership: It is time to toot your own horn and get your story out to the media!

There has never been more opportunity, in the history of mass media, than right now, to become well known and well thought of in your marketplace. That is the goal of public relations. The internet has become the primary source of research for the media. Over 90% of journalists, reporters, TV talk shows, bloggers and media spokespeople turn to the internet every day for research. They are hungry for good stories. And, the internet makes it easy to spread the word about you via viral marketing (sharing your story with friends, family and colleagues with a couple of clicks).

But, you may ask: “What is my story?” or, “Why would the media be interested in me?” That is the big challenge. To have a story, you need to be newsworthy. To have a story that triggers word-of-mouth advertising, you need to be buzz-worthy!

Most successful luxury real estate agents are what we call “transaction engineers”. They have learned all of the fundamentals of marketing luxury homes and/or representing luxury buyers effectively. They are good negotiators, good listeners, good problem solvers and they have integrity. But, that is only the price of admission, in a highly competitive field.

To stand out and be great, to become top of mind, to become a market leader, to attract the attention of the media, you need to create a story that is worth repeating. You need to become known as an expert in something so that your opinion is sought by reporters. And, you need to stand for something (that is distinct from your competition) in the minds of potential clients and referral sources. Nothing is more important in the new era of social media than standing out as the “go-to” agent or company in a specific niche in your marketplace.

However, you cannot stand around waiting for the media to find you. If you want to surpass the transaction engineers, who just see themselves as competent practitioners, you must view your practice as a business. Step outside your role as agent and take on the mantle of entrepreneur. Do not be afraid to craft a inimitable story that demonstrates your expertise in your chosen niche and your superior marketing savvy. Get out there and toot your own horn! But, do so in a tasteful way.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Become A Celebrity Agent

Courtesy of Daniel Boulud

Luxury real estate marketing professionals who seek market leadership should take a lesson from famous chefs and become a celebrity agent in their marketplace. Here is an example of a French celebrity chef who has created a wonderful buzz-worthy story with his masterful take on the all-American hamburger.

A while back we happened to catch Martha Stewart mentioning her favorite burger, the DB burger on TV. When we were in Las Vegas we felt compelled to check it out at Daniel Boulud Brasserie at the Wynn Hotel on the Strip.

Celebrity chef Daniel Boulud has created a version of the classic ground beef burger that is stuffed with red wine-braised short ribs (off the bone) and foie gras. It was a good thing it was not truffle season when we shared the DB burger ($35 at the time--it is now $47) because the price of DB Burger Royale, his pièce de résistance, with a double helping of fresh black truffles on top, goes for $150.

The DB burger is served on a homemade toasted parmesan bun. The bun itself was worth the price of admission, as chef Boulud imports the flour, for his breads and pastries, from France. The side of pommes soufflé was so delicious that we considered waiting for a return trip before ever ordering French fries again.

Daniel Boulud selected an uncontested market niche, the “luxury burger”, and created an inimitable offering with extraordinary value. This process of identifying a niche where there is little or no competition and dominating this market space is a key step in becoming a celebrity as a luxury real estate agent.

If a competing chef offered another version of an extravagant burger as a way to gain recognition, he or she would be considered a “me-too” which is considered old news. Chef Boulud staked his claim first in this category. It has helped him to become even more famous for his catering in New York and also for his restaurants. But, the buzz created by the famous DB burger has made chef Boulud famous in the minds of potential customers outside of his immediate marketplace—those who may never have heard of him before.

What can you do, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, to stake claim to an uncontested market niche and offer extraordinary value? What can you do that leverages public relations to create buzz? What story can you create that will enable you to stand out from the crowd and become a celebrity agent?

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Go for the Gold Part 3: How to Discover Your Unique Golden Voice

World's Largest Gold Bar,250KG Toi Museum, Japan Photo

The gold rush is on for luxury real estate marketing professionals. Be sure to read Part 1 of this series called, Go for the Gold! It is about leveraging the new media tools to tap uncontested market niches. And, also check out Part 2 where we cover the importance of being “follow-worthy” when blogging.

Here, in Part 3 we focus on how to discover your unique golden voice. Your unique voice distinguishes you from your competition. It attracts followers when you report on the subject about which you are most passionate, i.e., your expertise. When you are consistently “in” your golden voice you unique brand of communicating resonates with your target market and you are more likely to convert your audience into clients or referral sources.

How do you find the unique voice? First, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What could get you fired up about each and every morning that you could report on (for inspiration , go see the movie Julie & Julia)
  2. What aspect of your marketplace are you passionate about?
  3. What subject can to be you become know for as an expert that would generate strong interest from those within your marketplace?

It is time to stake your claim to an uncontested market niche and cash in on your passion. Discover your unique voice. Become a master in the use of the new media tools that allow you to reach your target market easier and faster than ever before, Sure they are daunting at first. Just get over it! Go for the gold!

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Go for the Gold! Part 2: Becoming Follow Worthy

Luxury real estate agents have been hearing, for a couple years, that they need to blog. They have been promised that Google will magically send traffic to their sites if they just spew “content”. Never mind that the content that they are writing about or the stories they are reporting are of any interest to a target market. Forget the idea of original content. After mindlessly regurgitating other people’s information, most agents abandon their blogs within 60 days concluding that it was a waste of time and was of little value in terms of generating immediate leads, let alone transactions.

What an awesome tool the blog is for those who have discovered their unique “golden” voice, a voice that is “follow-worthy”! Blogs offers anyone the opportunity to become a syndicated columnist because followers can subscribe to their “column”, keep up on the latest installments and also engage in discussion with the author and other followers. Plus, it is virtually free! So, is the help you can get from your silent marketing partner, Google. Google wants to help create a perfect match between you and your potential audience, your ideal potential clients because they sell more ads when users experience better search results.

Right now, there is an abundance of unexploited marketing niches right under your nose, where you can become the undisputed market leader. But, you will not perceive these untapped “gold mines” if you do not know your own mind. You first need to discover your own golden voice.

Follow us on Part 3 of Go for the Gold! We will cover specifics methods for discovering your unique golden voice.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Go For The Gold Part 1: There Is A Gold Rush Out There

While most luxury real estate marketing professionals are still reeling from the downturn in the market and working harder than ever just to keep up, some are seeing the enormous opportunity that the new era of the internet has to offer and they are starting to reach for the gold ring. Yes, there is a gold rush out there. But, what may not be obvious is what the new gold looks like and how to find it.

The new gold is all about identifying an uncontested niche in your marketplace where you can add extraordinary value; then staking your claim to ownership of that new market space. It is about cashing in on who you are, what you are most passionate about and leveraging the new media tools to reach and connect with your ideal clients in a focused manner.

What is the catch? You need to know who you are, what you stand for, what you are passionate about what you can do better than anyone else in your marketplace. You need to discover you unique voice. Only then will the new media tools make any sense to you in terms of their potential to tap the gold reserve that awaits you. The tools are meaningless otherwise. Only when you become “follow-worthy” will you attract and retain your audience, and also convert that audience into cash flow.

The opportunities for cashing in on your passion have never been more abundant than right now because of the new media tools. Read Part 2 of this series called, Go for the Gold! for more details about how to discover your unique voice and how to become follow worthy.

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