Friday, January 29, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Win Listings in Just Two Minutes

iPad - Courtesy of Apple

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, can you make a convincing case, to prospective home sellers, to hire you in the first few minutes of your listing presentation? If you can, you stand to win more listings, run circles around your competition and become the market leader in your area.

Steve Jobs is a master at presentation! His presentation of the iPad, Apples newest tablet computer, was stunning from a branding standpoint. In less than two minutes he was able to make a compelling case for buying an entire new category of device.

Basically, he stated that tablet computers have been around for quite some time but have received a tepid reception at best. Most of Apple’s target market already uses laptops and smart phones. Why a 3rd device? His answer was simple: The tablet must be far better at key tasks than the other two devices. It must be better at browsing, email, photos, video, music, games and e-books. And, that is what the iPad was designed to do.

In other words Apple has found a way to passionately add extraordinary value to an underperforming product category or niche. Apple has a sterling track record of doing this with the MP3 player (iPod) and the smart phone (iPhone). Like each of these two niches, Job’s intention is to make the iPad the “category killer”—the market leader.

HP and Dell both have tablet computers in the works. But, Jobs plans on leaving the competition in the dust. From day one, all of the 100,000 iPhone apps will be available for iPad users. Your entire iTunes library can be uploaded instantly to the iPad.

And, due to the acquisition of a computer chip company, Apple will be able to sell the iPad for just $499, which foils his competitors on price. He also was able to completely dismiss the fastest growing segment of the computer market, net books, as cheap, slow functionally inferior small laptops.

Your listing presentation must be compelling. If market leadership is your quest you must be able to communicate your extraordinary promise of value in just a couple of minutes.

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Thursday, January 28, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Branding: What Does Your Brand Stand For?

Anna Karenina 1878

The Oprah Effect—Part 2

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, what does your personal or company brand stand for? Can you say it in a few words? Better yet, can you say what your brand stands for in just one word?

In a few words, Oprah stands for “building a better life”. A Yoga teacher in Chicago, Robyn Okrant, committed herself to living the Oprah way (following all of Oprah’s advice) for a year in 2008, and blogging about it. She now has a book deal, which effectively made her dream come true as she wanted to be a writer. There is the Oprah Effect in action.

One of the ancillary words that Oprah stands for is “education”. Oprah is passionate about reading and one of her sub-brands is Oprah’s Book Club. By enrolling her vast audiences in her club she has introduced the public to literature by great and important authors. Now, before she recommends a book, she gives the publisher a “heads up”, so that they can print an additional 500,000 books.

This is another facet of the Oprah Effect. It only takes 20,000 sold books to become a best seller. A classic Leo Tolstoy novel, Anna Karenina, usually read by university students studying Russian literature, became a bestseller, thanks to Oprah. The same thing happened when Oprah recently recommended a novel written in 1985 by Nobel Prize winning Columbian writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera. It was originally published in Spanish. Then, 3 years later it was translated in English. Neither of these books were best sellers when they were published.

When you express your personal passion it becomes clear that you are doing what you love to do. Oprah’s love for education is evidenced by her building a school in South Africa for girls. Oprah walks her talk with no pretense, no spin, and no hype. That is why she is one of the most trusted personal brands in the world.

What are you passionate about? What do you stand for, in a word or a phrase? This is the core of your personal or company brand?

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Branding: Discover the Power of Your Personal Brand

The Oprah Effect-Part 1

Recently CNBC aired a show called the Oprah Effect. This 42 minute show illustrates the power of Oprah’s personal brand. If you go to you can watch the entire show on your IPhone, on your desktop, on your laptop, and soon on your tablet computer, anywhere, anytime. In fact, you can even watch it right here on our blog post. As a luxury real estate marketing professional seeking market leadership, now is the best time ever to build your own personal brand.

Oprah built her personal brand over 26 years. You can build yours in just 2 years if you are willing to seize the incredible opportunity of the new media of internet TV.

What is the catch? You need to have a unique voice and you need to create an extraordinary promise of value. You also must be what we call, “follow-worthy,” in order to build an audience and expand your sphere of influence. With the internet fragmenting the TV market into micro-niches, the goal is to find an uncontested market niche that you can dominate. And, you must be passionate about your niche.

Whenever Oprah likes a product she tells her viewers (44 million a week) about it, and usually interviews the entrepreneurs behind the product. Within minutes phones start ringing off the hook in those companies. Carol’s Daughter’s (mentioned in our previous post) beauty products went from a 2 million dollar company to a 20 million dollar company. You Take the Cake was on the verge of insolvency and now is a thriving concern selling cakes and shipping the batter of their famous key lime cake to the likes of Whole Foods grocery stores.

Oprah is passionate about what she likes and what she believes in. Find your passion and you will discover the power of your personal brand.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Branding: Discover What Makes You Special?

Dragon Fruit

Quite often, we get calls from luxury real estate marketing professionals asking us for an image makeover in the form of a logo, or a new website that will assure their success in the new age of social media marketing. They think that is the definition of branding.

The new opportunity on the World Wide Web is to express your unique voice as an expert in some uncontested market niche and to become the market leader in that niche. People are looking for answers to their most perplexing challenges. They seek a voice that is special, one that they can identify with, a voice that is compelling and follow-worthy.

This voice cannot be made up by some marketing image maker and cannot be modulated to please others; it has to be the voice that reflects the authentic you. Your voice is your "DNA"!

For example, there is only one dragon fruit (see photo above). It is unique among cactus fruits. In Taiwan diabetics use the fruit as a food substitute for rice. It is also credited with alleviating respiratory ailments. Other cactus fruits do not have this claim to fame.

Fabricated images are doomed, at some point, to fail and fade away. Hype and spin cannot disguise the lack of substance anymore. The internet has imposed transparency on all fronts.

Branding is not buying a new outfit or simply having a graphic designer design a new logo. It is discovering your voice and promoting the unique attributes of it. Once you have discovered it, you must stick to that which you are. Life becomes a binary world: what is on your path and what is not on your path—what is on your brand signal and what is off signal. The design and the logo are dictated by the brand not the other way around.

One of the best definitions of a brand was given by Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter beauty products. Because of her understanding of branding, she was able to take her business from her kitchen to the nation at large. She has attracted some of the world’s most famous “spokes beauties”, such as Halle Berry, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Mary J Blige, to sing her praises.

According to Ms. Price,

“When you are an entrepreneur and you are starting your business, it is so important to know what your voice is, and what it is that you bring to the table that is different. You won’t have a brand, you won’t have an identity if you don’t hold on to that, that makes what you do special.”

Discover what makes you special. Find your unique voice as an expert and you will thrive in this new decade where a personal brand can set you apart from your competition.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Lessons from Lamborghini

Luxury real estate marketing professionals can learn an outstanding lesson from Automobilli Lamborghini and the Auto Gallery of North Los Angeles. The founders of Auto Gallery, Harry Gray and Tony Schwartz have experimented with a novel way to market these fine cars by opening a showroom adjacent to Neiman Marcus in the Topanga shopping mall. Their philosophy: Make the car buying process fun and hassle free!

Watch this exciting LOL Video and see if you can come up with some ways to make the luxury home buying experience FUN!

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Web Design: De-clutter Your Home Page!

As luxury real estate marketing professionals you understand the importance of staging a home to increase its appeal. One of the first rules of staging is to get rid of the clutter. It is also important to realize that the same principle applies to your own website, especially your home page.

What if you approached a home and there were 100 front doors from which to choose your entrance to the home? That is the feeling on many luxury real estate websites that are cluttered with too many bells, whistles, gadgets, links and unclear navigation.

Are you trying to trying to keep up with your competition by adding every conceivable gadget or widget on your home page? Attempting to please your clients and making sure you are keeping up with your competitor by adding the same gizmos is a sure-fire way to clutter up your website and chase away business. De-clutter your home page by finding a better place for the weather report, the schools, the city hall, the concierge, the news feed, and the webcam.

Flash Does Not Equal Cash!

Spare your visitors the dizzying flashing slide shows. Flash does not equal cash! Unless it is used very, very sparingly, subtly and elegantly, Flash can be extremely annoying. It may create a pleasant effect the first time. But, it can immediately get old and deter visitors from returning which is the key to the value of your website as a lead capturing tool.

Flash slide shows, on your home page, are no longer original. We recently did a thorough competitive analysis for a client in a very upscale marketplace. We actually viewed the websites of the top 5o agents there. The overwhelming majority used Flash slide shows on their homepages. What used to be novel has become commonplace. Flash slide shows on home pages are now considered a flash in the pan!

Think like a home stager. De-clutter your home page on your website!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Branding: A Headshot Is Not A Brand!


Many luxury real estate marketing professionals confuse their headshot as being their brand. The majority of real estate print ads are simply a collection of "heads and houses". As a result, what you get is a sea of sameness. When your competitors all use their headshots as their brand what makes you distinct? This is part 2 of our previous post, Off With Your Head!

A personal brand is a representation, a symbol that expresses the essence of your authentic self, your unique DNA and, most importantly, what you stand for. A headshot alone does not comprise a personal brand.

It is possible to use your headshot as part of your personal brand. But, it must be carried off with the conviction of achieving celebrity status within a marketplace or a niche. A face without a context does not stand for anything. Martha Stewart stands for “homemaker extraordinaire”. Donald Trump stands for “deal maker par excellence”. Emeril stands for comfort food.

But, the three letter word BAM! as Emeril shouts when he seasons food, completes his brand identity in a single gesture because it communicates his unique flair that is inimitable. BAM! is now a product (BBQ Sauce) that is associated with Emeril’s face.

Rachel Ray also stands for comfort food, but what gives her a distinct brand identity is the "girl next door" trust factor. In fact, Rachel Ray rates higher than Oprah in terms of perceived trust, as a personal brand. Her “Yum-o” and "Delish" expressions have become her trademarks. Rachel Ray's pet food brand, “Nutrish” is an extension of her personal brand.

Here is our answer: If you seek celebrity status, go for it! But, make sure you also communicate what you stand in a logo and or a slogan. Otherwise, the need to use a headshot in email without a brand context, communicates that you are concerned about being forgettable, which may not be the case. Personal branding done right, as Natalie and Nat King Cole would say, is UNFORGETTABLE IN EVERY WAY!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Web Design: Delighting Web Visitors with Easy Search

For luxury real estate marketing professionals it is now essential to have a website that enables visitors to find what they are looking for IMMEDIATELY! Here is a case study VIDEO about our clients, Crown & Crowns in Downtown San Diego, who are known as the Downtown Crowns.

Downtown San Diego is comprised of 8 Districts with dozens of luxury high rise condominiums. Finding the right condo in the right district is made fast and easy on this the Crowns' website.

This video is best seen in FULL SCREEN mode. Simply click on the > to start the video. Then, hover your cursor over the video and click on the monitor icon at the lower right corner of the screen.


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Friday, January 15, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Web Design: Off with Your Head!

How would you feel if you went shopping on Rodeo Drive, Madison Avenue or in any other upscale shopping area, and the owner of the store you approached was sitting in the window, waving at you and begging you to come into the store to shop? Does the song title, “Walk on By” seem appropriate as an answer? As a luxury real estate marketing professionals, you must realize that your competitors’ website is just a click away.

This is the effect that luxury real estate websites have when the agent walks across the screen and starts pitching or even when a personal welcoming video starts playing automatically on their home page. Yes, it is cool that this new technology exists. But, the effect is not only tacky it annoys website visitors who are getting more and more internet savvy by the day. The likelihood of repeat visits is very slim.

Now, take this a step further. You walk into a luxury goods store where you just want to peruse the merchandise with no particular intent to buy. You are in a “just looking” mode. Get the idea that the manager of the store follows you around every step of the way peering over your shoulder. How soon would you be inclined to make a return visit?

This is what the effect of having your headshot on your home page now has on net savvy website visitors. We say, (to quote the queen in Alice & Wonderland) "Off with your head--your headshot, that is!"

Web visitors now want to be left alone in a self-service venue. If your website elegantly fills this need your chances of capturing the lead is significantly increased.

You have a nanosecond to make a first impression with your head shot or video. You want to make a lasting first impression. What if all of the salespeople in our luxury store stood like statues with their arms crossed smiling at you? Some photographer somewhere along the line came up with this pose, which is supposed to convey “professionalism” and it has been copied thousands of times by real estate agents all over the country. What do crossed arms mean to you with or without a smile?

The bottom line here is this:

  1. Take your headshots and personal welcoming videos off your Home page and put them on your “About” page.
  2. Nix the “walk-on” special effects. Think of those in their pajamas in the wee hours of the night who do not want to be startled and just want to search for their next home.
  3. Relax those crossed arms. This body language does not communicate certainty. It indicates tension.

Remember: "Off with Your Head!"

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Expand Your Sphere of Influence, Exponentially, by Blogging

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, one of the best ways to meet new people, develop more referral sources and expand your sphere of influence is to blog about exciting local happening.s Think of yourself as a syndicated columnist, a journalist who covers a particular “beat” and reports on local events from a unique vantage point, with a distinct “voice”.

Social networking can put you in touch with like minded people from all corners of the globe. But, there still is something special about meeting new people right in your home town with whom you can share common interests. If you are a lifelong learner blogging also gives you an opportunity to learn new things.

A friend of ours in San Francisco introduced us to her hobby of bird watching in the Bay Area. She invited us to Hawk Hill, which is positioned on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It arguably has the best view of San Francisco and the bridge from that vantage point. We had expressed interest in birding while we were living in the Napa Valley wine country, as there were so many fascinating birds that hovered over our home there.

Hawk Hill is perhaps the best place to observe the raptor migration in the Western U.S. You do not have to be an ornithologist to be a bird watcher. Raptors in particular are extraordinary birds to watch. They are at the top of the food chain and their health is an indicator of the condition of the entire chain.

What was most interesting to us was just how light weight they are. To calm them down when they are captured for observation and tagged, they are placed in a tube made out of two connected tin cans.

Birding is just one way to meet new people, locally. But, once you discover a new hobby or interest like birding, you can now count on the fact that there are plenty of birding groups on social networking sites where you can post your blog.

Follow your interests and you will meet many new friends. Blog about things local and you will expand your sphere of influence exponentially.

Check out this video on Hawk Hill bird watching--courtesy of our LOL media partner, the Wall Street Journal.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Think Local When You Blog!

Fully Cusotmizable Vinyl Car Skins--No Paint!

Lessons from Local Motors—Part 3—Think Local!

Luxury real estate marketing professionals often ask us what they should blog about. And, we answer: Think Local! Look for stories of local heroes and find an angle that no one else is covering. For example, if you specialize in eco-luxury, look for stories about companies and people who are making news on this front. Local Motors is such a story.

In fact, the Local Motors story, in our opinion, holds the keys to the future of capitalism, enlightened capitalism. It offers us hope that economics, society and the environment can achieve a balancing act where everyone wins. It also makes us proud to be Americans because the story is unfolding right here.

In Part 2 of this series we mentioned that Local Motors offers the unique ownership experience of actually building your own car in a local “micro-factory”, in just two weekends, under the supervision of a Designated Builder Trainer. When you assemble the parts you will find out, firsthand, the degree to which the actual components of the car are eco-friendly. Here are a few examples:

  • The motor used in the Rally Fighter, Local Motors’ first model, is a BMW M57 clean diesel engine. It offers a fun experience with very low fuel consumption, achieving 36mpg on the highway, or 30mpg in an off-road setting. The motor relies on extremely high fuel-injection and combustion pressures to burn fuel more completely--dramatically reducing both soot and nitrogen-oxide emissions.
  • The body of the car is made of a composite material that can actually be recycled. There is no corrosive steel used that winds up on a junk heap. In fact, a separate composite material is used for the nose cone and the rear fender that is stronger than steel.
  • This car has zero layers of paint! A vinyl car skin is used that can be fully customized by the customer. It lasts for years and is easy on the environment because the color ink is sprayed close to the surface and thus significantly reduces harmful chemicals in the air.

Ecology is much more than just the natural environment; it extends to the community that was built online to design the cars and to engage customers in the process. As such Local Motors is also a stellar social media story. By March 2009 there were 2,400 active contributors to the site, uploading drawings, commenting on each others' work, and voting on designs. Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors, says that number has since climbed considerably. Social media channels on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter add millions more people to the Local Motors community.

There are so many wonderful stories right in your marketplace. You just need to present your story in your own voice, which is what a personal brand is all about. If you can show your followers that there are exciting and interesting stories right “in their own backyards” you will indeed become what we call “follow-worthy”, and people will spread the word about you.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Pre-empt Your Competition

Lessons from Local Motors-- Part 2—Pre-empt Your Competition

In Part 1 of this story we focused on how Local Motors “crowd-sourced” the design of a vehicle for an underserved market niche. Their first car, the Rally Fighter, is an off-road vehicle (desert terrain) that can double as a family car on the road. In Part 2 we examine how Local Motors has captured the essence of how the very concept of luxury is evolving. It is becoming experiential not just material.

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, can you state your unique promise of value in just a few words? Local Motors can: Make C.O.O.L. Cars!

Community: The world’s largest community of designers, engineers and enthusiasts come together here to help design and develop cars

Open Source: Open Source chassis data, open development process (collaboration with no secrets)

Ownership Experience: From design to build to service and community experiences.

Local: Cars are built, sold and serviced locally in Micro-Factories

Perhaps, the most unique aspect of Local Motors is the ownership experience. When you purchase your vehicle you are invited to work alongside the experts to build it. Based on your skill level, a customized program is designed to give you hands on experience. It takes only two weekends (6 days) to build your own car and you will have a Designated Builder Trainer to help you. According to Local Motors, “When you come into one of the Local Motors micro-factories you will be sure to meet friends for life”. For car enthusiasts, this brand of ownership experience is true luxury!

By breaking new ground with this experiential ownership model any other car company will appear as a “copy cat”. It is what we call a pre-emptive strategy that is virtually inimitable without becoming a “me-too” brand. This is the sign of market leadership.

How can you break new ground in your luxury real estate market arena and pre-empt your competition?

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Find an Underserved Market Space

Rally Fighter at Low Ride & High Ride Height

Lessons from Local Motors- Part 1—Find an Underserved Market Space

We are often asked by luxury real estate marketing professionals, “What does it take to become the break-away brand in my marketplace?” Our answer is:

Find an uncontested, underserved market space that you can dominate with passion, one that makes economic sense. Make sure you select something that you can do better than anyone else.

For inspiration, look outside of real estate for examples of how other entrepreneurs are doing it. There is an extremely exciting news story emerging in 2010 about a new American car company that is re-thinking just about every rule in the automotive industry by indentifying and masterfully serving underserved market niches.

We are delighted to be covering this story in the Language of Luxury blog as we believe that this ground-breaking story will yield tremendous insights for luxury real estate marketing professionals who have set their sights on market leadership. If you have any questions about the future of “Yankee Ingenuity”, which is at the heart of the brand we know as American, you can rest assured that it is alive and well at Local Motors!

When Jay Rogers returned from active duty as a Marine in Iraq in 2004, he came home with the brilliant idea of bringing cars to market in a sustainable manner. That is, a way to produce and sell automobiles that is economically, environmentally and socially beneficial. In Jay’s words:”the cars people want, where they want them, when they want them”. This is what his new car company, Local Motors, accomplishes.

After receiving an MBA from Harvard Business School and raising $4 million in seed money Jay did something that had never been done before in the car industry. Rather than dictating the design of the vehicles, he reached out to the design community and offered a cash reward for the best design. Local Motor’s first “crowd-sourced” vehicle was born: a rugged off-road vehicle that could also drive comfortably on the open road.

The Rally Fighter was created based on the needs of an underserved market niche: the need for a vehicle that can easily traverse desert terrain and also double as a family car that comfortably handles the open road. The winning design provides manually adjustable dual height suspension. It seats 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 children. The Rally Fighter goes into production this summer. The cost is $50,000.

But, the best part of the story is that Local Motors plans to produce their cars only on demand at local “micro-factories” (that also serve as showrooms and service departments) where you, the buyer can watch and even participate in making your own car. With “just in time” delivery of parts and components there is no wasted resources, no inventories languishing on car lots, and no unnecessary shipping.

And, there is much more to this exciting story that we will cover in subsequent posts. But, it all started by identifying an uncontested, underserved market niche. What aspect of your local luxury real estate marketplace is underserved? That is the first place to look for your new niche.

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