Thursday, February 25, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Website Design: You Need Eye Candy to Capture Attention before You Can Capture the Lead!

Photos courtesy of

If you practice luxury real estate marketing in a vacation destination marketplace you know that high net worth travelers can become buyers overnight. Get the idea that a couple arrives in your town from a neighboring state that is ready, willing and able to purchase a luxury home. They would like the assistance of a competent real estate professional who really knows the local marketplace, but they do not know one in particular. How do they select one? How do you they find YOU?

Perhaps, if you have an inviting storefront, they may wonder in randomly. If your office is dusty, gloomy or in disarray how long will it take them to make an about face and walk out.

But, chances are they have done some research on the internet. Can you see just how important their first impression of your website is? How does your site stand out from your competition? Does it look similar? Is it more than five years old like over 60% of real estate websites are today?

The very first goal of website design is to capture attention. In today’s attention deficient world you need eye candy to attract eyeballs! Packaging is paramount! Your website homepage is your store front. How can you expect to capture their lead if they are not impressed with your window display to begin with and quickly “walk on by” to your competitor’s site with a click of their mouse?

The mechanical functionality of real estate websites, are fairly standardized. A good IDX provider can offer your visitor a satisfying MLS search experience. However, it is the graphical interface and the shortcuts you offer to help your visitor get immediate gratification for their search query that determines if they will come back or register on your site.

With a plethora of choices and a scarcity of time, your website must be a WOW! Isn’t time for a makeover? Templates are templates. Just look at the packaging of the best luxury consumer product brands in the world. They understand that you need high quality eye candy to capture the attention of high net worth consumers. That is the first step in capturing the lead on a luxury real estate website.

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Reputation of Your Personal Brand: It is all about Trust!

As a luxury real estate marketing professional your reputation is at the core of your personal brand equity—the value of your brand. Your reputation, your trust factor can be the deciding factor in selecting you to list a luxury property over your competition or be selected as a buyer’s representative.

Blogging is a great way to build trust over time with potential clients, providing you have something of interest to say on a subject about which you are passionate. It is a wonderful way to build your reputation and your personal brand in the minds of potential referral sources who do not even know you personally. But, your column must be follow-worthy and comment-worthy. If you really want to stand out, it must be “buzz-worthy”. That is, your content must be worthy of sharing with others. To spark word-of-mouth advertising your content must remarkable.

Do you still subscribe to a newspaper? We do, but only to one: the digital edition of the Wall Street Journal where we can customize the content that we want to read and also receive news alerts of things that matter to us the most. Personalized, customized news is readily available for free, yet we are willing to pay a nominal monthly subscription fee to WSJ for a good reason. The reason is simple: we trust the Wall Street Journal as a news source and we follow certain columnists like Walt Mossberg, whose opinion we trust.

Walt Mossberg is the author and creator of the weekly Personal Technology column in The Wall Street Journal, which has appeared every Thursday for almost 20 years. Walt is a perfect example of a “power journalist” and a one-man-brand. He is an opinion leader with an impeccable reputation.

Walt is also the co-creator and co-producer of the technology industry's most prestigious annual conference, D: All Things Digital. On, Walt spells out his Statement of Ethics. “It is more than most of you want to know, but, in the age of suspicion of the media, I am laying it all out”, says Walt.

With the general trust level for real estate agents in general, blogging can set you apart as a trusted advisor. You may not have to include a Statement of Ethics on your blog or website. But, if you set high standards like the WSJ and Walt Mossberg, not only can you create a strong personal brand, but you can also build a solid reputation that will give you a competitive edge.

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Achieve Market Leadership in the Blink of an Eye!

In the arena of luxury real estate marketing, the entire competitive landscape needs to be redefined. A completely new paradigm needs to be considered that determines who the big winners in the industry will be in 2010 and beyond. Whoever wins the COMPETITION FOR ATTENTION (who stands out the most?) and the COMPETITION FOR RETENTION (who is remembered first?) will get the lion’s share of business.

In the Olympic Men’s Luge event Germany took first place, with Austria second and Latvia in third. The athletes were so close in technical skills that what separated gold, silver and bronze was the length of time it takes to blink your eye. The difference between first and second place was 0.5250 second. Latvia was behind #1 by only 1.002 second.

Following this Olympic example, if luxury real estate agents competed on fundamentals alone, such as negotiation skills or local market knowledge, there would probably be very little difference among the top three agents in terms of market share. But, in business it usually does not work that way. Often, there is a large margin between best selling or top producing #1 and the #2 contender, with #3 being forgettable.

Ironically, the difference may have nothing, whatsoever, to do with the quality of product or service in a given category. In the category of MP3 players, the well-made Microsoft Zune cannot hold a candle to Apple’s iPod who dominates this category with a 90% market share. iPod has won the competition for attention, because of its design and the popularity of iTunes.

iPod has also won the battle of retention because most people have retained only one MP3 brand in their “memory folder” for this product category. They cannot even think of a second brand name.

Try this! Start blinking your eyes and quickly answer this question: What is the first adhesive cellophane tape that comes to your mind? Now, can you think of a second brand other than the “category killer”, Scotch Tape?

This is the paradigm shift that needs to happen in luxury real estate marketing: the difference in market share is, in reality, MIND-SHARE! The competitive playing field is actually in the minds of the target market. Very few agents understand this concept which opens up a tremendous competitive advantage for those of you who want to become the “break-away brand” in your marketplace.

Understanding that you are competing for the ATTENTION of your target market in a time starved, attention deficient world will change your entire approach to marketing and branding. In our strategic branding practice, we use the expression. Stand Out or Bow Out! People do not have time to pay attention to a lesser known brand that “blends in”. The agent, who COMES TO MIND FIRST, the personal brand that wins the battle of RETENTION, dominates the marketplace, period! If you have the heart of an Olympic champion it is you who needs to come to mind first, in a blink of an eye.

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Branding: Is Your Message on Target?

Expression of Joy?

Luxury real estate marketing professionals take heed! A very valuable lesson in messaging, can be learned from the massive new ad campaign of luxury brand, BMW. Messaging is the words you select to communicate the essence of your brand to your target market. A brand’s message tells your audience how you or your company wants to be perceived as distinct from your closest competition. As such messaging is an extremely important component of personal and company branding.

BMW has set out to “own” a word in the mind of affluent consumers. They have staked a claim to the word “joy” and they are spending big bucks to get it to stick in your mind. We do not believe that it will stick. Whereas, they have owned the phrase, “the ultimate driving machine” for years, BMW is completely missing their target this time. They are now off their previously strong brand signal which stood for efficiency, high-performance, and precision engineering.

Do you know of an agent or a company in your marketplace or a neighboring marketplace that “owns” a segment of the market? Perhaps, it is a specific golf community, a luxury high rise, the downtown area or the waterfront area. Their name is synonymous with that niche.

You can own a niche or a category of product or service. But, you cannot own an emotion! eBay owns the word “auctions” on the internet. The only place where they do not have a monopoly is in Japan where Yahoo! owns “auctions”. eBay actually bowed out of Japan and ceded to Yahoo!

When someone wins an auction on eBay or Yahoo! they may experience the emotion of joy. But, neither can claim the emotion as a brand differentiator. When new homeownersa close escrow on their first home can one agent claim ownership of this emotion as a means of being distinct?

Could a teenager derive more joy from purchasing her first car than a third time BMW owner? Joy transcends demographics which is another reason why it cannot be owned as just a luxury word. Besides, do Mercedes or Lexus owners not experience joy?

The “expression of joy” depicted above is an actual canvas the size of a basketball court, a BMW publicity stunt, created by a driver “joyfully” driving on the canvas with various colors of paint. Could a joyful Acura driver not compose such a canvas?

If you want your luxury real estate personal or company brand to stand for something, make sure it is something that your competition cannot also stand for or own. Then, get your messaging on target. Otherwise, you will defeat the entire purpose of branding: “Top of Mind” in a specific category or niche.

Perhaps, a better new word for BMW to own would be "Vision". Check out this cool BMW concept car on VIDEO! (Click on the center of the video player).

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Introducing LUXETERA, ETC.-- The Language of Luxury

LOL is both a professional networking community and a learning community. It is a place where you can gain access to the wealth of the world by acquiring social currency. That is, by becoming fluent in the Language of Luxury.

Our purpose is to help you attract and better serve more high net worth clients.

We now have a name for the language of luxury itself, LUXETERA, ETC. which is a featured category on the LOL Blog. Here we highlight luxury news from around the globe, courtesy of our LOL media partners, and also share insights from our own continuous research in the world of luxury.

Please take a moment to watch the VIDEO introducing Luxetera, Etc. Be sure to join the LOL Community and subscribe to the LOL Blog. Thanks for Watching!

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Language of Luxury Special Video Edition

LOL Special Video Edition

This is a special video edition of the Language of Luxury Blog. Here we feature members of our LOL Team of Niche Experts & Discussion Leaders and also present popular luxury real estate marketing video tips.

Thanks for Watching!


Ron & Alexandra Seigel, LOL Community Founders

LOL Intro

Tropical Niche Grace Lappin is the featured member of our LOL Team of Niche Experts & Discussion Leaders, in the Tropical niche. Check out Grace:s amazing $15.75 million property on the island of Providenciales, or Provo as the locals call it in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Watch the Video!

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 the Viceo!

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Monday, February 15, 2010

2010: The Year to Unleash the Tiger within You

2010 is the year of the tiger. According to the Chinese horoscope, drama, intensity, far reaching changes, and massive technological advances are in store for all of us. Seizing opportunities and maximizing your personal, individual talents is advised. We believe that 2010 heralds an era when personal branding and micro-niche marketing for luxury real estate marketing professionals is no longer an option. It is an imperative! 2010 is the year to unleash the tiger within you and embrace the unabashed pursuit of market leadership.

The internet has empowered consumers with self-service capabilities which enable them to ferret out most of the real estate information they need. Who will fill in the gaps and effectively interpret that information-you or your competition? When they are ready to reach for purchasing help or are ready to interview a listing agent, who will be the first to come to mind? That is the question!

Most time-starved and attention deficient consumers can only hold one, two or three brands in their minds in any given category of product or service. The unabashed pursuit of market leadership means seizing the #1 position in the consumers mind. Coke outsells #2, Pepsi 2:1. #3, RC Cola, is barely on the radar screen and all others colas are settling for the crumbs.

The internet has also empowered professionals like you to potentially become “one-man or one-woman brands”, local celebrities, TV stars, radio talk show hosts and journalists. Those luxury real estate agents who are willing to get over their fear of technology and make the time to get up to speed with this stupendous opportunity will be the big winners in 2010 and beyond.

Each micro-niche, within your marketplace, represents an opportunity to become a leading expert, the personal brand of choice and the market leader. It could be a specific golf community or a single high-rise luxury condo. The idea is to find an uncontested market niche that you can “own” and dominate, and serve better than anyone else. But, the key is to be passionate about whatever niche you choose, one that allows you to maximize your individual talents.

Think like a tiger this year! Be unabashed about your pursuit of market leadership in 2010.

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

One of the true joys of working as a husband and wife team is that you get to spend more time with your true Valentine. Now, we realize that this is not for everyone and many couples are much better off pursuing separate careers or just being apart more of the time. But, for us, two people who are passionate about the same things, such as strategic branding and lifelong learning, it is truly a luxury to work side by side.

A key to a great partnership relationship, in addition to precision teamwork and open communication, is finding the time just to have fun. One of our favorite romantic things to do here in Santa Barbara, California is to stroll along the beach and look for heart-shaped rocks, sand dollars, sea shells and coral. In fact, we now have quite a collection of these Valentine stones. (See photo above). They give a new meaning to the concept of a “private collection” because they have no intrinsic value to others. But, to us they represent the luxury of time simply to enjoy life to the fullest and to fall in love with each other all over again.

So, this weekend, take the time to do something fun with the one you love, with your family or friends. Find some reason to fall in love with life. We wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Branding: What Makes You So Different?

Chanterelle Mushrooms

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, can you state who you are and how you are distinct from your closest competition is a few quick phrases? If you cannot do this, how do you expect your referrals sources to be able to tell their friends about you and what makes your personal brand different? A good way to learn this personal branding skill is by discovering what makes certain things in nature distinct. Here is an example.

With recent heavy rains, here in Santa Barbara, California, wild mushroom season is upon us. Suddenly, the beautiful, chanterelle mushrooms, golden in color and worth their weight in gold, appear in the farmer’s market. The trumpet shaped chanterelles are often referred to as the “champagne of mushrooms” or “the queen of the forest”. In the state of Oregon, they have been deemed the state mushroom due to their symbiotic relationship with Douglas fir trees that are so plentiful in the forests of Oregon.

Connoisseurs consider wild mushrooms to be the true luxuries of the culinary scene. While they have little nutritive value they have the power of enhancing the flavor and texture of certain dishes like no other food. Chanterelles, with their unmistakable aroma of apricots and delicate woodsy flavor that holds its own when combined with other food, are prized above all mushrooms by many of the world’s great chefs.

Alexandra discovered a fabulous pizza recipe with chanterelles, pancetta, radicchio and leek. This is now a staple at our home during wild mushroom season.

Chanterelles are easily identified and can quickly be distinguished from potentially dangerous mushrooms with very little instruction or experience. Unlike many other mushrooms, once a colony of chanterelles is established, it re-emerges in the same location year after year, even when harvested.

Summary of the unique characteristics of the chanterelle “brand” of mushrooms:

  • Golden color
  • Trumpet shape
  • Aroma of Apricot
  • Woodsy flavor that holds its own when combined with other food
  • Perennial

What are your most distinguishing characteristics as a luxury real estate marketing professional?

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

LLuxury Real Estate Branding: The Spaghetti Bench Mark

A benchmark is something that serves as a standard by which others may be measured or judged. To be original, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, your personal brand of doing business should set a new standard of excellence in your field. It should raise the bar and become a benchmark. How else will you become the standout, if market leadership is your quest?

To become a market leader we recommend that you identify and dominate an uncontested market niche. You need to select something that you can do, with passion, better than anyone else in your marketplace and become known for this as your trademark. A trademark is a distinguishing characteristic or feature firmly associated with a person or thing. You must spot a niche that is underserved and not obvious. Then, you must claim it as yours and own it.

The Spaghetti Bench, by the Franco-Argentinean artist and designer Pablo Reinoso, is both a benchmark and a trademark series of work. He has taken the ordinary, yet functional park bench and elevated it to something quite extraordinary. It would be next to impossible for another artist or designer to do a similar work without being called a “me-too” or copycat.

The Spaghetti Bench is truly remarkable! You just feel compelled to tell others about it. We actually contacted Mr. Reinoso in Paris and asked for his permission to publish his works on the LOL Blog. We were that moved to share it with you. We hope you pass this post along to your friends, if you are moved by his work as well.

It was an immediate emotional response for both of us when we saw two park benches intertwined, becoming one, yet retaining their individuality. Reinoso’s works convey what we value the most: innovation. How absolutely outrageous to begin a piece of art in one room and have it continue in another as it transforms from inert to dynamic movement. It spans a spectrum from practical to lyrical and says, “You can have it all!” It reaffirms that we do not live in an ‘either-or” world as many would have us believe, that your lifestyle, your love style and your work style can be a continuum when you live a life of passion. And, that is part of what defines luxury for us.

When you are willing to step out of the realm of conformity, to free yourself of the tyranny of the status quo and become an original, only then will you have a remarkable personal brand that becomes a benchmark for all others. Find that which can become your trademark, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, and you will succeed beyond your dreams.

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Branding: Your Unobvious Promise of Value

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, are you having an identity crisis? Are you struggling to articulate your own unique promise of value? If so you are not alone. The internet has shaken the very foundation of other service industries, such as travel agencies and stock brokerage firms, by empowering consumers with self-service. What value are you adding on top of self-service and how do you get that message, your unique promise of value, across better than your competition? That is the question!

A while back we were invited to attend a seminar (as observers) in which a room full of highly successful agents were gathered. Every agent there earns at least a $500,000 in gross commissions per year. They were asked to express how they stood out from their closest competition. They were ALL, without exception, hard-pressed to quickly come up with their unique selling proposition. Integrity, negotiation skills and market knowledge were some of their best answers. But, there are plenty of agents with similar qualities within their individual marketplaces. Each of these agents was vulnerable. A chink in their armor was exposed.

Can you quickly, sharply define and articulate your own personal “DNA” (how you are Different-Not-Alike). If not, erosion of your own market share is inevitable.

No, that is not food coloring in the photo above. Nor, is it a Photoshop trick. Cauliflower is available in purple, green and “cheddar” in addition to white. The difference in the DNA of these three varieties of cauliflower is minuscule. However, the taste and the outward appearance of each one is unmistakably distinct. Each one has its own distinguishing identity.

The same concept of DNA applies to branding for luxury real estate marketing professionals. Your challenge now is this: what may have been obvious before is unobvious now. You must now make your distinct DNA so obvious that your target market not only picks up on it instantly, but can also easily communicate about your DNA to others.

As branding experts we can help you accelerate the process of discovering and clearly expressing your DNA, your unique promise of value. The process may take some deep soul searching on your part to recognize what is truly unique and original about YOU in relationship to your competition. However, our job is to help you make the unobvious, obvious.

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Thursday, February 4, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Blogging: Do You Feel Like a Fish Out of Water?

As a luxury real estate marketing blogger do you feel like a fish out of water? The source of the “disconnect” that you are experiencing could very well be your lack of passion about that which you are writing. If so, you are OFF your personal brand signal. Unless you discover both your passion AND your own unique voice, which is your personal brand and style as a blogger, you are much better off channeling your energy into other marketing strategies.

Passion alone is not enough! If you are passionate about what you are blogging, the trick is to discover how to present your content CONSISTENTLY in your own inimitable way. You must be relentless, as your own editor, to STAY ON YOUR UNQUE BRAND SIGNAL. If you need an outside opinion, hire an editor who can immediately tell when you are on or off your brand signal.

As we stated in Part 1 of this series, ORIGINAL content is what your target audience is craving! Regurgitated or generic information is worthless because your audience can find it elsewhere. Eventually, they see right through you. They will brand you as a copycat and stop following you. Even worse, you will feel hollow (if you are honest with yourself) when you publish non-original material because you are cheating yourself out of the satisfaction that can only come from being original.

When we coach authors and bloggers, which is a subset of our strategic branding practice, we are hired to help our clients discover their unique voice and DNA, to identify their inimitable brand signal, and also what they are most passionate about. Usually, it is not a question of discovering something new. But, by drawing out their unique way of expressing their passion it confirms or reaffirms what they already know intrinsically. We help them by reminding them that they are like fish swimming in water but have taken the water for granted. And, that is always a revelation!

We learned how to decipher and refine our own original ideas when we wrote an internet advertising technology patent in 2002 with our partner, John Ullmen. It took us two years to file. Our patent attorney was an absolute task master. He was the fourth patent attorney that Bill Gates hired and actually wrote many of the patent policies for Microsoft. He was unrelenting in insisting that what we wrote was original because it simply would not fly at the US Patent Office, otherwise.

Many, many times after arduous work, putting in many 18 hour days we would realize that what we thought was original was already originated by someone else. Finally, we were granted our patent in 2007 because there simply was no precedent (what is known as prior art) for our original work.

Without passion, you simply will not sustain your course of action over time, as a luxury real estate marketing blogger. The real rewards of blogging occur, in addition to generating new business, when your audience offers you feedback that you are indeed a one-of-a-kind author.

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Branding: Canned Content = Canned Brands

Are people following your luxury real estate marketing blog? Are they watching your videos? If you do it right, you can build an entire personal brand and a large audience around your blog and videos. However, if your content is canned, meaning unoriginal or generic, you will not stand out as a distinct brand nor will you be follow-worthy. Canned content equals canned brands.

Have you heard the expression “Content is King” in reference to the internet and social media in particular? Content refers to articles, web copy (text on web pages and blog posts), videos, podcasts and photos. When you distribute content on the internet and include a link to your blog and or website you are basically inviting readers and viewers to find out more about you and your business.

If your video, your blog post or your article is shared with others, who in turn share it with their friends, the exposure that your content receives can expand exponentially. This is what is meant by the term “viral” which comes from the concept that a virus can be spread in the same manner. It can be like word-of-mouth advertising on steroids!

The more places you distribute your content the more potential traffic you can generate. Click-throughs on your content can account for over 90% of your web traffic and completely dwarf click-throughs that come from Google or other search engines, even if you are naturally ranked at the top of the first page of search results. That is the power of content to drive web traffic and that is why ORIGINAL content is king.

If your content is boring, unoriginal or generic your chances of people clicking on your links diminishes accordingly. If you publish recycled, unoriginal material you simply will not be followed, which is the entire point of building an audience of subscribers. Recycling may be good for cans but not for blog posts.

Unoriginal or generic real estate information is a turn-off in luxury real estate in particular. Imagine a Rolls Royce blogger explaining to a potential customer that they are looking at a car with four doors instead of telling them where to find the door mounted umbrella. Generic luxury real estate blog content indicates that the blogger lacks imagination and therefore lacks the marketing savvy required to win listings or sell expensive homes.

Be original! Canned content equals canned personal brands.

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Personal Branding: Make More Money Faster by Showing Your True Colors

Rainbow Chard at Santa Barbara's Farmers Market

Personal branding for luxury real estate marketing professionals is all about consistently showing your true colors to your ideal target market. By clearly articulating your true colors, that is, who you are and what you stand for, through your brand identity, you will accelerate the pace of attracting more ideal clients. The more matches you make the more money you make. It is that simple!

Your ideal clients are looking for you just as much as you are looking for them! But, how will they recognize you if your website and your collateral material look the same as many others? Do your colors simply blend in when you need to blend out! If so, it is time for you to do the personal branding “two-step”

Step One

The first step in accelerating the matchmaking process between you and your ideal clients is to identity your own true colors for yourself. You may know yourself well, implicitly. But, you are invisible to your ideal clients unless you express yourself explicitly. Most luxury real estate marketing professionals have a vague idea of their own unique promise of value. This represents a tremendous competitive advantage for those who not only are certain of themselves but who also can express their true colors clearly to others.

Step Two

The second step is defining, with crystal clarity, exactly who your ideal clients are? This step is extremely important. You need to know what kind of people you like to work from a personality standpoint and also a business perspective, i.e., how they behave in the process of buying or selling luxury real estate. You also need to understand their needs, their biggest challenges and what is most pressing on their minds.

Once you have done the personal branding two step process, you need to express your authentic brand identity. This includes communicating your marketing message in such a way that they quickly grasp that you represent the answers to their prayers. Show your true colors to your ideal clients often and your will not only experience more matches, but you will also make more money, faster.

Personal Branding Case Studies and Company Branding Case Studies