Thursday, May 30, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Marketing Tip: How to Run Circles Around Your Competition, Part 1

Way, way, way too much advice has been offered about providing excellent customer service as a luxury real estate marketing professional.  The point is this: Great customer service is not a technique that you can mimic.  It can best be learned through you own direct personal experience. But, to run circles around your competition with superlative customer service requires a complete shift in attitude and also a shift in your fundamental ground of being or mindset.

One of the cornerstones of Apple’s meteoric raise to the top is their exemplary customer service.  Their approach is helping their customers solve their problems rather than trying to sell them products, and also listening carefully about their frustrations without being judgmental, i.e., just let them “vent”.  That is a shift in attitude and mindset not a technique.

To the contrary, we recently walked into an upscale department store only to be greeted by 6 salespeople eagerly applying a technique that Wall Mart made famous with just one greeter at the door. We cringed on the way out as the same salespeople robotically greeted us, not remembering that we just walked through the store from the front door (not from the back entrance).

By far the best way to become an expert in luxury real estate customer service is to TRAIN YOURSELF! In Part 2 of this article series we will provide the quickest way to train yourself on this vital component of a successful practice and how to run circles around your competition by doing so.

Follow Us on Twitter: LuxuryMarketing

Monday, May 20, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Personal & Company Branding: Do You Need a Sub-Brand?

One of the biggest concerns that we hear from luxury real estate marketing professionals is the fear of narrowing their niche to the top tier price range homes because it may alienate some of their friends or previous clients in lower price homes.  However, by diffusing your focus and attempting to be all things to all people, you run the risk of diluting your brand position, i.e., what your brand stands for and what you are known for.

One global luxury brand has done a masterful job of compartmentalizing its various sub-brands with their multiple price points. By identifying its brand with sports in general (beyond polo, “the sport of kings”) Ralph Lauren has managed to attract not only high net worth consumers but also those who aspire to be wealthy. 

The key here is that Ralph Lauren created separate sub-brands that stand for different things and focus on different target markets. For example, the Ralph Lauren Black Label Staor Tan Motorcross Jeans is priced at $495; their basic denim jean, sold at Macy’s, is $90. 

Yet, for some, wearing a shirt or other clothing embroidered with the ubiquitous polo pony logo has completely lost its appeal.  Apparently, a significant number of customers felt this way because Ralph Lauren made an ingenious move to lure disenfranchised customers back to the brand and keep others from switching. 

On their interactive website, you can customize their signature polo shirts, terrycloth bathrobes and other articles of clothing with YOUR OWN INITIALS instead of the pony! On certain items, the embroidered Polo logo has been moved to the bottom hem of the shirt. That way if you tuck it in it does not show.
You can choose from many color combinations of fabric and embroidered logos and several different font schemes for your initials. Once you make your shirt selection, your color choice and your font choice, it displays that combination on the model’s shirt.
Quality of manufacturing is not the question here because Ralph Lauren has built a strong reputation as a brand you can trust.  Blending in and “leaving the brand” is the issue.

In the luxury services arena, some banks have figured out how to offer two levels of service without alienating any of their customers. To accomplish this they too created sub-brands. For example, there is definitely a world of difference in the level of service between Chase Private Banking and their standard banking services.  The amount of dollars entrusted to the bank (for investment purposes with J P Morgan in this case) is what separates the two sub-brands.

There is a huge lesson here for luxury real estate marketing professionals. Bespoke (tailor made) or customized service is what your top tier customers have come to expect.  If you or your company wants to be known for more than one level of service, you must differentiate the two levels by creating sub-brands.

Crafting and developing your sub-brand is just as important as building your primary brand.  Do you need a sub-brand? 

Follow Us on Twitter: LuxuryMarketing

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Personal & Company Branding: In the Pink

The proportions and combinations of colors used in your luxury real estate personal or company branding is an important aspect of communicating your marketing message.  Certain colors have strong emotional connotations and also cultural bias that can work for or against your brand.  
For example, red, white and blue can stir the deep emotions of patriotism. Several regional and national American real estate brands have used this color combination to their advantage. 
This color palette was sampled from the photograph of the peonies above. When you think of the color pink what associations come up in your mind? 
Various shades of pink can be used in personal and company branding to communicate a range of thoughts and feelings from subtle to bold.  Mary Kay Cosmetics, known for their pink Cadillac rewards to sales people, has shifted their brand to a more sophisticated feel by making black and white the dominant colors of their brand with a pale pink as the accent. 

T-Mobile has used shocking pink as an accent to black, charcoal gray and white. Whereas, world-renowned Fauchon, purveyors of fine gourmet foods in Paris, unabashedly uses pink as their primary brand color with black and white as the accent. 

Pink is a color that has long been associated with the female sex. Today, more men choose to boldly embrace pink and ignore this cultural bias. 

The famous British traditional shirt maker, Thomas Pink (80 stores worldwide) is part of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group. Pink’s luxury brand color scheme incorporates black, white and gold with pink as the accent. Their mascot is the “Cheeky Fox” and their brand story is quite interesting. Mr. Pink was the 18th century tailor who invented the iconic scarlet red hunting coat. But, it was referred to as PINK in honor of its originator. 
One of our clients, Courtney Ranson, specializes in the Washington Park area of central Denver, Colorado, also known as “Wash Park”.  Her ultimate favorite color is fuchsia, a very strong pink.  We used this color deliberately as an accent (with deep plum as the dominant brand color), to communicate her passion for her beloved neighborhood and also to romanticize the area.  Her slogan (incorporated in her logo) is Denver Wash Park -“ The Heart of the City”. Watch this Video Case Study.
Colors plays a big role in luxury real estate personal and company branding. Your personal color preferences need to be balanced with what is appropriate within your marketplace and also what makes your brand stand out from your competitors’. 

Follow Us on Twitter: LuxuryMarketing

Friday, May 10, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Personal & Company Branding: Open New Channels of Creativity

A major part of our luxury real estate personal and company branding practice involves developing strategies to help our clients gain or sustain market leadership and also coaching them to execute their strategies. From our perspective, the art of coaching is essentially this: 
Encouragement to shift from reacting to current conditions to proactively creating new channels of creativity through which inspired, innovative action can flow.
Contrary to the majority of business coaches we believe that holding our clients accountable for anything is an utter waste of time-theirs and ours.  For those of you who seek to consistently command the lion’s share of your marketplace, or a niche therein, there is absolutely no need for motivation tactics from your coach.

If you feel the need to be held accountable to achieve a goal of this caliber, motivation is the last thing that will work.  It may be a quick fix at best, and it will not produce enduring results. Your passion and your competition should keep you engaged in the game and on your toes. Or, you might as well get out of the game, altogether.

There is no amount of wheedling, prodding, cajoling, coaxing, persuading, sweet-talking, enticing, invalidating, flattering or intimidating that will get you where you want to go.
Unwavering support and encouragement to dissolve your own self-doubts (the only thing that can stop you from consistently realizing your dreams) is the “secret sauce” that is required from your coach.
In this article series, we will discuss how proactively opening new channels of creativity can not only be the catalyst to attract new and exciting opportunities, but also to open the flood-gates of bountiful career satisfaction and self-actualization.

Follow Us on Twitter: LuxuryMarketing

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Language of Luxury to Cover the Club e-Luxe International Summit Live in Paris

We are excited to announce that The Language of Luxury has been invited by our LOL media partner, Luxe Corp, to cover the  Club e-Luxe International Summit in Paris on June 12, 2013. This is the premier annual event on marketing via digital media for the luxury goods and services industry.  We will be broadcasting live from Paris online during and after the event. 

Some of the luxury companies that have participated in recent Club e-Luxe events include LVMH, Gucci Group, Cartier, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, Boucheron, Hermès, Piaget, Chopard, Fabergé, Vertu, Hublot, Dior, Coty, Pernod Ricard, Rémy Martin, Sonia Rykiel, L’Oréal, Lanvin and several others.
The event will focus on the theme of “The Web Economy: Understanding How Digital Media is Re-writing the Rules of Luxury & Transforming Value Creation". In addition to Web Economy, some of the topics to be addressed are: Digital Luxury Scorecard, Social Economy & Luxury, E-Commerce Economy & Luxury, Mobile Economy & Luxury, Digital Private Data Currency, E-Services Economy & Luxury, E-Communications Economy & Luxury, Digital Legal Frameworks, Virtual Reality Value, Digital Luxury Value in Asia and others.

Club e-Luxe which was created by Luxe Corp in 2006 in recognition of the important role of the internet, digital media and new technologies in luxury, has emerged to be the reference in digital luxury. The objective has remained to provide luxury companies with access to the most advanced strategies, knowledge, applications, systems, tools and concepts required for luxury to thrive online and offline in the context of new technologies and innovation. 
Here is a link for more information: 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Personal & Company Branding: Say Artisan Organic Cheese - Part 4

Chèvre with Peppercorns - Made with Goat's Milk
In Part 3 of this Luxury Real Estate Personal & Company Branding article series we discussed how Cowgirl Creamery, the Northern California (Sonoma County) producers of artisan organic cheeses, does not actually compete against global, mass-produced cheese brands, like Kraft’s Velveeta or Cheese Whiz. Their ideal customer is a sophisticated consumer with a discerning palate. We further clarified that the Cowgirl Creamery brand is sophisticated yet down to earth which resonates with the values of their ideal customers.
Red Hawk by Cowgirl Creamery - Made with Cow Milk
Many luxury real estate marketing professionals attempt to claim a similar brand position as they wrestle with their competition for the same target market. So, we posed this question: 
“How can YOUR marketing message stand out in a sea of very similar communications from your competition who also claim they stand for the same thing?” 
The answer is, get out of that wrestling match, all together!  Find an uncontested or underserved lucrative market NICHE that you can serve better than anyone else and do so with passion. Here is a great example of another successful producer of artisan cheeses from the same county as Cowgirl Creamery. 
Goat Milk Cheese VS Cow Milk Cheese
Goat cheese, or chèvre as it is called in France, has grown considerably in popularity in the United States. Laura Chenel is the recognized “pioneer” of American goat cheese production.  From its humble beginnings in late 1970’s, Laura Chenel’s Chèvre has been acknowledged as America’s first name in chèvre. 

The company’ state-of-the-art GOAT MILK ONLY creamery is located in Sonoma County’s famous Carneros region bordering Napa Valley. In 2006 Laura sold the company to the Rians Group, a French family of artisan cheese producers with a commitment to the same level of quality, tradition and artisan technique that Laura herself held.   

Both Cowgirl Creamery and Laura Chenel’s Chèvre appeal to sophisticated consumers. Yet, like with Kraft cheeses, they are not really in direct competition with each other. 

However, in relationship to OTHER GOAT CHEESE MAKERS, the harmonious blending of French technique and Sonoma terroir (geographic, geologic and climatic conditions), place Laura Chenel’s Chèvre more in the “highly sophisticated” end of the sophisticated spectrum for its brand position (see Part 3).  Being the “first mover” in a new brand category further strengthens the authoritativeness of this brand position. 
Your brand position is that part of your luxury brand identity and promise of value that you must actively communicate to your target market in such a way that it establishes a distinct advantage over your competition.  
We hope you have enjoyed this article series on brand positioning and have understood the importance of articulating your own brand position. If you would like our assistance in clarifying and communicating your brand position in relationship to your competition, we would be delighted to be of assistance. That is our expertise.
View Entire Series
Part 1   l   Part 2   l   Part 3   l   Part 4

Follow Us on Twitter: LuxuryMarketing

Friday, May 3, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Personal & Company Branding: Say Artisan Organic Cheese - Part 3

In Part 2 of this article series we offered a definition of a brand position.  Your brand position is that part of your luxury brand identity and promise of value that you must actively communicate to your target market in such a way that it establishes a distinct advantage over your competition.  Sharply defining your brand position as a luxury real estate marketing professional is essential! 

We explained that Cowgirl Creamery, the Northern California artisan organic cheese maker, is not actually competing with the likes of Kraft cheese.  Their target market is sophisticated, discerning consumers, not those who prefer mass-produced products.So, how does Cowgirl Creamery stand out from their direct competitors-other artisan cheese brands who also target sophisticated customers?   That is where the fine-tuning of one’s brand positioning comes into play.

People like to do business with people (and companies) who share their values and have compatible personalities. Yes, companies have brand personalities, too!  What are some of the qualities that come to mind when you think of a cowgirl? 

A cowgirl is a woman who tends cattle. She is a woman with true grit:  determination, bravery, tenacity, fortitude, and courage. 

If you value these characteristics you certainly can identify with Sue Conley and Peggy Smith the co-founders of Cowgirl Creamery.  They both came to San Francisco, “on a hippie trip” in 1976 after completing their degrees at the University of Tennessee and established careers in some of San Francisco’s most famous kitchens. 

Their brand story, their background, their provenance in the culinary industry, establishes a brand position of down to earth sophistication. To express the down to earth dimension of their brand, their logo uses a “western” font and a silhouette of a cowgirl on a horse.  

To amplify their expertise you can find all of the awards their cheeses have won on their website. To communicate their authoritativeness and also to extend their online offerings beyond their own menu of cheeses, you can find an extensive library of cheeses that the company sells on a wholesale basis. 
The entire purpose of clarifying your brand position is to make it quick and easy for your IDEAL CLIENTS OR CUSTOMERS to recognize that you are like them so they will be inclined to do business with you.  
On the opposite end of the spectrum of down to earth sophisticated consumers are the highly sophisticated consumers who want to distance themselves from the more down to earth variety.  To many this may come across as “snooty” or pretentious. But, this is not necessarily the case. 

In the late 1970s through the 80s, The Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York ran an advertising campaign that communicated brilliantly to this segment of the luxury hotel market. In one ad owner, Leona Helmsley, was pictured with the plush Turkish towels they provided to guests with a quote that went something like this:  “I would not settle for anything less than the finest Turkish towels, why should you?” 

Brand positioning is all about clearly conveying your extraordinary promise of value to your ideal clients with an emphasis on how your value proposition is more advantageous than your competitors’.  But, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, how can you get your message to stand out in a sea of very similar communications from your competition.  Stay tuned for the answer in Part 4. 

Follow Us on Twitter: LuxuryMarketing

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Personal & Company Branding: Say Artisan Organic Cheese - Part 2

Brand Position, Continued

A common concern expressed by our luxury real estate personal and company branding clients is coming across as too pretentious with their new brand identity.  Some have trepidation about alienating prior clients whose homes may not be in the top tier of the price range in their marketplace.  Others just do not want to be perceived as “snooty”. 

One of the reasons we selected the cheese makers, Cowgirl Creamery, as the focal point of this article series is because they exemplify a luxury brand that is down to earth.  Their brand is definitely sophisticated, but by no means pretentious. 

In Part 1 we discussed how, unlike Kraft cheeses that are mass produced for a global market, Cowgirl Creamery is a local  (Northern, CA) artisan and they use only organic milk.  These two companies have entirely different target markets.  Local, artisan and organic represent, in a nutshell, their brand position that they actively communicate to a sophisticated and discerning target market. 

One of our favorite dining experiences was in a restaurant in the town of Parma, Italy.  As soon as we were seated at the table, huge chunks of delicious, locally produced, aged Parmesan cheese was served along with freshly baked hot crusty Italian bread, compliments of the house.  

Once you have an experience like this it is next to impossible to even consider sprinkling pre-grated, non-aged Parmesan cheese from a green cardboard container, on your pasta.  Yet, there is a huge target market that is delighted with the convenience of Kraft’s boxed Parmesan cheese. 
Your brand position is that part of your luxury brand identity and promise of value that you must actively communicate to your target market in such a way that it establishes a distinct advantage over your competition.   In the case of Cowgirl Creamery they are not actually competing with Kraft.  They compete with other cheese artisans.  

In marketing luxury real estate, when your competition is also sophisticated you may need to refine your brand position even further. There are many levels of sophistication, a full range within a spectrum from completely unpretentious to highly sophisticated. That is what we will cover in Part 3 of this article series.  You may be surprised to discover that what some may consider “snootiness”, in some cases, can work very much to your advantage.

Follow Us on Twitter: LuxuryMarketing