Do Your Marketing Messages Communicate Your Intent And Your Savvy?

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If you want to attract buyers and sellers to work with you, be sure that the words you use in all your messaging are accurate and communicate your intent and your savvy. Make it a point to understand all the connotations of each word you use, and that you use it in its proper context.   Use the dictionary as your source of reference.  It is free and online.

The words you use make an impression both positive and or negative.  Here is an example:

Recently, we were asked to help rewrite the existing description of a 5 million dollar home.  The previous agent had written these words: “This lovely statuesque home boasts state of the art appliances in the chef’s gourmet kitchen

The word statuesque is usually used to describe a woman who is attractively tall and dignified.  Although this home is two stories high, it does not resemble a tall attractive woman.

The word “boast” according to Merriam-Webster means to brag, vaunt, crow, to express pride in oneself or one's accomplishments. Boast often suggests ostentation and exaggeration. 

How can a home boast? It is an inanimate object.

State of the art implies the latest and most sophisticated or advanced stage of a technology, art or science. This home was remodeled five years ago. A new kitchen was installed, and the existing appliances are not state of the art today. It is a nice kitchen, with name brand appliances. However, it is not a chef’s kitchen, nor a gourmet kitchen.

This description may initially flatter a seller, however it may potentially disappoint a buyer.  The home did not sell, and the new agent’s description is accurate and well written. It now demonstrates the agent’s clear intent and marketing savvy. 

Do Your Marketing Messages Communicate Your Intent And Your Savvy?

Branding Moments: Are You Certain About Your Brand Identity?

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Are you certain about your brand identity? Can you succinctly communicate this message as a clear brand signal to your target market so they can instantly grasp how you are distinct from your competition?  In the context of gaining and sustaining market leadership in luxury real estate or any other real estate market segment this is of paramount importance. If you do not have a clear and consistent brand signal your market share will began to erode.

How else can you expect others to spread the good word about you, if you do not give them a clear and concise message about who you are and how you are different?  

The lead photo was taken in front of one of our upscale markets.  It is a perfect example of brand identity crisis.  This regional market chain is known for their beautiful displays and customer service. Someone in the hierarchy was unconscious and opted to re-use watermelon boxes in the wrong season. This type of detail can be instrumental in eroding the brand signal.

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In contrast this photo of pumpkins at Trader Joe's emphasizes their brand clearly and distinctly. They were willing to spend on fun boxes (fun is part of their brand signal) to display their pumpkins.  

Are You Certain About Your Brand Identity?

Lessons From Orchids: How To Find Your Personal Brand Signal

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Nature understand the importance of brand signals in order to thrive. Here is a lesson from orchids. There are more than 25,000 orchid species and over 100,000 hybrids. Each species has a specific flower suited to a particular insect that will fertilize it. 

Each type has its own signal to attract the right pollinator. Some orchids bloom longer to increase successful pollination, some exude scents to attract bees or butterflies. Others orchids use colors as a point of attraction.  Orchids pollinated by hummingbirds and butterflies are usually red to orange tones as well as pink. 

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Marketing yourself has to be the same as the orchid. When you know your own signal it becomes easy to decide who is right for you and also where to spend your productive time and energy. You have to stay true to your signal. You cannot waver, if you want to consistently attract the right referral sources, customers or clients.

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From a personal branding standpoint, success in luxury or any other real estate marketing is all about striking the right chord with your target market. By virtue of our very existence we send out broadcast signals about who we are.

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What signal are you sending out? Are you resonating with the buyers and sellers that you want to attract as clients? Is your personal brand easy to decipher for your target market?

Your success in attracting the right people and circumstances depends on the clarity of your signal. This applies to personal relationships as well as business relationships.

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At the core of your broadcast is your passion for what you are doing. Are you passionate about marketing luxury or any other real estate? If not, people will pick up on your mixed signals and your self-contradicted message. This is tantamount to a hiss or a crackling sound from a radio signal when it is not quite tuned in to the correct broadcast signal.

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Static reduces the fidelity of your message. Eventually, people turn off to you and your message. Static comes from not knowing who you are and pretending to be what you are not. When your signal is clear you attract the very people who are seeking your signal.

Branding Moments: Is Your Marketplace Buying Your Brand?

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As a luxury or any other real estate marketing professional, it is important that your brand communicates your core values in your marketing materials, which include your web site as well as the way you conduct your business.  Real estate like any other business is a matchmaking business.  If your market resonates with your values, they will hire you and buy what you have to offer.

Core values are your foundation and your authentic essence by which you operate your business and your life.  They are the guidelines by which your decisions are made and executed.  When your core values are explicitly and implicitly expressed in words, colors, fonts, presentation and action you have a brand. Your point of attraction is clear and becomes a beacon to those whose core values are similar.  And, as an added bonus, a brand makes it easier for others to refer you.

The photo above is of a new dry cat food we recently purchased for Quincy cat.  Nutro’s packaging expressed their core values, which in turn resonated with ours when it comes to food we eat.  Amid all the choices of dry cat food that are available, this one flew off the shelf into our hands. We can also report that Quincy is happy with our choice.

Nutro’s transparency and explicit expression of their values influenced us to buy their brand., and share our experience with other cat owners.   Is Your Marketplace Buying Your Brand? 

Branding Moments: What Makes You Buy?

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Ever wonder why your competitor was given a listing you would have loved to have.  Why did the seller choose them over you?  If you want to know the answer, a good place to start is to observe your own buying habits.  What makes you buy one product over another?  Here is an example:

When we were in Oregon, we were asked to select a wine at the local Albertson’s.  Our friends selected an Oregon Cabernet Sauvignon, and as we looked over the wine section, at the California selection.  This California wine stood out from the usual choices.  Here are the reasons we bought.

1.    The winemaker, Marc Mondavi, comes from a great winemaking family.  His uncle, Robert Mondavi, put the Napa Valley on the global wine map.  This heritage gave this bottle credibility and trust. 

We also knew that unlike some Napa and Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignons, this would not be a fruit forward wine what is known as a “fruit bomb”.  The Mondavi family is known for their Bordeaux style cabs.

2.    The region where the wine is grown, the Alexander Valley, has the ideal hot weather that Cabernet Sauvignon grapes love.

These two factors influenced our 2 minute decision to buy the wine.  We were delighted that we all liked the wine and it exceeded our expectations.  We took a picture of the label to remember it by.

At home, we did further research and expanded our understanding by taking an additional look at the label. Two more factors supported our initial decision for buying this wine.

3.    The red trademark, EX AQUA VINUM, Latin for from water comes wine. We liked the description, “Winemaker and Water Witch Extraordinaire.

4.    The brand story is compelling, winemaker and water witch extraordinaire.  We liked the illustration of the divining rods of a water witch.  Unlike geologists who charge thousand of dollars to dig for water, Marc Mondavi is often hired to use his rods and find water in vineyards for $500. He has built a stellar reputation in both California and Oregon vineyards, and his success rate is 95%.

Analyze your own buying habits, and the decisions and reasons you buy.  You may uncover some interesting factors that will improve your presentation and packaging.  What makes you buy?

Market To The Right People And They Will Beat a Path To Your Door

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To market effectively take the time to research your target market thoroughly. Learn about their lifestyles and their values. Focus your undivided attention and marketing dollars on these people, the right people for you.  Then watch them beat a path to your door.

Research takes time and critical thinking (the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment). It may take longer to find the exact sweet spot, the right people.  However, once you do your research your success rate will increase significantly. 

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo know that people are searching in specific terms.  They want specific answers for their query: “homes with wine cellars”, or “home with vineyards”.  The search terms are becoming even more granular: “home with 5000 square foot wine cellar” or “home with 3-5 acre vineyards” (aka gentleman’s vineyard). Like search engines, you have to know how each market segment differs in the same city, or even in the community around the bend.

Demographics in California may be similar to those in Colorado. However, the lifestyles, tastes, values and attitudes are vastly different. What ranks high on someone values list may be utterly unimportant to another person with the same demographics in another state.

Understanding the lifestyles and values of your target market and speaking their language leads to effective marketing that produces real results.  Market to the right people and they will beat a path to your door. 

A Curious Branding Moment In Beverly Hills: The Purple People Have Arrived!

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Bright and early this morning as the streets of Beverly Hills were deserted, your intrepid branding and strategic marketing duo, Ron and Alexandra Seigel, were stunned.  In Gucci’s windows they saw that the Purple People have landed in Beverly Hills. 

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What was remarkable according to the Gucci press is that they come from a galaxy called, Gucci, in another universe, far, far away…

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It has also been reported that Alessandro Michele, newly appointed (2016) creative director of Gucci and responsible for all its collections and global brand image was inspired by classic sci-fi movies of the 1950’s and 1960”s.  He was also inspired by Gene Rodenberry ‘s brilliant creation of Star Trek.

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We are wondering if the One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater has heard the news?  

This is definitely a creative campaign, and we are pondering will this collection sell or just spark viral marketing?  What do you think?

Friday Photo: A Restful Moment

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The four of us sat by the river that flowed beneath the deck.   It was a long restful moment filled with laughter.  We watched ducks take flight, the water flowing fast and furious, and we were at home with nature.

"What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn't have any doubt - it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn't want to go anywhere else." 

Hal Boyle-Pullitzer Award Winning Journalist

Be Nimble, Be Quick! - Out-maneuver Your Competition

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FROM AARGH! TO AAH!

Luxury real estate marketing professionals who work with or own an independent real estate firm have a tremendous advantage over the national brands if they are willing to be nimble and quick.  However, it is necessary to demonstrate this strategic differentiator, consistently.

Recently, we needed to book a hotel room in Portland, Oregon for just one night after traveling outside of the area where Internet connectivity and cellular service was spotty at best.  We wanted to call the hotel directly to make the reservation rather than book online.

After waiting on hold and listening to nauseating music for over 17 frustrating minutes to book with a big brand hotel chain we hung up. Luckily, our friend was able to get right through on her phone to the Kimpton Vintage Hotel in downtown Portland and make a reservation. But, in order to get free Wi Fi we needed to go online to sign up before arriving. AARGH!

Upon arrival at the front desk we courteously complained about the inconvenience of having to sign up for free Wi Fi when that is a commonplace feature at most upscale hotels.  The gals at the front desk immediately apologized and offered not only to comp us on the Wi Fi, but also to upgrade us to a beautiful suite! AAH! The luxury of extra space! Because they were quick and nimble and were obviously empowered to think entrepreneurially, we were instantly won over.

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After settling in our suite, there was a knock on the door.  We were presented with a bottle of local pinot noir, some delicious chocolate truffles (two of our favorite things in life) and also a delightful handwritten note from the gals at the front desk (See below). WOW!

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We have been very impressed with Kimpton hotels in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Denver, and also here in Santa Barbara, primarily because their restaurants are top notch. The contemporary design in most of these hotels also make them stand out. But, being consistently nimble and quick in customer service is Kimpton’s competitive advantage over the typical big brand chains.  We will definitely book here again on our next visit to Portland.

Handling our rough start by being quick and nimble made our stay with Kimpton Vintage Hotel in Portland remarkable. As an independent real estate brokerage company or agent, how can you consistently be more nimble in handling the challenges that come up in your real estate practice?

Branding Moments With Print: Enchantment Realized-Objects Come Alive!

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In yesterday’s post we discussed the windows of Hermes in Beverly Hills.  And the picture above is part of their print campaign.  It suggests enchantment, magical moments, and dreams realized.

We marveled at the concept and the genius it took to create this fantasy world on a piece of paper.  There are so many subtle details: the orange brand color featured in the horse mounting aid (pictured on the left), and the stirrup shaped perfume bottle Galop d’Hermes, galloping away with an invisible rider.  This is no doubt a salute to the brand’s origin as saddle makers to royalty!

With this play on magic, they are reaffirming their luxury standards, and why they rank as one of the best global luxury brands.  When objects are well made, they have a pleasurable quality as you touch them or wear them.  You can feel the craftsmanship and revel in it.  And that is enchantment realized!

Branding Moments: Selling With Breakfast at Hermes In Beverly Hills

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We are always intrigued by the window displays of the big brands. It is the expression of how a brand maintains its visibility with the public.  Hermes always captures our attention with their creative approach to displaying their merchandise.

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As with everything Hermes does, they hire the best people for every aspect of their merchandise, as well as their marketing.  We have watched how they hand sew their purses stitch by stitch, and admired the workmanship on ties and scarves with their hand rolled edges that are also fastened by someone’s skillful hands.

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We study brands like Hermes, because they inspire us with their creativity and attention to detail.   Whether or not this display is appealing, it certainly gets your attention.

Are You Maintaining Your Visibility In Your Marketplace?

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If you are interested in achieving market leadership in your local marketplace think of yourself more like a celebrity and think of your luxury or other real estate marketing business more like a media.  It may seem like a big stretch, but those who make this shift in thinking will be the big winners for years to come.

Create a plan to parlay your reputation and personal brand into celebrity status. Here are the three keys to the plan:

  1. Develop a celebrity/media mindset
  2. Build your audience, consistently
  3. Gain and maintain visibility

Your Mindset: You need to think of your business not only as luxury or other real estate marketing practice, but also as a media with your brand as the star. This is not about pretentiousness; it is about becoming a savvy marketing expert.  How can you expect to win trophy and otherwise listings if you cannot demonstrate to the sellers, through your personal marketing, that you are the superior choice over your competition?

Instead of being what we call a “transaction engineer”, you must become a marketing company who also processes transactions professionally. This is the metamorphosis that most agents are unwilling to do, which is why it represents such an outstanding opportunity for you, if you do it right.  High net worth clients expect you to have integrity, local market knowledge and excellent negotiating skills, just like your closest competitors. But, how will you stand out from the pack?  How will you gain top of mind/celebrity status?  Those are the questions!

Your Audience: The best way we have found to quickly increase your sphere of influence and leverage your personal brand is through a buzz-worthy blog. Blogging is a vehicle for self-publishing. As your own media, you do not need to answer to an editor. It puts you in control and enables you to capitalize on the primary promise of social media: rapidly amassing a sizable audience of raving fans.   

Do not forget to include print marketing, postcards as part of your visibility. When your sellers insist on print advertising look at it as an opportunity to promote your brand.   One of our clients bought the cover page of a magazine, and her seller was so delighted that she took magazines to other sellers in her community to show what “her” agent had done…The return on investment to our client was 5 new listings in the community.

Your Visibility:  Managing your reputation, maintaining your star power, and staying visible in your marketplace are essentials. When you achieve high visibility you put yourself in position to parlay your celebrity status into additional revenue streams

Monday Musings: A Reflection On Recent and Past Events

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Ron and I have been discussing as to why it takes disasters to bring the best of humanity out of people.  When we lived in Los Angeles, we remember how friendly and concerned people were when the big earthquakes happened.  There was a wonderful spirit that manifested itself.  We were all in this together.  And then the same people that smiled or were concerned a few weeks before, no longer cared to be friendly.

 

The same phenomenon happened on this day in 2001.  And last month, it was Harvey, and this week Irma.  Do we really need to have disasters to remind us to show our true human spirit?  What would happen if we focused on what is right instead of what is wrong and that was the premise from which we began?

2017 Brand of the Year: Wagner Family of Wine – Part 2

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Recently, we visited our local wine store, here in Santa Barbara to select an Argentinian Malbec from the Mendoza region. A bottle of Red Schooner (pictured above) captured our attention solely because of its stunning old world label. Upon closer inspection we saw the red banner in the sky containing the words “Wagner Family” from Napa Valley.  We were so impressed by how well the label told the brand story that we chose Wagner Family of Wine as The Language of Luxury 2017 Brand of the Year. Here is why:

Credibility & Heritage:

We already know and love Caymus, owned by the Wagner Family of Wine in Napa Valley. Caymus is the only winery in the world to have received the prestigious “Wine of the Year” award twice by Wine Spectator for its legendary Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.

As a four-generation family-owned wine business, the Wagners have successfully created several other sub-brands such as Conundrum, the popular fruit-forward blend of white wines. The choice of the brand name, Red Schooner and the vintage graphics amplified this brand dimension of “heritage”.

Transparent Use of Technology

Red Schooner is made from grapes grown in the Andes Mountains, but shipped chilled to Napa Valley and produced with the same techniques as their Caymus Cabernet.  Delicately handled and kept in cold stasis the grapes arrive in California in pristine condition.  The use of this technology is completely transparent to the consumer.

Turning Labeling Constraints Into a Brand Story

Most of the world best Malbecs are produced in Argentina. But, Red Schooner is not a Malbec produced in Argentina. Nor, is it a Napa Malbec because it is produced with grapes from Argentina. Falling outside standard labeling rules, it does not include a vintage date but is known by the voyage from which it was produced (Voyage 3 is the 2012 vintage). Hence, these labeling constraints were turned into the core of the brand story. Brilliant!!!

Winemaker’s Notes: A Malbec with a California twist. Floral, Chocolate and creamy rich like the Caymus Cabs! We loved it!

What are the branding lessons you can apply here in your luxury real estate marketing practice?

2017 Brand of the Year: Wagner Family of Wine – Part 1

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As a luxury real estate marketing professional, standing out from your competition is of paramount importance. Done right, your personal or company branding accelerates the decision making process for home sellers to consistently choose YOU to list their home. 

But, what if you are the current market leader known as the expert in a specific niche, how do you expand into another niches where you have not yet achieved top-of-mind status? Studying how the world’s best brands, in other industries, have successfully created sub-brands, can offer tremendous insights that can help propel your expansion into additional luxury real estate market niches.

In the very crowded wine industry it is extremely challenging to introduce a new brand that stands out from the crowd.  Without a recommendation from a trusted friend, or from a trusted purveyor of fine wines, or from an article written by a trusted source, how do you choose a wine that is just right for you, without first tasting it?

While it is true that you cannot judge a book by its cover, the same applies to judging a wine by its label. However, with so many bottles of wine vying for your attention a stunning label or a distinctive bottle can be the first step in standing out from the crowd.  To hold the attention of the consumer you first have to capture the consumer’s attention. 

And, that is what great packaging, labeling, graphics and a compelling brand story can do. Just check out the photo above of wine bottles without labels. Do you have any clue whatsoever that can help you decide to purchase one of them?

In this article series, we feature Wagner Family of Wine, who became famous for Caymus, one of Napa Valley’s finest Cabernet Sauvignons. As a four-generation family-owned wine business, the Wagners have successfully created several other sub-brands.  For this reason we have chosen Wagner Family of Wine as The Language of Luxury 2017 Brand of the Year.

Watch for Part 2 and learn how to expand into a new market niche.

Do Clothes Make Brokers & Agents? Fall Fashion Windows In Beverly Hills

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Not long ago Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® asked this question in the Q&A Section of Active Rain: "Clothes make the real estate person?"  

In the spirit of research and desire to share the latest and greatest fashion for Fall 2017, we took time to acquaint ourselves with the latest and greatest fashions.  These photos are from the Gucci windows.

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Floral prints are in for women, which in our humble opinion replicates a Victorian room.

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And this photo illustrates what the well-dressed man will wear this autumn in 2017. We can attest to the fact that we know several successful male agents who do wear this type of garb which includes short pants, white socks and slim fitting jackets.  This fits their image in their marketplace.  It does not in other marketplaces.

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If you are wondering what the heck was the designer thinking?  We can answer that. This is the "new" street chic look" aimed to grab the attention of the millennial generation!  Yes, some of them have money to spend on these looks which includes paying $95.00 for the right white socks to wear with these shrunken pants.

What do you think? Do Clothes Make Brokers and Agents?

Great Branding Gives you Muscle (& Mussels) In Your Marketplace

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Great branding enables you to adroitly communicate your extraordinary promise of value through a distilled message expressed verbally, through symbols (your graphic brand identity) and through your actions. It instantly tells your target market that you are the answer to their prayers. Consistently communicating your brand’s distinct message gives you muscle in your marketplace.

That is exactly what the owner of Hope Ranch Mussels has done. Discovering an uncontested market niche at the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market they are the only purveyors of local mussels in the market. The brand’s association with Hope Ranch was an excellent choice for the company’s name.

Hope Ranch is one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Santa Barbara. Although, it is a gated community the gates are open to the public.  It is the only Santa Barbara community with a private beach.  Naturally, the brand’s name is associated with quality.

Last weekend we had a craving for Moules Marinières (Sailor-Style Mussels), a recipe that we associate with several wonderful trips to the Provence region of France. Our friend at Hope Ranch took the time to share the entire process of growing and harvesting his mussels and gave us his instructions to prepare them.

Garlic, leeks and shallots in a butter wine sauce brought out the full flavor of the mussels. We grilled slices of a French baguette for dipping purposes, opened a bottle of Santa Barbara Winery’s best Chardonnay and we were transported to Nice!

Hope Ranch Mussels now occupies top-of-mind status in the category of purveyors of mussels in our minds and many, many other locals who appreciate this type of seafood. The brand name is easy to remember, too. Great branding gives you muscle in your marketplace!

 

Branding Moments: Does Your Ad Communicate, Or Is It Just Ho-hum?

If you are going to spend the money on a print ad, make sure that it is not just another ad for a home.  Don’t leave the onlooker wonder or just turn the page.  Unlike the public at large, we pay attention to ads because it is part of what we do for our clients.  We want to make sure that the message is communicated clearly and succinctly.

 

As we look at this Richard Mille ad, at first glance, we see a tube of lipstick holding up a watch. Or is it a red bullet based on the “caliber RM 037” notation.  After some research we discovered that it is the name of the watch, “Red Bullet Caliber RM037.  Leaving room for misunderstanding creates friction and barriers in the purchasing process. Worst of all, it leaves a ho-hum impression.

What Is Missing In This Picture?

In England and other Commonwealth countries judges and barristers (lawyers) still wear powdered wigs, as part of their formal attire, to bring a sense of formality and solemnity to proceedings. In French there is a saying that perfectly describes people who copy or parrot others without a foundation of knowledge or research, just to impress others: It’s “wearing the wig without the brain”. 

In this day of fake news and faux journalism, jaded opinions and paid social influencers, it has never been more important to get your facts accurate when blogging or conversing with your luxury real estate clients. Otherwise, they will begin to ask themselves, “What is missing in this picture” and the answer will be YOUR BRAINS!

Recently, we heard about a listing of mansion owned by a very famous American family. Three agents were interviewed. Only one knew the difference between the Monet and Manet (two renowned, original impressionist artists). The other two agents relied on their respective company’s brand and affiliations with British auction houses to impress the seller; they personally had no clue about the famous Impressionist paintings in this home. They had the wig without the brain.

Had the other two agents taken the time to research the coffee table book published about the art and furnishings within this mansion they would have had a better chance to win the listing.  But, alas they were dismissed on the basis of lack of research alone!

The moral of the story is ask yourself what is missing in your knowledge base whether you are selling a luxury home or anything else.  Your value as an agent will continue to appreciate over time if you do.

How Differentiating Yourself With Features Becomes So 5 Minutes Ago

Using features to differentiate yourself from your competition is an invitation to be imitated. Dig deeper to discover what makes YOU inimitable.

Features like drone photography that add drama to listing videos or 3D photography of interiors can be copied immediately. What initially helps you to stand out and impress your target market becomes old news, fast.  We say these kinds of features have a shelf life of 5 minutes before everyone who loves to copy and hop on your bandwagon, jumps in.

The picture above is of two pairs of sneakers designed by Valentino named the Rockstud Genuine Mink Fur Sneaker.  It is priced at $1245.  Not to be outdone by Valentino, Givenchy, another luxury brand has a similar shoes with genuine mink for $950.  Moncler, the luxury ski clothing brand, has genuine fox-covered sneakers for $670. 

For those who prefer “faux” fur for a fraction of the price, designers such as Sam Edelman and Steve Madden have come up with sneakers with faux fur priced at $55.00 to $90.00.  You can also buy an assortment of faux fur shoe clips for $15.00 each or real mink fur balls for $22.50.

Do not pin your hopes on just using features to distinguish yourself from your competition.  Work on expressing your unique promise of value in a way that cannot be imitated.