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.

How To Find The Under-Served Market Niche!

We are often asked how does one find the under-served market niche in order to dominate in your chosen marketplace?

First, you need to identify what category your competitor is. Here is an example of how we found an under-served niche for one of our clients. At first glance, it looked like her three competitors dominated the luxury marketplace, and all three had stellar reputations.

The first competitor was working with historically established “old wealth” families like her own.  They all belonged to the same country club, lived in the same neighborhoods, shopped in the same stores, and went to the same private schools.

The second competitor was politically connected through her work in raising funds for politicians as well as her husband’s legal firm.  This group of people lived in the same neighborhoods, and they were connected through similar interests and business ventures.

The third competitor had a background in international business. Her clientele was international buyers. She was known for only taking listings that were priced at $4million and above. 

All three had what is known in marketing speak “an unfair advantage” based on established connections. Unless we could give our client a personality and background transplant, she did not have a chance to compete in these luxury segments of this marketplace.

Second you need to thoroughly research your marketplace to locate the under-served niche.  It can be based on psycho graphics as illustrated above by the competitors.  This is just one way to identify an under served market niche.

The under-served niche was the emerging entrepreneurial wealth.  They were creators, innovators, iconoclasts (those who challenge established beliefs), and hip nerds looking for luxury homes in areas that were different.  Her personality, core values and love of modern art fit like a glove with these new path blazers.  We called this category, “hip luxury.”

The third step is to develop a strategy. From this a brand statement emerges.  Now you are ready for a logo, which encompasses images, fonts, colors that are all in harmony with the brand statement and strategy. 

The first day her marketing materials came out, our client gave a brochure to her dermatologist.  That afternoon, the dermatologist’s friends called.  They wanted to sell their home and move up.  Fifteen years later, she is still prospering in this niche.

How To Identify & Cultivate Common Ground

If you want to be the market leader in your area or a niche therein you must become an expert at identifying and cultivating common ground with as many potential clients and referral sources as possible. All too often, we hear people say, “I have nothing in common with certain people”, and by that very statement, they dismiss a cornucopia of business opportunities.

Identifying and cultivating common ground is a two-step process.  Each step requires a specific skill.

Step One: Identification

To identify what you do have in common with others you need to notice more about them and their personal environment. You also need encourage people to tell you about what interests them.  Then, keep an open mind instead of shutting down after your automatic critiques and knee jerk reactions. By doing so you no doubt will see others in a new light. 

Rather than letting your critique become front and center in your mind, we would suggest that, when you meet someone for the first time, you immediately zero in on what is pleasing about them to you, or their environment.  This creates an opportunity to identify common ground.

With practice you will find that an open mind becomes your new automatic response. That is the skill that separates the good agents from the best agents. Here is an example:

We wanted to meet an influential individual in the real estate industry, and somehow he eluded us with the usual excuses: time constraints and being ultra busy.  At a NAR meeting, we noticed him trotting down the hall heading somewhere. We started trotting with him.  Our first remark other than hello was: 

“You need a new picture for your profile, you are so much better looking than your present photo!”   This was the start of a great mutually beneficial long-term relationship. He soon had a new photo taken, and thanked us for the suggestion.

Step Two:  Cultivation

In order to be fluent in the art of cultivating common ground, you have to keep educating yourself, and not just in Continuing Education Units for Real Estate.  Become savvy in a variety of subjects to cultivate a connection. Life-long learning is the other skill worth embracing.

An agent friend used her knowledge of gardening as a means to cultivate a common ground with potential sellers.  She listed the home of a couple whose pride and joy was their Japanese garden. Although, Zen gardens are not her personal preference she was fluent on the topic. The listing required no pitch whatsoever, because none of the other competing agents appreciated what was so important to the couple!

Become a master at identifying and cultivating common ground. Go forth and meet as many influential people as possible. Then, watch your garden of business grow.

How To Appreciate Diversity in Values

To be truly effective as a luxury real estate marketing professional it behooves you to become fluent in all facets of the luxury mindset especially those facets that do not particularly resonate with your own values. Appreciate diversity in values.

One of the most important facets to understand is the concept of “status”. Owning an expensive home in the “right” neighborhood clearly telegraphs, to those who are likely to be impressed, the price of the home and thus it signals wealth.

You might scoff at this because it does not resonate with your own values.  But, you must appreciate how important it is to many potential luxury homebuyers, if you want to do business with them.  For the status conscious consumer, the luxury home is much more than a house; it is a status symbol.

Having worked for 20 years as broker-owners of a commercial real estate firm in Beverly Hills, where we specialized in high-end retail property sales and leasing, we came to truly appreciate this particular luxury mindset.  Although, it was not our own mindset, we were able to capitalize on significant opportunities to work with status conscious clients to build a highly successful real estate practice.

We often marveled at the status conscious consumers in West Los Angeles because we are not among those who are overly impressed with wealth. We are however, always impressed with achievement. Keeping that common value in mind we get along quite well with just about everyone in these circles.  Oddly,  some of the biggest achievers are also insecure.

Many status conscious consumers are pretentious.  But, living in their unique “bubble”, we noticed that, in LA at least, they are often genuine about their pretentiousness. It is a place like no other on our planet. And, we enjoy co-existing with them.

Get Fluent, Get Affluent!

Do Not Imitate Your Competition: Become Inimitable

As a luxury or other real estate marketing professional, if you want to challenge the market leader in your area the last thing you want to do is imitate the incumbent.  This is one of those branding traps that even some of the biggest brands fall into and get nowhere as a result.  Originality and distinctiveness is the route to market leadership.  As a challenger, one of your best bets is to take the opposite position as the market leader or else "own" (excel at) the attribute that represents your competitor's greatest weakness.

Imitating your competitor is a declaration to anyone observing that you have no imagination whatsoever.  You look like a “me too!” And what is worse than that is that their way of doing things may not suit your personality or your way of doing business, or the marketplace that you are seeking to gain. 

One of our clients is known for her incredible system of staying in touch with her clients.  People love to hear from her and look forward to her distinctive mailings as well as her annual calendar.  A competitor decided to challenge her with a similar campaign, and the headline of her marketing promo read:  “I am not Valerie, I am Suzie!” (fictitious names).  Her campaign produced no results whatsoever!  What she did is strengthen our client’s hold on this community.

Beware of the temptation to imitate the market leader. It is the sure path to failure. Find out what you stand for and don’t be afraid to be inimitable!

Are You Standing Out In An Ocean of Me Too?

We often talk about the imperative of personal branding, in the highly competitive world of luxury real estate marketing. Now, with social media leveling the playing field your website is accessible more than ever before, and the need to stand out is mission critical.

Having the best “packaging” is often the determining factor in selecting an agent online because consumers are pressed for time and they have the power to quickly move on to check out your competitors in a single click. Even those who are referred to you by trusted sources will check out your website.  They want to be assured that you know how to market yourself.  If you do that well, they are assured that you will market their home well also.  Furthermore, this will indicate to a buyer that you know the marketplace and will take time to understand therm.

Recently we were in a bookstore. Alexandra was looking for a book and I snapped this picture of the “Women’s Interests” section in the magazine racks. The layout of the covers on just about every magazine in this category looked almost identical. With the exception of one magazine, every cover had a picture of a model surrounded by words intended to hook buyers. Doesn’t this remind you of the plethora of agent websites with head shots that look so much alike? Like the myriad of magazines, the content is the same.   

Statistics show that most books and magazines are selected solely based on the cover, the graphic imagery and the messaging. It is the same online. Think of your personal brand as your book cover or your magazine cover. Certainly, there is much more to your brand than this. But, if you are looked over because you blend in like the majority of magazines in any given category your shelf life is going to be limited and you will not have a chance to deliver your valuable service as often as you would like.  

It is important to understand that in blending in and looking like everyone else in the luxury real estate arena you are not demonstrating your marketing savvy. More than ever the luxury and other real estate seller/buyer is looking for the individual who understands the importance of standing out in an ocean of me too. Are you standing out in an ocean of me too?

Branding Moments: When Less Is Warmer

Getting your messaging right is perhaps the most challenging step in the personal or company branding process. It is the opportunity to convey to your target market, with brevity, essentially what makes you different and better than your competition. Yet, most luxury real estate marketing professionals pay little or no attention to their messaging.

To get an idea of how brilliantly distilled messaging can help you to quickly win over your target market check out UNIQLO LifeWear, a Japanese apparel company. Their HEATTECH turtlenecks, for example, are relatively inexpensive and come with an extraordinary promise of value stated with an economy of words.

ABBREVIATED MESSAGE:

“Less layers, more freedom”

“One thin Heattech layer gives you warmth without weight”

“HEATTECK: Less is Warm”

Catchy phrases alone cannot help you if they are not congruent with your core values. For branding to be truly successful everything must be aligned. UNIQLO’s Japanese values of “simplicity, quality, longevity” and also “continuous improvement” are their guiding principles in everything they design and manufacture. Here are some examples of their expanded message.

EXPANDED MESSAGE

“We are constantly innovating, bringing more warmth, more lightness, better design and better comfort to your life. It never stops evolving because your life never stops changing. Simple apparel with a not-so-simple purpose: to make your life better. UNIQLO LifeWear. Simple made better.”

If you get your messaging right and communicate it consistently to the right target market you are almost guaranteed a spike in business. If you are truly bent on reaching more ideal clients we can help you to identify and articulate your unique promise of value, then distill it to its essence. 

Just Mind Your Own Business!

Identifying and then dominating an uncontested or under served market niche requires laser sharp focus.  That means systematically minding your own business and eradicating anything from your consciousness that can distract you from your task at hand. 

Minding your own business is a tall order for most luxury real estate marketing professionals.  But, that is the good news, because gaining and sustaining market leadership is not for the faint of heart.  And, that significantly reduces the number of players in your competitive landscape.

Recently, we have noticed quite a bit of chatter online from agents about the “evils” of Zillow,  and others like them, who are syphoning off business.  We even heard rumors that Amazon may get into the real estate fray. 

For those of you who are bent on gaining or sustaining market leadership in your chosen niche, these topics along with the new commission discounters should come under the heading of “big distractions”. Let your competition get distracted while you stay on course. 

Just mind your own business!

Branding Moments: What Is Your Brand Story?

A few weeks ago, we spotted a “new” to us 85% dark chocolate.  The brand’s name is MilkBoy.  The brand and logo did not particularly resonate with us, however what made us buy a bar was the Swiss lineage.  We know how proud and precise the Swiss are when it comes to the art of making chocolate.  We were not disappointed, and would highly recommend this chocolate to any chocolate lover.

We researched the story behind the brand.  The unique value proposition for this brand is that they use milk that comes from the Swiss Alpine meadows.  There is a story here that is part of the brand, with which we were not familiar.

Every spring, the dairy farmers who live in the Swiss Alpine foothills leave their villages and move to the mountains. Prior to their journey, there is a celebratory send-off. Here is an excerpt from the wrapper and the website.

“The young boys and girls wear local costume and accompany the procession as it leaves the village. Some of the boys carry carved milk pails, like the boy of the MilkBoy logo. Once on the Alps, the cows eat their fill of juicy green grass until the onset of autumn, when the farmers descend to their villages.”

Their return is also a cause for celebration.  This story is charming and enchanting and further sold us on the brand.  Click on the website link to hear Swiss cowbells as the cows begin their journey to their spring and summer home.

What Is Your Brand Story?

Are You Loyal to Local Businesses?

One of the criteria that home sellers use when selecting an agent to list their home is size of the agent’s company. Is it a national or international brand, or is it a local independent real estate firm? For some the question is, “should I be loyal to locals? 

We have been contemplating this concept of conscientiousness that also applies to selecting other service professionals and “shopping local”.  What does “support local businesses” really means?  

The conflict often arises when you consider that the national or regional chains that are present in your area are employing “locals”.  If we do not patronize the chains in favor of the local independents, will those employees be laid off?  Naturally, we want our locals to have jobs and we want local small businesses to thrive. 

This conundrum was clarified when we were asked to produce a large print copying and binding project for one of our clients with a tight timeline, including an overnight delivery. We considered the local offices of FedEx-Kinkos and UPS. Neither one of us were impressed with the level of service we had experienced there.  

Then, we asked our local printer who produces our sophisticated printing jobs, if he was also equipped to coordinate this kind of project including the overnight delivery.  When he said yes, we were overjoyed.  This meant working with someone whose work would represent our standards.  

He meticulously reviewed each page of the voluminous documents to make sure nothing was amiss and recommended the best binding solutions. One day later, we looked over the final product that he was about to ship. It exceeded our expectations. In this instance, we were loyal to a local establishment. 

Nordstrom’s, Apple, and Trader Joe’s are all “non-locals” that employ a large number of locals.  All three brands have outstanding employees who are well trained, and all three have excellent customer service.

We concluded that we are loyal to exceptional customer service regardless of the size of the firm. Marketing luxury real estate is all about superlative service. Only those who are willing to forfeit service for the sake of looking good in the eyes of their personal critics support local firms at all costs. 

Romanticize The Lifestyle Of Your Market: It attracts sellers & buyers

Romanticizing the lifestyle of your marketplace sells homes because it provides an emotional context. Romanticizing the lifestyle in your marketplace as part of your blog's content, engages buyers, increases your blog subscribers and propels them to make decisions.

A comprehensive marketing plan should include lifestyle. Real estate and lifestyle go hand in hand.  Adding lifestyle as part of your blog's content will increase your subscription roll.   After someone buys a home, they may be interested in what the home in the neighborhood sold for.  They may also like to know how the market is doing once in a while

The added value of your blog to a new homeowner is to share with them what is happening in your marketplace in terms of lifestyle.  This would include shopping, restaurants, events and entertainment.  As a longtime resident, you no doubt know of special "local" places and various hidden gems that cannot be found in guidebooks.

One of the reasons potential clients and referral sources follow your blog is because it speaks to their interests and values.  The connection and often the referrals happen when they find out that you have the same interests that they do. It is easier to relate to interests as a starting point.  And yes, it is obvious that you know the latest real estate statistics, too.  

Are You Networking or Net-Playing?

Networking is, by far, the most undervalued marketing tool you can use to build your business.  Yet, most luxury real estate professionals are clueless about how to be a great networker. It really is not all that complicated. In fact, it is fun if you approach it like a game or a sport. You just need to connect with the right people-people like you (if you like to have fun). Then, it is “Net-Playing”, not Networking. 

Are you willing to go out of your way to promote a retail store with exceptional customer service, or a restaurant with outstanding food (and excellent customer service) or a local service professional who provides, yes, remarkable service? If you answer yes to any of these questions we want YOU to be in our network! Why? Because, that is exactly what you can expect from us. 

Networking is a value for value game. Think of it as a sport! It begins by asking yourself this question, “How can I connect as many people as possible with those businesses that I value, the ones I selfishly want to thrive?” 

The more you promote the businesses that you value the more others will promote you.  When you are a promoter you should not feel the slight bit awkward about asking those who you promote to connect you with potential customers or clients that would be a match to the services you provide.

Putting together like-minded business people whose professionalism you respect should become one of your top priorities, as a business owner or a luxury real estate professional.  It does not take a particular skill; it just takes an eagerness to enjoy enriching the lives of others.

The more matches you make (of likeminded people) the more matches they will make for you, too. Why is it so much fun? Because it FEELS SO GOOD!  It feels good do connect people and also to be connected.

We are unabashed matchmakers in the context of professional networking.  The more we go out of our way to promote the businesses and professionals we value the more fun we have. So get out there and have fun with it! Remember, it is Net-Playing, not Networking!

Branding Moments: The Value Edge Of Extraordinary Packaging

We are often asked by our real estate clients to develop an extraordinary brand package for their listing presentation and other marketing materials.  They understand that this type of presentation is an added incentive for a seller or a buyer to sign with them. 

Extraordinary Packaging sells. This is the reason marketing budgets are generous and focused on coming up with great packaging.  Pictured above, is an example of great packaging for peaches.   What caught our attention were the colors, the transparency and the thoughtfulness behind the design.

The colors are bright: sunshine yellows, vivid greens of the leaves, and the luscious reddish colors of ripe peaches.  Colors appeal to our emotional senses.  We remember the joy of biting into a perfect peach with the juices running down our faces. It evokes the taste and warmth of summer!

The design is a delight.  The bottom of the package is designed to look like a basket of fruit, which nestles the fruit perfectly. The bag looks good on a kitchen counter.  We loved the zipper lock and the fact that the bag has breathing holes for the fruit as it ripens, which sets off a heady aroma.  The sign on the chalkboard reminded us of a farmer's fruit stand further emphasizing the romance of summer.

When we purchased a bag, there were three large bins full of these.  The next day, when we learned we were going to be also in charge of bringing dessert for dinner with friends, we went back to get another bag to make a peach tarte-tatin.  Twenty four hours later, there was only one small bin of these left.

Picture your marketing materials on a seller’s coffee table.  Will it give you the edge over another real estate package because it is extraordinary, or will it just blend in with all the other presentations?

Thoughts & Quotes On The Fourth of July 2017!

The 4th of July is often associated with picnics, fireworks, and fun.  It is also a day to celebrate our country's birthday.  It is also a time to reflect on and appreciate the freedom we enjoy. 

America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.  Abraham Lincoln

America was not built on fear.  American was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.  Harry S Truman

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.  When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.  Edward R, Murrow-Journalist

Happy 241st Birthday, America!

When Prestige Supersedes competence – Part 2

Grass_is_Greener.jpg

In Part 1 of this article series we told a story of an extremely competent agent losing out on a “trophy” listing because her competitor worked for a more prestigious company brand with which the sellers identified more strongly. At stake was a $500K commission. We were inspired to write Part 2 because of some of the comments we received.

Sheri Sperry’s comment represented many when she said, “I feel bad that the right agent did not get the listing”.  This is definitely a valid response. We certainly wanted our friend to get the listing. 

But, from a broader perspective the seller and competing agent were a perfect match. And, that is truly what great branding accomplishes. A brand is a shortcut to matching making.  The brand just accelerated the match.

We also appreciated Anna Banana Kruchten’s remark, “I am fine about that; there is plenty of business out there”.  Back to the broader perspective, when you have an abundant mind you find that doing business with ideal clients is much more fun and rewarding.  The truth is there is no scarcity of ideal clients.

Yet, there is something to be said about switching brand when your current brand is impeding your progress. A client of ours was up for a $21M new construction listing from a good friend. However, the friend told him that he could not give our client the listing because our client’s company was not known for its luxury marketing.

This was a spec home with a huge investment of time and money and the owner did not want to take a risk on a sub-par luxury brand. Within hours of hearing about this opportunity our client called us to add his new company brand to his website and other marketing materials.  The next day, after the switch, the listing was signed and he soon sold the property.

The moral of this story is that your personal brand should stand on its own and be “portable” so that you can switch brands with ease if necessary. We are not saying that the grass is necessarily greener on the other side. In the case of our client, however, it was very, very green!

What Is Luxury?

The ultimate of being successful is the luxury of giving yourself the time to what you want to do
— Leontyne Price-,One of the first African-Americans to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera

If you are or aspire to become a luxury real estate marketing professional, it is important to have a clear definition of what luxury really is. The word luxury has become ubiquitous with marketing anything expensive. What makes something truly luxurious? Does it have to be expensive, rare, or just have a name brand? Or has luxury evolved into signifying something beyond value that only money can buy?

Luxury used to connote a product or service with a history of tradition, impeccable quality, and a pleasurable buying experience. It was associated with the highest standards of materials and production and only the most skillful artisans were allowed to work on these items. When those items were sold, the potential customers were treated to an experience of shopping that matched the quality of the item sold.

The meaning of luxury has evolved to include the intangibles.  In our busy world, luxury for many has become synonymous with a desire for more time and space.   It is the time to do something outside the daily routines of life.  It is the time to enjoy special moments and extraordinary experiences. 

In luxury homes this has been translated to includes amenities such as gyms, spas, the man cave and the she shack.  It explains the desire for large acreage, beautiful landscapes to wander through, tennis courts, bowling alleys and infinity pools.

What is luxury?  It is something we all have to define for ourselves.  Everyone has the freedom to choose what luxury can be, out of the normal boundaries of daily activity and routines.    The fundamental luxury we all have is to dream and make decisions without being influenced by traditional constructs, and social constraints, which means setting ourselves free by breaking out to soar freely! What is your definition of luxury?

Focus Your Ears & Earn More: A Master Lesson By Former N. J. Realtor

We cannot emphasize enough how important it to listen to your clients whether they are a seller or a buyer.  We have often referred to the listing process as a “listening” presentation.  If your goal is to stand out as a market leader in your niche, you need to constantly hone your listening skills.

Last Monday, we attended a master class in Hanh Hall at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.  A master class is when talented classical musician is chosen as a “fellow” from a worldwide pool to study with a “master”.  For instance, a few years ago, cello Virtuoso, Yo-Yo Ma was giving a master class to selected talented cello players.

The master class we attended was collaborative piano performance.  In this instance, the piano was played by a gal, from Iran, who had just graduated from Julliard, and the guy who played the viola was from Uzbekistan was a student of music in Singapore.  They gave a performance of a Brahms piece. The audience loved it and enthusiastically applauded. 

Then, Jonathan Feldman (who was an active realtor in New Jersey, before making it as a classical pianist) cameup on stage to review the performance.  Mr. Feldman is a faculty member at Juilliard, and has a storied career having performed as a solo artist and accompanist with noted masters.

He applauded the performance, and heard nuances that we (Ron and I) did not hear.  For instance he noted that the pianist improvised by using the piano’s pedal, which slightly altered the purity of the piece Brahms had written.  He had her play the piece with the pedal, and then without.  Because we were focused, on listening, we heard the difference.  She had a “eureka” moment, as did we.

Focus you ears and listen to your clients well.  You will be surprised how much more you will hear as well as earn, when you focus your ears.

When Prestige Supersedes Competence

In a listing presentation, when you are up against a competitor whose company brand is not perceived to be as “prestigious” as yours you may have an invisible handicap that has nothing whatsoever to do with your own competence as an agent. In luxury real estate marketing, perception often supersedes competence.

We have a friend who specializes in marketing and selling equestrian estates in a world famous marketplace known for its lavish horse related properties. Our friend is a judge of equestrian events.  She also owns a horse farm and breeds horses. She lives and breathes everything equestrian, a true expert in her field.

For months she had known that one of the most expensive horse farms in her area was about to be put on the market. She stayed in touch with the owners consistently and was optimistic that she would be considered to list the property.  When the decision was made to list she was one of only two agents who were considered to market the property.

She had the superior marketing plan and the best listing presentation, given her impeccable credentials. Her competition did not know the difference between the nose and the tail of a horse.  But, the other agent had something that our friend did not have:  a company that was perceived to be more prestigious than hers.

Although it was a close “race”, our friend lost out to her competitor who was absolutely clueless when it came to horse properties.  The final decision was based on the fact that the owners did not want her company sign on their property because they were concerned about what their friends and neighbors might think.  Perception cost our friend over $500K in commissions!

The moral of the story is this: Understand what is at stake when it comes to perception of your company brand.  Certainly, competence “should” win out over perception. But, why not stack the deck in your favor by aligning with a more prestigious company brand.

Or, if you are part of a smaller, independent firm, create your own prestigious personal brand, set the tone, and encourage your company to align the perception of their brand with yours. That is exactly what  Debb Janes and Bernie Stea, did with their Nature As Neighbors team brand.