If I Only Had A Brain!

Say good-bye to mindless luxury real estate blog posts! Google has a brain! Now it can differentiate between worthwhile content and self-congratulating posts or mind numbing real estate information.

Google does its best to match the best answers to its users search queries, and then displays its most relevant ads.  Last October Google added RankBrain, an artificial intelligence system that helps it evaluate search results. Offline, the system teaches itself the best answers to historical search queries. Then, it compares new articles and blog posts to its own answers. This form of artificial intelligence is Google’s answer to real estate agents’ artificial intelligence.

According to Google’s senior artificial intelligence scientist, Greg Corrado,  “In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query.” That is number 3 out of 10,000 signals and sub signals used to make sure the results match the question.

How does this change affect you and your online activities?  The answers are still the same.  Fresh Original content still ranks high preferably with photos, videos and maps if appropriate.  Here is an example:

This morning as we were researching the Wizard of Oz to find Scarecrow’s picture, Google displayed a blog post we had written in  December of 2009, titled, Luxury Real Estate Branding: Branding Is Like The Wizard Of Oz.

Say hello to brain food for thought in your blog posts.  Google’s AI (artificial intelligence) is on to real estate artificial intelligence.

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel-

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Are You Hiding Behind Your Computer?

When search engine marketing and social media marketing first gained traction, pundits touted it as a “river of gold” for luxury real estate marketing professionals. The gold rush commenced and Google became its pied piper and the rule maker of the game, dangling a powerful carrot in front of agents. Actually, it was the holy grail of real estate that they used to seduce an industry: buyer leads generated online without ever having to leave your computer.

A colossal amount of money has been poured into optimizing real estate websites. Real estate professionals have spent countless hours hiding behind their computers in order to make connections with people online, instead of meeting face-to-face.

Sure there have been many big winners at this game. But, without witnessing winners in Vegas the gambling allure would not be as potent for the majority, who are losers or marginal winners, at best.

This is a wake-up call for those luxury real estate marketing professionals who are still addicted to the notion that business is going to flood in while hiding behind your computers and mobile devices. REAL ESTATE IS A HIGH-TRUST RELATIONSHIP GAME! The more high-trust relationships you create the more money you make because people refer business more consistently than Google does. Whoever, creates the most high-trust relationships, wins!

SO, GET UP OFF OF THAT “THING”. COME OUT OF HIDING. GET OUT THERE AND MEET MORE PEOPLE!

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel-

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Are You Green With Envy?

Is there a luxury real estate marketing team in your marketplace that is just “knocking it out of the ball park”? Are you “green with envy” or are you inspired by them to excel in you own practice?

Envy can be a strong motivational force that can either spur you on to greatness or hold you right in place. There is nothing wrong with feeling jealousy or envy, providing that you do not hold on to those feelings too long. Instead, just move on as quickly as possible. Make a rapid transition from being motivated by envy to being inspired by your competition.

One symptom that you are holding on too long to envy is attempting to copy your competitor’ moves. If you are a basketball fan you may have noticed that more and more players are attempting to copy Stephen Curry’s (Golden State Warriors) remarkable three-point shots from well behind the three-point line.

The real secret to the success of GSW, including Stephen’s personal achievements, is the team’s esprit de corps. GSW ended the 2015-2016 regular season with the best record in the history of basketball. Having fun and getting all players engaged takes a higher priority than individual accomplishment. It is from that ground of being that Stephen has soared.

Those players who attempt to copy Stephen wind up playing “hero ball”. Fixated on getting admiration from others, which they think is the prize, these heroes try to take their entire team on their shoulders to save the day.

The funny thing about GSW is that their team spirit is inimitable! If you are able to duplicate it, you make it your own in your own way. This is different from copying the moves of other teams.

The only other team that has this philosophy in the NBA is the San Antonio Spurs. It is very likely that the Western Conference will be a battle between the Warriors and Spurs. You may prefer one to the other. But, true basketball fans will be thoroughly entertained and richly rewarded simply by watching basketball played at its highest level in that playoff series.

There is no scarcity of admiration for these two teams or their individual players. They have both transcended the need to fan the flames of hero worship. The respect for each other is high because each of the members of these teams know the secret that esprit de corps is more important than playing hero ball.

Remember; if you find yourself feeling green with envy in your luxury real estate marketing practice, quickly make the transition from being jealous of your competitors and worrying that they are getting too much admiration, to being inspired by them.

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel-

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

The Secret to Longevity In Luxury Real Estate Marketing

Creating and cultivating high-trust, long-term friendships in business and in your personal life is the name of the game for luxury real estate marketing. The more you make, the more you make-money that is! 

The ability to create and maintain long-term, high-trust relationships is also the key to LONGEVITY in this profession. The best luxury real estate marketing professionals know the secret of longevity.  

With a long-range perspective they are able to transcend the notion of seeing their contacts as merely a means to an end, i.e., referrals. Instead, they treat people as ends unto themselves, confident that only wonderful things can spring forth from such relationships. They take a genuine interest in other people’s lives.

When you honestly care about the well being of others, others spontaneously want to see you thrive. That is the secret to longevity in real estate.

Recently, we reconnected with a close childhood friend of Ron’s after not being in touch for over 20 years. With a solid base of trust that was built over time it was as if no time had elapsed between visits; we just picked up where we last left off.

For fun we took a drive through the neighborhood where they grew up and recognized a pomegranate tree that was still thriving and bearing fruit a half-century later. Seeing this tree (photo below), ten times its original size, was a magical moment that created a touchstone for our relationship that is flourishing once again. The CONTINUITY of trust between us is simply extraordinary!

The Chinese and Japanese cultures reflect the value of continuity and longevity through the art of bonsai. Ron had the privilege of studying bonsai with John Naka, the #1 bonsai master in the United State at the time. The Bonsai Pavilion at the National Arboretum in Washington DC is named after Mr. Naka.

Alexandra spotted the pomegranate tree (depicted at the top) as a “baby” in a tree nursery in Los Angeles over 30 years ago. Ron brought it to class and shaped it, with John’s help, into the windswept style it is today.

Pomegranates are steeped in history and symbolism for many cultures around the world, particularly in the Mediterranean countries where they are plentiful. Typically they represent fruitfulness, abundance, knowledge, learning and wisdom.

High-trust, long-term relationships are the keys to continuity and longevity in the luxury real estate marketing game. Treat people with genuine care and interest, as ends unto themselves, and you will thrive.

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel-

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Are You Bringing The Best Version of Yourself To The Game?

Last week marked the end of the 2015-16 NBA season for the Los Angeles Lakers and the end of the stellar 20-year basketball career for our hero, Kobe Bryant. It was Kobe who inspired our New Year’s Theme of 2016: “Always Bring the Best Version of Yourself To the Game!”.

Scoring 60 points in his final game gave fans across the globe an epic master class in this principle that was akin to watching fireworks exploding at the end of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Bill Plaschke, LA Times Sportswriter, said it this way: “He didn’t walk away, he flew away, on the wings of legend, through the clouds of Hollywood, with a final act unmatched in Los Angeles sports history.”

Every hour of every day, as luxury real estate marketing professionals, we have a choice to bring our best version of ourselves to the game. Few actually set this intention each and every day. Yet, simply doing just that can make a huge difference in the outcome of your interactions with prospects, clients and co-workers.

It is easy to get sloppy and settle for a lesser version of yourself that results in pettiness and mediocre results. If you find yourself slipping, whatever you do, do not chastise yourself! That only prolongs the pettiness. Just begin anew, start over, and let yourself shine!

Are You Bringing The Best Version Of Yourself To The Game?

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel-

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Standing Out In A Crowded Field By Sliming In (LOL)

The South Korean cosmetic industry has exploded in recent years.  In 2015 it became a $2.75 billion industry growing 54% over the previous year.  The Koreans, both men and women, are even more fastidious about their complexions and vibrancy regimen than their US counterparts.  However, they have found true believers in Americans who are now spending more than ever on anti-aging creams and treatments.

One of the main ingredients in some of the most popular South Korean cosmetic products is snail slime. To go along with the regimen, you simply have to get over your mental connotations of these creatures.   Snails were first used in Greece to reduce inflammation. Workers farming escargots noticed that their hands looked younger and smoother.

What is exciting about this trend, from a strategic branding standpoint, is that the South Korean cosmetic companies discovered a niche that they could collectively dominate in their quest for global market leadership.  This is an industry that has been dominated by the French and Americans for centuries.  The South Koreans have created a luxury product category that stands out in a very crowded field. 

Both mainstream American and European cosmetic lines are now playing catch up by including snail slime in their products.  If you are in New York, there is even a plastic surgeon offering the “Escarglow” facial for $300, which includes needling in the slime.

If you find yourself in a highly competitive luxury real estate marketplace, do not panic. The key to standing out is to “slime in” with a new angle for which you can become well known.  But, will it last? Yes, we are laughing out loud!

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Chicken Chronicles: The Luxury of Kindness

This is a story of the luxury of kindness. We lovingly call it the Chicken Chronicles. It all started last week when our cat, Quincy, spotted a lost chicken in the nearby storm channel that also doubles as backwash for the tides and marshes of Sandyland Beach near our home.

As city dwellers a chicken sighting is not exactly commonplace and we simply did not know how to help this creature find its way home. Luckily, our nearby pet supply store had hen scratching (chicken food), which we offered our new friend “Hen Rietta” as she settled in the bushes for the night.  The pet supply people offered to up a photo of our lost hen on their community bulletin board.

The next day, we called our local Animal Control who was happy to come by to rescue her. However, they were unable to catch Hen-Rietta. So, we kept her fed until we could figure out another solution. 

At our farmer’s market, we spoke to some chicken fanciers who told us to try and pick her up at night, when she got drowsy.  Apparently, chickens do not resist once they fall asleep.

Later in the day we asked our next-door neighbor for additional suggestions and she happened to know some people a couple blocks away who raise chickens.  We followed up on the lead and sure enough they were eager to help. It took three of us to corner Hen-Rietta, but it worked!

On closer inspection we discovered that she was injured. Out of concern and kindness they were willing to adopt her and nurse her back to health. They understood that, if Hen-Rietta’s actual owner showed up through Animal Control, they would give her back.

They placed Hen-Rietta in a special cage away from their chicken coup for special care, but close enough to make her feel at home.  Her relief was palpable and her appetite was hardy! We thanked these folks for their genuine kindness and they thanked us by giving us a dozen of their fresh eggs, which we shared with our next-door neighbor.

An abundance of goodwill, camaraderie and a sense of community were generated from something so simple: taking care of a lost chicken.  Sure, we went out of our way to do this.  But, so did our neighbors and the Animal Control people. There was no ulterior motive to pay anything forward. It really was a fun experience and we got to meet some wonderful people.  

The eggs were not a reward; although they were absolutely delicious.  To us they were a symbol of kindness- the luxury of kindness.

 

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

 

 

It Is Much Easier to “Sell Down” Than to “Sell up”, Price-wise!

Courtesy of Tesla

Many real estate agents and firms face a challenge when they contemplate breaking into the luxury end of the market or increasing their luxury market share. The challenge is shifting the perception held by high net worth consumers about their “mid-price range” personal or company brand. One of their biggest concerns is alienating their core referral base because they do not want to be perceived as pretentious snobs or as elitists.

The truth from a strategic branding standpoint is that it is much harder to “sell up” than it is to “sell down” price-wise. This means it is more difficult to have a brand perception of “middle of the road” while trying to list $1M+ homes. It is easier to have a luxury brand perception and attract mid-price home sellers. 

The key is striking a balance of sophistication without coming across as pretentious. Apple, who hired the head of the British luxury brand, Burberry, to head their retail store division has nailed this balance.  They understand the “halo effect” of including a Hermès watchband in their offerings to attract high net worth buyers.  They may not sell many of them, but this strategy casts a glow of luxury on all the other less expensive bands and also their entire range of products.

Tesla just achieved the same result from the halo effect strategy.  They launched their company as a sophisticated yet not pretentious luxury brand competing with Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Lexus, but squarely in the electric car niche.

We happened by our Tesla dealership in Santa Barbara last week and could not believe what we saw! There was a line of customers around the block waiting to reserve a Model 3. This is their new $35K mid-price sedan capable of seating five and going 215 miles on a charge, and 0-60 mph in less than 6 seconds. It is coming out in late 2017. 

In just a few days over 276,000 people reserved a Tesla Model 3. That equates to an $11.6 billion backlog of orders!  It is much easier to "Sell Down" than to "Sell up", price-wise.

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

The New Wave of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)In Real Estate!

Photo Courtesy of Microsoft

Photo Courtesy of Microsoft

Employing Virtual Reality headsets to meet clients and show properties is not just a future concept; the future is already here. But, do not panic! Instead of jumping on the bandwagon and falling prey to F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out), consider this as an opportunity to differentiate you and your company by doubling down on the tried and true fundamentals of luxury real estate marketing: Face-to-meetings and masterful in-person property showings.

Recently, the Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau (BHCVB) worked with a trend forecast agency to assess the current landscape and future trends of the luxury market.  While they acknowledged the importance of the digital they saw another important trend: A “Digital Bubble”. Luxury consumers are getting weary of digital and social media fatigue is setting in.

The trend that they call, “Luxury 3.0”, indicates that traditional luxury will come full circle. According to Julie Wagner, CEO of BHCVB, high net worth consumers are “seeking out more original and authentic experiences that can’t be seen or bought online”.

So, before you rush out to be the first or the last luxury real estate marketing professional to use VR headsets for meetings or property tours, take a deep breath.  Do not fall prey to F.O.M.O. Strengthen your fundamentals of superlative in-person service. In doing so you may also avoid making you and your clients nauseous.

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Did The Devil Make You Do It? Credibility On Social Media!

We have over 200 endorsements on Linked In, which we have not accepted.  We have had at least that many like requests on Facebook, which we have ignored. And, recently were asked by a real estate agent to recommend him, which we declined.  The common thread in all these endorsements, “likes” and recommendations is that there are credibility issues.

The endorsements on Linked-In are from people whom we have never met or with whom we have not done business.  We do not understand how they can recommend our services without really knowing about them. The endorsers expect us to recommend them as well under the same cirmcumstances.

The like requests on Facebook are equally puzzling.  The majority of the requests are from folks with whom we may be connected, but with whom we do not have a personal relationship. On the rare occasions we have liked a business on Facebook, the powers that be have inundated us with ads there.

The real estate agent who asked us for a recommendation is someone we have never met. Do we tell our actual friends to use this agent just because he is in our social media network? 

To paraphrase Geraldine Jones (pictured above), a character created by comedian Flip Wilson, “Don’t [touch me] endorse us, honey you don’t know us that well!”  And, we know the devil did not make you do it! 

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Is Your Luxury Real Estate Brand Signal Crystal Clear?

"When The Moon His Your Eyes Like a Big Pizza Pie..."

"When The Moon His Your Eyes Like a Big Pizza Pie..."

As brand strategists in the luxury real estate industry our aim is to help you identify and hone your unique “brand signal” so it is crystal clear.  Your brand signal is the message that you broadcast to your target market (verbally, graphically and through action) that conveys your extraordinary promise of value (EVP).   

If your brand signal is indiscernible, weak or mixed you are missing a tremendous marketing opportunity to connect, in a meaningful way, with your ideal clients and with your entire potential referral base, for that matter.  Think of tuning into a radio station. You are either on signal (crystal clear) or off signal with some degree of static, or have no signal at all. You know you have succeeded in broadcasting your unique brand signal when virtually anyone within your marketplace can recognize you in a nanosecond simply by glancing at your yard signs, your ads, your postcards etc. 

Test out this phenomenon of a strong brand signal for yourself. After reading the first 11 words of this iconic song (read the caption under the picture above), can you can name that tune and the singer who made it popular?   

Can you hear him singing it in your “mind’s ear”?  In your mind, can you hear anyone else singing it?  That is the potential power of your brand signal! 

 “You may have heard Dean Martin sing, “That’s Amore” in the movie, “Moonstruck” (1987). But, the song originally debuted in 1953 and was nominated for an Academy Award that year.  The brand signal is still strong, today.

Simon Cowell of American Idol and X Factor fame defined this brand signal phenomenon perfectly:  “The sign of a great artist is when you shut your eyes, you know who is singing”.  We strongly encourage you to take a moment to watch the British X Factor video below, of Che Chesterman, a newcomer who will leave an indelible impression in your mind’s ear after just one impression. 

Think of Adele, Whitney Houston, Barbara Streisand, Sting, Seal, and Rihanna.  In just a few notes you know exactly who is singing.  Which artist brand signals do you recognize within just a few bars of music because their signals are crystal clear?

Is your luxury real estate brand signal crystal clear? 

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Forget Broccoli: Eat Your Daily Requirement Of Chocolate, Or Else!

If you need to boost your morale, stay fresh for the whole day, woo your clients to buy a luxury property or be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating a real estate dispute, forget eating broccoli. Binge on chocolate!

Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, concluded that eating chocolate is a religious experience. He named the cocoa tree, Theobroma, an ancient Greek word for "food of the gods".

Chocolate is said to have many benefits:  

Hernán Cortes, one of the Spanish Conquistadors found it suitable for the military  "a beaker of chocolate keeps a solidier fresh for the whole day."  

In 1755, during the French and Indian War, Benjamin Franklin procured 6 pounds of chocolate for each officer.

During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress enacted price controls on chocolate, because they knew it maintained the fighters' morale.  Each soldier received his minimum daily requirement of chocolate.

Even Giacomo Casanova found chocolate to be the best gift to seduce women.  Legend has it that no one could resist a cup of hot cocoa when served by the world's greatest lover.

In a 2012, The New England Journal of Medicine released a study called. "Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function and Nobel Laureates" authored by Franz H. Messerli, M.D.  The study concluded:

"Chocolate consumption could improve cognitive function not only in individuals but in whole populations. He found that there is a correlation between a country's level of chocolate consumption and its total number of Nobel laureates per capita. Dr. Messerli based this study on regular daily chocolate consumption, mostly but not exclusively in the form of dark varieties."

Now you know that there is no excuse for slacking in your luxury real estate marketing practice, when you can fuel it with dark chocolate. If you do not pick up the slack your competition will!

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

What Is the Highest and Best Use of Your Time?

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, do you have a shortage of time to enjoy your life apart from work? This is an indication that you are not focused on the highest and best use of your time and that you need to delegate more.

This important issue of “time shortage” came to our attention when we discovered that two top-producing brokers with whom we were consulting independently came to the conclusion that they needed to slow down in order to handle their workload rather than focus on getting more.

Both clients were very well known and both were listing magnets. The moment they stepped out of their offices they invariably met people who were either ready to sell their home, buy something else or refer business their way.

However, they each felt that they should be more hands-on regarding all the details of their businesses. This included the paperwork, the ads, the brochures, the scheduling of photographers, stagers, etc., despite the fact that they had assistants to do all of this work.

They both realized that their highest and best use was to spend their time listing, showing the properties, and closing the sale. Their big “ah-ha” moment came when they understood that the primary source of their success was schmoozing!

So, we organized their assistants to take care of the majority of details, and we made sure that they hired assistants who loved detail work. We created systems and flow charts for listing management, marketing management, and transaction coordination. We called them “life-support systems”, because working in this manner, as professional schmoozers, freed up their time to enjoy their lives.

What is the Highest and Best Use of Your Time?

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

A Graphic Brand Identity Without Context Is Not A Brand!

When we craft a graphic brand identity as brand strategists for the luxury real estate industry, there is always a purpose behind the design.  The purpose provides the CONTEXT for the brand.   The purpose is threefold:

1) To express your unique personality, priority values and core strengths; 

2) To clearly state your extraordinary promise of value (in words and symbols) so that your target market instantly understands that you are the best match to their values and most pressing needs, and;

3) To SHARPLY CONTRAST YOU in relationship to your competition.

The process of designing the graphic brand identity is very exciting when you keep this context in mind.  Many talented people can simply create a a graphic brand identity for you. Without CONTEXT, it is not a brand. It most likely will result in an under performing graphic brand identity and thus, a colossal missed opportunity.

Taking our own preconceived ideas out of the equation, listening to YOU intently, and then staying true to YOUR essential nature (and the nature of your marketplace) is our guiding design principle. We practice this discipline by taking the time to quiet our minds and attune to Nature itself as often as possible.

We wanted you to have a visceral EXPERIENCE, right now, of this guiding design principle, not just an understanding of the words in this post. So, we went into our own backyard to photograph an exquisite transformation of Nature. The bottle-brush trees are bursting forth and putting on quite a show.  There is simply nothing on earth quite like this! Enjoy!

And, remember that your own brand, to perform its function to the fullest, must reflect the CONTEXT we define here. 

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Marketing You After The Sale: A Memorable Closing Gift!

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, it is a good idea if you give closing gifts to choose one that would keep them talking about you.  We were fascinated by this specimen tree. The curly/corkscrew branches, and the yellow cones were beautiful along with the leaves that were beginning to sprout.

We spotted the owner of Woeste's nursery in Los Olivos, who told us it is "Contorted Filbert AKA Hazelnut"  This variety is a shrub.  The yellow cones are "catkins" on which the hazelnuts will grow. Its leaves are umbrella shaped and will cover the catkins during their growth.  It does well in Zone 3-9 according to some experts and 4-8 according to others.  

They love full sun and are fine with part shade.  Some of his clients plant them in their garden, and others place them in large pots.  We think they would add curb appeal to one's home as well as a source of hazelnuts for the home chef!

We think it would make a great closing gift, and something the new homeowner will talk about and remember you for.

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Are You Keeping The Doors To Your Wisdom Unlocked?

Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom
— Mary Browne-Tennis Player

Preconceived Notions are opinions that are formed without adequate evidence.  Recently, we read someone’s reasons as to why luxury real estate as a niche is not viable.  This individual listed facts, which are true to some degree:

  • Luxury properties take longer to sell
  • You have to spend more marketing dollars
  • Rich people expect print ads which don’t work
  • It takes a long time to make money in luxury real estate.  

These opinions are based on preconceived notions and not based on thoroughly researching the facts on the subject.  Here are the facts based on our experience working with some of the top luxury agents and teams all over the world:

  • When a home is priced right, it sells as fast as any properly priced home.
  • Every home regardless of price deserves professional marketing
  • Print ads have varied results. However, the costs are proportionate to the commission earned, i.e. as a percentage of your overall marketing budget. Strategically crafted print ads can be an excellent opportunity to promote YOU.
  • Time spent learning the Language of Luxury is an investment that pays handsome dividends over time.

The trouble with preconceived notions is that they play a role in limiting one’s growth as an individual, and as a businessperson.  They are also an easy excuse or a shortcut to avoid independent thinking. People often assimilate other’s opinions and tout them as their own especially when those opinions are popular among a circle of friends.

Preconceived notions turn into limiting beliefs that prevent you from doing new things. Take the time to think independently and research the facts!  Keep the doors to wisdom unlocked! 

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Credibility Markers: Or How To Acquire Raving Fans!

The first encounter with your luxury real estate brand, whether it is an ad, a postcard or your website, is your first opportunity to build your credibility. New clients and potential referral sources are on the lookout for credibility markers.  These are indicators that your brand is a match to their values and their needs.  Credibility markers, when tallied, determine whether or not, you will win them over as raving fans.

Yesterday, we had an appointment in Westlake, which is an hour away from our home.  The day before, we researched and found a restaurant in close proximity to our meeting called Lemonade.  The location itself was the first credibility marker for us, because it is situated in a lovely outdoor shopping center, owned by a developer we respect for his aesthetic and his tenant selection.

The color scheme of Lemonade’s website is beautiful and its mouth-watering pictures of the food on the menu is tantalizing.  The website also clearly articulates the brand’s EVP (extraordinary promise of value): a modern marketplace serving a colorful bounty of seasonal California comfort food in a bright cafeteria setting.” These were additional credibility markers, because they resonated with our values and met our needs.

When we walked into the restaurant, we were immediately impressed.  The place reflected the website’s presentation of the brand accurately.  The food looked as good as the pictures on the site, and was delicious.  The staff encouraged us to taste their offerings prior to ordering.  They even asked us if we had any food allergies, which was yet another credibility marker.

Obviously, Lemonade acquired us as raving fans.  When we tallied up all of their credibility markers they won us over.  We naturally wanted to endorse their brand, because it was a match to our values and needs. 

Do Your Credibility Markers Help You To Acquire Raving Fans?

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

What is Luxury in 2016?

As the economy goes through its machinations and new generations become affluent consumers attitudes about luxury change.  That is why, every so often, on the Language of Luxury, we take a fresh look at the meaning of luxury. 

At Starbucks, you can buy a cup of coffee for $2.00 (smallest size). Or you can (at some locations) request that they use their The Clover® Brewing System made with their “reserve”, beans (e.g., Ethiopian) for $4.00 for the same size cup. 

The Clover® Brewing System prepares a single cup of coffee, made-to-order, that is unlike anything you have ever tasted. We were extremely impressed by the wonderful aroma and flavorful nuances of the coffee that we tried with this method. If you are a coffee connoisseur this is a must experience!

 

To understand luxury in 2016, we pose this question:  Why would someone pay double or even triple the price for the same amount of coffee? The same size cup at McDonalds costs $1.39?  Factor out whether or not you can afford the most expensive cup of coffee and the answer becomes clearer.

For 81 cents more you can enjoy the atmosphere in Starbucks that you cannot find at a McDonalds fast food restaurant. For some that atmosphere is a luxury. Aesthetics and an upscale environment can be the deciding factor.

For those willing to indulge themselves in an elevated olfactory and gustatory experience, at double the price, this delectable Clover coffee sensation is well worth it.  Once you have had this experience it may be hard to go back to coffee brewed using other methods.

Affordability often clouds one’s assessment of the essence of luxury. Starbucks has built an empire on the concept of “small indulgences” because luxury is relevant and not entirely out of reach for many consumers.

Luxury can be a rarified atmosphere or an indulgence of the senses both of which can had for a premium.  But, you can also take a quiet walk in nature right after it rains. Listen to the sounds of a babbling brook, smell the fresh clean air and taste the wild strawberries.  That luxury is free!

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

Are You Honing Your Soft Skills?

Soft Skills” is the new buzz word in corporate speak formerly known as “Emotional Intelligence Quotient’. Luxury real estate marketing professionals who are aiming for market leadership should take heed of honing their soft skills.

Someone with great soft skills is mindful: attentive, considerate, aware, and observant, compassionate: empathetic, understanding, sensitive, and objective: impartial, unbiased, open-minded, fair-minded.  For self-preservation, it is knowing when to letting a client or staff go, as the photo above states.

Corporations who have focused on hiring and coaching management in honing these qualities have noticed an increase in profits as well as employee retention. Many human resource departments, as well as colleges and universities are testing potential new hires on their emotional IQ’s. Job skills still matter, but emotional intelligence matters more.

Selling real estate requires great soft skills.  Telltale signs of those who need to hone their soft skills, are people who become defensive when criticized, fly off the handle when feeling pressured, cannot handle setbacks without blame, have trouble controlling their temper, cannot admit to making a mistake and jump to judgment.  Of course, there is always returning phone calls, responding to emails, and showing up for appointments, which are the minimal soft skills.

Are You Honing Your Soft Skills?

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.

The Ultimate Aim of Brand Strategy: Winning At The “Listing Table”

3-Minute Video Case Study

On A Market-Leading Santa Barbara Team

Getting to the “Listing Table” in the first place is the first goal of brand strategy for luxury real estate marketing professionals.  Whoever achieves top-of-mind status in their marketplace or a niche therein has the greatest chance of getting that all-important job interview.  But, winning at the listing table is the ultimate goal.

What if you were able to instantly demonstrate that you market your competitor's listings better on your website than your competitor does on their own website?  That is something that we help our clients achieve when they are challenging a vulnerable market leader.  

When we work with an incumbent market leader, however, our job as brand strategists is to make sure they out-distance their would-be challengers by demonstrating their superior marketing savvy and their extensive track record.

Many times, home sellers make up their mind about which agent or company to hire BEFORE the interview.  That is why it is imperative that your website becomes your “silent sales person” demonstrating your extraordinary promise of value before you even arrive at the listing table.

Here is a case study of an incumbent marketing leading team in Santa Barbara, California, headed by Kerry Mormann, known as “The Land Guy”.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Thank you for your patience, gentle & consistent reminding and positive encouragement. We are very busy and finding the time to work on our team branding and new website felt ominous so thank you again for the support and guidance.”
— Kerry Mormann & Mary Elliot, Kerry Mormann & Associates

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

ABOUT:  Napa Consultants, International is the leader in brand strategy for the luxury real estate industry.  They work exclusively with professionals who are passionate about gaining or sustaining market leadership. With an expertise in personal branding, company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing they help their clients become the breakaway brand in their marketplace.