You Have the Listing!: AKA The Importance of Knowing Your "It Factor"

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As a luxury real estate marketing professional in any aspect of the real estate field, it would be wise to take time to discover your “it factor.” On several occasions we have asked sellers why they chose one agent over another with excellent track records, presentations, etc. Their response falls into the intangible world of charisma: Agent X was something else, someone special, someone who resonated with us, someone we could trust, and made us say: "you have the listing!"


Charisma is a point of attraction. It is someone who can turn heads when entering a room, not because they are looking for attention.  It is because they exude a genuine confidence of being comfortable in their own skin. Embracing your "it factor" will make you stand out in any situation.

The “it factor” refers to an indefinable quality a person has. Charismatic people exude confidence, that attracts the perfect match. Charisma is defined as “personal magnetism, the ability to inspire enthusiasm, interest, or affection.”We are all born with an "it factor."  

Whether or not, we are taught to nurture our uniqueness or conform to the norm; is what makes the difference between it being visible or invisible.  Many of us were raised in the league of conforming to be attractive to all, whether or not it suits us. 

Keep in mind that not everyone will be attracted to your brand of charisma. Those who are a match to you (the right people to work with or be with) will be. Embracing your “it factor” will create compelling attractiveness, (as the label in the photo states)). This will translate into “You Have the Listing!”

Today is Earth Day: Please, Don't Mess With Mother Earth!

According to long time residents and natives in Santa Barbara County, Earth Day was inspired by the horrific 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, that then, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D) from Wisconsin visited.

"On January 28, 1969, a well drilled by Union Oil Platform A off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, blew out. More than three million gallons of oil spewed, killing over 10,000 seabirds, dolphins, seals, and sea lions. As a reaction to this disaster, activists were mobilized to create environmental regulation, environmental education, and Earth Day.

We were so impressed and inspired by this video that Apple created to honor Earth Day that we had to share it with all of you.  Here is part of the story as told by The Drum.

"Apple commissioned a skilled group of professional filmmakers from Camp4 Collective, best known for the winning Sundance Film Festival documentary Meru, to capture Mother Earth in all her glory on iPhone XS."

Each videographer had their own personal mission for our beautiful planet.  You can also watch their stories, on the suggested list.  They are quite moving! Please don't mess with Mother Earth!

Real Estate Websites & Curb Appeal Gucci Style: More Than Meets The Eye

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As part of our brand strategy services, we design websites to be consistent with the brand and for curb appeal, we do not develop them.  In other words our concern is with the aesthetics of a site  and not the codes needed to make it work. 

As part of our brand strategy services, we design websites to be consistent with the brand and for curb appeal, we do not develop them.  In other words our concern is with the aesthetics of a site  and not the codes needed to make it work. 

This past Tuesday morning, we took time to walk along Beverly Hills famed Rodeo drive to study the latest remodel revealed of the flagship Gucci store (pictured above) which began in May of 2018. 

We focused on studying the design. The extensive use of marble combined with a green metal for the brand name and support emphasized the longevity of this luxury brand (founded in1921, in Florence) as well as it new progressive era combining it with metal as part of the design.  

The marble is cut in pieces in "trompe l'oeil," style, and precisely placed in a geometric pattern to create the 3D illusion. This translates from French as optical illusion or something that fools the eye.  To the touch the surface is flat.

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The entry way to the store is a curved wall of trompe l'oeil inviting you into the store.  The other side of the entry is a curved glass wall giving you a peek of their merchandise.  It gives the shopper a feeling that there is more than meets the eye, a sense of surprise and excitement, wanting to see more, (pictured below).

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Does your website have curb appeal?

Branding Moment in Beverly Hills: Balenciaga & Frank Lloyd Wright Building!

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We mentioned in many of our previous posts,, how the City of Beverly Hills requires a beautiful façade of a store that is being remodeled.  The facade can be used to promote the brand.

We liked the black and white photo which in our view recalled the history of this luxury brand.  Having a store next to the  three story, Frank Lloyd Wright building, (known as the Anderton Court Shops) which was finished in 1952.  This added to the "gravitas" defined as: Gravitas is associated with ideas of weight, influence, or authority, and also sobriety and seriousness.   This is what we refer to as "borrowed landscape" one historical landmark lending credibility to a brand steeped in historyr.

Pictured above is the new store that Balenciaga is opening on Rodeo Drive.  Cristobal Balenciaga founded the store in 1917, in San Sebastian, Spain.  He later expanded his locations to Barcelona and Madrid.  His innovative designs led him to Paris, when he had to close the Spanish stores during the Spanish Civil War. 

During the WWII people risked their lives by traveling to Europe just to see his fashion shows.  In 1972, he closed his stores and the brand lay dormant until 1986.  One of his many students or protégés was famed designer Hubert de Givenchy, (favorite designer of Audrey Hepburn).

Branding Moment: 8 Basic Ways to Analyze the Power of a Brand Name

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As confirmed chocoholics, we noticed this chocolate selection in the chocolate aisle of our market.  And because we love the branding process, the brand name also caught our attention.  Here are some basic ways we analyze a brand:

1. The name is a play on the phrase "alter ego" defined as a person's secondary or alternative personality.  Is it distinctive enough or memorable?

2.  Does the name address the market it intends to reach?  It does focus on attracting thosewho are ecologically minded and prefer organic products, and they are proud of it.  The slogan under the name, "enlightened indulgence" is intended to have the buyer feel good for buying it..

3.  Can the name be used on other products if the company were to start another related business?  In designing real estate brands we often think in terms of "exit strategy", when the company or agent decides to sell the business or start another business.

4.  Does the brand name have any negative connotations? Based on the definition of alter ego: (the bad side of a person that may come to life at anytime, switching your personality—this is fantasy, though some people may believe they have an alter-ego), it may be construed as such.

5.  Is the name original?  It is important to do a trademark search.

6.  Is it a name the marketplace will remember?

7.  Will it have word of mouth power, or social media power that will last? 

8.  And most important is the product delicious to those who are tempted to buy it?

When I (A) pointed it out the brand to Ron, he reminded me that dear friends who are also chocoholics had sent us a bar to try.  I had forgotten, the name and the experience.  Ron remembered the name.   Neither one of us thought that the taste was memorable enough for us to buy again.  

Keep in mind that tastes differ.  Perhaps some of you who may have tried this brand will disagree with us. Again, this a basic guideline to analyze a brand name!



How to Turn Glitches, Hitches, Hiccups & Problems into Opportunities to Build Customer Loyalty

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All highly successful real estate marketing professionals understand the high cost of client acquisition and the importance of maintaining customer loyalty over time. But clients can be fickle. The same applies for broker-agent relationships. The slightest unresolved or ignored problem or hiccup in an otherwise flawless relationship can set the stage for customer disloyalty and cause agents to jump ship to your competitor. 

 

The way you handle glitches, hitches, hiccups and problems, and the timeliness in which they are addressed is where the rubber meets the road in remarkable client (and agent) service. This last week provided us with an amazing study in contrast between remarkable customer service and extremely poor service. One company lost us as a customer before we received our first online order. The other company strengthened our customer loyalty to a brand that we have been raving about for years. 

The Missed Opportunity 

I ordered an assortment package of various perishable food items online, inspired by the brand story of this start-up that we heard about on TV, i.e., by word-of-mouth advertising.  On their website it states, “We ship via Fedex on Tuesdays. Your order will arrive on your doorstep Wednesday – Thursday”.

When the package did not arrive as promised, I notified the company by email and made a phone call to their customer service number.  I got a recording that they would answer the call within one day. 

But there was no email reply, nor was the phone call returned. When the package finally arrived on Friday, we refused it. I notified the company asking for a refund.  “No refunds or returns. See our return policy on our website.” was the answer that came back! After politely reiterating that the delivery came one day later than what was promised on their website, I then had to call my credit card and stop payment.  I also stated that we would alert the credit card company if they changed their mind about the refund, which they finally did. This glitch was an opportunity to turn us into raving fans. But it was too late.

The Golden Opportunity

Ron accidently broke his sunglasses, for the second time that we bought from our favorite brand. When we contacted them for the repair the estimate was going to cost as much (including postage and previous repair) as we had paid for this item in the first place. When I questioned the sturdiness of the glasses and the expense in an email, I received a long lecture explaining how we should use the itemassumingwe had misused it. In other words, this was clearly our fault. 

We had praised this company in blog posts and also to our friends for years.  Just as we were about to give up on this brand, the company sent another email to ask us if we were satisfied with their responses.  I wrote back saying, I felt lectured rather than helped, and realized that this may be company policy.  I also added that my brand loyalty was shaken.  The next response I received was that they would take care of the repair at no charge to us. Loyalty restored!

Missed opportunity or Golden Opportunity?  That is the question when it comes to handling glitches, hitches, hiccups and problems in your real estate practice or in your company. 

 

Branding Moment: Give Your Clients A License To Chill!

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In marketing yourself as a luxury real estate marketing professional, it is important to clearly state your promise of value which would differentiate you from the pack.  In a recent post, we discussed testing the pain point threshold in marketing.  Here is an example from the airline industry, which was shaken up when Emirates came on the scene. The company smartly addressed all the pain points of airline travel with great service, food, and even nannies for children in all classes. 

This ad (pictured above) caught our attention., In one fell swoop the company explained its promise of value, plane pain relief.  Their slogan is “Experience a new level of comfort”.  Many of us who fly for business or vacation consider the plane experience the opposite of pleasurable or comfortable.  

We have friends who have flown Emirates in coach, business and first. They have raved about the services in each class, and the ease of booking. Our finicky friends even liked the food and wine, as well as the ease of traveling with Emirates.  So far, we have not flown to the destinations serviced by Emirates. 

I (A) spend a lot of time booking flights for our various trips.  I read various travel related columns and also stay current on the fine details of how to use the points we have accumulated over the years of traveling in order to upgrade us to business or first class for added leg room and comfort especially on cross country flights or overseas.   

Regardless of which class we fly, we bring our own snacks, load up our iPads with books to pass the time, and do our best to sleep through most of the flight.   When we land, we cannot wait to get off the plane. Once in a while, we do have a great experience, and we definitely take time to praise in the reviews when asked.  

Watch for the pain points you may encounter in working with sellers/buyers.  Look for ways to minimize them or eradicate them from the experience of buying or selling real estate.  Give them a license to chill!

Seven Question To Test Your "Pain Point Threshold" In Marketing Luxury Real Estate

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In marketing speak, eliminating “pain points” is an ideal strategy for getting more referrals and maintaining a healthy stream of business for your real estate marketing practice. That is, minimizing or eliminating any “pain point” that your seller or buyer may encounter in working with you.  

Pain points are those problems that aggravate a relationship and spark a downward spiral of discontent. If not handled immediately these pain points can cause even your most loyal clients to eventually decide not to work with you ever again.

Although human personalities vary, there are common pain points that are universal to all of us.  Successfully addressing these 7 questions below will reveal your strengths and weakness in dealing with universal pain points that can turn off a potential buyer or seller in no time at all.

  • Do your clients (and other agents) feel special when they work with you?

  • Do you respond quickly to take care of issues that arise?

  • Do you reassure them when a problem presents itself?

  • Do you take the time to really listen?

  • Do you have impeccable manners; are you polite?  ,

If you work with foreigners, are you sensitive to their cultural values? 

Do you check and double check any information you give to make sure it is accurate?

Here is an example. Yesterday afternoon, Ron visited a store to look for casual pants.  The salesperson was not that thrilled to see him, even though his department was empty. He was busy on his cell phone. Ron did not feel like he cared.  

The salesperson handed him a couple of styles to try on and let him know that Keanu Reeves (the actor) had just bought a pair of the very pants Ron was trying on.  Then he left to chat with his colleague on the other side of the store. Ron commented that he must have entered the Matrix.

When Ron needed another size, I was the one to find it. (lack of responsiveness, not listening). Ten minutes later, the salesperson was told it was lunch time.  He did not bother telling his replacement that he was leaving, nor Ron (impolite). His replacement could also have cared less. Bottom line, Ron will never walk into that store again.

Keep refining your solutions to these pain point problems.  It will keep your clients happily referring you which will maintain a healthy stream of business for you.

Is Your Service Remarkable Enough for Continuous Referral

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Remarkable service is one of the key ways to differentiate yourself from the competition regardless of which branch of the real estate business you excel in. People who appreciate this type of service are also people who enjoy referring others like themselves to the same business person. A recent study in the luxury industry rated service as the most important reason to refer someone. And those mentioned had remarkable financial results.  And these businesses continuously look for ways to be even more remarkable.

Your most highly valued asset in your luxury or any real estate marketing practice is your database of contacts, particularly those who would go out of their way to refer business to you because you have earned their trust and respect. 

It stands to reason that understanding and consistently implementing the best practices for building a high volume of high-trust relationships will not only yield a high volume of referrals, it will also open up the opportunity to sell your practice in the future at a premium.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to inspire people to spontaneously go out of their way to refer business to you? What sparks the urge to originate word-of-mouth advertising on your behalf?  The answer is creating extraordinary value far beyond the fundamentals that are expected of you. Your service must be REMARKABLE to trigger word-of-mouth advertising. 

A remarkable brand must communicate and keep its promises, consistently. Only then can you achieve brand loyalty. For instance, there is a luxury real estate firm overseas, that promises that you can speak to one of its friendly representatives 24/7, and bespoke service. You don’t have to deal with voice mail.  We checked to make sure that they do.  To continue to succeed this firm has keep this promise. Their team must be well versed in representing their brand message. Every time the phone is answered by a live representative there is an opportunity to demonstrate and communicate the essence of their brand.

 Personally, we find ourselves drawn to brands that have great service.  And we are always delighted to recommend them.  Our car brand is now offering 24/7 emergency repair, which means that if the car fizzles out on a weekend, you don’t have to wait till Monday to get it repaired.   They have found another way to give remarkable service, and to exceed our expectations. 

Friday Photo: Whimsical & Happy House Warming Gifts!

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Pictured above is a house warming gift, Ron and I would give for our client's house warming party. We love the whimsical nature, and it would bring a daily smile to the right homeowner. And it would last as long as the plants were watered regularly.

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In our previous post, yesterday,  the commenters often mentioned that they gave house warming gifts, instead of closing gifts! House warming gifts took this subject to another level.   This is another way to say thank you for doing business with me, especially if the gift has lasting value.

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You can also create your own, with different themes and figurines. We love these, and each time, we are at Woeste'sin Los Olivos, we take a look to see what the designers have created.  We are even tempted to make our own, because they sell the individual parts also.

Wishing you many closings and giving of housewarming gifts!

The Closing Gift Conundrum: It Depends...

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In our sixteen years of focusing on branding and marketing in various niches of the real estate industry with both companies and agents, we have seen innumerable ways that real estate marketing professional in all facets of the industry attract clients, and create a referral stream.  

Closing gifts is one way to assure this happens.  We have heard and read many discussions on the subject as to what works and what does not work when it comes to closing gifts. We have concluded that the appropriate answer is that it dependson the personalities of the agents and the personalities of the people they attract.  Remember, the old adage: People like to do business with people like themselves.

It is not uncommon to hear that someone with a high-end listing will show prospects homes in a chauffeured limousine, for instance.  Or, they will rent a helicopter to view the property if they have a buyer for large tracts of land, ranches or vineyards.  They will also wine and dine them at posh restaurants.  We have seen the same type of service albeit less extravagant at the mid-range level in real estate, as well as in commercial real estate also.

Here is an example of a successful agent who feels that gift giving is the best method   to attract those who are ready to buy or sell.  We call it, the “treat them as if they ruled the world “system. 

This agent specialized in luxury real estate. A special gift from Tiffany’s was sent after a listing presentation.  It was a clever gift, a silver pen. The attached gift card explained this was the “special” pen for the potential sellers/buyers to sign the closing papers with. This individual had a high enough percentage of buyers/sellers sign the exclusive for this method to justify the cost.  At the end of the transaction, there was another luxury gift for the client.

This is one way of doing business, it worked for this individual. Even in the age of electronic signing, this person is still spending money with Tiffany’s on other items as the opening gambit.Keep in mind that this is the type of client this individual attracts over and over again, because this agent would want to be similarly treated, if he/she were the seller or buyer.  It worked.

At the same conference, we, we were speaking at, we met another agent whose approach was radically different. This person does not give gifts, she spontaneously gets them from happy clients. This is another approach to working with the wealthy or any other type of financial strata that one is working with.  

Her stance is that her service is invaluable, her knowledge of the luxury market impeccable. She has an impressive roster of clients who praise her expertise and prowess. These are the clients she consistently attracts. She is a player on an equal footing with her clients who are treated like partners in the process of selling or buying a home.  Although, she does not expect a gift, she often gets gifts from her clients.   

Find your approach, express it clearly and you will attract the very ones you would like to work with.  There is no right or wrong here, it depends on your personality and the people you would like to do business with.  As a rule, we gave ourselves a gift when we closed a deal.

What Is Marketing Magic? Is It A Rabbit Pulled out of Hat?

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We live and breathe marketing and branding day in and day out for our clients. We are constantly tweaking strategies based on evidence of psychographics (lifestyle) to refine the message for our luxury real estate client’s listings in their target market as it evolves and changes with the times. Our view on marketing magic is not a rabbit pulled out of a hat.  

 

What is appropriate for a magic show has no value in luxury or other real estate marketing.  Gimmicks have short life spans and may generate cash.  Gimmicks at some point they will die of natural causes as interest wanes.  Skip the gimmicks!

 

Successful marketing in real estate or any other profession is based on the fundamentals of marketing.  Keep in mind, that marketing is not synonymous with Sales.  As our favorite marketing guru, Peter Drucker stated: The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.”

 

People want to do business with people they trust, respect and like.  If you take a moment to review the brands you like doing business with, you will no doubt be able to enumerate what makes them special in your opinion.  You trust how they do business, what they stand for and what you can expect from them.  It is easy for you to recommend them.  

 

Getting the message right, (your unique promise of value) to your target market will never change, regardless where you promote your message. Remember both psycho-graphics and demographics change as time goes by.“Focus on the right message for the right people at the right time.” – Russell Glass. 

 

Know your audience is something we have preached over and over again in our posts.  Do not just relay on demographics or what someone tells you about a neighborhood.  ‘Listen to your customers, not your competitors.”Joel Spolsky.  Take time to research, and then take time to make sure your research is accurate. 

 

Get out of your office and go talk to people.  Get to know them.  Understand what makes them tick and what they are about.  What are their aspirations, values and desires when it comes to buying or selling a home?   We are talking about psychographics or generally speaking lifestyles. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself”.  Peter Drucker

 

Know your market inside out, every minute aspect of it.  We have met several agents with whom we have worked, who can tell you the history of all the homes in their marketplace.  

 

Do not strut your stuff. It is a turnoff when someone is constantly referring to their three-favorite people (me, myself and I).  It is also off putting to compare one’s superiority over the competition, however subtle you think you are. “The customer expects you to have knowledge of their stuff, not just your stuff.”Jeffrey Gitomer

 

The biggest fundamental once you have come up with a marketing strategy is ConsistencyMaintain your visibility during lean and good times. The elements (discussed above) make marketing magical.  Leave the rabbit out of this!

Throwback Thursday: Branding Moment with History plus Localism Strategy

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Standing out from the crowd of sameness is a concept we highly recommend to those who want to dominate their marketplace in the real estate industry. Whether you are a luxury real estate marketing professional, or focus on any other part of real estate, differentiation is key in your branding and strategy.  Here is an example of using a brand strategy that implies history and localism.

We came across these bottles of wine (pictured above) in one of our favorite upscale supermarkets in town.  These bottles stood out among the rest.  They look like they came from and ancient cellar laden with dirt and dust, when making glass bottles had not been perfected.

Our research revealed that in 1952, Père Anselme came up with the idea to create a bottle that would evoke the origins of wine.  Its theme (according to their website) "The wild movement of the grenache vine twisted in the strong Provence Mistral wind".  Mistral is a strong, cold northwesterly wind that blows through the Rhône valley and southern France into the Mediterranean, mainly in winter. Even the bottle reflects the force of the Mistral winds, and the gnarled vines.

This bottle shape is a “fiole”.  Translating the French into English, it means, vial, or flask. In ancient times, liquids in vials were thought of as precious and of great value.  The bottle was created by local master glass craftsmen, and is exclusive to the Brotte family.  

The fiole is used to bottle non-vintage wines, a blend of the best vintages of Chateauneuf-du-Pape from current and past years. This is a common practice in the Champagne region.  Quite often you will find that the non-vintage blends taste better and are rated higher than their vintage counterparts.

Reviews on this wine are mixed among the critics. We did not buy it on the look or label.  We admired it for its originality and concept.  They do stand out among the rest with their brand strategy of history plus localism. a

How to Avoid Real Estate Branding Confusion, or the Me-too Marketing Box

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Perhaps one of the most important principles that luxury real estate or any other real estate marketing professionals need to understand about personal branding for real estate agents is this: Out-think, not out-spend your competition. If you want to out-smart your competition, find something, some niche that you can do better than anyone else in your marketplace. Don’t waste your time or your money becoming a what is known in marketing speak as the “me-too”in a niche that your competitor dominates.

Every year in the United States companies invest over $300 billion in marketing products and services. A huge portion of this is spent on introducing new brands in the marketplace. The majority of these new product launches never get off the ground.  The reason for this is that they are a me-too.  Here are several ways to tell if your brand is a me-too.

Your website looks like your competitors, same design, same colors, same template etc.

You use the same social media channels and other channels to spread the word of your brand, and your marketing resembles your competitors.  You even use the same vendors that everyone else uses.

Potential clients cannot tell the difference between you and everyone else, because your story and services sound the same as everyone else’s: professional photography including drones, state of the art technology to drive leads, to your website, brilliant SEO, and so on and so forth.  Even your promises are similar.

You use the same words as your competition to differentiate yourself, including the same real estate designations.

If any of these are true for you, you will be doomed to outspending your competition in order to be noticed first

As a real estate or luxury marketing professional, the size of your advertising budget does not guarantee your success if you fail to form a strong emotional connection with your target market, whether it be with consumers or referring real estate agents from outside of your marketplace. Win the hearts and minds of your target market in a niche you can own.  There are so many niches to own and create when you think outside of the me-too box.

Luxury Marketing Essentials: Maximizing Your Website's Power of Attraction!

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As a luxury or any category of real estate marketing professional, one of the best ways to think of your real estate web design is to study the window dressing of   fine retail establishments.  A luxury retail store is designed to attract its customers and maximize sales. 

Pictured above is one of the Hermes windows displays in Beverly Hills.  The theme is planning summer vacations suggesting a tropical destination.  Only two items are displayed: comfortable shoes and a large bag for those last-minute items.  There is no clutter, no extraneous items which adds to the power of attraction.

Here are some guidelines to consider that are applicable to web design:

  • The store front usually has a huge window display. The idea is to let customers see the merchandise within the store, as well as a special vignette of the latest merchandise. On the web site this should be your home page. Is it appealing to look at? Does it have curb appeal? As part of the home page, several iconic images of the area in which you work may be appropriate.

  • Is the merchandise aesthetically pleasing? When looking at what you are displaying, i.e. your listings, how do they look on the page? Are the initial photos inviting the potential client to click further and find out more? Is there logic to the way they are displayed?

  • When you are in the store are the colors complimenting the displays? Is the site easy to read? Often black is overused as a luxury color particularly with white lettering. If the whole site is black with white writing, it is hard to read. It may be beautiful from a design standpoint, but difficult on the eyes. Is the type large enough?  Functionality is more important than the look. The purpose of the site is to attract clients, not to win awards.

  • Is it easy to access the inventory? Is the search function easy to use on your site? If the client has to fill out a lengthy form to find information, they will click away. There are plenty of sites on the World Wide Web that can be searched by remaining anonymous. Is it easy to access you?

  • A luxury store avoids clutter and anything that may detract from focusing on the merchandise for sale. Avoid all extraneous information. Accessorize with pertinent and insightful information about your marketplace such as the nature of your community and why it is special.

In conclusion, think in terms of attracting the customer with eye candy.  Keep them interested in your listings.  And do not forget to refresh the site with new photos and new displays of your listings and community.

Blurring Branding: A Case of Monkey See Monkey Do Branding!

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If your aim in luxury real estate or any other branch of real estate is to have the majority of the market share in a niche or specialty, it is important that your brand is hard to blur, in other words hard to imitate. The logo and design should be original in order to prevent someone from copying your brand or colors making slight changes.  Blurring in legalese is known as “trademark dilution”.  The intent is to confuse the consumer into buying your brand, because it is similar to something that is already familiar.  A big firm whose logo has been blurred has the funds to sue and prove that the blurring party is affecting their business and profitability. 

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Pictured above is a perfect example of blurring in tuna.  We have been partial to the Genova Brand of tuna for many years. As we passed the supermarket tuna aisle we noticed that Bumble Bee had rebranded. Prior to discovering Genova, we bought Bumble Bee exclusively.  You can see the original can on their website using a blue and white label, the one we were accustomed to.  For someone in a hurry, it would be easy to pick up the new Bumble Bee rather than the Genova, especially since they share shelf space with Genova, and vice versa those wanting Bumble Bee may find the wrong brand in their bag when they get home.   

 Prior to starting our own commercial real estate firm in Los Angeles, we were wooed with a deal we could not refuse by a new company located minutes from our home in Brentwood on the Westside.  The broker owner had branded his commercial real estate company as Citi-Pacific.  He had spent large sums of money on the logo, video, signs, stationary cards, etc. It was intended by his branding company to give him as a new company a perception of legacy. Six months later, he received a nice cease and desist letter from Citi Bank’s law firm. They own the word “citi”. However, they were also willing to reimburse the costs (by providing invoices) he had incurred in branding.   He had to change the spelling to “city”.  

 Recently, a web developer contacted us to ask us to send him business both as a developer and designer. He sent us his recent work for a real estate company/agent.  It was clear that the template he used was one we had seen, over and over again.  It was a case of fill in the blanks: new agent photo, new location photo (sometimes using the same photo) for another agent in the area.  We have seen that same site in the same marketplace done in different colors, and in some cases the same copy.  We push both our graphic designer and our web developer to come up with something new and different, every time.

If you are tempted to blur to save money, don’t!  Someone may send you a cease and desist letter especially if they have the means to do so.  Blurring is a slippery slope.  Eventually even if they do not sue, they will point out that you have monkey see, monkey do branding.  In the case of Bumble Bee, it lowered our previous high esteem of the brand.  

If you are tempted to blur to save money, don’t!  Someone may send you a cease and desist letter especially if they have the means to do so.  Blurring is a slippery slope.  Eventually even if they do not sue, they will point out that you have monkey see, monkey do branding.  In the case of Bumble Bee, it lowered our previous high esteem of the brand.  

Branding: How Attractive Is This New Brand in Beverly Hills?

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One of the first rules in luxury real estate marketing and branding strategy is to identify your market, and to thoroughly research and know without the shadow of a doubt if that market will generate the income to support your lifestyle.  This is the first priority.  Selecting a name and creating a brand will naturally follow from this exhaustive search and discovery.

Today in the wee hours of the morning, we were touring Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills' prime retail street. Among all the established brands, we found this new one called Billionaire.

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Our first question in a luxury real estate marketing and branding project would be:  Who is your target buyer?  California is home to 92 billionaires, and the majority live in Northern California.  The US has a total of 540 billionaires, and the world has 2,208 billionaires according to Forbes Magazine, May 2018 issue.  Is that a high enough pool of customers to meet their rent, their cost of goods, and their employees salaries?

We have met and spent time with a handful of billionaires (US), and our impression is that they would not be attracted to this store.  Other than a prestigious yacht club crest on a polo shirt, we have not observed any with a "billionaire crest" blazer, nor "billionaire" brand crests on their casual shoes.  The majority are humble and do not brag or advertise their wealth. The use of a lion headed mannequin is implying that billionaires are "kings of the jungle." Is that attractive, or is it an overused and trite symbol of wealth?

We would guess that their prices are on par with the neighboring stores on either side of the street. We ask our readers:  "Who will buy this Billionaire Label?, Who will this label attract?"  We look forward to hearing your answers.  

Differentiation in Branding: Confused or “Corn fused”?

As a luxury real estate marketing professional or any real estate marketing professional, if you are seeking additional market share and visibility, it is important to give a complete picture of how you are different without any potential confusion to the buyers or sellers that may seek your services.  Here is an example of confusion, which turned into more confusion or “corn fused!”

Some of you many have seen the Bud Light commercial during the Super Bowl.  This was an attempt by Bud Light to differentiate themselves from their competitors, Miller Lite and Coors Lite by stating that they do not use corn syrup, whereas the competition does.  This was an attempt to claim their unique selling proposition, and transparency. A spokesman for Bud Light as quoted in Forbes: “Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercials were meant to point out a key difference in Bud Light from some other light beers. This effort is to provide consumers transparency. We’re proud of what we put into Bud Light and what we leave out like – corn syrup, preservatives and artificial flavors”. 

In response, Miller Lite explained in a full-page ad in the New York Times, that they are proud to use they use corn syrup, and not high fructose corn syrup.  This statement creates more confusion for the consumer. The bottom line is that both forms of corn syrup are sugar.  The reason folks drink light beers is because they are concerned about their health which includes an intake of calories, especially carbs.  Whether it is high fructose or corn syrup it usually produced from GMO corn, which is another health concern for many consumers.  

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Even this light organic corn syrup (pictured above) has 31grams of carbs in two tablespoons, and 130 calories. The American Heart Association recommends that most women get no more than 100 calories a day of added sugar from any source, and that most men get no more than 150 calories a day of added sugar. That's about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

The Bud Light spokesman went on to say:” Some beers do use corn syrup and that’s fine. In fact, our value brands use corn syrup. We use corn syrup in these brands because it makes the beer less expensive to produce and is therefore offered at a more affordable price to consumers”.

That statement leaves us even more confused. As rare beer drinkers, we are confused or “corn fused”.  Next time, we will definitely ask: “does this beer have corn syrup?”  Will you ?

Happy New Year: Chinese Wisdom in the Year of the Boar Applicable to All!

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The selection of February 5, 2019 is based on the lunar cycle and today is the new moon of 2019. Two weeks later on the 19th, we will have a full moon, and that marks the end of the celebration in China. In our Qigong class yesterday, our teacher shared with us the wisdom of the Chinese calendar and the sage advice for all of us to follow in the year of the Boar/Pig, based on the Chinese philosophy symbol of Yin/Yang.


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Pictured above is the Yin/Yang symbol of Chinese philosophy.“In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.” (Wikipedia)

The boar is revered for its strengths and for being grounded in the earth. We did postures to strengthen the three human burner centers, our lungs, our heart and our digestive systems. It is what grounds all to the earth’s energy, the Yang energy.  Strengthening these systems allows the Yin energy from above to flow to us easily.  We balanced this out by also incorporating Yin exercises and postures. In other words, our wishes, dreams and desires are easier to fulfill from a grounded stance.   

The Chinese Zodiac is based on 12 animals.  The boar represents the 12th.  It is time to declutter the past 12 years, in terms of waning relationships (strengthen or discard), cleaning, and getting rid of unused things. This also a way to strengthen the Yang energy, and by getting rid of unwanted things releases attention units that can focus on what is needed and wanted.  

Wishing you all a wonderful Year of the Boar!

Monday Musings: Say Something, I am Giving Up on You!

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In our mastermind, yesterday morning, we discussed how often relationships suffer, fail or break down, because of our sole/exclusive reliance on the electronic world (text and email) to communicate.  We all had noticed how the reliance on email and text has created a reluctance to pick up our Smartphone and just call, often leading to failed relationships.  

The title for this post comes from the lyrics of “Say Something” written by indie band, A Great Big World.  The video expressed it beautifully. Sometimes, it is a question of swallowing your pride, and picking up the phone, if you are upset, or want to salvage a failing relationship.. 

Our mastermind partner is an executive coach. He mentioned a breakdown with the Skype session he was having with his client in Dubai.  He did not hesitate to call his client’s cell directly and spend the extra dollars for this long-distance call. Part of excellent communication skills is using whatever means you have at hand to maintain a relationship, whether it is personal or business.  We have called France directly, when Skype did not work, and now have an international conference call number as an added safety net.  

Recently, we had no response to electronic communications from friends.  Since they are avid off the grid travelers, we assumed they were off somewhere on the planet enjoying themselves.  We made another recent attempt via email. We received an interesting response accusing us of “ghosting” them, by having “snail” mail (Christmas card) returned, electronic messages, and texts not responded to.  Ron promptly picked up the phone, called and left a lengthy message.  He assured them we loved them.  As of this post five days have passed, and we had not heard back.  It must be our turn to be “ghosted”!

We had another friend’s Christmas card returned by the post office also.  She jotted us a note via email, and we promptly responded.  The US post office occasionally works in mysterious ways.  We are still waiting for a jar of honey that our graphic designer sent us from her beehives three years ago…The Internet is not fail-proof either, emails and texts disappear also, we experienced that last year with the fires, power outages and subsequent mudslides. Our friends picked up the phone!

We both like the convenience of email.  At the same time, we are careful of how we write our messages, because it can be misinterpreted on the other end.  We also enjoy texting also. We love seeing photos of our grand-nieces and nephews playing with their new toys.  Again, we use it mostly with close friends in fun discussions. And with our clients, we usually text when we cannot respond to a phone call immediately!.

Talking on the phone may expose how we really feel or what is happening in our world, whereas a text or email does not, even if it is full of happy face emojis!  Many are hiding behind their keyboards.  Meaningful relationships develop through verbal communications as well as face to face.  

Yes, in a verbal or face to face communication, we may be vulnerable, intimate and misunderstood, however the reward of a real meaningful relationship is worth a potential heartache.   And occasionally you may have to swallow your pride, and say something!