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Luxury Real Estate Website Design

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?

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.  

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.

A Personal Brand is Born in Santa Barbara!

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What comprises a model luxury real estate personal brand? It is the fusion of your marketplace and its lifestyle, the spirit of your own personality, your personal values and personal preferences, tempered in such a way that it clearly communicates on the wavelength of your ideal target clients.

Nothing shouts out Santa Barbara like the hot colors of fuchsia bougainvillea and terracotta Spanish rooftops against a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean with the coastal mountain range snuggled up right behind you.  How do you capture the essence of this semi-tropical paradise with a year-round temperate climate and a relaxed vacation lifestyle, and then incorporate all that into a very personal luxury real estate brand? 

When you are a market leader and you have a name like YOLANDA and no other agent in your marketplace has that name you want to seize this opportunity.  Think, Cher, Madonna, and Beyoncé! Hence, the personal brand, YolandaSB was born.  (Check out YolandaSB.com)

Yolanda van Wingerden hails from one of the fine Dutch families that emigrated from Holland to Santa Barbara and created what has become a mecca for the wholesale floral industry.  Claiming bougainvillea as part of Yolanda’s personal brand was a natural.

Yolanda specializes in selling luxury real estate in the area called Upper East (adjacent to our fabulous downtown shopping and dining streets) and also The Mesa (the trendy beachfront neighborhood).  Yolanda’s friends know her simply as Yo. As an ambassador of the Santa Barbara lifestyle we featured Yo’s Picks on her website (best restaurants, shopping and points of interest).  Be sure to check out this great local resource before you come to town! http://yolandasb.com/sb-info-tips/yos-picks-downtown/

When we work with luxury real estate personal and company branding clients we always travel to meet face-to-face with them, study the marketplace and understand their areas of expertise.  Although, we live right here in Santa Barbara, Yolanda gave us a comprehensive tour of her target market so we could understand it through her eyes.  And, we were surprised to learn so much about the place we already love.

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. 

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Real Estate Marketing: How to Dominate Your Niche - Intro & Part 1

NEW REAL ESTATE MARKETING VIDEO SERIES!

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INTRODUCTION:  IT'S ALL ABOUT FOCUS!

Identifying and dominating the right niche for your business is a sure-fire route to gain and sustain market leadership.  In this series we will preview a new online video course that we developed as an AGENT TRAINING TOOL FOR BROKERS called Which Niche Can Make You Rich?  Each video is just 2 to 4 minutes.

We were inspired to create this video course after presenting the topic in a webinar for TRULIA/ActiveRain. When over 1000 people registering within 2 weeks and we were also invited to present the webinar for ZILLOW (May 5th) we realized just how timely niche marketing is to building a thriving luxury real estate practice in our improving economy.  Yet, all of the principles presented in our course can and should be applied to any niche you wish to dominate. (Note:  Click the link at the bottom to sign up for the live Zillow webinar)

In this video format we are able to include additional, expanded material. And, we are certain that you will find it fun, entertaining and insightful. Enjoy!

PART 1: THE #1 SECRET OF MARKET LEADERS 

You can literally go from zero to hero in the minds of your target market, overnight, with the right strategy.  Focusing on achieving top-of-mind status, on purpose, is the key.

Part 1   l   Part 2   l   Part 3   l   Part 4   l   Part 5   l   Part 6

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. 

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Luxury Real Estate Marketing Tip: Luxury is a Soul Supplement

Part 1

Reaching international buyers is increasingly becoming a significantly component of your luxury real estate marketing practice.  For that reason it is important to understand what luxury means to those in foreign countries because it can vary dramatically.  But, what you will find is a common thread shared between luxury real estate buyers worldwide.  Thoroughly understanding this universal principle can help you accelerate the speed of trust with all new clients and also can give you a tremendous competitive edge. 

In our own strategic branding practice for luxury real estate agents and brokers worldwide we constantly look for new definitions of luxury.  We found this very profound definition in the primary title of a book written by Jean Philippe Warren, professor of sociology and anthropology at Concordia University in Canada:  Le Supplément d’ âme (“the supplement of the soul”).  We interpret this as “that which feeds or adds to the soul”. 

And, herein lies, the universal principle that can help you understand luxury buyers and better speak their language.  You need to determine, what feeds the soul of your client!  

In this article series we will provide you with the clues to watch for when you first meet your luxury buyer by phone, via email or in person. Identifying this vital value profile can propel you to make more sales and exponentially expand your referral base. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series! 

View the Entire Series:

Part 1  l  Part 2  l  Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

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Personal and Company Branding: Emotional Super Bowl Ads Fail to Connect

In personal and company branding, emotional branding is marketing communications that connect your unique value proposition with the emotional needs and aspirations of your target market. Emotional communications without that connection may feel good, but they will not significantly increase your bottom line. 

The emotionally impactful commercials were some of the big winners in the Super Bowl advertising contests. The Jeep ad with Oprah’s voice-over took the top prize.  But, will it sell Jeeps? While Oprah’s message was heartfelt it said nothing about the Jeep’s specific value proposition (as distinct from its closest competition) and how it can satisfy the needs and aspirations of its customers. 

Budweiser has been using Clydesdale horses in 23 Super Bowl ads since 1986. In this year’s ad a horse was reunited with its trainer.  It packed a wallop of emotion, but how will that sell more of this brand of beer? What about newcomers to these ads, those with zero connection to the previous horse ads—will they get why they should drink Bud vs. Coors in 60 seconds? If you cannot view the video below click here.

“The Ram and the farmer” was another emotional branding winner.  It told a good story, but the story did not tell Ram’s target audience anything about what makes Ram different and better from a Ford. 

In our pre-game Super Bowl post on the 2014 Mercedes CLA commercial we highlighted how the ad brilliantly communicated how the car could satisfy the most pressing needs and aspirations of its target market.  In just a few seconds it established this MBZ model as a direct competitor of BMW and Audi who also target a younger demographic with certain models. It did so by revealing its affordable price tag. 

Personal and company branding is precision communication that compels your target market to do business with you vs. your competition. Evoking emotions through your marketing communications can accelerate and strengthen the connection between you and your ideal clients. But, that can only occur if you first communicate your unique promise of value and how your brand can satisfy their priority needs and aspirations.

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Personal and Company Branding: The Best-of-Class Brand Position

 

Courtesy of Apple

If you want to gain or sustain market leadership, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, pay close attention to market leaders in other luxury product and services fields.  They can offer you invaluable clues.  We watch Apple like a hawk because it is the most valuable company in the world, and also one of the best international luxury brands.  

How is Apple a luxury brand?  They build premium products that command premium prices and generate great profit margin.

Most people do not need a $329 iPad Mini. Yet, the white version sold out the same day it came on the market! So, why is it that so many people are willing to pay a premium for the iPad Mini when they can get a Kindle or an Android based smaller tablet for less? 

Many pundits were certain that the price was too high for budget-minded consumers. They were right; but not for the right reason. The iPad Mini is NOT for budget-minded consumers because they do not have the psychographic profile (mindset) of Apple’s target market. 

Apple is not even trying to win over price-sensitive consumers at the lower end of the market. Instead, they are focused with laser-like sharpness on serving those who appreciate and simply must have best-in-class products. Consumers with this mindset value superior design and engineering. Apple knows how to communicate with and serve consumers with this psychographic profile better than any other technology company on the planet. 

Apple also knows that extremely satisfied customers will become evangelistic fans, and these fans will influence some of their budget-conscious friends to switch to the best-in-class mindset. Others will switch when they walk into an Apple store and discover or rekindle their own best-of-class mindset without any sales pressure, whatsoever. 

That is why Apple can command a premium for their products and also generate a higher profit margin. By steadfastly claiming, the best-in-class brand position Apple forces their competition (in the cheaper price and lower profit margin spectrum) to battle it out between themselves. 

To sell tablets at lower prices competitors have to cut corners.  Apple marketing VP, Phil Schiller s summed up their best-in-class brand position in 7 words: “Competitors are making compromises with their products. We don’t.”

If you are engaged in the “unabashed pursuit of market leadership” as a luxury real estate marketing professional, you must assume the best-in-class mindset yourself. Then, focus exclusively on those clients who appreciate this core value.  Let your competition fight over everyone else.

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Luxury Real Estate Website Design: Are You Unforgettable?

More often than not the first impression you make with new prospects, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, occurs the first time they encounter your website.  Are you making a lasting first impression or are you forgettable? 

It is human nature to rely more on sight than any other mode of sensory perception.  That is why excellent graphic design is so important in capturing and holding the attention of your website visitors.  Great design is your sure-fire method of making a lasting first impression.  It is an integral part of capturing significantly more leads especially when it sparks a positive emotional response and resonates with the values of your website visitors. 

In the course of marketing luxury real estate, how can you expect to capture an online lead if you cannot first capture the attention of your prospect? People do “judge a book by its cover” or wine by its label or products by its packaging   This is true particularly when a recommendation from a trusted source is not a factor in the buying decision or when choosing a service professional. 

We recently found two wineries that exemplified this principle by incorporating metal in their labels, something we have never seen before.  These bottles definitely stand out which is exactly what you need to do if you expect to capture and hold the attention of your web visitors. 

Keep in mind that your competitors’  sites are just a click away.  That is why it is imperative to  grab your visitors’ attention with compelling graphic design.  But, even more important than a great look, your graphics must communicate the essence of your brand values. Ideally, your graphics should tell the entire story of who you are in a nano-second!  That is the true test of great branding! 

If you want to be the standout in your marketplace your website must make a strong, positive first impression. Otherwise, you and your website become forgettable.   

Are you unforgettable?

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Luxury Real Estate Marketing Tip: Staying on the Leading Edge

Photo by Chris Dorney

Complacency is one of the top vulnerabilities of market leaders.  For Luxury real estate marketing professionals who are bent on gaining or sustaining market leadership staying on the leading edge is not an option, it is an imperative.  Harrods’s department store in London exemplifies this principle.

Harrods is already known for its outstanding service private client service and was recently given an award at the Luxury Briefing awards for its customer service.  According to Luxury Briefing, “Beyond is an extension of Harrods’ service available to private clients and goes above the realms of what consumers expect from a department store.”  So why would they send their employees to study with Minding Manners (etiquette and protocol consultants) to learn about etiquette? The employees enrolled in a two full-day sessions that emphasized etiquette aspects of multi-cultural awareness.

Global capital cities as well as globally known luxury resort destinations are regularly visited by buyers of goods and real estate from all parts of the word.  What is considered to be great manners in the European or American cities can be interpreted as an insult in other parts of the world.  Since Harrods has an extensive VIP clientele from the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas, the training by Minding Manners covered all aspects of meeting, greeting and interacting with cross-cultural respect.

At one time, every shopper entering the store was greeted with a handshake and a glass of champagne.  Now this tradition has been revisited as many cultures and religious sects practice alcohol abstinence, and do not shake hands with women.  Also the friendly Western physical touches are not necessarily welcome, particularly when it comes to opposite genders.  How to dress is also important when meeting customers from other countries if not in a standard store uniform.

Whether or not you are dealing with an elite global clientele or culturally integrated Americans, it is important to avail yourself of the knowledge of every community’s cultural and religious preferences.  In order to stay on the leading edge and successfully earn the trust of global communities, take the cue from Harrods.  Impeccable cultural etiquette is one way to differentiate you as a luxury real estate marketing professional.  To stay on the leading edge avoid complacency at all costs.

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Luxury Real Estate Web Design: Information Overload?

You may have heard the phrase, “sticky website” bandied about.   It has to do with the time a website visitor says on your website during a given visit.  The stickier the site the more time they spend there and the more chance you have for capturing their lead which is important if you want to gain or sustain market leadership as a luxury real estate marketing professional. But, is there point where providing too much information is detrimental to your succcess?

Content rich websites are sticky to the extent they offer compelling information.  But, how much information should you provide? It is possible to overwhelm your visitor with too much content.  The key is to find the best balance for your target market.  Compelling information is important, but compelling them to reach for more by contacting you is even more important. 

Get the idea of feeling satiated after a good meal at a fine restaurant. Any more food beyond that point is an overdose.  Now, get the idea of how you felt when the waiter brought you the dessert menu and offered you a choice of coffee or an after dinner drink.  You were not satiated, yet.  The meal was awesome up to that point and you wanted just a bit more. That is the point you want to achieve in terms of the amount of information on your website.

If you are a Monty Python fan you may have seen the film, “The Meaning of Life”. There is a scene in a French restaurant with an enormous man, Mr. Creosote, who is a glutton. The waiter offers him “one more petit four” and he literally explodes. 

Think of Mr. Creosote, when it comes to de-cluttering your website and finding just the right balance of information that keeps your visitors hungry for more.  That is an important factor to consider for a luxury real estate website, if you want to capture more leads.

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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: The "Free" Effect!

 

We have been saying for some time now that there is more to our sluggish economy than real estate and mortgage woes.  Two of the non-obvious factors are the disruption of technology and the “Free Effect” that can render entire product or service categories obsolete, overnight.  We have all seen the tables quickly turn in the field of luxury real estate marketing due to both of these factors.

For example, an incumbent market leader is being besieged by a challenger who is “out-technologizing” them on the internet and is capturing the lion’s share of the buyer leads in their market place. An example of the “Free Effect” became apparent when MLS search, previously the exclusive domain of agents, was offered as a free commodity to consumers on agent and broker websites without even having to register on the site. The combination of disruptive technology plus zero cost to consumers can have significant ripple effects on the economy in general as well as your personal economy.

We recently read a blog post by Kathy Schowe in La Quinta, CA, about a new iPhone App that does everything a business card scanner does and more. Kathy is also on the Language of Luxury Team of Experts (Desert Homes & Golf Communities).  Card Munch is a FREE app that uses the phone’s camera to scan a business card and then sends it to a data center where, drum roll… a live person creates a digital version of the card.  Minutes later you are notified that the digital version is ready for use with 100% guaranteed accuracy.  If you have Mobile Me (Apple) it syncs with all of your contacts on all of your devices. You can also email the card to your desktop and save it in Outlook, or send it to anyone. 

There are even more features that are well worth your investigation of this fine app. Card Munch was purchased by Linked In and they have integrated it with their social media platform as an optional feature. But, what is most amazing is that it can replace business card scanners that sell for up to $400, for free! We have been interested in purchasing one of these devises for years but could not justify the cost. Now, it is a must-have app!

What is more, through blogs like Kathy Schowe’s and the Language of Luxury, we are giving Card Munch free advertising because we are raving fans!  No longer are there a handful of journalists that cover new tech products. With spontaneous reviews like ours, the immediacy of social media can literally make a hit out of an app overnight.

Take full advantage of disruptive technology and the “Free Effect”. Better to turn the tables on your competition than vice versa.  As a luxury real estate marketing professional, reducing your overhead with the combination of new technology and free apps can lead to a stronger bottom line and a happier disposition.

 

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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: The Key to Blogging is Curiosity

Our Curious Cat Zoe

This post is dedicated to those of you who have embraced the art of journalism and have become bloggers on top of everything else required of your career in luxury real estate marketing. Consistently producing original content can be challenging at times.  But, here is our secret to success:  Perpetual curiosity must become your passion.  To blog consistently you must become a perennial student and you must be passionate about learning new things.  That is where the joy of blogging comes from- a curious mind.

Here are some quotes we found about the subject of curiosity.  We hope they inspire you as much as they have moved us.

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
~Albert Einstein

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.

~Dorothy Parker

Curiosity is a willing, a proud, and eager confession of ignorance.
~S. Leonard Rubinstein

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.
Marie Curie

Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That’s all it was: curiosity.
~Jim Morrison

Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.
~Dr. Linus Pauling

I find that when you have a real interest in life and a curious life, that sleep is not the most important thing.
~Martha Stewart

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How to Make Your Primary Brand Differentiator Your Bread and Butter

 

Contrarian thinking is one of the factors that separate market leaders from the rest of the pack.  For luxury real estate marketing professionals who wish to dominate an underserved market niche, here is an example of a billion dollar company that has done just that by thinking differently.

Panera, known for its hearty soups, salads and $7 sandwiches, made with freshly backed artisan breads, served on real dishware in a very comfortable setting, exemplifies such a market leader. With 1420 stores, and a roughly $3 billion market capitalization it has taken a page from Starbucks, and is thriving by providing its customers with a “third place” to gather,  apart from home and the work place.  

The mark of an effective brand is one that can communicate how it is different from its closest competition in just a few words. For Panera those words are “healthy, tasty &, affordable, yet upscale”. 

Subway claims to serve healthy, affordable sandwiches too, but not on artisan bread and not on ceramic dishes. Tasty, is more of a subjective attribute which must be taken out of the equation when comparing the two brands. But, the furnishings in Subway are not upscale like you would find in a well- appointed Starbucks store.

Can you see how the DNA of a brand (the summation of its primary brand attributes) completely changes when one additional factor, “upscale” is added to the “recipe”?   Can you see how adding one additional brand attribute can appeal to a specific demographic that was underserved (by Subway for example) and thus create an entirely new brand category? Can you see that an “upscale” version of Subway was an uncontested market niche and now has become a separate brand category in the minds of its target market?

Can you articulate the brand attribute(s) that sets you apart from your competition? Think contrary to the norm and you will stand out in a meaningful way.  Your target market will appreciate that you have done so and they will follow you instead of your competition! Only then will your dfferentiating brand attribute become your "bread and butter".

 

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Luxury Real Estate Personal Branding: Your Authentic Brand

Check Out these Personal Branding Case Studies

Many agents believe that developing a luxury real estate personal brand is like choosing a new outfit of clothing or redecorating their home.  While getting a new polished look can do wonders for you compared to your frumpy competition this is not what personal branding is all about.

The primary aim of crafting your personal brand is to achieve or sustain top-of-mind status in the minds of your target market.  For most luxury real estate marketing professionals it comes down to being the first agent that comes to mind when a home owner is ready to sell or when a trusted friend is asked to recommend an agent to list their home.   Branding is all about strategizing to secure the ownership of mind share, because market share follows mindshare.

The first thing that we do when we work with a luxury real estate personal branding client is what we call a strategic brand analysis.  This is a discover process where we gather a tremendous amount of information about our client, their marketplace and their competition. 

The final distillation of this information must represent the essence of the person’s true identity, their authentic self expressed in way that immediately resonates with their ideal clients. Therefore, a brand must be judged solely on the effectiveness its communication with one’s target market and the speed of trust that it establishes. 

You may not like a particular style of someone’s personal brand because you have more conservative taste. You might prefer a contemporary look rather than traditional.   But, then you would be judging the brand based on your own preferences.  Instead judge other's  personal brand based on authenticity and on the brand's  success at matching the agent with the clientele it is aiming to attract.

Click here to check out the personal brands of the agents or brokers displayed above.  Each of these them are either incumbent market leaders or are well on their way to achieve top-of-mind status within their marketplace.

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Marketing Luxury Real Estate: The New Economy of “Free”- Part 2

This is Part 2 of our blog series about the New Economy of “Free.  Here is a link to Part 1

The new economy of “Free” is causing a major economic shift that will not go away even after we recover from the financial crisis. Here is an example of two high-end (expensive) Steak House chains and how they are adopting (or not adopting) to the new economy of “free”.

Steak House #1 created a new “happy hour” menu in which they offer upscale wines by the glass for $6 per glass and fabulous $6 appetizers that are the identical portions as the same item on their regular menu.  Their seared Ahi tuna appetizer is $6. Their prime beef cheese burger including onion rings is $6. Every day the bar area is packed! As they break even in the bar, they have a three hour waiting list for their main dining room where the prices are extremely high. 

Steak House #1 leveraged buzz marketing to “pack the house”.   Customers may go to happy hour three times to every one time they go to the main dining room, but they will bring friends and tell everyone they know about it. Steak House #1 has capitalized on the new economy of “Free”. Even during the recession they are thriving.

Steak House #2 attempted to match #1 but with cheap wine, mini-burgers and a $12 steak sandwich.  The main dining room with a similarly priced menu and food that is of equal quality to Steak House #1 is nearly empty most of the week. They complain about the recession, but they are missing the new economic story of “free”.  Will you?

We all know that buzz marketing is the “free-way” to success.  Word-of-mouth advertising is not only free it is better than traditional advertising because people will more readily take the advice of trusted friends.  Here are four tips to leverage buzz marketing for a nominal cost in your luxury real estate marketing practice.

Buzz Marketing Tip #1               Buzz Marketing Tip #2

Buzz Marketing Tip #3              Buzz Marketing Tip #4

 
Embrace the new economy of “Free”.  Let us know how these tips works for you!

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Luxury Real Estate Marketing Tip: Luxury is a Pink Jellyfish

It is truly important, as a luxury real estate marketing professional to examine and re-examine the meaning of luxury itself. Like beauty, luxury is in the eyes of the beholder. What we so often take for granted is the abundance of free experiences available to us, especially via the internet, experiences that are true luxuries. The wealth of free information that is literally at our fingertips is astonishing.  

For example, some many consider it a luxury to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey Bay, California. The cost is $29.95 for adults and 17.95 for children (3-18).  Students get a slight discount. Of course, there is the cost of getting there, if you do not live close by.

But, you can “visit” the aquarium for free via several live web cams (cameras) whenever you wish. There is a kelp cam, a penguin cam, an outer cam and a wading bird com that features pink flamingos.  Did you know that flamingos are only as pink as the food they eat or that penguins “fly” under water faster than some fish? 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium was the first aquarium to rescue a great white shark.  They were able to keep it in captivity for 175 days until it became too dangerous for the other fish there. You can learn all about this on their website and watch videos about the shark on their You Tube channel.

Nature, the TV channel, produced a special presentation documentary on the aquarium featuring the great white shark and jellyfish.  The aquarium has one the most extensive jellyfish collections in the world. They actually breed these exquisite creatures to populate the ongoing exhibit.

Take the time to ponder what luxury means to you.  Ask your clients as well.  You may be surprised to find that many high net worth individuals consider life’s simple pleasures to be among their most cherished forms of luxury. 

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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: The Power of Strategy

 

As a luxury marketing professional it is important to develop a strategy to achieve your goals. A strategy is not a tactic. Tactics are means of achieving immediate goals. A strategy is a long term plan of action.To strategize is to make a deliberate choice of direction which will affect the outcome of your goals. And, that is the power of strategy.

In order to develop a successful strategy it helps to discover those aspects of your business about which you are most passionate. Passion fuels your enthusiasm and sustains your determination. It enables you to stick with your strategy, to hold your vision, even when things do not appear to be working. and also to trust the process of manifesting your vision. 

Developing a great strategy is the result of defining, aligning and refining your personal brand and your position in the marketplace.  When your strategy is based on what other people think you should do instead of following your own passion, it is likely to fail. 

One of our friends, a successful realtor, loved historical homes. She began remodeling several of them, and became an expert in selling them. She knew, through her own experience, what it took to restore these historical homes. She also had a list of vetted craftspeople who could help her buyers and sellers in the restoration process, which made her a communication hub for specialized  information. Staying top-of-mind, yielded an abundance of referrals and her highly focused practice thrived.

Her passion led her to join an historical society. Her enthusiasm and participation in the organization created lifetime friendships and more referrals. This was a strategy based purely on passion which never waned; although retired now, she still works with the group.

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Luxury Real Estate Marketing Essentials: Stretching Your Marketing $$$, Part 2

This is a series in response to one of the most asked question in real estate at the moment, “How do I stretch my marketing dollars?”

Be Prepared For Business: Don’t Invite People if Your Shop is a Mess

Is your website like the "Little Shop of Horrors"? Many luxury real estate professionals are spending money on pay-per-click advertising and Search Engine Optimization to help drive traffic to their sites. However, their web sites are not customer/user friendly. It’s like shopkeepers advertising to invite people into an uninviting messy store.

Instead of being focused on the clients’ primary need, which is usually to search for homes, many web sites confuse the visitor by running news feeds, weather reports, etc. With the popularity of videos, they often clutter their home pages with distractiing features of local attractions.

Many of these “bells and whistles” are a turn-off. Have you ever visited a site where someone walks across the home page and starts talking at you? This may have been novel the first time you saw it, but once the novelty wears off it is downright annoying and often horribly done. In fact, it can be a deterrent for repeat visits which is the whole purpose of having a website that is a resource, not a special effect show. Instead of a 'sticky' site that encourages visitors to hang out, it becomes a slippery site, where customers want to slip out the back.

Furthermore, if the type is so tiny that you need a magnifying glass to read it, even if you are blessed with 20/20 vision, you can expect a no-show if you invite someone to return to your site. Like walking out of a store in a shopping mall, we can immediately click away, and look at the more user-friendly competitor site. Your marketing dollars may have brought business to the door. But, will the customer walk in and stay? Or, have you just wasted your money? If you are going to pay for your web site to be optimized, make sure you reap the benefits of a clean, tasteful site!

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