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


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


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!


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.


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.


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...


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?



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


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



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!


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!


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. 


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?


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.


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.  


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!


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.


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!


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!

Friday Photo: Old Fashioned Social Media Marketing!


Not so long ago during the dark ages prior to the invention of the smart phones, this form of social media (now obsolete) was practiced with great success. Last week, as we were having breakfast at the Summerland Café, Ron pointed out this phone plug in for a land-line in our booth. 

There was a time when aspiring and famous actors and actresses as well as businessmen would tip the bellman at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Bel Air Hotel, and other posh hotels in Los Angeles (while dining at the restaurants, or sunning themselves at the pool) to announce over the intercom that they had a telephone call.  

Everyone would know that someone important was there.  Delighted to be "in the know” tongues would wag to spread the news.. This social media technique would occasionally benefit the "important" person.  They would be noticed for a part in a movie, or a deal would be signed.  

Gossip columnists would get a call, and have a scoop for their papers.  Then with great panache, the bellman would bring a phone on a silver tray, plug it into the wall.  And they would act reluctantly that they "just had" to take this call..  

When we were in the final negotiations in buying our home in Los Angeles, our friends took us out for breakfast at the Bel Air Hotel to celebrate the sale. Ron told the host who seated us, we were expecting a call. He also told him not to announce us over the intercom.  We were not out to make ourselves known to anyone there (not that we were even remotely famous), unlike our friends who were well known in the music industry.  Our friend was (and still is) one of the managers of the Eagles, REO Speedwagon, Journey, Christina Aguillera, and the songwriters of "Like A Virgin." This song put Madonna on the charts. 

As expected, the listing agent  called.  We have to admit that it was a thrill to have a phone delivered to our booth.  After breakfast we were going to her office to sign the final papers. He and his wife were thrilled for us, and ordered a bottle of Champagne to celebrate.

Happy Friday, wishing you all a great weekend!

The Origins of Personal Branding: My Journey in Identifying "ME" Brand!

Alexandra holding toy.jpg

Recently, I published our (Ron’s and mine) definition for Peace of Mind.  One of the commenter's agreed with the general principles of the definition, but this individual had their own ideas also.  My reply was “That is wonderful, we are different.”  Another commenter said, “thought provoking it did not fit the definition of ‘me.”  They were glad that "our ideals were flexible."  

I replied,: “this explains why we our passion is branding.  We have learned that every living being is distinctly different, and we love emphasizing that distinct difference in a brand.  And we all have a common way of communicating which helps us to be friends and appreciate the differences.”

This exchange of comments has inspired this post.  Most people find it hard to understand the concept of brand and branding strategy. Perhaps, it is because we are born branded as “boy” or “girl”.  We are given names, first, middle, and last name. Some of us don’t have middle names. All brands have names.  There are brand colors for both sexes.  We are given religions to follow by our parents, and we are given nationalities also. We are also influenced by parental wishes such as “following in their mother’s/or father’s footsteps.”   

Scholastically, we are branded.  There are personality tests, Intelligence tests, Aptitude tests, and all types of other tests to determine who we are and who we should be. At some point, we may wake up and try to find the “me” in all this, or we may be content that the “me” has been perfectly branded by our parents, as well as all the outside influences (schools, religions, peer pressure, etc.).

My aha moment came at an early age. My parents recalled a time when entertaining their friends, I was sitting listening to the conversation.  One of their friends said, “she is definitely French”, whereas another disagreed and said, “No, she is Russian”, and the third friend said, “she was born in Lebanon, and that makes her Lebanese!”  According to my father, I screamed, “NO, I am ME!”  

From that moment as I continued my discovery process of “me”. I was both a thorn in my parents’ side as well as a source of pride.

Branding & Marketing Moments: Do You Have A Nose For SPIN ?


A good-looking brand identity supported with a brand story that does not ring true is not a guaranty for successfully marketing luxury real estate or any other real estate niche. A brand story needs to be congruent with the product, the marketplace, and the psychographics of the buyers and sellers.  Taking control of how you want to be perceived as a real estate marketing professional is known as SPIN in marketing.  Otherwise, it is what we would refer to as Swiss Cheese Marketing! You can see smell it and see through it!


SPIN is an acronym for the following words: Sstands for situation (collect facts: noisy street, freeway nearby), P,stands for problem (identifying the problem-old home, desire for smaller home),I, stands for implication (higher costs of maintenance in an old home), and N,stands for need payoff/buying motive (value, importance or usefulness).  These are considered the 4 top sales/marketing questions that need to be answered to entice a prospect into buying a home.  These answers differ in each marketplace and solely depends on the psychographics of that marketplace—the attitude, aspirations and interests of those who live there. 

SPIN has a negative association also.  It is often used as a cover up for mistakes made by public figures and celebrities. An unflattering synonym for SPIN is propaganda, or what some would call a creative or deceptive use of facts in order to reflect favorably in a new venture or on a negative situation.  It can also imply that the person doing the spinning has not done their research in order to contain the effect.  

In a recent discussion (re: California problems) one of the attorneys in the group blamed the agricultural states for the problems we are having today.  It was obvious that this person (although a California native) did not know that California is largest producers of food in the United States, and the 5thlargest producer in the world.  It is also the number one dairy state, the first largest producer of wine in the US, and the fourth largest wine producer in the world.


Pictured above is wine brand, which we both liked in terms of color and graphics.  We thought that it was very creative in its choice of color and presentation. Our wine expert friend called it a mistake! He cautioned us not to buy it, and not even to use as a marinade.  And that explains the bargain price from $14.99 to $2.99.  

In 2015, Motto Wine launched its brand of wine.   They hired winemaker, Reid Klei, who was the winemaker for Ste Michelle Wines Estates in Washington State for 10 years.  Here is his spin:

"We wanted to put a Washington spin on California wines, so we implemented the same approach we use for our Washington wines, but with California grapes," said Motto winemaker Reid Klei.  Our Story:  Our winemakers didn’t set out to push boundaries.  But they did.  They didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers.  But they did. So, they decided to embrace it and make it their motto, learn the rules so you can break them with style.  The result? Rich dark wine like none you have had before.”

Here is their introductory video that reinforces their brand story! 

Make sure that you are presenting yourself with a genuine SPIN, and not one that someone can smell or can see through, like a piece of Swiss cheese.!

The Importance of Commenting—"We Read to Know That We Are Not Alone”


“We read to know that we are not alone” is a line from Shadowlands, a play by British writer William Nicholson, which was also made into a film. We would add that “we write to know that we are not alone.”


Why read a blog post you like, if you are not going to comment?  When you comment, you leave an impression for all to see which includes the writer, those who subscribe to the blog, and the public at large. Commenting is a way to engage in conversation with the author.  It is letting them know that they are not alone!


That conversation can lead to a discussion.  Discussions can often generate a new understanding for both the author and the commenter.  It can lead to a friendship.  The ones who read the comments also benefit from additional information that may in turn spark a desire to join the conversation.  Good conversations and discussions lead to intellectual satisfaction.  A post may inspire someone to write a related post.


Commenting is also a way to acknowledge and appreciate the writer’s time and effort in writing a post. The writer of the post has just given you a gift. It resonated with you. Just liking it is not enough.  It leaves the author wondering, what did you like? The least you can do say is “thank you.” Thank you, for that book recommendation, thank you for the information on this subject, thank you for the beautiful picture that made me smile. Here is a picture that may make you smile.  Or you may have a suggestion, here is a book I liked and would recommend you read, etc. 


Commenting is a feedback to the author, on the post and on the commenter. The author may choose to comment back if a question is asked. The author may be sparked by the comment into a further discussion.  And as the blog post catches the public’s eye, they learn so much about the author and the commenters. 


Do not forget, we read to know that we are not alone, and we write to know that we are not alone.  We are all in this together!

Omni Channel Marketing: Are Your Listings Visible In The Right Places?


Omni Channel Marketing is often mistaken as plastering whatever you are selling in every visible corner of the world, print, billboards, online, public relations releases, etc..  without consideration of the optimal target market. However, Omni Channel marketing means being seen in the right place by the right people, in other words those who are going to buy or sell.

Pictured above is Disney's Omni Channel marketing for their latest movie release, Mary Poppins.  We saw this display yesterday  of three magazines featuring the movie with an interesting story at Barnes and Noble.  Disney did their homework.  

They know their target markets still subscribe to magazines and newspapers, like billboards, and some get their news on line.  This movie is geared to all who have relationships with children, whether they are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  

They also wisely cast Dick Van Dyke who starred in the original film, And then there are Academy Award Winners Angela Lansburry, Meryl Streep and Colin Firth are part of the cast. This cast is an additional draw to movie goers.

We have seen many luxury real estate or other real estate marketing professionals claim that they will market a listing everywhere.  They usually have a beautiful list replete with colorful logos of all the places they market as part of their listing presentation. You name it, they send their listings to exotic locations.  They leave no stone unturned, even if the stone yields nothing. Marketing everywhere is a colossal waste of money.  

Marketing done right is being visible in the right places at the right time.  It is about spending where it will do the most good to bring the maximum attention to your listings.  It is about researching where the potential buyers for your listings are.  It is knowing your feeder markets by constantly staying aware of this.

For example, Santa Barbara has several feeder markets,  Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle to name a few, which is why many agents here concentrate on promoting their listings in those areas.  Those who succeed stay aware of changes. The feeder market 3 years ago may not exist today, as times change.  

Omni Channel marketing requires awareness and research that you may or may not find on line or from reading magazines.  Marketing changes and adapts to circumstances as they evolve in each city, village or second home markets.  What will remain a marketing pillar is knowing your target market and marketing directly to them... 

Are Your Listings Visible In The Right Places?

Not So Wordless Wednesday: Silver Waves AKA Sunny Side Up Camellia!


We both love Camellia's. Pictured above is the beautiful camellia plant which which graces our neighbor's outdoor entry way.  It reminds us both of a sunny side up egg.  However, the real name of this beauty is Silver Waves. Its semi-double blooms are 4 to 5 inches wide. 

The camellia flower was one of Coco Chanel's favorite flowers. It inspired the line of accessoriesmade in the shape of the flower.

Coco fell in love with camellias after reading Alexandre Dumas novel, La Dame Aux Camélias. This novel was later adapted to the stage by the author who was 23 at the time.  It was also created as a ballet.

Happy Wednesday...

Branding Analysis: The Power of Perception & Positioning In The Right Marketplace!


When you understand your marketplace and where the fish are biting, you may have to narrow or expand your target market if that is where the sales are happening.  Chances are the market leader is complacent because no one is challenging them, and they have sold the aura that they are the expert in that market/niche.  No one is aware that there is an alternative choice.  It presents an opportunity for a smart real estate agent to step in and really take over, by creating a new brand and a new marketing strategy.

This morning while shopping at our favorite gourmet markets, we noticed this new brand of cat food in the cat food aisle. This cat food is sold at one the high end grocery stores in Santa Barbara. How does this cat food pictured above relate to luxury or any other niche in real estate?  Here is the analysis:

This market is located in one of the oldest and wealthiest communities here.  

The breed of the cat pictured is rare and expensive.  It is a Bengal ,known for being highly intelligent and playful.  

The words "natural" ingredients speaks to the soul of their owners, as well as other owners of cats with pedigrees.  

It also speaks to those who have shelter cats and treat them like aristocrats, aka aristocats.

The price is much higher that other dry cat foods available stating that the ingredients are of a higher quality.

The brand name is clever and it implies that your cat will be ultra-happy eating Applaws, which give hope to those who are owners of finicky cat eaters.

According to management, this brand is doing well on its shelves.

When you are marketing in the right venue and in the language of the marketplace you are setting yourself for success using the power of perception and positioning.