Branding Moments: Does This Brand Have an It-Factor ???

Last week we wrote a post discussing the “it Factor” . Today, as I was perusing the wines at Whole Foods, I was drawn to take another look at this bottle.  The brand name is J N S Q. This brand represents the first letter of theFrench phrase for the It-Factor, "Je Ne Sais Quoi."

In researching this wine, I was amused by the press release for it, and I quote:

"Introducing the first rosébrand created for millennial women that doesn’t talk over them, or down to them. JNSQRoséCruis an easy-to-enjoy luxury wine created in the classic French style and crafted from premium California grapes, giving it both a timeless elegance and a modern attitude. This unprecedented approach to winemaking– and the name gracing the beautifully curvaceous bottle – were inspired by today’s young women setting the world on fire on their own terms, with a certain jenesaisquoithat’s hard to describe but undeniably irresistible."

“Millennial women and older Gen Z’ers are bringing back an appreciation for quality, craftsmanship and functional beauty,” said Lynda Resnick, vice chair and co-owner of The Wonderful Company. “JNSQwas created specifically for these women and the milestones they are celebrating in their blossoming and exhilarating lives. It’s a wine made with that same shared quality of jenesaisquoithat makes each of these ladies unique, memorable and unstoppable.” 

It is priced at $29.00.

If you have followed our blog, you know that both Ron and I enjoy wine.  I cannot recall one instance, when someone (male or female) has talked down to me, either in a wine store locally, worldwide or at any winery  I have visited. 

Before reading this press release, I was very sure that wine was a non-gender libation.  I enjoy drinking wine with my husband, and my friends of all legal drinking ages, genders, denominations and political affiliations. The concept of a his/hers wine would never enter my mind!

When I read this post to Ron, his response was that he felt this was an insult (perhaps unintended) to women in general of all ages, women wine makers, sommeliers, growers and all the women who are involved in the wine industry.  And I agree. 

What is your opinion?

Luxury Real Estate Marketing Essentials: How Colors Matter in Branding!

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Choosing the right colors for/and with our clients in our real estate brand strategy and marketing practice is of paramount importance. We have a five page exercise/questionnaire that our clients fill out in order to find and determine the colors they are drawn to.  The colors have to also be harmonious with the lifestyle of the community/their market place.

There are infinite hues for each of the basic rainbow colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  The combination of colors is endless, and often surprising. Colors can convey a mood or a feeling.  This is one of the reasons we focus on Nature's combination as pictured above with the Rex begonias.  Nature's colors resonate with all of us, because they are natural.  There is no artifice in nature!

For instance, many think that black and gold is the end all be all for a luxury brand.  Black also connotes formality.  If our individual client's market is a resort community, it sends the wrong message. People have second homes in resort communities, they are there to relax and enjoy the lifestyle of golf, water sports, etc...Black is the color of formality!

However, black can work for a real estate company brand in that same community with a pop of color, because a company wants to convey solidity, heritage and tradition.  Their market is not the location or the lifestyle.  Their market focus is the agents who  work, or may want to work with that firm.  

Just because one loves a color does not mean it has be the dominant color for their brand.  We worked with an agent whose favorite colors were red, brown and green.  This was a mountain community.  We used a pleasing combination of browns and greens to represent the mountains.  We also added a subtle pixel of the right red hue, similar to the dark red that outlines the leaf pictured above.

Take time to look at Nature's output.  There are so many outstanding examples to be inspired by.  The possibilites are endless!

Luxury Real Estate Marketing Essentials: Defining Your Brand of Integrity!

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In our luxury real estate branding strategy and marketing practice, we work with real estate companies and individuals to identify their brand.  In order to create a brand, we work with our clients to define the core values of the company or of the individual real estate marketing professional.  This is what defines the brand or as we refer to it, the "integrity of the brand."  

We also discourage the use of the word “Integrity” as an attribute of the company or the individual. The true meaning of integrity is the state of being whole and undivided.   Unless one describes the whole of what integrity means to that real estate company or that individual broker/agent, the word is useless. 

Integrity for a company or an individual in business is a body of values.  Companies and individuals who have integrity adhere to principles (also known as core values) that define them as well as characterize their brand of doing business. It also means that the company/or the individual work to stay true to their principles.  

A company or an individual is better off listing their core values instead of saying: “We or I have integrity!”.  Stating one’s core values is a demonstration of integrity.  It states exactly what can be expected of the company or the individual and honesty and ethics should be a given.

Here are two examples of a few of Whole Foods and Zappo’s core values.  Whole Foods has their values spelled out on the wall of their stores in plain view of their shoppers.

  •      "We sell the highest-quality natural and organic products available" (Whole Foods core value)

  •        "We satisfy, delight, and nourish our customers"

  •        "We support team member excellence and happiness"

  •        "We create wealth through profits and growth 

Here are Zappo's 10 Core Values, which are displayed on their web site:

  •        Deliver WOW Through Service.

  •        Embrace and Drive Change.

  •        Create Fun and A Little Weirdness.

  •        Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded.

  •        Pursue Growth and Learning.

  •        Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication.

  •        Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit.

  •        Do More With Less.

Our experience with both companies is that they live up to their core values.  Neither one mentions honesty, ethics or integrity. 

Companies and individuals who live up to their core values are easy to refer. We know exactly what to expect each time we do business with them.

Have you defined your brand of Integrity?

 

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.