Personal & Company Branding: The Line Extension Trap - Part 1

Russian Nested Dolls

In marketing luxury real estate, one of the traps that market leading agents fall into is attempting to be all things to all people. They figure, for example, that since they are the expert in selling single family homes in a particular geographic farm, they certainly can extend their line of work to another category of business and become the expert at selling condos throughout multiple areas. Never mind that they will have to face off with an incumbent market leader in this separate niche who is known as the "condo queen or king", an agent who is currently enjoying top-of-mind status based on an indelible personal brand that was developed over years.

Off they go, believing that their reputation as the expert in single family homes plus their unique brand of doing business in that one area will automatically apply and extend to another, and another arena. Instead, they will need to successfully develop a second distinct brand that resonates with their new target market. Keeping the same brand name for the new category is what is known as the "line extension trap".

Think of those Russian nested dolls that look identical but in different sizes. Using the same brand name for different lines of business diminishes the stature of the original brand. Let us take a look at how Google is about to fall into the line extension trap as they take on Facebook once again.

Do we really need another major social network? At a time when News Corp. is selling off MySpace for $30-$40 million (less than 10 cents on the dollar based on their original purchase price of $580 million), Google seems to think so. Facebook, with its alliance with Microsoft is now Google's fiercest competitor in this arena. But, from a strategic branding standpoint, unless the name, "Google +1", is just a temporary name while the platform is in beta testing, they are heading in the same direction as MySpace on a very slippery slide. Here is why.

While Google is one of the world's most widely recognized brand names, they were wise in keeping the name, Android, for their smart phone operationg system (OS) when they acquired Android, Inc. in 2005. With Android, they avoided this very common brand extension trap. That is, the trap of using the primary brand name as an integral part of the new brand name in the new product/service category they are entering. But, it looks like they did fall into this trap with Google+1 in the category of social networking.

It would have been suicide to use Google instead of Android for their mobile device OS because it would dilute and diminish Google's top-of-mind status in its primary product category. Google stands for SEARCH, period. It cannot also stand for social media, like Facebook does, or anything else without diminishing the power of the brand in its primary category.

Android doesn't just stand for the "other" mobile device operating system. It stands for an "open source" operating system that allows unlimited number of developers to contribute to the evolution of its source code. It freely licenses its OS for use by any qualified manufacturer of mobile devices.

In contrast, Android's closest competitor, Apple, has a strictly proprietary "closed source". This is a classic case of a challenger taking on the opposite brand position as that of the incumbent. Google created a contest between the #1 and #2 brands who, together, own the lion's share of the marketplace. When price is equal, the majority of mobile device consumers make a clear choice between the two opposing brands based on their personal values and the opportunity for self-expression that each of them offers.

Google brilliantly framed this two-way contest as Open (Android) vs. Closed (Apple) and summarily dismissed the #3 and #4 operationg systems. This is brand positioning at its best. So far, Google has not been as brilliant about positioning itself as the #2 contender to Facebook. What does +1 stand for, and how is it the opposite of what Facebook stands for?

Every new product or service category that a company or a service professional enters must have its own unique brand name, a name that stands for the category or niche. Google's streaming video service, YouTube, is a direct competitor of Hulu which is owned by a consortium of companies including NBCUniversal (Comcast/General Electric), Fox Entertainment Group (News Corp) and Disney-ABC Television Group (The Walt Disney Company). But, YouTube currently stands for a sub-category of streaming video and that is free user generated content. Hulu is comprised exclusively of the content that is produced by its owners and is available partially for free, mostly for a fee. Essentially, Hulu is TV video on demand delivered over the internet instead of via cable or satellite.

Google means search. It does not mean TV (Google TV), nor does it mean instand messenger (Google Talk). These are examples that illustrate Google's tendency to fall into the line extension trap. Google definitely does not mean social network. Why is this branding principle of the line extension trap so difficult to apply consistently?

Orkut, Google's first faceoff with Facebook, means social network to 100,000,000 users primarily in India and Brazil. It is one of the most highly trafficked websites in these countries and the 96th most highly-trafficked website in the world. It is not at all popular in the United States. But, they stayed out of the line extensions trap on this one.

But, Google had a disastrous misstep when they launcher Google Buzz, their second attempt to surpass Facebook. A technical glitch resulted in revealing users address books to the public. Why on earth would they tarnish their good name in the realm of search again? What were they thinking? Trapped!

In your luxury real estate marketing practice, did you ever feel the tendency to brand out into other categories of business? Did you fall into the line extension trap? Or, did you rebrand yourself for the new category?

In Part 2 of this blog series on the line extension trap, we will see how Google is compounding their troubles by falling into another trap. That is the trap of competeing on features vs. leveraging the art of brand positioning.

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Pictures provided by Ron and Alexandra.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/30/2011 at 7:54 AM
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Personal & Company Branding: What Is Your X Factor?

Image courtesy of Coca Cola

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, what does your personal brand stand for in the minds of your target market and how is that distinct from your closest competitor? What is your X Factor? This is a question that baffles even the most seasoned consumer brands. If you cannot articulate in a word or a very brief phrase how you stand out from your competition, you are going to swiftly lose market share to those who can. Take head from one of the most well-known brands in the world.

Simon Cowell will not be drinking Coke this fall on his new (to America) show, X Factor, like he did on American Idol. Pepsi has become a $60 million sponsor of the show as they beef up their advertising to help regain lost market share to Coke. Pepsi is now #3 (9.5%) in the beverage contest for market leadership behing #2 (9.9%) Diet Coke and #1 (17%) Coke Classic. Pepsi is not that far ahead of #4 Mountain Dew and #5 Dr. Pepper.

What happened to Pepsi? Pundits are blaming the shift in focus from soft drinks to PepsiCo's healthy foods in terms of ad spending. The resulting neglect of their most important brand in the entire company has cost them plenty. The experts are basically saying, "When you snooze, you lose!"

But, we say, Pepsi was losing way before they began snoozing on ad spending! They were losing mind share before they began losing marketing share. What does Pepsi stand for in the minds of their target market and who is their target market, today?

It used to be the brand of choice for the younger generation. At one point, Pepsi's brand strategy was spot on, the perfect strategy for the challenger. Pepsi framed a 2-brand contest between young (Pepsi) and old (Coke) because they know more young people were buying their product. Pepsi OWNED the "younger generation" as their brand position and they spoke their target market's language.

Pepsi's new ads are anything but cool or youthful. The slogan is "summertime is Pepsi time". Does that mean anything to you? Summertime may by the biggest selling time of the year for soft drinks in general. But, why choose Pepsi over Coke?

Their new ad has Santa (an old man with a white beard) in a Hawaiian shirt drinking Pepsi instead of Coke, saying "I'm on vacation", intimating that he drinks Pepsi in the summer (but don't tell Coke his secret summer passion). Pepsi's previously strong brand position has totally evaporated!

Contrast this to Pepsi in their brilliant branding heyday when they had Michael Jackson singing "you are a whole new generation" (to the tune of Billy Jean) in a commercial in which he also made a personal appearance. Kids were moon-walking in the street, imitating the "gloved one" and drinking Pepsi, when Jackson himself appears in the commercial. What could possibly be cooler than that? Check out the commercial which has been seen over 31.5 million times on YouTube here.

Pepsi needs to get back to its roots and reassert its unique promise of value. It needs to amplify its X Factor! Otherwise, all of the advertising dollars that they are spending are going to become, as Simon Cowell would say, an "utter waste".

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, have you lost touch with your unique promise of value? What makes your stand out from your competition? What is your X Factor?

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Pictures provided by Ron and Alexandra.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/29/2011 at 7:48 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: The Secret of "Pull" vs. "Push" Marketing

Identifying and serving an underserved market niche better than anyone else can take the notion of sales out of your business equation, all together. In your luxury real estate marketing practice, a niche may be a geographic area or a category of properties or a group of consumers with the same values such as environmentalists. The key to marketing to a group of consumers with the same mindset is to fully understand how they think. Most importantly, this includes knowing their deepest concerns of pain points. If you can clearly and quickly communicate that your service can relieve their pain, you literally will not have to sell them on working with you. They will sell themselves on you.

Crafting the right marketing messaging is the art of precisely communicating your extraordinary promise of value (through all facets of your brand identity) in such a way that your target market can instantly recognize that you are the one who can best meet their needs. Essentially, you need to know their mindset of psychographics so you can speak to them in their language.

In the realm of luxury real estate you are dealing with achievers of wealth, those aspiring to achieve wealth or those who just want to emulate the wealthy. Your message to achievers will be entirely different from your message to emulators because their needs are distinct. To understand how important the right messaging can be, let us take L'Oréal hair coloring products as an example.

Headquartered just outside of Paris, L'Oréal is the world's largest cosmetic and beauty company. For a while, Sex in the City star, Sarah Jessica Parker, was the spokesperson for their hair color line, which usually sells at somewhat of a premium. Ms. Parker's character in the show is the quintessential emulator.

The question of self-worth is often a pain point for emulators. L'Oréal's classic advertising slogan, "Because I'm worth it", spoke directly to emulating consumers. The "it" word in the slogan presumes that the product is superior and worth the premium price. Since its first use in the mid-2000s, the slogan has evolved to "Because we're worth it" because research proved that "we" evoked an even higher level of consumer involvement in the L'Oréal philosophy and lifestyle. Plus, it elicited more "perceived" consumer satisfaction with the products themselves. The new slogan was further extended for the kid's line of hair and body products with, "Because we're worth it, too"!

Are the ingredients in the product that much better than the competitor's product line? That is debatable. But, the perception that L'Oréal has created is one of superiority. With just four words, L'Oréal has created what is known as "pull marketing" vs. "push marketing". They are not selling hair color ingredients here. They are offering self-worth as their unique promise of value and their target market is reaching for the relief that represents.

With this "pull marketing" strategy, L'Oréal does not need to compete on features that any competent competitor can copy like "foam" or "mousse" versions of the product. L'Oréal has also come out with a "mousse" version of their hair color product just to match the competition. But, competing on features alone is futile.

With one brilliant preemptive move, L'Oréal OWNED the word "self-worth" in the minds of their target market. No other competitor can stake claim to it without looking like a copycat. Test it for yourself. Just ask any woman what brand comes to mind when you "Because I'm worth it". This is brand strategy at its best. L'Oréal has achieved and has sustained top-of-mind status.

Pull marketing is what happens when you get your branding and messaging spot on. Instead of going fishing for prospects, the fish jump into your boat. That is because you are communicating your extraordinary promise of value to your target market with precision, in their language. You are not selling. You are solving their problem and you are relieving their pain.

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, do you know the pain points of your target market? If you have not taken the time ti articulate your unique promise of value in such a way that you are solving problems and relieving pain, you are working way too hard at selling. And, you are probably annoying your target market in the process.

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Pictures provided by Ron and Alexandra.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/28/2011 at 10:13 AM
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Cover Property: Carlisle Hill in Franklin, Tennessee

Rarely does such an exceptional property become available. We invite you to experience the beauty of Carlisle Hill located at 1025 Carlisle Lane.

Less than two miles from the heart of Franklin, Tennessee, this premier 20,000-square-foot estate features 6 bedrooms, and 7-full and 5-half bathrooms, a 6,000 square foot barn, a guesthouse with full kitchen, and a 10-car garage, all sitting atop 10-rolling acres of gated land with an extensive security system that allows you to monitor the property.

This fully-equipped smart house also has an in-floor heating system under the heart of pine floors. The large master suite boasts an adjoining study, his and hers closets, and a master bath. The kitchen is a dream for any chef, complete with stainless-steel appliances, granite countertops, and custom cabinetry. Take the elevator to access the different amenities on all floors - guest bedrooms and bathrooms, a home office, recreation room, game room with wet bar, and breakfast room. Enjoy a roaring fire in any of the five fireplaces of the home. Open French doors to step on the back balconies to see breathtaking views of the Greater Nashville area.

Originially $8.49 million, but now only $6.35 million. Contact Laura Putty Stroud of Fridrich & Clark Realty, LLC at 877-604-6082 or email lstroud@bigalpha.com.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/27/2011 at 9:13 AM
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Publishers Showcase: Rocking DK Ranch in Bitterroot Valley, Montana

Nestled in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana is the Rocking DK Ranch encompassing seven ponds and 1.5 miles of Bitterroot Valley, a well-known fishery.

Constructed with an exterior of rustic logs, a finer finish meets the eye inside. Massive structural logs from the Salish National Forest, blessed by the tribal chief, are contrasted to the finished walls to allow the easy display of artwork.

The finished walls aren't the only unique feature to the ranch - the property is set on a mile of the Bitterroot River so one can enjoy nature and wildlife. "I personally feel that this is the best amenity," Jane says. "The views of the Bitterroot River, the Totem Peaks and the Bitterroot National Forest from the ranch are absolutely astounding."

The Rocking RK Ranch, a property of 181 acres, was designed by its current owner, Kelley Floyd. Kelley designed the rustic and elegant ranch with over 11,000 square feet of living space that includes five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, a wine cellar and a home theater. The house is surrounded by 3,200 square feet of decking and includes a magnificent outdoor entertainment area with pizza oven. A gate house, a river cottage and a barn with a guest house on top are all on the property, giving a total of 11 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms.

Perhaps the most notable feature inside the property is the 400-ton fireplace in the middle of the house that reaches higher than the second story and has a tree wrapped around it. Two mantels face opposite sides - one warms the dining room that features a serving buffet and bar, while the other side faces a great room and entertainment area.

Interested buyers can see more photos, courtesy of Bryant Studios in Missoula, Montana, and read more details of the Rocking DK Ranch by visiting www.itencompany.com.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/27/2011 at 8:31 AM
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Cover Property: Indian Creek Island in Miami, Florida

Unrivaled. No other home in Miami has achieved this level of artful contemplation, broadness of thought nor can it command a price in this stellar range. Few have possessed the passion to create a home resort oasis that elevates nature to a special starring role with a design that flows with ease, grace and simple beauty. Fueled by the world-cultural interests of the owners, 3 Indian Creek Island Drive on exclusive Indian Creek Island in Miami is a testament to the highest of standards in the luxury market today.

This 30,000 square foot new construction "Resort Home Oasis" is presented by Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg of The Jills® of Coldwell Banker in Miami.

"This home is on two magnificent acres with about 200 feet of water frontage. There's room to dock a 75-foot yacht and nearby marinas for larger vessels. The security on this island is impeccable - Indian Creek Village has its own police force who monitor the waterways and the island. No one is admitted to the island unless they have a resident's permission," Eber says.

Indian Creek Village is the most prestigious island in Miami - there are only 32 waterfront homes on the 300-acre island. In the middle of the island is an 18-hole championship golf course with a private country club. "This is a really beautfiul island," Eber says.

3 Island Creek Drive is designed as a series of pavilions inter-connected by stone and waterways. Light flows into the house from louvered walls. It embodies the ambiance of a private spa resort set in a secure, island sanctuary. The home features 10-bedroom suites, a master suite with boutique-like walk-in closet, 10-full and 4-half baths, five kitchens including a full catering one, six wet-bars, rooftop sky bar and jacuzzi, panic room, wine cellar, staff room, dramatic library, elevator, 100-foot resort pool and cabana, full spa pavilion, state-of-the-art glass encased waterfront gym with steam and massage rooms, and a garage that accommodates 7-plus limo-size vehicles with room for additional outdoor parking. The latest Smart House technology ensures convenience and security.

"This house is a contemporary work of art - you can open up the whole home to the outdoors, you truly feel as if you are in a luxury resort that belongs just to you. It's very intimate and serene," Eber says.

Interested buyers can call The Jills® of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate at 305-341-7447, email at info@thejills.com, or visit their websites at www.thejllls.com.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/27/2011 at 8:04 AM
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Cover Property: The French Masterpiece at 12 Warewoods Road in Saddle River, New Jersey

Every now and then, a listing comes along that is more than just a home, estate or property. There are few properties that combine classic and modern styles and are perfect for those who appreciate true craftsmanships, ornate details throughout their home, and cutting-edge technology. But one listing is now available for the sophisticated buyer - the French Masterpiece at 12 Warewoods Road in Saddle River, New Jersey.

"This uniquely-crafted French chateau masterpiece is a dream home come true in a very serene-yet-affluent area," says George Kevo, the owner and developer of Kevo Development who represents the property. Saddle River's serene country setting is home to corporate CEOs, foreign dignitaries and a multitude of celebrities while being less than 20 minutes from the heart of New York City.

The estate has over 19,000 square feet with 28 rooms, including seven bedroom suites, nine full baths and three half baths. Upon entering the French estate, you're greeted by a breathtaking two-story coffered ceiling entrance foyer, a bridal marble staircase, hand-forged wrought iron railing and unique polish stone flooring with elaborate borders and ornate medallions. Polished details run throughout the first floor, including into the adjacent ballroom and cherry library, which both feature custom fireplaces, as well as the gourmet kitchen and custome bar that come equipped with Wolf, Miele and Subzero appliances.

Climb the staircase and find yourself on the second floor, where four bedroom suites and master bedroom suite are located. Each bedroom suite has a private bathroom and walk-in closet, but the master bedroom suite is clearly the most luxurious of the bedrooms: You'll find a sitting room with a built-in car and walk-out balcony, a private bathroom featuring an oversized Whirlpool bath with built-in led televisions behind mirrors and a make-up vanity with marble counters, a fireplace, surround sound in the master suite, and oversized walk-in closets. To top it off, the master oversized closet continues on the third floor featuring an oversized closet and a changing room. The third floor also features a playroom with a full marble bathroom, as well as an office.

Though the majority of the estate gives way to a classical style of architecture and design, some features of the estate are on the brink of technology, like the elevator that reaches all four floors of the property. Take it down to the lower level, and you'll find other cutting-edge technology in rooms like the professional theater with 13 powered leather custom seating and top-of-the-line audio and video equipment, and the golf simulator room with top courses around the world. The lower level also features a large gym, a maid's room, a billiard room, a card room, a wine cellar with climate control, a study room, a powder room and four oversized garages floored with skid-free ceramic tiles.

In the backyard of the French estate, amenities are abundant as well. A grand water park includes a pool with a water slide, four waterfalls, and a grotto with a swim out, as well as a changing room and full bath to accommodate swimmers. But, if you just want to enjoy the outdoors, a state-of-the-art kitchen is featured with a large amount of seating to entertain guests.

The French Masterpiece is listed at $12.995 million. Interested buyers can visit www.frenchmasterpiece.com to see more photos and read the specs of this property.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/27/2011 at 7:40 AM
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Available for Auction on July 20: Hidden Valley Ranch

Hidden Valley Ranch: Hidden Valley Hideaway is perched atop a hill overlooking the natural beauty of Bitterroot Valley. This sprawling estate, selling fully furnished, is situated on 259+/- acres of pristine Montana countryside. Located in the charming town of Victor, Hidden Valley Hideaway is the ultimate in luxurious living and ideal for entertaining. Boasting a spacious and lavish design, this home offers a large entertainment deck and attached heated 3-car garage. The home features 4 impressive bedrooms, each with private bathrooms, 3 powder rooms, grand room with full wet bar, a 750-bottle wine room, sun room, office, exercise room, game room, and theater. The master suite has a vaulted ceiling, private deck, fireplace, and bathroom with dual vanity and luxurious tub/shower area. This award winning kitchen is a chef’s dream with gorgeous cabinetry, granite countertops, designer fixtures and top of the line appliances.

This property is available for auction on July 20, 2011 at 11 A.M. Contact J. Craig King to learn more.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/24/2011 at 11:52 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Apple, What's Your Secret? Part 2

Image courtesy of Apple

We have identified the phenomenon of "complacency" as one of the potential vulnerabilities of market leaders who have outdistanced their closest competitors by a considerable margin. There is tendency to coast on their momentum instead of continuously reinvest in staying sharp. They tend to "rest on their laurels", relying on the recognition of their previous achievements to stay on top. As a luxury real estate marketing professional, if you want to challenge the market leader, this is an important symptom of vulnerability to be able to recognize and also be able to exploit.

In Steven Covey's mega-bestselling book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he writes about the flip side of complacency which is working too hard, for fear of losing ground to the competition, and not taking the time for self renewal or "sharpening the saw". In our strategic branding consulting practice, and also as syndicated bloggers, we are continuously interviewing top producing agents. We notice that the market leaders who are workaholics are equally vulnerable to being challengeed as the complacent ones.

When a new idea of doing business is introduced to the complacent market leader, the response is often "if it isn't broken, don't fix it". When a new idea is proposed to a workaholic, it is often rejected because they do not have the time to take a break from sawing in order to sharpen the saw. In both cases, there is a paucity of innovation, ingenuity and imagination at the top, which makes them vulnerable to challengers who are eager and willing to "think outside the box".

In our previous post, we highlighed the brilliant success of Apple's retail stores. Clearly, Apple is an enlightened market leader that does not rest on its laurels. It continuously stays sharply focused and is an uninterrupted font of innovation. Within a year of the debut of the iPad, iPad 2 trumped its predecessor and preempted many of its would-be competitors by including superiors features like two cameras and skinnier profile.

The genius who is mainly credited for the success of the Apple stores is Ron Johnson, the Senior VP of Retail Operations, who recently was tapped for the CEO position of J.C. Penney to restore its prominence as a market leader. In an interview, Johnson said, "I've always dreamed of leading a major retail company as CEO. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help J.C. Penney re-imagine what I believe to be the single greatest opportunity in American retailing today, the department store."

A true market leader is willing to continuously re-invent and re-imagine its business model. Essentially, a market leader never stops thinking like a challenger.

If you are a market leader and you find yourself getting complacent or becoming a workaholic, these are warning signals that your health and the health of your luxury real estate marketing practice is in jeopardy. You are definitely vulnerable to being caught off-guard by a challenger who is open to new ideas.

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Pictures provided by Ron and Alexandra.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/23/2011 at 8:44 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Apple, What's Your Secret?

Image courtesy of Apple

Customer or client loyalty is one of the aspects of marketing luxury real estate that can be measured with reasonable accuracy. We recently heard a story about an agent who thought she had the loyalty of a particular client. Then, after spending a considerable amount of time abroad, the client came back into town for the weekend, noticed that a home that he and his wife admired for years came on the market. They bought it on the spot from the listing agent with whom they also listed their current home for sale. The terms of this multi-million dollar purchase were all cash with a very short closing. And, the listing had an equally sizable price tag. Ouch!

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, what does it take to keep your clients loyal? It may be wise to study the secrets of Apple, the world's most valuable technology company. Oddly, the Wall Street Journal uncovered the confidential employee manual for running their retail stores and wrote an "expose" on the subject. The funny thing about the manual is that there were actually no real secrets at all. Anyone can easily observe their "secrets" by visiting the store and experiencing their superb customer service, first hand.

Do the following aspects of customer service sound like secrets to you? Or is it simply attention to every detail of the customer experience?

  • Passionate employees who love the products
  • Highly trained staff that acquires thorough product knowledge
  • Customer respect -- no ridicule of those who do not understand something
  • Buffering the frustration of the tech-challenged with excellent listening skills
  • Solve customer problems vs. push sales
  • Up-selling subscriptions and tech support services
  • Employee tardiness is unacceptable
  • No sales quotas + no commissions = no pressure
  • In-store tech support

According to the Wall Street Journal, sales per square foot in Apple's 326 retail stores range between $4,000 - $6,000. To put this into perspective, Tiffany & Co. sells $3,000/square foot, and Best Buy sells $880/square foot. Best Buy, who sells multiple product lines, has a profit margin around 1% before taxes. Apple's profit margin, selling only its own products, is 26%.

Having an Apple store nearby where you can have all of your questions answered by a cheerful staff vs. overseas tech support is quite conducive to customer loyalty. Being able to upload, store and sync all of your photos, documents, music and videos via iCloud, with all of your Apple computers and mobile devices "seals the deal!"

What are your "secrets" to maintaining client loyalty in your luxury real estate marketing practice? Are you paying close attention to every detail of your client experience like Apple does in their stores?

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Pictures provided by Ron and Alexandra.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/22/2011 at 10:57 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: What Is Your Brand Worth?

Choosing the right brand name is extremely important for luxury real estate marketing professionals. Some of the best brand names deliver an emotional impact that makes it easy to remember and also propels sales. Striking just the right chord with your target market is the key. What emotions are summoned with the name Shark Tank?

Have you ever watched Shark Tank, the TV reality show on ABC? It stars Barbara Corcoran, the luxury real estate marketing professional who sold her highly successful brokerage firm in New York several years ago, and other venture capital superstars including billionaire Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. The premise of the show is that entrepreneurs seeking venture capital give their pitch to a panel of investors who fight, like sharks, over who will offer the best deal.

On a recent episode, a couple of guys pitched the idea of investing $50,000 in their clothing business in exchange for a 25% interest in the company which is called Hill BillyTM. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy (one of the sharks) immediately recognized the value of the Hill Billy brand name because he has made a fortune with his "red neck" humor and Blue Color TV.

The entrepreneurs, who trademarked the name, proved that there is a market for Hill BillyTM brand clothes by selling them at country music concerts and often outselling the performers T-shirts and concert paraphernalia. But, none of the sharks took the bait. Instead, they all insisted that the true value of the company was in the trademarked brand itself, asserting that the clothing business is extremely risky. They did see value in the brand name, but only in its limitless licensing potential.

Three of the sharks agreed to offer $25,000 each to buy the Hill BillyTM brand name for licensing purposes and not to invest in the manufacturing of the clothing line. They also offered to give the entrepreneurs a 7% royalty on all licensing fees. The deal was accepted.

The term Hill Billy refers to people in the United States who dwell in remote, rural mountainous areas, such as Appalachia, or the Ozarks. It sometimes has a derogatory connotation depending on the context of its use or the attitude of person using the word. But, all of the meaning plus the values that are inferred are wrapped up in the brand name. The brand obviously offers a form of self-expression for certain consumers who can identify with it whether or not it is taken seriously.

The Hill BillyTRADEMARK brand clearly strikes the right emotional chord with its target market that drives sales. That is exactly what makes it a valuable brand. How much is your brand name worth?

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Pictures provided by Ron and Alexandra.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/21/2011 at 1:25 PM
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Cover Property: The Huntsman Estate in Deer Valley, Utah

Deer Valley, Utah is one of the most exclusive alpine ski resorts in the United States, consistently rated the number one ski resort by Ski magazine for the last four years. A venue of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Deer Valley offeres upscale amenities and caters to an affluent clientele. It continues to host competitions for the International Ski Federation and is one of the few remaining ski resorts to forbid snowboarding (snowboarding is available at adjacent resorts), and limit its daily ticket sales.

"Owning property in Deer Valley is very desirable for those looking for exceptional skiing and an exclusive community," says Paul Benson of Summit Sotheby's International Realty in Park City, Utah. "Typically, half acre ski-in/ski-out lots sell for $3 to $5 million in the exclusive neighborhoods such as Red Cloud."

The Huntsman Estate, represented by Benson and Shane Herbert, is one of the last remaining large parcels to come available in Deer Valley. With 63 acres and a 22,000 square foot estate lodge, the property offers a very rare opportunity to own an expensive estate in this area.

"It also offers the buyer the opportunity to parcel off up to 20 one-acre lots, which at the current market prices would allow one to quite literally pay for the entire estate," Benson says.

The size of the estate affords privacy, is gated and the property has hosted high-profile, high-security guests under the ownership of John and Karen Huntsman, Sr. It is ideal for getting away from it all whil maintaining a sophisticated luxury lifestyle in a beautiful mountain landscape.

Offered at $42.8 million by Paul Benson of Summit Sotheby's International Realty. For more information about this property, email Paul at paul.benson@sothebysrealty.com or visit www.huntsmanestate.com.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/21/2011 at 9:17 AM
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Categories: duPont REGISTRY Featured Properties
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Cover Property: French Masterpiece at 12 Warewoods Road

Every now and then, a listing comes along that is more than just a home, estate, or property. There are few properties that combine classic and modern styles and are perfect for those who appreciate true craftmanship, ornate details throughout their home, and cutting-edge technology. But one listing is now available for the sophisticated buyer - the French Masterpiece at 12 Warewoods Road in Saddle River, New Jersey.

"This uniquely-crafted French chateau masterpiece is a dream home come true in a very serene-yet-affluent area," says George Kevo, the owner and developer of Kevo Development who represents the property. Saddle Rover's serene country setting is home to corporate CEOs, foreign dignitaries and a multitude of celebrities while being less than twenty minutes from the heart of New York City.

The estate has over 19,000 square feet with 28 rooms, including seven bedroom suites, nine full baths and three half baths. Upon entering the French estate, you're greeted by a breathtaking two-story coffered ceiling entrance foyer, a bridal marble staircase, hand-forged wrought iron railing and unique polish stone flooring with elaborate borders and ornate medallions. Polished details run throughout the first floor, including into the adjacent ballroom and cherry library, which both feature custom fireplaces, as well as the gourmet kitchen and custom bar that come equipped with Wolf, Miele and Subzero appliances.

Climb the staircase and find yourself on the second floor, where four bedroom suites and a master bedroom suite are located. Each bedroom suite has a private bathroom and walk-in closet, but the master bedroom suite is clearly the most luxurious of bedrooms: You'll find a sitting room with a built-in bar and walk-out balcony, a private bathroom featuring an oversized Whirlpool bath with built-in led televisions behind mirrors and a make-up vanity with marble counters, a fireplace, surround soung in the master suite, and oversized walk-in closets. To top it off, the master suite continues on the third floor featuring an oversized closet and changing room. The third floor also features a playroom with a full marble bathroom, as well as an office.

Though the majority of the estate gives way to a classicl style of architecture and design, some features of the estate are on the brink of technology, like the elevator that reaches all four floors of the property. Take it down to the lower level, and you'll find other cutting-edge technology in rooms like the professional theater with 13 powered leather custom seating and top-of-the-line audio and video equipment, and the golf simulator roiom with top courses around the world. The lowel level also features a large gym, a maid's room, a billiard room, a card room, a wine cellar with climate contorol, a study room, a powder room and four oversized garages floored with skid-free ceramic tiles.

In the backyard of the French estate, amenities are abundant as well. A grand water park includes a pool with a water slide, four waterfalls, and a grotto with a swim out, as well as a changing room and full bath to accommodate swimers. But if you just want to enjoy the outdoors, a state-of-the-art kitchen is featured with a large amount of seating to entertain guests.

The French Masterpiece is listed at $12.995 million. Interested buyers can visit www.frenchmasterpiece.com to see more photos and read the specs of the property.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/20/2011 at 8:50 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Are You Playing Your "A" Game?

One of the core attributes of a successful luxury real estate marketing professional is consistent focus. Complacency begets inconsistency. When you get complacent, you are vulnerable to those competitors who maintain their focus.

Notice the consistency of focus in top professional atheletes, musicians or entrepreneurs. Let's use professional musicians as an example of consistent focus.

The very first thing a musician in an orchestra does is tune his or her instrument with the perfect pitch of the oboe playing the key of A. Think of perfect pitch as your pure brand signal. What do you do to align yourself each day with your pure brand signal and your vision for your luxury real estate marketing practice?

Professional musicians practice consistently. Once you have defined your winning formula in your real estate practice, you must focus consistently on practicing what works, over and over again, fine tuning as you go along.

We recommend deliberately quieting the mind on a regular basis. When your mind is quiet all opposing or contradictory thoughts disappear and you are most receptive to "possibilities thinking". That is a good time to contemplate your vision for playing your "A game" in your business.

Take what we call "transaction engineering" out of the picture for a moment. You are expected to be able to see a transaction all the way through to close of escrow. Let's concentrate here on consistently doing the things that together comprise your "A game". These are the things that are necessary to get transactions into escrow in the first place. Focus is all about doing the small things consistently like:

  • Staying in touch your sphere of influence
  • Promoting new business
  • Returning phone calls and emails in a timely manner
  • Showing up for appointments on time
  • Meeting new people who can be referral sources

If you get complacent and neglect these small things, you are sacrificing your winning formula that has made you successful. To play your "A game" consistently over time, you must find a way to stay focused and stay in perfect pitch. One way that we recommend to do this is to delegate everything you possibly can that you do not absolutely love doing. This can be challenging. But, then if you are showing signs of complacency, a good challenge may just be the ticket for you.

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Pictures provided by Ron and Alexandra.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/16/2011 at 9:04 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: So, You Want To Be A Market Leader? [Part 7]

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6 of this series.

Today, in marketing luxury real estate, being tech-savvy involves much more than just optimizing your website to rank highly on search engines. It encompasses the art of building an audience of raving fans, not just through blogging or having a Facebook page, but also through the latest social media practice of creating a "curated" online experience. In this final post in our series, So You Want To Be A Market Leader, we discuss how Tiffany & Co., the leading American luxury jewelry brand, has preempted their domestic and European competitors with this cutting edge, indirect or "peripheral" marketing and branding strategy.

We understand that building an audience was never part of the job description of a real estate agent. We understand that it is time consuming, not to mention a long-term strategy. But, it is swiftly becoming a requirement if you want to gain or sustain market leadership. Every incumbent luxury real estate market leader who does not fully embrace the new media is potentially vulnerable to local challengers who are willing to do so.

Leveraging social media and mobile apps was certainly not an aspect of the jewelry marketing playbook either. But, Tiffany & Co. is intent on attracting a younger audience, and they know that they cannot rely solely on the tradition of their blue gift boxes or the half-century old Breakfast at Tiffany's movie to win this new business. They are also intent on keeping ahead of their European counterparts, such as Cartier, who is challenging Tiffany's dominance in the U.S. when it comes to purchasing engagement rings by young affluent customers.

Tiffany has an iPhone and iPad mobile app where you can customize your own engagement ring and design and change the carat size of the diamond. When you place one of the rings that you already own on the screen, it will tell you your ring size. But, soon every major jewelr will have their own app and this "feature" will no longer be unique. That is why we say that you cannot count on features as a way to differentiate your brand from your competitors'. Competing on features is not a brand strategy because brand strategy is all about seizing and holding on to top-of-mind status.

Recently, Tiffany & Co. launched a new "curated" website called What Makes Love True. Their brand strategy is to "own" the word LOVE in the minds of their target market. If you want to sell engagement rings as your core product, that would be an excellent word to own.

Tiffany takes on the role of "curator" of this online exhibition listing romantic places and restaurants to "pop the question", lists of love songs and romantic movies that you can buy via iTunes, and also videos of customers of all ages who discuss the romantic courtships that lead to their engagements. You can also interact with the site by placing your initials (and your mate's initials) on a map with your own story of why this location is romantic.

Staking a claim on "true love" as their brand position preempts any other competing jeweler to do so without looking ridiculous as a copycat. Can you imagine Cartier saying, "We stand for true love, too"? Provided that Tiffany continues to develop this site in interesting ways, we believe that this peripheral branding strategy is nothing less than brilliant! It is emotional branding at its best.

As a luxury real estate marketing professional who is bent on gaining or sustaining market leadership, what can you stand for, what word can you own? And, how do you go about executing a strategy to successfully achieve top-of-mind status with this brand position?

In our luxury real estate marketing consulting practice, we work exclusivel with incumbent market leaders or their challengers. We do not work with direct competitors within the same marketplace. Our ideal clients are those who realize just how much is at stake in terms of market share and revenue at this level, when you achieve top-of-mind status. If you have the heart of a champion and are keen on "the unabashed pursuit of market leadership", give us a call for a complimentary consultation! 805-684-8180

This blog posting has been provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, the Language of Luxury Community Founders and managing partners of Napa Consultants, International, the leading luxury real estate strategic marketing firm. They specialize in personal and company branding, luxury real estate website design and social media marketing. Pictures provided by Ron and Alexandra.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 6/15/2011 at 10:58 AM
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Categories: Luxury Guest Writers
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