Personal and Company Branding: Oprah's Brand Aid?

As a luxury real estate marketing professional your reputation is intimately connected to your personal brand.  What happens when there is a breach of integrity?  Can it be repaired?  Following the Lance Armstrong story will offer many clues.

On November 1st, 2012,  I (Alexandra, here) wrote a post about the fate of the Lance Armstrong brand, “Can a Brand be Saved?”  Given the silence of Lance Armstrong, it did not seem possible.  However, a “ Brand-Aid” is on the horizon in the form of an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

 A few days, ago Lance Armstrong had announced that on Thursday, January 17th, Lance will be on Oprah for a “no holds, barred” interview.  Why choose Oprah and not 60 Minutes or Dateline?  Here is what Jason Gray from the Wall Street Journal had to say:

“Armstrong is a public figure amid a consuming scandal and Winfrey offers a chance to reboot” Lance chose Oprah, because the other shows, “could not deliver what Oprah Winfrey delivers, which is Oprah Winfrey herself.  Winfrey’s camp has said there are no conditions or prohibited questions on the Lance time.” 

On Oprah’s nature and style, Mr. Gray stated, “Oprah is Oprah.  She is a master of her medium, a friend, a confessional, fully control, at peace in her own Oprah atmosphere.  Oprah time is not harshly lit, painful awkwardness.  Oprah envelops you in ‘Oprahness’.  She asks.  You talk, because it’s Oprah Winfrey.  And Oprah listens.  This is comforting.”

What is next?  Some speculate that a “tell all book” is in the works; lawsuits, and other consequences will follow.  Will Lance weather all this? Will his personal brand survive?  What will the public reaction be after the interview?  Will he redeem himself in the court of public opinion? Will Oprah's "Brand- Aid "make a difference? What do you think?

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. Photos courtesy of Ron and Alexandra.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 1/11/2013 at 7:52 AM
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Categories: Luxury Guest Writers | Luxury Real Estate
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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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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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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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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: The Heart of a Champion

If you want to become the dominate luxury real estate marketing team in your marketplace or niche therein, you and your team must have the heart of a champion. This post is dedicated to a true champion, Dirk Nowitzki and the entire 2011 World Champion Dallas Mavericks team and franchise.

Dirk was one of only five players in NBA history to win the championship while being the only NBA All-Star on the team. Only Nowitzski and three other players have averaged more than 25 points and 10 rebounds in the NBA playoffs. Only Nowitzki and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have ever had four consecutive 30-point, 15-rebound games in the playoffs. Dirk is the only player in NBA history to get over 100 blocked and 150 3-pointers in a single season.

The Mavericks were not the favored team going into the playoffs. Nor were they expected to win in the finals, according to most media pundits. But, they had a strategy. And, at the core of their strategy was their essential strength: cohesive teamwork that was consistently evidenced on the court and courtside.

In marketing luxury real estate as a team, it is essential that you assess your core strengths. Perhaps nothing is more important in building a championship real estate team than strategic thinking. This involves uncovering, identifying, and developing non-obvious opportunities to create value for your target market, extraordinary value that differentiates you from your competition. It necessitates challenging your assumptions about your current value proposition and re-engineering your strategic plan if you already have one in place.

As a team or a company, strategic thinking is best conducted in brainstorming sessions which can be fun and exhilirating if you set the right tone. When you brainstorm, you are tapping into the realm of imagination which is the sourse of fresh, new ideas. The entire purpose of brainstorming in this context is to challenge conventional thinking.

Brainstorming should be open to all team members. However, as the leader of brainstorming sessions, it is important to set some ground rules. When we brainstorm with our clients, whether the session is for an individual agent, a team or company, we introduce the concept of the "bulletin board". The idea here is to just let all ideas that you hatch have a place on the board without criticism or immediate evaluation of its merit. You never know when a fragment of one idea can trigger a flash of brilliance that makes its way to your new strategic plan.

The very process of brainstorming on strategy not only develops a vortex of creativity where great ideas are born, but it also can create an atmosphere of trust that builds cohesive teamwork. If it feels safe to contribute to this "mastermind" everyone can own the strategic plan that emerges. Under these conditions, the likelihood is high that the plan will be executed with minimum hassles.

To Dirk, the Mavericks and to all of you luxury real estate teams who have the heart of a champion, we salute you. We understand what it takes to establish innovative strategies to out-think your competition and we know that it is cohesive teamwork that is at the core of your success.

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: 6/14/2011 at 9:53 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: So, You Want To Be A Market Leader? [Part 6]

The Latest iCloud Technology - Courtesy of Apple

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

In our previous post of our series entitled, So You Want To Be A Market Leader, we covered one of the key vulnerabilities that luxury real estate market leaders tend to exhibit: losing focus. In this post, we cover the other key vulnerabilities: Being complacent and being "tech-challenged". If you want to overtake the incumbent market leader, rather than identifying an uncontested market niche that you can dominate, you need to assess your opponent's weakest link and wage, an all-out battle that is 100% concentrated on one of these three specific vulnerabilities.

Complacency, a common vulnerability of market leaders in luxury real estate, usually manifests in the form of neglect of the relationships that got them to the #1 position in the first place. Lack of consistent personal communication with their sphere of influence can create a very compelling reason to switch if the challenger excels at this and offers a remarkably distinct value proposition.

The consistent use of superior technology (especially methods for attracting a high volume of buyers) aimed directly at a market leader who is not tech-savvy, can be an excellent plan to challenge an incumbent. Incumbents who take on over-priced listings that languish on the market may look impressive to luxury home sellers in the short run. But, eventually, the agent who can demonstrate the ability to bring buyers to the table through superior technology will win the listings, too.

If you want to challenge the incumbent who is "tech-challenged" preempt this powerful attribute of being the most tech-savvy. That means, be the first challenger to seize this brand position by "owning" the very words "tech-savvy" as a brand position. Be the first to brand yourself as the tech expert in the competitive landscape that exists, not in your computer or in your office or in some other physical location in your marketplace, but in the minds of your target market.

When you are the first to take on the opposite attribute of the incumbent market leader as your brand position, you stand a great chance of at least being #2. That is because you have framed the race for market leadership as a two-person or two-company contest: "Tech-savvy" or "tech-challenged". Creating an either/or contest summarily dismisses the rest of the would-be challengers for market leadership who may try to own this attribute in the minds of the target market.

Today, being tech-savvy is much more than just generating leads specifically for properties. It encompasses the art of building an audience of raving fans through social media and engaging in peripheral or indirect marketing. Tiffany & Company has just launched a social media website that we will review in Part 7 of this series that positions the jeweler to own the word "love" in the minds of its target market. If you want to sell engagement rings as your core product, that would be an excellent word to own.

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: 6/9/2011 at 10:34 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: So You Want To Be A Market Leader? [Part 5]

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

In the realm of marketing luxury real estate, we have noticed some patterns of vulnerabilities among market leaders that represent opportunities for challengers. If they do have a chink in their armor, it usually comes down to this: 1) they lose their focus; 2) they get complacent, or; 3) they lag behind technologically.

If you want to overtake the incumbent market leader, rather than identifying an uncontested market niche that you can dominate, you need to assess your opponent's weakest link and wage an all-out battle that is 100% concentrated on one of these specific vulnerabilities.

In this post we look at the vulnerability of losing focus. Maintaining focus over time is one of the true tests of a market leader.

When you are a market leader in a specific category or niche within your marketplace, there is always a temptation to lose your focus by diversifying or changing your singular winning formula because you have attracted an abundance of diverse opportunities. If you are the best prime rib restaurant in town, is it not logical that you could also become known as the best seafood restaurant? After all, the fundamentals of the restaurant business are the same regardless of what you serve.

There is a seafood restaurant in Los Angeles that was, year after year, one of the highest grossing restaurants in town because of its moderately priced menu, its ideal setting and a bar business that was unstoppable. It appealed equally to families, tourists and young adults. We recently visited the restaurant after over a decade of no longer living in the city, expecting to find the same menu. Instead, they reinvented themselves as an expensive dinner house. They may have needed to refresh their brand, but they completely lost their focus on the core attributes that made them successful for decades. This restaurant is potentially vulnerable to competitors who could reintroduce the prior winning formula under a new brand.

To be successful today, you have to narrow your focus in order to build a position in the prospect's mind. Then you have to stay focused to sustain your market leadership position. A company that has resisted the temptation to diversify and has maintained its focus on its primary winning formula is Gerber.

Just take a walk down the baby food aisle in any supermarket in the USA (and dozens of countries around the world). Gerber dominates this food category and the shelf space as well. The company is owned by Nestle, the largest food (and nutrition) company in the world, founded and headquartered in Switzerland. Gerber enjoys roughly 80% of the market share. Beech-Nut, a very distant #2, is also Swiss-owned by the Hero Group, who makes fine jellies and jams in addition to baby food. With no substantial challenger, only Gerber and Beech-Nut currently have double-digit market shares.

How focused are you in your market place? In our next post, we will cover the other two vulnerabilities of incumbent market leaders: Being complacent and being "tech-challenged".

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: 6/8/2011 at 10:19 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: So You Want To Be A Market Leader? [Part 4]

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series.

One of the best ways to become a market leader in your luxury real estate marketing niche is to carve out a new niche or create an entirely new market category. Why not start out as #1?

There is a huge competitive advantage in being the first in a freshly defined market segment. For example, have you ever tried or heard of 5-Hour Energy, the caffeine and vitamin liquid concentrate that comes in a small plastic bottle and is sold over the counter?

Seven years ago, there was no such niche or sub-category of beverages. This energy shot trend was started by 5-Hour Energy. They dominate the category with an 80 percent market share, according to trade publication, Beverage Digest. Their annual sales are about $1 billion. The next closest competitor, NVE Pharmaceuticals, has a paltry 5 percent market share. 5-Hour Energy, as a brand, has achieved the status of "category killer".

Some of the best niches are not obvious. In our recent blog series, So You Want To Be A Market Leader [Part 3], we used the example of becoming the expert in ski-in/ski-out properties within the larger marketplace of the entire ski resort town. This is a very narrow market niche, but a potentially lucrative one as these kinds of properties tend to be the most expensive.

Let's take this example a few steps further. Before you declare yourself the expert, you need to have some ski-in/ski-out property sales (at least one) under your belt to have some credibility. Then, when you take it upon yourself to define or carve out a niche where heretofore the niche was not perceived as a separate area of specializiation, amazing things happen.

Suddenly, you are perceived differently and so is the competitive landscape. Because you are the first, you literally cause your name to be identified with the new category that previously did not exist. Once this takes place, it is very difficult for your competition to dislodge the #1 position that you have secured in the minds of your target market.

When people identify you as the ski-in/ski-out maven, they will refer you to other owners of such properties (who the probably know very well) as the expert. If you were the owner of a ski-in/ski-out property, wouldn't you want to be referred to the leading expert in this field to list your home, instead of the generalist? That is what branding is all about.

In your luxury real estate practice, the sharper your focus, the more you become an expert and the more likely you are to succeed. Concentration in your chosen area gives you a command not only of the nuances of the market segment itself, but also of the mindset of your target market. The depth of your knowledge and your certainty about your niche becomes palpable to potential clients. The sharpness of your focus also enables you to discover opportunities that completely elude your competition. If you are passionate about your niche, you will not need energy shots to keep you awake, lift your spirits or stay motivated.

You may think that it is scary to be so focused within a niche because you have to sacrifice other general business if you give your niche your undivided attention. But, in time, your name can become extremely well-known and, ideally, synonymous with the category itself. That is when you become the undisputed category killer. If you sustain your focus, you can become so formidable as the market leader that your would-be competition will not even bother to challenge 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: 6/7/2011 at 10:16 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: The Luxury of Impeccable Communication

The Communication Palace in Madrid, Spain

One of the most important aspects of marketing luxury real estate is to have impeccable communication skills, and to adopt a system that tracks all the loose ends that need to be followed up on. Since real estate transactions are usually an emotional journey, communication is the soothing balm that keeps everyone together and usually guarantees a happy ending for all parties concerned. Anxiety is minimized when you have to communicate that there is "no news."

We have recently implemented a central online communication system so that we can all have access to the same data, know what each party has accomplished, and also the status of the progress on all the projects we are working on. All parties have access to this system.

As we were explaining this system to one of our clients, we mentioned how we recently completed a web site in record time. Our client is adament about being on time, responding instantly and keeping his promises. He had a working web site in one month because he delivered what was needed, and we were able to match him to achieve that goal. We loved working with him.

It doesn't matter what form the communication takes, texting, email, face-to-face meeting, or phone. Impeccable communication engenders trust, peace of mind, and successful relationships. It certainly deserves a palace in its honor!

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: 6/6/2011 at 11:00 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: So You Want To Be A Market Leader? [Part 3]

See Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series, So You Want To Be A Market Leader

When you think of the word "strategy", what comes to mind? In the context of marketing luxury real estate, or any product or service, strategy ONLY applies to gaining or sustaining market leadership. It is just for incumbent market leaders who want to hold on to the #1 position and those who want to challenge the incumbent. More succinctly, it is only about being #1 or #2 in mindshare and in market share within any given marketplace or niche therein.

In the majority of cases, the combined market share of #1 and #2 represents the lion's share of the entire "pie". These two contenders understand just how much is at stake. Very often, there is a vast crevasse between the market share of #1 and #2. For example, #1 search engine, Google, enjoys about 65 percent of the market. Yahoo, #2 owns 17 percent, and #3 Microsoft Bing has about 11 percent.

Bing is trying valiantly to whittle down Google's market share. Its most recent strategy has been to align with and own a piece of Facebook in order to make search more social (getting recommendations from friends when delivering search results). In a Wall Street Journal interview, Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said that one of his biggest failures as CEO over the last decade was grappling with the rise of social identity services, such as Facebook. Microsoft seized a potentially threatening strategic advantage with their social search strategy.

The marketing activity of an unmotivated #3 or any of those that are lower on the totem pole is actually not strategy. If you are not striving to be #1 or #2, you are merely engaged in tactics to fight over the crumbs, which may be plenty for some but not for those with the heart of a champion.

When it comes to marketing luxury real estate, keep in mind that you get to define the size of your marketplace if it is based on georgaphy or just how narrow you want to slice your niche within a general category. For example, you can be the market leader in selling ski-in/ski-out preoperties in Vail, Colorado or in Deer Valley, Utah. The price point of these properties is typically very high and you do not need to sell many homes to earn sizable commissions.

We live in a time-pressed world where the majority of human minds can only remember up to 3 brands in any given category of product or service. Some people can only think of one brand in some categories. That is why being #1 or #2 is the only game in town for those of you who have embraced the unabashed pursuit of market leadership. For you, strategy is the name of the game and the jackpot is achieving top-of-mind status.

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: 6/2/2011 at 9:29 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: So You Want To Be A Market Leader? [Part 2]

In Part 1 in this series, we covered two keys to becoming a Market Leader as a luxury real estate marketing professional. The first key is to identify an uncontested or underserved market niche in which you can be the dominant player. We wanted to elaborate on this.

If you are the first major player in a new category, you will have a tremendous competitive advantage over potential challengers because you become immediately identified with that category in the minds of your target market. You make news when you start a new category or take over an underserved category. But, beware of the temptation to get complacent if you are unrivaled!

If you want to take on an incumbent market leader, be sure you are taking on a category or niche or market segment that you believe you can serve better than the leader or any other contender. Here is an example of a 17-year battle to surpass an incumbent market leader who was the first major player in their category.

Take a moment to answer this question: What is the first lemon-lime soda that comes to your mind? Can you think of more than three brands? Most people can only think of one or two.

Sprite was introduced in the U.S. in 1961 as Coke's response to 7Up, the market leader. To fend off Sprite's challenge, 7Up launched on of the greatest brand strategies of all time by positioning itself not just as a competitor of Sprite but as "The Uncola". This worked for a few years. Then, in 1978, Sprite seized the position of the #1 best-selling lemon-lime soda.

By the 1980s, Sprite became very popular among teenagers. They launched a slogan to cater to this generation that was used from 1987 to 1994: "I Like the Sprite in You." In 1999, 7Up tried a strategy known as "taboo" marketing to appeal to the younger generation. "Make 7Up Yours" was their slogan. But, they placed "Make 7" on the front of T-shirts and "Up Yours" on the back. By then, it was too late to regain their market leadership position.

In 2004, Sierra Mist surpassed 7Up on the basis of annual retail sales, placing it as the second most-purchased lemon-lime soft drink in the U.S. Sprite still reigns supreme.

In the 1960s, 7Up was essentially in an uncontested market niche enjoying top-of-mind status. Then, Sprite came along. Ultimately, Coke had superior marketing muscle and staying power. But, it took Sprite 17 years to surpass 7Up, the incumbent market leader. That should give you an idea of how the first in a category has a tremendous competitive advantage, especially if it does not get complacent.

Find an uncontested market niche that you can dominate and serve better than anyone else in your luxury real estate marketplace. If you do not get complacent, you should enjoy a long ride.

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: 6/1/2011 at 10:49 AM
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Luxury Real Estate Marketing: So You Want To Be A Market Leader?

In luxury real estate marketing and in business in general, market leadership is measured in sales volume and market share. It is also measured with an equally important indicator, "top-of-mind status" because mindshare always precedes market share. Here are the two keys to becoming a market leader.

The First Key to Becoming a Market Leader

If you want to be a market leader, the first key is to identify an uncontested or underserved market niche or category that you can serve more effectively than anyone else. Then become the dominate player in that arena.

Your marketplace does not have to be an entire town. You get to define the scope of your market segment. It can be as narrow as you want as long as it has the potential to fulfill your financial expectations. You can achieve top-of-mind status in a three-block section of a suburb or a community of just 500 homes or by specializing just in waterfront properties or condos.

The Second Key to Becoming a Market Leader

In any category or niche, the battle for market leadership is actually a contest of ideas, and the prize is top-of-mind status. Therefore, the second key to achieving market leadership is to seize an idea that you can stand for authentically and own like "the waterfront expert" or "condo king."

Do not waste your time copying what the current market leader is doing. And, do not try to compete by using your opponent's idea. As the famous chef Emerial Lagasse said, "Get your own show!"

We have a client in Florida who takes prospective buyers on boat tours of waterfront properties in her marketplace. She not only owns the boat, she "owns" this idea of boat tours. To compete with a market leader like this, it would be futile to copy boat tours. Instead, you would need to stand for and own your own idea.

Consider the top wireless carriers. Today, both AT&T and Verizon offer the iPad and the iPhone. The price is the same. Which one would you choose? Verizon stands for and "owns" the idea of "coverage and reliability (few dropped calls)"; AT&T cannot compete on this attribute. However, it is attempting to acquire T-Mobile so it can compete in terms of size, which may translate into "faster product availability" because of the deals they can strike with manufacturers, or "deeper selection" (of bundles of services) down the line. Spring has the first 4G network; it currently "owns" the idea of "speed." But, 4G is just a feature that all wireless carriers will eventually have.

So, you want to become a market leader? Find an uncontested or underserved market niche. Then, find an idea you can own in the minds of your target market. Remember that marketing is a contest of ideas, and top-of-mind status is the price!

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: 5/31/2011 at 9:43 AM
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New Book Shares Secrets to Success

David M. Michonski, an agent in the luxury real estate business, has released a book, "Power Marketing for Luxury Real Estate," on his secrets of how to not only sell a luxury home, but how to sell it at the highest price. Some early readers have already called it the "real estate agent's bible for selling to the affluent", and Michonski believes his stories "illustrate how to unlock competition to get the highest price." The book is available for sale at Amazon and at other online stores. Sounds like a must read to us!

Story via MMDNewswire.com


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 5/4/2011 at 12:48 PM
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Five Photography Tips to Make Your Online Home Listing Stand Out

Online home listings and photos go hand in hand -- it's nearly impossible to attract attention to your listing if it's only text. People want to see what the house looks like before going to view it. According to Zillow, 90 percent of home buyers will look online first before they go see a property in person. You don't need a professional photographer to achieve results; all you need is a little practice and these tips:

1. Have good lighting. Take photos in the middle of the day when there's the most lighting. Open curtains and blinds, and turn on the lights if you need to. The brighter a room looks, the better.

2. Clean up. If a room in your home usually has a lot of clutter on surfaces (think kitchen counters, office desks, etc.) then it's best to clean up. Even if your fridge has a lot of photos or memos on it, take them down. When people see photos of your listed house, they want to imagine what it would be like for them to live there, not what it's like for you to live there.

3. Give the buyer what they want. If you're going to take a limited number of photos, take photos of what's necessary: the front of the house, the kitchen, the living room, the master bedroom, and bathrooms. If your online listing says it has a huge backyard, then take a photo of that too!

4. Match the photos to what you've listed. Like #3, if you have a huge backyard and you're listing that, take a photo of it. If you're listing a walk-in closet, private dock, or the like, take photos of it to add. Zillow reports that 85 percent of buyers prefer photos to text.

5. More photos, more views. (This doesn't need much explanation!)

 

These tips via Zillow.


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Posted by: Nicole Lauber
Posted on: 5/2/2011 at 12:33 PM
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