Friday, July 15, 2011

Some Marketing Lessons Learned from Luxury Real Estate Agents

Not all of us are in the market for a 10,000 square foot luxury home in Five Points. In fact most of us probably aren't, so the world of luxury real estate is one that seems like an exclusive mystery. 

It is a shame that few of us do get to experience this world, because when it comes to marketing there is a lot that anyone could learn from how luxury real estate and real estate agents in particular run their businesses. 

What they know about marketing and sales is based on what they have had to learn to make those multi-million dollar home sales. 

But the principles and techniques work on any level. Here are just a few of the lessons you could take from the world of luxury real estate:
  1. Focus on your personal brand to demonstrate credibility. One thing that just about every real estate agent does more than almost any other industry (apart from entertainment) is focus on their personal brands. Often you see the story of the agent's career and how he or she made it to that point. You can read what they are interested in and how many medals of honor or salesperson of the year awards they have won. All of this is designed to give you a sense of who they are before you consider working with them. In the world of real estate personal branding has everything to do with your reputation ... and that reputation is a big part of how you can get deals done.
  2. Better target your communications to save yourself time. How many ads do you see for luxury real estate crammed into the yellow pages? Or through a banner ad on Forbes.com? Most advertising when it comes to luxury real estate comes from custom regional magazines, luxury publications and other highly targeted sources. Why? Because one thing that luxury real estate agents understand is that hitting the wrong consumers will result in one big downside: they will end up wasting their own time. So the advertising is a function of selection because they only want to reach people who are real prospects to potentially purchase a home from them. They don't care about reaching millions or even about reaching thousands. They care about reaching the right dozen people, period.  Same goes for middle income priced housing - hit your market.
  3. Use professional imagery to sell.  They feature 'lustworthy' images of houses, villas and mansions that most people only dream about even walking into. And all of it is listed alongside a tantalizing price that would buy you the rights to claim ownership of that dream, if you had the money. The imagery sells the houses and encourages you to dream.  Same goes for middle income housing - use great pictures, not so-so ones that show clutter or the date you shot it.
  4. Promote the community you will be joining. When you buy a luxury property, you are not just buying your own property but also entry into a particular neighborhood and even a way of life. As a result, you want to know who else lives in the neighborhood and more about the community you will be joining. It may not mean you'll be best friends or even interact with those others, but just knowing about the community and what you are part of gives you an important story that you can share with others and help you to feel a sense of belonging in the community which could be a powerful motivator to purchase.  Same goes for middle income housing - promote the location drawing attention to its best features, not its drawbacks.
  5. Throw in an unexpected benefit/offer. One thing I love about luxury real estate is that the "freebies" are often completely unexpected and sometimes irrelevant things, but could sway the right buyer. For example, I saw one property offered up a garage full of exotic cars along with the house. When you are buying a luxury property, those small things may not add up to a significant portion of the cost, but could mean the world when it comes to helping a customer establish an emotional connection with a property based on more than just hard details like the bathroom count or location. How does this translate to middle income housing - easy - talk with your sellers about what items can stay that add value and make them stand apart in this market - the high-end swingset, the porch swings and rockers, the great patio furniture set, etc.
Some of these lessons are likely the same that other real estate agents use, but I'd love to hear your thoughts as well. What other marketing lessons do real estate agents know that other businesses could benefit from?

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