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March 2010

Social Media and Real Estate

Like much of the rest of the world, real estate professionals have embraced social media.  Some would even say that there has been a REALTOR frenzy around social media.  There are  many, many people sharing their thoughts, ideas, and tips for agents on a plethora of web sites, blogs, and twitter streams.  There are RE BarCamps, all sorts of training courses, and products aimed at helping real estate agents "get" social media.  I think many of them miss the mark. 

There are certainly some agents who are successfully using social media to grow their businesses, but they would appear to be the minority.   There is no simple, "one-size fits all" approach to social media that will work for all agents.  In fact, social media might not be a fit at all for some folks, and that's OK.  

It is important to recognize that like a website or a direct mail piece, the various social media channels are marketing TOOLS and should be treated as such in your marketing plans.  This means:

  1. Understanding the tool and if, when, and how to use it
  2. Setting realistic GOALS
  3. Having an implementation PLAN
  4. Tracking and measuring your RESULTS
  5. Adjusting your goals, plan, or use of the tool based on results

It is also important to realize that social media, and increasingly the internet in general is becoming more and more about IDENTITY, and by extension, BRANDING.  The days of the anonymous internet are increasingly behind us.  Your tweets, for example, are tied to YOU and they are being indexed and archived for the viewing pleasure of your current and future clients, employers, and probably even your great-great-great grandchildren.

With this in mind here are our "Four P's of Social Media for Real Estate":

  • Positioning
    Know your desired positioning.  Be on message for your target market.  Own your niche and communicate appropriately.
  • Professionalism
    Demonstrate your market expertise, professionalism, and competence.  Be ethical.
  • Personality
    Be memorable--do business with style.  Be human and personable.
  • Persistence
    Social media is increasingly time and location-based.  It's not a one-shot deal, but more likely an ongoing commitment to publishing content on a regular basis.  It will require patience, focus,  and persistence. 

I don't pretend to be a social media guru, and these are some pretty basic thoughts.  Here are some links to the thoughts of a couple smart folks who have many more insights to offer:

Marc Davison of 1000 Watt Consulting: 

Dustin Luther of 4Realz.net:


7 Characteristics of Successful Agents

Here are seven things that most successful agents do: 

  1. Look and act successful (project confidence and competence)
  2. Demonstrate professionalism and competence
  3. Be unintimidated by money, power and celebrity
  4. Be memorable - do business with style
  5. Use quality marketing materials
  6. Network with other luxury agents
  7. Always be ethical

March Wealth Report now available

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The March 2010 Wealth Report Newsletter is now available for members.

In this month's issue:

  • Retail Sales Round-Up: Splurging Shoppers Boost Luxury Sales
  • WealthSurvey: In-Store Customer Experiences: Mystery Shopping
  • White Paper: Building Luxury Brands Using Customer Data & Analysis
  • NEW: Luxury Customer Relationship Marketing Association (LCRMA)
Members can access this report and an archive of past reports on our website (login required).  More on the report from our partner the Luxury Institute here.

Quality service begins with understanding your customer

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.

-Peter Drucker

In real estate as in all business, success comes from understanding and meeting the needs of your clients and customers. 

It is all about "fit" and there are a number of challenges implicit in this.

  • Accurately understanding the wants and needs that your targeted clients will use in their purchase decision and evaluation of service.
  • Crafting an offering--your mix services and how they are presented--that aligns with the client's needs.
  •  Positioning yourself and your services in a way that makes the "fit" clear to the clients AND in a way that clearly differentiates you from your competition.
  • Execution.  Actually delivering on the expectations that you have created in the minds of your clients.

Remember that the buying and selling process doesn't really differ much by price point.  However, the luxury market demands more of your professionalism, expertise, communications skills, and ability to get the job done.  The most successful agents deliver on this and then some!

"There are reasons some businesses are hugely successful, others “get by” and the less fortunate fail. From a marketing perspective it seems quite simple: You must know your customers and what it takes to make them happy."

- Bruce Johnson

Some of the ingredients for success:

  • Unique knowledge and abilities
  • Defined target markets
  • Ability to understand your clients needs and to create value
  • Outstanding service
  • That extra step - surprise and wow customers

Wealth rebuilding bodes well for luxury market

U.S. Millionaires' Ranks jumped 16 Percent in 2009, Study Says

"The millionaires’'club in the U.S. grew by 16 percent in 2009, following a 27 percent decline in 2008," according to a new Spectrem report. Affluent households -- those with net assets of $500,000 or more -- increased 12 percent to 12.7 million. At the same time, the number of households with a net worth of over $5 million rose 17 percent to 980,000. Finally, the magazine reports, "The average age of a so-called affluent investor is 58, compared with 62 for a millionaire and 67 for an investor with more than $5 million."  Value of a household’s primary residence is not included in the calculation.

Know Your Competition

Competition

Whether you are a new agent wanting to break into the luxury market, or an experienced and successful luxury agent, it can be useful to identify your current competition and evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, and positioning relative to your own. 

Not only is this useful in establishing your competitive advantage and positioning, it can also be a good way to identify what tools and tactics are working in today's market, and the agents with whom you need to be networking. 

To identify your competitors, pull the listing and sales in the top price ranges for your market area(s) and see which brokerage firms and agents are most active.  This will give you sense of the key players in the market as well as their relative market share. Calculating market share both by transactions sides and dollar volume can be useful too.

Knowing who your competition is isn't enough.  You need to know what they are offering.  Here are some questions to consider as you evaluate your competition: 

  • Is their market share increasing or decreasing?  
  • Are they targeting a particular niche? 
  • Do they have a clear strategy?
  • What is their positioning? 
  • If they had a tagline or motto, what would it be? 
  • What three words best describe them?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses? 
  • What are doing well? 
  • What are they doing poorly (and does it matter)? 
  • What marketing tools and tactics are they using and what is most effective for them?
  • What do their websites and marketing materials look like?

Of course you will also want to evaluate your own competitive positioning on a regular basis. 


Home Staging and Interior Design Trends for 2010

KGD Many of you know Kay Green and Ashley Jennings from our past Leaders in Luxury events. 

And we all know the importance of good staging.  So, if you are looking for ideas or info on current trends, jump on over to the Kay Green Design site. 

You'll find some good information, including copies of their recent presentations at the International Builders Show as well as seminar handouts and articles.


Russian billionaire backs out of deal, loses $50 millon deposit

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Back in August of 2008 Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov put the French mansion Villa Leopold under contract for a record $750 million.  In March of last year he tried to back out of the deal and wanted his $50 million (€40 million) deposit back

Yesterday the courts ruled in favor of the owner Lilly Safra, who can not only keep the €40 million but was also awarded damages of €1.5 million.  Ms. Safra indicated that she would be donating the money to charities.

The Times Online has more details here