Success Stories

Never Underestimate the Power of a Redhead!

Gretchen knows marketing.  She gets it.  

From her witty, memorable, and benefit-oriented tagline to her great market reports, she delivers the competence and knowledge that her affluent clients seek.  She understands that good marketing is about telling the right stores and always delivering on promises.  

In years past, that understanding has put her among the top performing agents in Kona, Hawaii.  This year it has also earned her recognition from the West Hawaii Association of Realtors as Broker of Year.  

Curious as to how she found success?  Here's her story in her own words...

Congratulations Gretchen!

2010 - Best Market Report


2010 Marketing Awards:
Best Agent Market Report

Winner: Susan Lowe
Chase International, Lake Tahoe, NV

Institute members know that the fastest way to establish credibility in a market is to produce a comprehensive market report on a regular basis.  Each of the entries in this category was outstanding. 

What the judge liked about the winner was:

  1. The price banding charts looking at market data by BOTH price range and geographic area.
  2. The use of the information in an extensive press release campaign to the media--this has resulted in Sue being called frequently for press interviews.
  3. The use of the statistical charts and graphs from the report in a direct-mail postcard campaign. 

Susan Lowe at Chase has done her market update report for 9 years and her excellent market information is now used by other agents at Chase International.   Once again, congratulations Susan!

2010 - Best Online Marketing


2010 Marketing Awards:
Best Online Marketing

Winner: Jennifer Kirby
Exit Realty Ventures, Farmington, Minnesota

Jennifer's online marketing strategy is centered around her blogs.  Her Minneapolis Luxury Real Estate Blog  features well-written content that is relevant and interesting to current and potential homeowners.  It demonstrates her local knowledge, market expertise, and helps to position her as the local luxury expert. Her well-crafted posts and beautiful photos highlight design trends, historic homes, what does and doesn't work when marketing luxury homes, local market stats, and so much more. 

The bottom line:  the content is rich, engaging, and useful.  Google aggrees.  Her blog enjoys the #1 spot in organic search results for "Minneapolis luxury real estate." 

In addition to her main luxury blog, Jennifer has additional blogs based on specific market segments or lifystyles that are relevant to her own expertise and the markets and propects she is targeting.  For example:

Her blogs are built on Wordpress, and have excellent usability--she has chosen layouts and themes that are simple, clean, easy to read, and easy to navigate.  She has been blogging consistently since the beginning of 2007.

Jennifer is a great example of a successful online strategy based primarily on blogging.   Her blogs are driving new business--directly delivering luxury listings and sales.

Congratulations to Jennifer on a simple-but-effective online strategy very well-executed!

2010 - Overall Excellence in Personal Marketing


2010 Marketing Awards:
Overall Excellence in Personal Marketing with an Emphasis on Agent Branding

Winner:  James Anderson
Pacific Luxury Group, Santa Monica, CA

Lots of agents do clever things. James Anderson does clever things which are strategic. 

He has created a brand that is not his name – Pacific Luxury Group.  His blue and brown colors represent the sand and the sea of the coastal area he serves and the blue also evokes the luxury of the Tiffany’s blue box.  The lion on his logo is a symbol of success.  James’ business cards define the design rules for elegance and professionalism. 

James3  James4  James2

Even his property marketing is part of his personal branding – for instance his custom signs are so distinctive that you know instantly that they are his Pacific Luxury Group’s signs.  Instead of saying for sale, each sign has a witty and effective headline…

  • “Repeat after me, ‘I deserve this house.’”
  • “Whoever said you can’t buy happiness, never owned this house”
  • "Location, location, location, and ungodly amounts of square footage!”  

James Anderson is raising the bar in real estate marketing and agent branding.

2010 - Best Marketing Campaign for a Property


2010 Marketing Awards:
Best Marketing Campaign for a Property

Winner:  Susan Lowe
Chase International, Lake Tahoe, NV

A $100 million dollar property represents a special marketing challenge.  You must target market effectively while maintaining the owners’ privacy.  Details about the property need to be limited to qualified prospects.

To acheive this, Susan Lowe and Shari Chase at Chase International created a marketing campain with three levels of marketing collateral, each with an increasing level of information and detail:

  1. The first is for the public and casual enquires
  2. The second for other agents and not-yet-qualified prospects
  3. The third is limited to serious prospects who have been qualified.  

There are both print and online resources at each level. 

Tranquility1   Tranquility2  Tranquility3

The marketing support pieces they have created highlight the property’s uniqueness and illustrate the point that the quality of the materials must reflect the quality of the property.  For example, their 16-page brochure includes beautiful professional photography--each image accompanied by a haiku poem.  The cover features an original watercolor of one of the home's views printed on fine watercolor paper.  As the judge told us, these materials are “perfectly appropriate” for this level of the luxury market.

Their marketing plan goes beyond advertising and collateral--there is a stong communication component.  They have done a masterful job of leveraging public relations for property exposure -- the listing was first announced in a major story in The Wall Street Journal and there has been follow-up coverage as well.

Congratulations on a superb campaign Susan!

2010 Marketing Awards: Winners!

LIL-2010-marketing-awards Thank you to all of you who entered.  There were some great entries this year.  The judge has spoken.  Congratulations to the winners of the 2010 Leaders in Luxury Marketing Awards:

    Winner: Sue Lowe, Chase International, Lake Tahoe
    Winner: James Anderson, Pacific Luxury Group California
    Winner: Jennifer Kirby, Exit Realty Ventures, Farmington, Minnesota
    Winner: Rick Wearing, RE/MAX North Country Realty, Huntsville, Ontario CANADA
    Winner: Susan Lowe, Chase International, Lake Tahoe

 Congratulations Rick, Jennifer, James, and Susan!

Watch for more on these winning entries in upcoming blog posts... 

Leaders in Luxury 2010: A Sold-Out Success!

A big "thank you" to all of the outstanding luxury professionals from around the U.S. and Canada who joined us in Austin this year for Leaders in Luxury. What an amazing group, and wow--what networking!

Here are some photos from the event:

And some of the feedback from attendees:

I am proud to be in the "inner circle" of such an innfluential group of professionals.  I would feel 100% comfortable with referring any of my clients to anyone I met this week.  Looking forward to future sharing of ideas/concepts and referral/networking.
-Cindy Shearin, Manhattan Beach, CA

Finally I have a specific game plan for my social media strategy. This conference came at a perfect biz plan time and will impact my plans for 2011.
-Charlotte Shirey, Richmond, VA

This was "the" best run and informative seminar I have ever attended.  I was quite dubious when I signed up.  I found the city choice excellent (frist time in Texas).  As a somewhat new Realtor I have learned so much and am truly grateful to all.
-Sam Joseph, South Orange, NJ

Three days spent with the nation's top producers is invaluable for networking opportunities and the sharing of important new information as well as best practices that produce results.  Much of what was shared in this conference will be impactful in today's market.
-Lillie Young, Dallas, TX

Truly an educational, impressive, and well-rounded program.  Packed with wonderful informative, relevant information to address "today's real" real estate challenges.
-Robin Simon, Boston (Milton), MA

A great experience to network and learn from many of our new American colleagues.  Lots of exciting ideas for luxury home marketing!
-Dawna Borg, Toronto (Vaughan), Ontario

I don't want my competitors here next year.  I was the only one from my state!!  Huge advantage for me!!!
-(Name witheld by request)

Excellent, inspiring sessions, well worth three days of my time away from listing and selling -- well done!
Debra Porteous, West Vancouver, BC

The most phenomenal real estate conference I have ever attended!!  Outstanding!!
-Bill Gottfried, Houston, TX

Another big "thank you" to our outstanding speakers, and the sponsors who helped make it all happen. 

See you at next year's event...location to be announced.  In the mean time put those good ideas to work and keep the referrals flowing!

Agents with CLHMS designation earned $177,836 in 2009

CLHMS_125x125 A national study by RE/MAX ranks real estate designations and certifications by agent earnings.  Agents with CLHMS designation post the highest average earnings for 2009:  $177,836

The study of RE/MAX  agents with residential real estate designations and certifications revealed that in 2009, real estate professionals who held the Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist® designation earned more than other residential designation groups by a margin of at least $65,600.  


Average earnings by designation or certification

$177,836 - Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist® (CLHMS)   
$112,153 - Certified Residential Specialist® (CRS)           
$110,338 - Certified Distressed Property Expert® (CDPE)        
$100,882 - Certified New Home Specialisttm (CNHS)           
$99,240 - Senior Real Estate Specialist® (SRES)           
$99,196 - Accredited Buyer Representative® (ABR)           
$95,483 - ePro®                            

The study covered associates with designations who were with RE/MAX for all of 2009.  Commercial agents who are Certified Commercial Investment Members (CCIM) of NAR earned a reported $138,838 according to the RE/MAX study.

Despite the fact that luxury home market sales were down significantly in 2009, agents with the CLHMS designation outperformed other agents.  Our members tell us they are using the skills and marketing ideas they learned in our CLHMS training to capture business across all price ranges.   

We're proud of our CLHMS members!

Media visibility has value

One newspaper article =
an entire community listing for one agent
and a $40,000 check for another!

Back in October of 2008, reporter Jean Murphy of The Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago (IL) newspaper, called Laurie with some questions about the luxury market.  Laurie suggested to Jean that she might give the story an even stronger local twist by interviewing some of our Institute members.  Jean contacted several and ended up quoting Institute member Valerie Zelinski of Century 21 Roberts & Andrews in Crystal Lake and Carol Best of Hunter's Fairway | Sotheby's International Realty in Barrington. Carol, a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) shared lots of information about lifestyle marketing and the concept of targeting the best prospects for your listings -- information which Jean included in the article.  The article ran on November 1, and as a result, business was generated from Illinois to California.

Here’s what Carol had to say in early January:

I am in the process of obtaining signatures for listing a new green, self-sustaining community outside Chicago. The homes will be between $1 to $3 million dollars, on 400+ acres, with approximately 125 home sites and an equestrian facility as part of the community.  It is very unique and ahead of the curve.  My developer is from San Diego. Here is the good news for you... it is ALL because of the article the Daily Herald reporter did on me and luxury agents.

A woman in Chicago read the article and apparently decided that an Institute member could best help her sell a home she owned in California.  So, she called Institute member Sam Smith of Beach Cities Luxury Homes in San Clemente. (Sam is a CLHMS and member of The Million Dollar Guild.)    Sam listed the home and has sent us a follow-up email. 

Here’s what Sam had to say:

Just wanted to say thank you again.  As you recall, I picked up a listing from a client in Chicago who decided to call me after seeing an article in the Chicago paper regarding the Institute.  We just sold her California home to an all cash buyer, full asking price, with a 14 day close!   My affiliation with (The Institute) will gross me over $40,000 on just this one transaction. Thank you again!

All of this illustrates the power of the media and how important it is to become a resource for reporters and editors.  When you are quoted, it helps position you as an expert, gives you credibility and, as Carol discovered, can generate business.  The fastest way to get on their list of agents to call is to send them regular luxury market statistics and offer to be a resource when they are working on a story.

We are working at building The Institute’s presence in the media, with the goal of creating visibility for members and hopefully, creating a preference for our members in the minds’ of consumers.  In Sam’s case, our efforts paid off, he benefited to the tune of $40,000! 

Remember that you should be working locally to connect with your local media. They often need statistics, quotes, and someone to introduce them to buyers and sellers who are willing to be interviewed.  This is especially true in today's market and especially so in markets where there are luxury segments moving counter to the broader market trends of the area.

(See pages 112-116 in Laurie’s updated book Rich Buyer, Rich Seller! The Real Estate Agents’ Updated Guide to Marketing Homes for specific tips on “farming’ the media effectively).



I think that's what Members Laura Duggan and Patrick Birdsong must be saying right now--not only do they have the most expensive listing in Austin, Texas, but it has also been featured as "the most viewed expensive home" on Yahoo's homepage and has been in the rankings for five days. 


This great exposure on Yahoo has resulted in over two thousand folks visiting their website and registering to see more listing details--in just two days. 

As Laura says, "You gotta love that viral marketing!"

Congratulations Laura and Patrick!