Networking was a huge but not singular draw for the 275 top agents at The RE/MAX Collection Luxury Forum earlier this November. Here are key themes that were reinforced:
1. Positioning is critical
“Real estate marketing now is not about selling homes,” said featured presenter Pamela Danziger, president of Unity Marketing. “It’s about delivering value to your customers.”Agents also need to carefully craft their brands. “Study your competition and find the difference that you offer – that gaping hole that makes you different,” says Kris Anderson, Team Leader of Your Premier Team at RE/MAX Excalibur in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Find that tagline that makes sense for you, and then own it proudly.”How that message of value is delivered matters, too, according to Mark Wolfe, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX DFW Associates. Marketing materials should be representative and high quality. “Things like recipe cards are just not something you do in high-end,” he said. Instead, capture affluent potential clients’ attention with direct mail pieces that feature home statistics for the local area.
2. Client reviews are golden
Tami Simms, an expert trainer at The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, shared research from LinkedIn that revealed 36 percent of affluent homebuyers use social media for discovery and consideration – including finding a real estate agent.“Your online reputation is the public’s perception of your reality,” she said. “Leverage online profiles at every opportunity to reinforce your luxury brand.” Simms said this includes using language that speaks to the affluent consumer such as “concierge service,” “discretion,” “expertise” and “exclusivity,” as well as posting about luxury topics.Testimonials, whether on review sites or social media pages, are also important to growing a luxury business. Simms recommended sending a note to clients after closing with language along the lines of, “I would love for you to share your experience.” Provide examples of past reviews to help clients craft their testimonial.
3. Social media reinforces relationships
Engaging on social networks can help clients – and their connections – see an agent as someone they “know, like and trust,” Simms said. She challenged Associates to “use this high-tech approach to implement high-touch” with their top 100 clients in ways that are less about immediate gratification and more about staying top-of-mind.
4. It’s good to know HENRY
According to Danziner, 24.3 million households in the U.S. fall into the HENRY category (High Earners Not Rich Yet), which includes households with incomes between $100,000 and $249,999.“Tomorrow’s ultra-affluents are today’s young HENRYs, so you don’t want to dismiss them as not being prime targets,” she says. “They’re on the road to affluence and can very well be a good customer today, but an even better customer for you tomorrow.”
5. Listing descriptions should pop
“It’s all about presentation for the affluent community,” said Anne Miller, RE/MAX Director, Brand Marketing.Speakers suggested hiring professional photographers to take quality daytime and nighttime shots and professional writers to be creative with listing descriptions.Danziger recommended not only packing descriptions with details and brand names, but also using storytelling to engage and entice prospects. Rather than noting that there are six bedrooms, for example, describe the experience of visiting the home: “Your overnight guests will be able to enjoy the same amenities and the same pleasures that you as a homeowner enjoy,” she suggested.Moreover, asking homeowners for a special features list is a good idea, said David Collins, president of REAL Marketing, which publishes The RE/MAX Collection Magazine. Associates should also ask sellers about their favorite parts of the house, why they bought it and how they found it in order to inject more personality into the listing.
6. Preparation and research matter
Affluent buyers and sellers demand top-tier service and will only recommend agents they trust will do a good job. As a luxury specialist, it’s even more important to differentiate yourself with in-depth knowledge about home sales in the local market. “Make sure you’ve done your homework before going into a listing presentation,” said Kristina Guzman, a Broker Associate with RE/MAX Trinity in Southlake, Texas. “Know your inventory, for example, and be able to talk about the absorption rate and how long it will likely take for that house to sell in that market.”Wolfe said agents also need to keep tabs on their competition, including how active they are on the Web, the kind of marketing materials they use and their weaknesses. “If you’re going to beat your competition, you’ve got to know everything about them,” he said.