The third-annual conference emphasized creative marketing, preparation and building strong client relationships to stand out in luxury
By Mindy Charski
Networking with other top luxury professionals certainly was a major draw for the more than 275 attendees of The RE/MAX Collection Luxury Forum earlier this month. Many attended the third-annual event – held at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas – also to gain insight about the high-end market and collect tips on more effectively marketing themselves and their listings.
They came from 30 states and Canada, and they left with valuable takeaways to enhance their luxury real estate businesses. Here are six key insights that emerged:
1. Positioning is critical
Featured presenter Pamela Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, a boutique marketing consulting firm, told Associates they should position themselves as value-producing partners. “Real estate marketing now is not about selling homes,” she said. “It’s about delivering value to your customers.” That translates to offering sellers more value from their listing and buyers more value for their investment, she said.
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, a Team Leader with RE/MAX Excalibur in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Find that tagline that makes sense for you, and then own it proudly.”
Study your competition and find the difference that you offer – that gaping hole that makes you different.Kris Anderson
And how that message of value is delivered matters, too, according to Mark Wolfe, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX DFW Associates, with numerous locations across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Marketing materials should be representative and high quality. “Things like recipe cards are just not something you do in high-end,” he told the crowd. 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, spoke of the importance of online representation. She 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.
Your online reputation is the public’s perception of your reality.Tami Simms
Testimonials, whether on review sites or social media pages, are also important to growing a luxury business. But agents must ask for them and do so carefully. 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, Simms said.
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.
Attendee Michele Flory was so inspired by the idea that she immediately revisited her social media strategy and began commenting on clients’ Facebook posts. “I need to start actually communicating more instead of just watching,” said the Team Leader with RE/MAX The Woodlands & Spring in The Woodlands, Texas. “A lot of times your clients will post things about their kids and their accomplishments, and their spouses, and it gives you a great opportunity to say something about it as well.”
Meanwhile, Eric Pruitt, Broker Associate with RE/MAX 1st Choice in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, left the forum with plans to implement a new idea he picked up from Simms: Congratulating clients on Facebook about their home anniversaries. That date is a piece of information that agents know and few others do, Simms said.
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 said. “They’re on the road to affluence and can very well be a good customer today, but an even better customer for you tomorrow.”
Today’s young HENRYs are on the road to affluence and can very well be a good customer today – and tomorrow.Pamela Danziger
5. Listing descriptions should pop
“It’s all about presentation for the affluent community,” said Anne Miller, Director, Brand Marketing, The RE/MAX Collection.
Speakers suggested various avenues for enhancing presentation, including 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. “It’s a way of romanticizing your listings that will really set you above and apart from all the rest,” she said.
She gave the example of writing about the home’s designer. Likewise, rather than simply note there are six bedrooms, 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. “If you walk into a home and assume that a finish is Spanish tile, for instance, and it was really imported from Rome, that could result in an inaccuracy in the listing description if you don’t clarify the details with the client,” he said. 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, he said.
6. Preparation and research matter
Affluent buyers and sellers have high expectations of their agents, and many prospective clients run in the same circles. They 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.”
In addition, learn from the mistakes of others. Anderson asks guests on her radio show about their experiences with other agents and has learned common complaints are not answering the phone or being unavailable during stressful times.
Wolfe, meanwhile, encouraged the crowd 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,” he said. “You’ve got to know everything about them.”
If you’re going to beat your competition, you’ve got to know everything about them.Mark Wolfe
In all, attendees came away from The RE/MAX Luxury Collection Forum with plenty to digest, including new perspectives, insights and actionable ideas to put into practice in their own businesses. Not to mention forging new connections and strengthening community among fellow RE/MAX Associates who also specialize in luxury.