You don’t tell people you’re the best. You reveal it.
According to Tim Seifert, SVP and head of annuity sales at Lincoln Financial Distributors, 50% of affluent consumers are brand neutral.
Let me repeat that . . . HALF of all affluent consumers are brand neutral.
This means affluent clients are as likely to keep you as their real estate agent as they are to find someone else.
As a new luxury agent engaged in marketing luxury homes, it’s only natural to then ask, “How do I ensure that my affluent clients (few as they may be) remain my clients?” “What are the best ways to attract new, well-to-do clients who will stay with me?” And perhaps most important, “How do I get my current clients to refer me to other wealthy buyers and sellers?”
The answer to these questions demands that you start with the fundamentals:
- Find your ideal client;
- Know the problem you solve and the value you provide;
- Acquire detailed knowledge about your actual clients.
- Serve your clients the way they want to be served;
- Make marketing decisions knowing that perception is paramount.
Embrace these five fundamental principles for marketing luxury homes and you’ll attract buyers looking for luxury real estate and million-dollar homes faster than profit attracts the IRS.
#1: Find your ideal client
Professional marketers will tell you to create a representative profile of your ideal client. Seasoned agents with experience in marketing luxury homes will tell you that’s not enough—you’ve also got to treat every prospective client like the unique person they are because that is what they expect.
A client profile will only provide you with a general description of who you want to work with (and who you don’t). Even so, this representation will influence everything you do in your marketing, including the language you use, images you select, and the advertising mediums you use.
#2 Decide who you want to work with
You’ve already decided to work with luxury home buyers, but can you further narrow your focus to a highly specialized niche in which you can be the expert? Do you want to work with:
- Young, affluent buyers who appreciate discreet wealth over obvious opulence?
- International buyers, star sports figures, or successful millennials who are environmentally conscious?
- First-time luxury home buyers, or experienced buyers only?
- Buyers looking for $2 million dollar homes or $10 million dollar homes?
- Sellers of condominiums, city penthouses, or brand-new apartments?
#2: Understand the problem you solve
Tony Robbins explains that people do business with those who can help them overcome a pain point or achieve a desire. In either case, your prospective clients have problems they need to be solved, and they are actively looking for solutions. It makes sense, then, to market yourself as the agent with the solution to your ideal clients’ problems.
You might start by saying you put interested luxury home buyers and sellers together. Well, so does every other agent buying and selling exclusive homes. And besides, saying you find luxury homes puts the focus on you when it should be on them.
Expand your thinking beyond the fact that you buy and/or sell luxury homes. Examine your strengths, past transactions, and past interactions and ask:
- What do you do especially well?
- What has made an impression on the people you’ve helped?
- What have referring clients said about you?
Consider having a conversation with your best clients to ask about their experience with you. Dan Allison of Feedback Marketing Group is worth listening to. He shared his thoughts and the questions you can ask to guide these conversations on an episode of Stay Paid.
Bring together the skills at which you excel with the type of client you want to work with, and you have what’s called a unique selling proposition (USP) or unique value proposition (UVP).
What’s your “only?”
Marty Neumeier is a bestselling author, and he has a similar but more detailed understanding of a USP/UVP.
In his book, Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands, Neumeier examines brands and how they can develop a wildly competitive advantage when they easily and simply state their “onlyness.”
“Our brand is the only ______ that ______” is the magic formula that, when you can fill in the blanks, articulates your onlyness and opens the door to attracting the right clients for your unique services.
Later, Neumeier helps his readers to refine their statement by asking and incorporating the answers to additional questions: “What is your [business] category? How are you different? Who are your customers? Where are they located? When do they need you? . . . Why are you important?”
Here’s an onlyness statement an agent in luxury real estate might craft:
WHAT: The only luxury home real estate agency
HOW: that finds prestigious, green custom homes
WHO: for successful, young millennials
WHERE: in the southwestern U.S.
WHY: who want to play as hard as they work
WHEN: before children arrive and the in-laws age.
If you want to know more about onlyness but you’re short on time, listen to this interview with Neumeier, ReminderMedia’s president, Luke Acree, and CMO, Josh Stike. The three have a conversation about what onlyness is, why it’s so powerful, and how to pinpoint your brand’s onlyness in a compelling way that turns it into an incredible marketing tool.
#3: Learn what makes your clients unique
Knowing the type of problems you solve and having a client profile of the people to whom you can market your solution are necessary steps to determining your USP/UVP/onlyness. But to make a lasting impression and be able to satisfy their particular need, you must learn what makes your clients unique.
When you take a sincere interest in knowing current and potential clients, you garner a number of advantages. You might find out something that not only leads you to schedule a tour of one property over another or gives you a reason to follow up with a prospect, but you’ll also be giving them the personal attention and consideration they expect.
Use the F.O.R.D. method
As a luxury real estate agent, you’ll have opportunities to attend parties, fundraising events, and other social gatherings where conversations and “small talk” are the norms, and networking is the coin of the realm. But don’t just exchange business cards . . . take advantage of these gathering and begin to build relationships with conversations aided by using the F.O.R.D. method.
Using the F.O.R.D. method means asking people about their family, occupation, recreational activities, and dreams. The key is to ask a question, take an interest in their response, follow up with another question, then “sit back and listen.” Listen carefully enough and you’ll find opportunities to help people solve their problems.
Do you have children? Yes, my husband and I have three children.
What are their names and ages? Timothy is 17, Carol is 15, and Briana is 11.
Where will Timothy be attending college? He’s got his heart set on Brandeis.
Living in New York, will you get to see him that often? Massachusetts is a bit of a hike. We’re not sure how we’ll handle that right now.
BINGO! There’s a problem you might be able to solve. Find a luxury townhouse for sale or look for an opportunity to rent a 3-bedroom luxury apartment for a weekend and you’ve got a reason for a follow-up call.
#4: Serve them the way they want to be served
As a group, affluent home buyers have high standards with equally high expectations. As a start, they expect their agent is:
- Well established and has experience;
- Respected and well known within the community;
- An accredited or certified luxury home specialist, possibly with other relevant certifications; (If you are interested in a particular certification, you can consult the various certification programs offered by NAR.)
- Deeply knowledgeable about the area in which they are looking;
- Connected with a network of service providers;
- Thoroughly versed in and understanding of their needs.
These criteria are the starting line. What will separate you from other luxury real estate agents and put you ahead of others will be the way you make your clients and prospective buyers feel.
Be a good listener
Your success as the agent of choice among wealthy, high-end buyers ultimately rests upon the relationships you develop and how much your clients know, like, and trust you.
And people like people who make them feel special. When you give someone your attention, time, and energy to truly listen to what they are saying and to respond with empathy, they are going to like you. You’re also going to learn a lot about your clients, which can help with the next tip.
Make it personal
No client who is giving you six percent of a multi-million-dollar sale is going to want to feel like they’re just another commission. When you are pitching a home, highlight the features that you know will engage your clients . . . the exquisite rose garden for the gardener or the Bertazzoni range and Sub-Zero refrigerator for the cooking enthusiast.
Do the unexpected
Making an impression by going above and beyond can be made more difficult if your clients are used to having exceptional service. Of course, you’ll want to match their expectations, but doing the unexpected in a thoughtful manner will help build stronger relationships.
For example, if you’re touring a neighborhood of interest, imagine the impression you’d make by taking them to lunch at one of the area’s more reputable restaurants where you’ve arranged for a private table and time to talk about the town’s amenities.
You might arrange for a tour of the country club or golf course and an introduction to the management.
A congratulatory bottle of fine champagne at the closing is a nice touch. So is a special “welcome home” delivery on moving day.
Think about catering an open house for the new homeowners with wine, cheese, and all the trimmings.
Talk to your colleagues and swap ideas.
#5: Be hyper-sensitive to impressions made
You may not like it, but I’m going to say it anyway . . . image is everything. And remember that it takes money to make money.
The importance of a home’s impression cannot be overstated
Unlike the typical home buyer, a potential buyer of a luxury property can become utterly fixated on small imperfections in an otherwise stunning house. Ensure that repairs are made, rooms are immaculate, the pool is clean, and the landscaping is pristine.
Have a professional handle the staging.
Hire an experienced real estate photographer and videographer to take pictures and shoot video.
Equally important is the impression you make
There’s the obvious. Your clothing should say “professional,” which means keep the jeans in the dresser. Polished shoes, khakis, dress slacks, and blazers are your friends. Add a little luxury to your own look.
Similarly, your car needs to connect with your clients, and an economy car isn’t going to cut it. Sedans and SUVs make the grade. Ensure they are comfortable, clean, and easy to enter and exit.
There’s no question that you need to respect your clients’ time. Arrive when expected and stick to the schedule. People with wealth place a high value on their time because they are typically busy and in demand.
Now think about the impression your marketing makes
You’ll recall that I said your success as a luxury real estate agent will depend on the relationships you form and that before any transaction can take place, your prospective clients need to know, like, and trust you.
That process begins with your marketing.
Whether it’s a personal introduction where you need to provide your onlyness statement, a video ad on social media, a print brochure of a listing, or a walking tour of a historical property, you’re making an impression. And the impressions you make need to be positive, lasting ones if you’re going to keep existing clients, attract new ones, and garner referrals.
When marketing luxury homes, you can help ensure your marketing is making the right impression and doing all it should by giving it the F.I.T. test.
- Is it Frequent? For relationships to grow, strengthen, and last, you need to be in consistent contact with your clients. A holiday gift basket once a year isn’t nearly enough to keep you top of mind. You need to get and stay in front of your ideal clients. A ubiquitous social media presence, print ads in high-end publications, joint sponsorships, board memberships, fundraisers . . . be in the places where your ideal clients are.
- Does it make an Impact? This is where the quality and value of your marketing becomes important. You’re looking to capture attention and engage your clients and prospects. The best way to do that is to ensure you deliver information that is useful, entertaining, and relevant to your ideal client’s needs and interests.
- Does it build Trust? Psychologically, the more your marketing works to make you a familiar face, the more confident people feel toward you. The more your marketing provides quality and value, the more likely they will welcome it into their homes. And the more you focus on building a relationship with your clients, rather than being solely concerned with the next transaction, the more people will trust you.
We offer personally branded magazines (one has a lifestyle theme and the other is health and fitness) and one of the ideas we suggest to our real estate clients is to showcase one of their recent listings on the back cover. You can still provide a business card, but the impression you’ll make when you explain your marketing plan for their home will include the same strategy is a powerful one. You can see a sample of our magazine here.
Make the perfect first and lasting impression
Marketing luxury homes follows many of the same principles and fundamental strategies that agents use to market other homes, only the standards are much higher. To have affluent buyers and sellers know, like, and trust you, you’ll need to do more to reach the bar.
Once you’ve determined the type of client you’d like to work with and what makes you the best agent to solve their particular problem, your strategy must be all about them.
Always be thinking about how you can make your clients’ experiences personal.
- Take a personal interest in them. Ask good questions, listen, and learn everything you can because what you discover might point you toward their perfect home.
- Be concerned with their personal comfort and make them feel special. Think about how you can go above and beyond their expectations.
- Design your marketing to be F.I.T. Our magazines are beautiful, printed with your information for easy retrieval, and arrive every other month looking like it came directly from your office. And you can personalize it down to the individual
Whether you end up using a magazine or something else, make sure that when marketing luxury homes, your materials and collateral make a positive and memorable first and lasting impression.
 Tim Seifert, The 5 Traits of Greatness with Tim Seifert, Stay Paid [podcast], Episode 217, airing February 1, 2021.
 Marty Neumeier, Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands (Berkeley, CA: New Riders, 2007), 65.
 Neumeier, Zag, 66.