Stephen Shapiro is chairman of the Westside Estate Agency, a Los Angeles-based brokerage that specializes in selling to high-net-worth individuals.
4 Myths About Working With Luxury Clients
Many agents think you have to go bigger with your marketing to attract wealthier clientele. But you don’t have to spend a lot of cash to get noticed by the rich.
September 6, 2016
Many times, I meet real estate professionals, especially those just starting out, who tell me they have to spend big to attract high-net-worth clients. The problem is they don’t yet have the budget of larger firms. However, marketing to the wealthy crowd doesn’t mean you have to drop a ton of money on marketing — but you do have to invest in the tried-and-true tools of real estate: relationships and referrals.
If you want to start catering to a clientele with more disposable income, learn to avoid these four myths about what it takes to serve them.
Myth: It’s All About Location
The old adage that real estate is all about location, location, location is only partly true. It’s also about relationships, relationships, relationships. Selling real estate is a collaborative business. You can be repping the best property in Beverly Hills or Malibu, but without a large network of colleagues to work with, it will be harder to sell. The more agent relationships you have, the more referrals you can expect. Developing relationships doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Recently, my company held an event in Silicon Valley to meet brokers with high-net-worth clients in the technology industry, a growing sector in Los Angeles. The seeds for future business relationships we planted that afternoon will yield a fine harvest down the road.
Myth: You Have to Spend Big on Print Advertising
Many luxury agents think photos of their listings need to be splayed across glossy magazines and high-end publications, or their print collateral needs to be of the finest quality. But internet advertising and referrals account for a vastly higher amount of sales than print. Where there may be some value in print advertising, it becomes less so as the digital world expands. Creating a strong website that resonates with your target audience and drives the right traffic is a much bigger benefit. This requires the right content and excellent SEO. If you cannot do this yourself, then invest in a good web marketing team. Determine your digital goals and spend some time talking with several firms about what they’re doing. As you develop your marketing plan, you will want to determine your target audience. For my company, Westside Estate Agency, that means understanding affluent millennials and baby boomers in the technology and entertainment industries along with where those industries intersect. You will see this reflected on our website.
Myth: You Need to Hire Francis Ford Coppola to Shoot Your Video
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a well-crafted video is priceless. While it’s true the real estate industry depends heavily on big-production video to market luxury homes and estates, smart marketers can create lower-cost video to sell themselves. The first step of selling to any buyer — no matter their price range — is developing trust. So it makes sense to use short video clips of you discussing topics of interest to the buyer. There is no reason to initiate a Hollywood production to create personal videos to share with target clients. High-quality video can be easily shot and edited on an iPhone, and then used as a marketing asset in a variety of ways to reach and influence your target buyer.
Myth: Your Company Is Your Brand
You are your brand and no one else. A brand is a promise, and your company doesn’t make promises — you do. As you develop your marketing plan to create relationships and referrals, it’s wise to incorporate the key values and attributes high-net-worth individuals covet. By doing this, you become a brand that can be trusted because you took the time to know your customer. Key values and attributes for marketing to the wealthy include:
- Intelligence: Focus and expertise in the luxury real estate market in your locale, coupled with experience working with high-value transactions, is essential. A plus here is an understanding of other areas where luxury homes are premium investments; the rich often own two or more homes.
- Efficiency: Being able to use technology to crunch numbers and smooth the purchase process is paramount to gaining their trust. High-net-worth individuals are often business leaders who rely on technology and data to be successful in business. You need to be fluent in the latest tech terms and methods.
- Service: A high-touch service tailored to your client’s customs and expectations. Despite our heavy dependence on data, a human touch is what makes the difference. Cultural and social cues and behaviors may be crucial for the right chemistry. Make sure each client is made to feel unique, and match your team members carefully with each buyer.
- Discretion: High-income clients demand privacy and, increasingly, may be reticent about their wealth and acquisitions. Think twice before speaking about them in public.
- Integrity: Be the person they trust with their investment, family, security, and business matters.
For the most part, these attributes should be applied by any and all successful real estate brokers but are especially crucial for creating meaningful relationships with wealthy buyers. Having a solid plan, knowing where to allocate your budget, and focusing on nurturing relationships and referrals will go far to help you close luxury sales.