Tag : luxury-real-estate

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179: How to Build a Brand When Your Auctions Vary Greatly in Value

This is the second of two posts about advertising strategies from resort areas. (Here’s the first one.)

I had about an hour to kill before a meeting with an auctioneer in Camps Bay, a bustling community wedged between the mountains and the ocean at the southernmost tip of Africa. So, I did what I normally do in vacation destinations: I stopped by a few real estate offices to look at their advertising.

Every listing there was significantly more expensive than my house back in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but there was a wide range of prices—from $500,000 to $15,000,000. Despite that disparity, there wasn’t a wide range of design from one listing’s advertising to the next or even from one agency’s materials to the next.

Varied AssetsThe homogenous feel matched what I’ve seen in other resort or urban destinations but stood in stark contrast to what I’ve seen in the auction community.

Most auction companies book deals with a great disparity of values. And not just in real estate. Estates, business liquidations, and farm packages come in all shapes and sizes. So do their advertising campaigns.

Part of that makes sense, right? When a budget scales, why shouldn’t everything in the campaign get bigger and more expensive?

The answer to that question depends on what you’re trying to say to potential buyers and future sellers.

Uniformity makes your smaller listings look more valuable.

“Yeah, it’s easy when it’s luxury real estate,” you counter. First, tell that to a luxury asset broker. Second, proportions work regardless of the number of decimal places in the price. In Camps Bay, the top and bottom properties were separated by a factor of thirty. That means you can use this homogenous model, if you sell estates that range in value from $5,000 to $150,000 or farm equipment from $15,000 to $450,000 or real estate from $50,000 to $1,500,000.

Your biggest auctions won’t look shoddy, if they follow the consistent minimalism leveraged by premium global brands. Quite the contrary. Your small and medium auctions’ assets will look more valuable by association with your halo projects. That won’t go unnoticed by potential sellers of future small and medium auctions.

Trust a succinct first impression.

All advertising media apart from our website—our marketplace—should be treated as first impressions. It’s easier to have a premium and consistent advertising presence, when you simplify all advertising to the most intrinsic sales pitch and no more than a handful of supporting images.

Driving people to your website allows you to better track advertising response rates. After consistently collecting traffic data and comparing it to sales data, you’ll be better able to reach bidders and buyers and predict outcomes for future auctions—all because you forced yourself to say and show less with your first impressions. (One of my clients can predict within 5% the quantity of registered bidders his auctions will have based on Google Analytics the morning of his simulcast auctions.)

Consistency builds your brand more efficiently than fluctuation does.

If your brand’s impressions are inconsistent, the consumer either doesn’t connect current media to past ones they’ve seen; or they connect your brand with inconsistent asset values. So, that farmer on your mailing list who gets three different size postcards and two different-size brochures from you will wonder how you’d choose to advertise his assets, when it’s his turn to sell.

Also, buyers will assume the stuff crammed into small print media must not be valuable. Rather than send mail (or place newsprint ads) of different sizes or templates, distribute the exact same media layouts for every auction but to varying quantities of people (or different quantities of publication placements). Use Facebook’s Audience and Lookalike Audience tools to hit the folks you had to trim from direct mail.

Your advertising can grow cheaper.

If all your media requires just a few copy-and-pastes and a couple photo swaps, your pieces will become much cheaper to build. If in-house staff create your media, this saves you hourly wages and/or frees that staff to handle a wider bandwidth of projects. If you outsource, efficiency empowers you to negotiate lower design charges. You can spend that cost savings on professional photography or larger mailings or bigger Facebook audiences.

One of the reasons huge corporations overshadow small companies in advertising is that their wide reach forces them to simplify to consistent impressions. Simplification isn’t patented by big companies or luxury brands, and consistency doesn’t have to be expensive. If you want to grow your auction business or have more deals from which to choose, why not adopt some of that restraint?

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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Auction Advertising Tips from the World’s Best Beach

This is the first of two posts about advertising strategies from resort areas.

Turks & Caicos Beaches

I’m writing this post next to a pool at a resort where suites can cost more than $1,100/night. We didn’t stay here. The front desk clerk made an exception for us to chill by the pool, while we waited for our flight home. The fact of the matter: most of Grace Bay Beach is too rich for my blood, definitely for my budget.

As expected, Sotheby’s International Realty has an office here. Almost all of their Turks & Caicos listings have two commas in the price. (Their current halo property on the island is listed at $45 million.) For properties like those in premium locations like this, there’s a lot you could say—headlines and bullet points for days. In a wall rack full of tantalizing property brochures, though, there were none. No headlines. Every brochure cover looked identical, save for a different image, property name, and location.

No. Other. Details.

I was in the agency’s office probably fewer than ten seconds, including the time it took to choose and pull the property brochure that appealed most to me. I made that choice in much less time than someone who is actually shopping for a house here would spend, but the sorting process works the same.

I don’t need a headline, if that picture doesn’t grab me. If that beautifully-photographed house isn’t where I want to live, it doesn’t matter what kind of kitchen it has or how many acres come with it.

Sothebys Brochure in HandSotheby’s and its agents don’t sell the kind of assets you need to be convinced are valuable. They trust that their clientele knows what they want when they see it.

That’s true, whether the asset is a $3,600,000 home or a rental house, a $350,000 combine or a twenty-year-old manure spreader, Marilyn Monroe’s $4,800,000 dress or a collection of Beanie Babies. While consumers might have to be convinced of a price point, they already know whether something appeals to them or not.

Most small business marketers, especially auctioneers, don’t trust their photos to sell the assets at hand. If they did, we designers in the industry wouldn’t be using 6pt and 8pt type on direct mail for text that should be on our clients’ websites. If photos were appropriately valued, I’d get more professionally-shot images for the job orders that come with “we’d like this to be an award-winner.”

Sothebys Instagram

Interestingly enough, when I was on Instagram the day after I grabbed this brochure, this is the listing that showed in the ad—even though I didn’t visit their website.

No matter what the rent is where you live and for what you sell, the lessons for all of us from a brochure rack in the Caribbean include:

• Use large, singular images for first impressions.

• Include minimal text on those panels.

• Relegate text to the edges of images or in adjoining frames.

• Understated fonts and layouts communicate premium value.

I flashed the brochure to my wife as we walked toward the pool. After a quick glance she said, “You don’t have to say much when you have pictures like that.”

“No. No, you don’t,” I answered. And neither do you.

Feature image from Sotheby’s listing page for this property.