The world of luxury, residential real estate is aside, from its economic importance, a metaphor for global communications and the power of online marketing.
For, high-end properties in Manhattan or other major U.S. cities do not have an exclusively American clientele; on the contrary, a locale like New York – with its financial reach, cultural influence, political strength and overall clout – is a destination for investors and wealthy individuals worldwide.
Appealing to this audience, with an added emphasis on prospective buyers in Mainland China, requires decorum, the right messaging and an unparalleled online presence.
These things call for customized marketing of a personal degree, both in style – with regard to the proverbial look-and-feel of a broker's website – and the content itself: Everything must speak to that professional's expertise, their wisdom and credibility; the strengths that separate them from the competition, which earn the trust of potential clients at home and abroad.
A prime example of this point involves The Simonsen Team, a division of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, led by Lisa Simonsen.
For purposes of full disclosure: StormRE, of which I am the founder, collaborates with this group. Specifically, our work with the team focuses on attracting qualified buyers, in China, for luxury properties in New York City.
But our efforts act as proof – to all executives, in all industries – that communications has many purposes; it speaks several languages, Mandarin and English included, which require a strategy with its own distinctive style and tone of voice, so to speak.
This fact has added significance in a global economy, where versatility is invaluable and influence is non-negotiable. In so many words, generic design and bland copy will not resonate with a sophisticated audience that will scrutinize a professional's credentials, examine a team's success rate and analyze each individual's approach to doing business.
With regard to China and its rapid economic ascent, customers of all interests and degrees of wealth will make their purchase decisions, in part, on what they see before what they hear.
Which is to say, the spread of information about a company is so swift – and the issuance of verdicts about a business are so final – that executives cannot afford the convenience of complacency; the freedom to ignore their online reputation, or dismiss the need to generate favorable conversation about their brand.
This investment in marketing and branding is just that: An investment in the one thing – the first thing – that either separates a business from its peers, or has it succumb to (and be subsumed by) all the white noise and “digital effluvia” of the web. Either a brand will stand up – and stand out – or it will not succeed, period.
Communicating to Your Audience by Knowing Your Audience: Respect and Diplomacy
If there is a takeaway theme to this discussion, a universal rule that applies to any executive or industry, it is this: Know your audience; reserve the time to identify their interests and expectations, so you can appeal to them with reason and passion.
Reconciling these two forces is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one provided a business avoids blandness and corporate jargon for something compelling – which is also verifiable, in terms of transactions, sales or revenues. In this case, an effective website does two things: One, it has (as mentioned above) its own voice. That voice need not be overly promotional or self-congratulatory – it should be the exact opposite – but it must be clear and convincing.
And secondly, that voice – its actual choice of words, and its symbolic representation through web design and development – must be respectful and diplomatic. Put another way, we live in a global economy that is local in its customs and folkways. A business must acknowledge that fact, and a company must accept this reality.
Where that business depends on personal relationships and face-to-face meetings, of which the real estate industry is the most obvious illustration, communications is the foundation of all subsequent activity between a broker and a potential client.
But the principle is just as relevant to any and all executives because deeds are the subject of praise, and words are the means to reinforce the quality of actions performed by a business. Show us what you can do or what you have done, but also tell us why you – and only you – can do a job so well.
Adopting these guidelines is a plan for success, both off- and online. From there, prosperity is more attainable and sales are more achievable.
Welcome to the new era of marketing.
Odd Einar is the President of StormRE, an award-winning real estate marketing firm.