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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Marketing Master

My broker spent big bucks on a Marketing Masters program in conjunction with our new promotional partner. The idea was that he would learn how to maximize his advertising dollars and achieve more results with less effort through highly targeted, finely crafted advertising pieces. Hey! Less effort, who's not for that? But because he goes one hundred miles an hour and can't sit through the 90+ minute teleconference calls, the other assistant, another agent, and I get to enjoy the sometime twice weekly fun.

Oh, yes, it really is fun. We discovered after a few calls that the microphone on our speakerphone prevents us from being heard unless we scream real loud right into the thing. Which we don't do. Instead, we follow along with the emailed handouts, dutifully fill in the blanks, make notes as instructed in the margins, circle important key concepts, and mock the proceedings.

In the beginning I was open to the idea of learning some successful marketing techniques. Then the lessons started. Anyone who has read either of Paul Fussell's books Bad Or, The Dumbing of America, or Class: A Guide Through the American Status System will understand what's got me ticked off:

First of all, the term "Luxury." It gets thrown around an awful lot. If you are targeting the real high end clients, this is not going to impress them. The real upper-enders can certainly afford a luxurious lifestyle, but they are discreet about it. My broker has a house coming up for sale priced at $16 million, or $18 million if you want the furnishings. They're pretty nice furnishings. In spite of the market slowing a bit, we are not going to advertise this house one single bit, in fact, it won't even be listed, because the people who can appreciate it and afford it do not want its fabulosity splashed all over the place. Word will get around that it's available and that's enough. If you want to see it, be prepared to write a hefty check as a guarantee that you are serious and qualified before you put one foot on the property. If we followed the advice of our Marketing Master we would be taking out full page ads in specialty magazines, writing verbose, sappy stories about how you know you have really arrived when you travel the elegant, winding tree-lined drive and enter the grand gates of your fine, exquisite blah, blah, blah.


If however, you are targeting the wannabe market, well, now we're talking. "Luxury This" and "Exclusive That" will always impress the pretenders and the poseurs, which in all fairness is a sizeable chunk of the market, and their money is as green as anyone else's, but don't hold yourself out as an expert on selling to the upper end. Be honest, admit you're selling to the nouveau riche, don't be ashamed. Highfalutin yes, sophisticated no.

Other things we have learned:

-- Pictures are not important, use more words, say the same things over and over, repeat yourself, then say it again, one more time, and add a P.S. to reiterate your point (because nobody can ignore a P.S.), change TYPE styles often, and use loads of exclamation points!!!

-- Do not use big words. You will confuse your prospects. Follow USA Today's lead and write at about a fourth grade reading level.

-- How to trick people into opening your mail (use unusually sized envelopes, handwrite addresses or if that is too expensive, use a font that mimics handwriting, include crappy promotional giveaways or 'chunky mail.' Of course they will list their property or buy a house from you, YOU JUST GAVE THEM A PENCIL!)

-- How to trick people into replying to an ad (create a cheesy SPECIAL FREE REPORT YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT! YOU WON'T EVEN HAVE TO TALK TO ANYONE!! then capture their phone number/email address and start sending them unsolicited junk mail.

-- Create ads that look real newspaper articles. Yeah, more trickery.

Their materials look like weight loss advertisements in Parade Magazine.

The most amazing marketing has been done by the woman who leads our teleconference calls. She is the master of self promotion.

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