Gunfire, hard rhythms, gritty lyrics and opulent lifestyles are all part of mainstream rap music, and, with an eye to the fourth element, a South Florida Realtor is using a rap song as a marketing technique.
Miami Beach Realtor Phyllis D. Huguenin is spotlighting two South Florida luxury condo developments, Aqua, where she has sold two units, and Setai, a development she presents to many of her customers, via two rap songs she posted on her blog and on MySpace.com last week.
In one song, she says, “It’s an oasis of tranquility … get lost in serenity. Come on, buy with me. Don’t miss this opportunity,” while her “dawgs” chant, “Don’t be shy. Come on and buy.”
With real estate agents using innovative marketing techniques involving popular cultural phenomena such as blogs and podcasts, Huguenin said she felt rap music was a logical step. The controversial musical genre is becoming increasingly mainstream, with a rap song scoring an Oscar and rap music appearing in commercials for goods such as cell phones and sneakers.
“I’ve been listening to commercials and the Toyota and Ford car companies are using rap music in their advertisements,” Huguenin, a former performance artist and New York University graduate, said. “There’s one commercial, ‘Ride it like a Ford, ride it like a Ford.’ So I thought, why not apply this to real estate? We have to be cutting edge. It’s the 21st century.”
Though the songs only went up last week, Huguenin said she has gotten good responses from a number of people, including Realtor Kendra Todd, winner of real estate billionaire Donald Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice” in its third season.
“I gave her a CD of the songs Sunday – she was in Miami Beach for the Sixth Annual Real Estate Expo – and she said, ‘What a great idea,'” said Huguenin. She said her song is getting some attention on real estate blogs, including Grow-a-Brain, a blog by California real estate agent Hanan Levin that’s well known among the blogging community.
Huguenin, an agent at FX Realty in Miami Beach who until recently had a column in the Palm Beach Post, wrote the lyrics for the song herself.
“I knew what I liked about the places and what I pointed out when I showed people,” Huguenin said. She worked with a radio producer and then a rap producer to record the song. Though she wouldn’t give an actual number, the Realtor indicated that creating the song cost in the thousands of dollars.
“It took about four months to get this together,” she said. “The actual doing of it was short when we finally got it together.” It only took about four hours to do the recording, Huguenin said.
The Realtor sees her raps as a natural outgrowth of the innovative marketing some agents have embraced over the last few years.
By 2004, many real estate agents had built blogs, using them to reach out to consumers and catch some attention from search engines. By now, such blogs have proliferated, with Curbed.com (launched in 2004), the aforementioned Grow-a-Brain (launched in 2003) and others netting attention for their authors.
Also, interest in podcasting is spreading in the real estate and other industries. Real estate agents including Zahara Mossman of Miami Beach, Fla., and Ira Serkes of Berkeley, Calif., are making podcasts to advertise their properties and themselves. In January of this year, podcast video tours such as those of Bruce Kink in Woodland, Texas, came on the scene.
“It seems as if rap is penetrating into the mainstream and I wanted to take advantage of that,” Huguenin said.
“It’s a smart move,” said Dave “Davey D” Cook, a Northern California radio host and veteran hip-hop commentator, of Huguenin’s song. “She’s smart in trying to find a niche and not ignoring potential clients.
“The first move in marketing is to know your audience. The better you know the audience, the better you’ll be in reaching them. It’s not just doing a rap song. It’s the nuance and subtleties. On the surface it may be a rap song, but maybe there’s something else there that’s supposed to strike a chord that the average person might not realize but may be very effective to the people receiving it.”
A spokeswoman for the Florida Association of Realtors also applauded Huguenin’s approach.
“We support our members any time they get creative in their marketing and promotional activities,” said FAR’s Marla Martin. “We do have very creative Realtors. They know how to make themselves stand out from the crowd.”
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