(This is Part 1 of a three-part series. Read Part 2 and Part 3.)

What does it take to market a $20 million property? How would you market a $135 million listing?

(This is Part 1 of a three-part series. Read Part 2 and Part 3.)

What does it take to market a $20 million property? How would you market a $135 million listing? Panelists at the recent Inman News Connect High Net conference in Miami shared what it takes to market to the wealthiest buyers in the world. Surprisingly, many of the same strategies work at virtually all price points.

To sell to the luxury buyer, you must tap into the buyer’s “culture code.” This code varies from country to country. According to Jurgen Klaric, CEO of Mindcode International, “Forget about location. Marketing to the ultrawealthy is all about niche marketing and appealing to the factors that anchor luxury in the buyer’s country.” Clotaire Rapaille, a marketing consultant to numerous Fortune 100 companies, also emphasizes the importance of being “on code” when you work with buyers and sellers. Rapaille’s new book, “The Culture Code,” identifies what’s on code for Americans. Klaric’s work addresses what matters to people from other cultures.

Both men believe that the reptilian brain, rather than the cortex, regulates the buying process. The cortex handles logical thinking. The reptilian brain is located in the brain stem and cares almost exclusively about its creature comforts. You can experience the power of the reptilian brain at any buffet table. While the cortex says, “You’re supposed to be dieting!” you load up your plate and then go back for seconds. As Rapaille puts it, “The reptilian always wins.” In other words, the brain’s desire for food, comfort and other primal triggers outweighs logic. This same pattern also applies to real estate. The logical part of our brain may tell us that a particular property is not in a great location, it has street noise, and it’s going to take a considerable amount of money to repair. “You shouldn’t buy this,” your cortex screams. You write the offer anyway because “there’s something about this house that I love.”

Thus, to successfully market to the luxury buyer, or to any buyer for that matter, you must be on code. What are the codes for luxury? Rapaille’s clients spend $200,000 per day to consult with him about this issue. Based upon his work, here are a few of the key anchors for the ultrawealthy:

1. Safety matters

In American society, safety is a huge issue. A primary concern for the ultrawealthy is protecting both their families and their assets. They do not want the properties listed on the Multiple Listing Service; they do not want a virtual tour that shows the art in their homes; and they definitely do not want unqualified buyers viewing their property.

2. Being bigger and more dominant matters

According to Rapaille, the reptilian brain wants to feel dominant. Consequently, the ultraluxury buyer normally wants the house on the hill or something else that says, “I’m the biggest and I’m the best.”

3. Appealing to the five senses matters

Our decision to purchase almost any product is tied to all five senses. When showing an estate, find out what the buyers’ favorite type of music is prior to the showing and have that music playing in every room. Make sure the temperature is comfortable and if it’s cold, light a fire in the fireplace. On a hot day, have lemonade or other cold drinks available. During the winter, you may want to offer the buyer’s favorite type of coffee or hot chocolate. Make sure the room is comfortable and that there are plenty of pillows that invite the buyer to sit down and relax.

Of all the senses, however, scent may be the most powerful. In a recent study, researchers formulating a new perfume discovered that the most attractive scent to men was cinnamon rolls. Consequently, it may be smart to pop some frozen cinnamon rolls into the oven on 150 degrees to spread the aroma without ever cooking them completely.

Another approach involves giving clients a true luxury experience. As one luxury agent put it, “Don’t talk about how luxurious it is. Let them experience it first hand. Serve them caviar and champagne poolside and then seal the deal with chocolate.”

4. Other early anchors

Additional early anchors include fresh flowers on the table, white linen tablecloths, and live music playing in the background while dining.

While these strategies work well for the luxury buyer, they’re equally important to buyers in all price ranges. All buyers want to feel special. Ask them what matters to them and to their children. Stop for hot chocolate and coffee on a cold day or when it’s hot, have cold drinks and snacks in a cooler. When it comes to luxury, what you say is not nearly as important as the experience that you provide.

To learn more about luxury codes, see next week’s article.

Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.

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