Luxury property demands superior marketing – Michael LaFido

Michael LaFido is a top-producing luxury Realtor based in Chicago.  He is now the author of 3 books about marketing and selling luxury property.  Michael explains the importance of superior marketing when positioning a home for sale versus “traditional marketing” methods.
Kevin:   Michael LaFido is a top producing luxury realtor based in Chicago. I had the pleasure of meeting Michael in New York recently and have read his book about marketing and selling luxury property. In fact, I’ve got it here with me right now. Michael clearly demonstrates the importance of superior marketing when positioning a home for sale versus the traditional form of marketing. Michael is the founder of the Marketing Luxury Group and as I said, is the author of a book called Marketing Luxury and the best-selling book, Cracking the Real Estate Code, which I haven’t read, but no doubt I will at some stage in the future. Good day, Michael. How are you?
Michael:   Hey, very good. Very good. We also have the book that I gave you called Luxury Listing Specialist.
Kevin:   Yeah. Oh, okay. There’s three of them. I thought Luxury Listing was … Oh, I see. Yes. Yes. Luxury Listing Specialist. Yeah. Fantastic. Well, welcome to the show. Great to catch up again. It was nice to see you in New York.
Michael:   Yeah. It was great to meet you and I love what you guys are doing.
Kevin:   Thank you very much. Hey, how has marketing a property changed in the last decade, Michael?
Michael:   That’s a great question. With the shows and the state’s Million Dollar Agent, and all these other TV shows, really sellers expectation of what an agent is going to do to market their home, the bar has been raised, which is a good thing. I believe the bar has been low. There’s a lot of traditional real estate agents that sell high end and luxury homes by traditional, I mean they’re inside the box, or maybe a little bit older in age, and they don’t adapt to technology. Video is one thing that marketing … Many agents are incorporating video now to market these high end and unique properties that in years past, perhaps was only for that really amazing property that’s multimillion dollars, etc. Now, the bar has been raised where many sellers are expecting it on other price point homes.
Kevin:   It’s interesting when we talk about video and I want to stay on this just for a minute, because I think a lot of agents think that producing the video is about displaying their own personality, when it really should be about displaying the personality of the property.
Michael:   Yes. Yes. Absolutely. It’s not about the agent.
Kevin:   That’s right.
Michael:   It’s about the property. It’s about the lifestyle you’re going to get from purchasing the property and all the amenities around the home. That’s really where the best agents know how to articulate and know how to focus and really pinpoint those best features and really downplay the least favourable features of a home. Sometimes you can show too many photos and too much video of parts of a home or part of a location that you really shouldn’t be accentuating.
Kevin:   Yeah. Let’s talk about the skills of an agent. When a seller is looking to employ a broker or an agent, they’re very good at selling themselves for a start, but what should a seller look for in a good marketing agent?
Michael:   Yeah. A great marketing agent does several things. First off, they’re well connected within the real estate world, right? You never know who your next buyer would come from and so you want to interview agents that are well respected and well connected and they have a track record of selling similar homes as to yours, as to whoever is doing the interview. The seller should also ask them, “Are they a team? Are they individual agents?” That sort of thing. Because many times, there’s an old adage, jack of all trades, master of none, and there are some agents that do everything, but if they’re doing everything, they can’t focus on selling your home.
Kevin:   What are the important elements of a successful marketing campaign, Michael?
Michael:   Well, every property should be looked at as a unique product. Let me give you an example. You can’t open up a franchise like McDonald’s or one of these other franchises that have global franchise opportunities without following a system. So top agents have systems in place. Top agents have a marketing system in place. However, they also have the ability to adapt and customise and make this one of a kind marketing plans for your property because every property is unique unless it’s in a cookie cutter neighbourhood, in a subdivision and the same homes are all around you. Every property has got unique features, and so an agent needs to have a proven system but also the flexibility to adapt that marketing campaign around that property, accentuating the best features of that home and that property.
Kevin:   That’s such a great point, because many times, we’re actually challenged with the opportunity of marketing a property in a cookie cutter type environment where all the houses are the same, but every one does have its own unique offering, I guess. Can I take you in another direction, Michael? In your book Luxury Listing Specialist, you talk about proactive selling. What is that?
Michael:   Yeah. First off, proactive selling is defined as basically not waiting around, not doing the same thing as everyone else. Proactive selling is basically addressing any … I like to use the term elephants in the room. Is there anything that’s very unique that needs to be addressed before selling your home? I.e. deferred maintenance perhaps, wear and tear, cosmetic, landscaping, curb appeal, things that will show up in photos or show up during showings. Proactive selling is basically taking potential objections off the table to help get the property sold. That’s proactive selling versus reactive selling.
Michael:   Reactive selling is, “Hey, yeah. The carpeting needs to be replaced or this needs to be fixed,” or that sort of thing, but we’re not going to address it unless somebody brings it up. Well, if it’s so obvious, you need to address it. That’s one example of proactive selling. The other example of proactive selling would be warranties and taking care of everything. When I’m dealing with a seller, I like to get all of our ducks in a row. I like to get all the receipts, all the warranties, everything that has been done to the home, i.e. brand new roof or furnace or heater or boiler, whatever it might be. Get all the paper work and have that ready for both the buyer and their agent because you want to serve everything on a silver platter to both the buyer and the agent to make the process, to make the experience of buying your home more enjoyable, almost like VIP service because many times, the agent will steer or push a buyer towards the home where everything is nicely done for them and made their job easy.
Kevin:   Yeah. I’m also fascinated with your term of event-based marketing. Can we just talk about that for a moment? What is that?
Michael:   Yeah. Events-based marketing is when you are marketing a home or when I’m marketing a home as an agent or coaching an agent, we want agents to deploy event-based marketing as part of their marketing campaign. Event-based marking is basically inviting, targeting high network individuals or potential buyers or key influential people, inviting them to some kind of gathering at the property. Now, many real estate agents have open houses for other real estate agents. That’s not what I’m referring to. That’s pretty boring. That’s what everybody else does. I’m referring to some kind of VIP type of event where you’re bringing in nonprofit, bringing in food, bringing in music, bringing in some kind of personality, whether it be a chef, whether it be a celebrity, and giving VIP royal treatment to everybody and remembering that the power is in the invite because many people won’t be able to attend the event because of conflicts, that sort of thing. However, they’ll remember the property and the home will be top of mind awareness in case they know of anybody looking to buy a home in that particular market.
Kevin:   Yeah. It’s such a great point. Let’s round this out talking about social media. Social media, do you see it playing a more important role in marketing? Do you employ it?
Michael:   Oh, yeah. Social media is huge. With different avenues, you can target your audience. Not to try to confuse anybody here, but you can basically … For example, on Facebook, you can create what’s called custom audiences. Let’s just say there’s 198 people that you want to target. You can create an ad, and you could tell Facebook in this example, “Hey, I only want this ad to show up on these 198 people’s Facebook pages.” Now, your top of mind awareness and your cost per ad goes way down, but now you’re specific. Your message could be more specific to your audience versus the old put an ad out there and hope it goes to the right audience.
Kevin:   Yeah. catter gun. Yeah. Hey, Michael. We are out of time. It’s been a delight talking to you again. I’d love to have you back in the show. I want to talk to you about publicity and media releases and so many other things too, but we’ll make another date for that. Michael, thanks again for your time. The website to reach Michael and his team is and what’s the email address, Michael?
Michael:   Yeah. The email address is just Michael,
Kevin:   Wonderful. Great talking to you, Michael LaFido. Thank you very much for your time.
Michael:   Appreciate it. You’re welcome.

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