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From the 1960s through the 1990s, American Express contracted the famous advertising firm Ogilvy — then known as Ogilvy & Mather — to raise the company’s public profile. This resulted in acclaimed campaigns like “Do You Know Me” and “Portraits,” which showed some of the most respected figures of the day living their best lives with the eponymous credit card.
So, how does this relate to luxury real estate?
- When it comes to marketing high-end homes, it pays to think like an ad firm. That means knowing your target audience, using themes they’ll understand, and finding ways to creatively defy convention.
- Popular culture moments, iconic personalities, widely publicized memes and cutting-edge trends all provide potential tie-ins that can make your listings more interesting and relatable to prospective buyers.
I’ve always had a passion for marketing. In fact, I was a teenager when I started my own digital marketing company, and I continue to consult in this space to this day. I love thinking of innovative ways to improve my listings and keep my audience engaged, and popular culture can be a powerful tool to accomplish both. Here are three tactics to keep in mind.
1. Be a connoisseur of culture, both past and present
The summer cottage of a celebrated statesman. The apartment of a notable modern art patron. The neighborhood where a significant film scene was shot. With a little digging through the archives of art, culture, media and entertainment, it’s possible to surface all sorts of connections that will pique the curiosity of would-be clients.
Luxury agents have been doing this for decades, and being an avid consumer of culture can prove extremely helpful when it comes to enhancing listings with relevant references. My lifelong love of art and my academic foundation in history enable me to be fluent in the language of my luxury buyers.
But of course, not all properties can constellate with the stars — especially if they’re relatively recent. That’s why it’s not only necessary to track who and what was trending yesterday, but also to know the trends of today and tomorrow. Follow diverse social media accounts and content creators to keep your finger on the pulse of what people are talking about. You never know what might inspire your next incredible marketing idea.
2. Start with your target audience and work backward
Depending on their locations, features and amenities, different homes appeal to different demographics — so what kinds of pop culture tie-ins appeal to your listing’s likely buyers?
While it might not be what comes to mind when you think of “pop culture,” highly educated and older consumers may be excited by a historical anecdote related to the area — whether it’s the birthplace of an eminent magnate or the site of a notorious battle. Or, they may be fascinated by the aesthetic or architectural lineage of the property; who designed it, and what movements they were affiliated with.
But for younger buyers, a potential pop culture tie-in could be anything that’s grabbing headlines and generating buzz at the moment. For example, my familiarity with business and technology allowed me to follow Bitcoin’s rise to prominence — and not only was I able to leverage this into a viral marketing campaign, but I was among the first agents in my area to facilitate sales with cryptocurrency.
3. Create campaigns that succeed across all channels
In the marketing parlance of the present, omnichannel is the term du jour, and rightly so. Essentially, an omnichannel approach means that your audience enjoys a single continuous experience with your brand or listing, no matter how they choose to engage.
For instance, they may initially notice a post about your property on TikTok or YouTube, then click directly into your Instagram to view photos or a story, then follow the link to the listing to read the description, watch the video, and take a virtual tour. When they’re finished, your contact info is readily available — all they need to do is tap their smartphone.
A smart pop culture connection can serve as a compelling hook. But remember — the journey follows different paths for different prospective buyers, so make sure you’re crafting a consistent narrative for all posts and platforms.
4. Even in a challenging market, creativity will always win
My final piece of advice: read up on the history and science of advertising. As luxury agents, we stand to learn a lot from luminaries of the ad world like the previously mentioned David Ogilvy. He was known for meticulously studying the preferences and desires of his audience, and then using his knowledge of trends to produce novel, sophisticated campaigns that surprised and delighted them — while respecting their intelligence.
There’s huge value in this because even the most luxurious listings can lose their luster when presented in a generic way. By cleverly pushing the boundaries and leveraging historical and contemporary culture, agents can elevate the properties they represent, garner a greater response from potential buyers, and provide a superior experience to everyone who engages with their content.
Michael Kelczewski brings a passion for art, architecture, and horticulture, as well as proficiency in digital marketing, to his growing real estate practice. A dynamic buyers’ and sellers’ agent in Delaware. Michael combines energy, drive, and local area knowledge to skillfully navigate transactions for his clients.