Think Like a Luxury Brand
Whether you are actually running a luxury product business, B2B or serving some decidedly not-luxury market, you can be a more powerful communicator by adapting a luxury brand mindset. Luxury brand marketing is quite different from the marketing you normally learn because luxury products don’t compare themselves. And neither should you.
My first exposure to getting under the hood of a luxury brand happened 15 years ago when my Neatsmart sister worked for Cartier eyewear. She mesmerized us with her insider stories of “building the brand” and “protecting the brand.” How they destroyed out-of-season eye glass frames rather than sell them at a discount or give them to the needy. For me, it was a bit like having your sister work as Ryan Gosling’s personal assistant. Such was the intoxication of the Cartier brand for me….someone who had never owned anything by that brand in my life, but had seen their cool panther ads like since forever.
Cartier. Chanel. Crockpot. Ooops. Didn’t you just cringe a bit with the one that doesn’t belong?
Sigh. When you buy luxury goods and experiences, what you’re paying for a feeling — an intangible. Managing that feeling for clients and fans is what luxury brand management is about.
Let’s borrow some tricks from the luxury trade to add some of that ooh la la feeling into the way you interact (aka “communicate”) with people.
Luxury products are not comparative.
You can buy a scarf from any place, but only Hermes delivers that Hermes feeling that comes from its packaging, advertising, store layout, design and silk quality. Wear your Hermes scarf with your t-shirt from Target and feel Parisian chic.
Owners of BMW cars are so loyal most of their production is bought by current owners of their cars who are simply buying a newer model. The president of BMW – USA sees his job as making sure 18-year-olds in America dream of owning a BMW when they can afford it – the company is not focused on gaining market share on Volkswagen.
It’s hard not to be bothered when your potential clients have the audacity to choose something else. Just this morning a friend reported to me that a local company that would be a great Mixonian client…. uses another communication skills training company. My highly-evolved response was…Blech! How could they! Traitors.
Yet no one does what I do the way I do it. Same goes for you. The essence of luxury is being unique. There is a special portfolio of personality, talent, obsessions and desires that comes only from you.
Luxury Brand Mantra #1: No one does what I do, the way I do it. Ever.
(Make sure you say “ever” when repeating this mantra.)
Luxury products are not perfect. Just ask any previous or current owner of a Jaguar car or Rolex watch.
Luxury is excellence, but not perfection. Flaws are part of the charm. So when the shizzle hits the fan and mistakes and mishaps show up, remember luxury must have personality and character … and flaws. Just like you.
In fact, errors are great opportunities to deepen your connection to a client. I was treated so well after a significant (for me) greeting card order was lost that I went from meh fan, to stark raving mad fanatic after they more than made up for the lost package…which probably wasn’t even their fault to begin with.
Flaws result in emotions. Emotional connection is at the heart of a luxury following.
Luxury Brand Mantra #2: I am loaded with personality and character; perfection isn’t the game plan.
Any particular luxury brand, with all its personality, is not for everyone. One person might splurge on a Tiffany watch but wear Target undies and another wear a Target watch and Chantal Thomass lingerie. (When panties cost $200, we don’t call them “undies.”)
Whatever you offer, it’s not for everyone. Rejoice! If you apply for a job and they don’t hire you, that’s excellent news as your talent is better off elsewhere.
Not everybody has to be in your fan club.
Luxury Brand Mantra #3: I don’t sell; I invite people.
If someone turns down an invitation to buy from you, to hire you or attend your party, that’s more than fine. You are not here to please everyone.
A good luxury brand trains its people to treat all their fans well, even the ones who can’t afford (yet) to be clients. In a recent trip to Paris I visited one such luxury store and I can tell you Mixonian Institute needs to sell A LOT more workshops before I start wearing Gucci clothes. Undeterred, I sauntered into the Gucci store on Champs Elysee just to take a peek at the lovelies. They treated me beautifully. [Even so I could not bring myself to pay $700 for a Gucci t-shirt.]
You may not have Arab princesses or the Mark Zuckerbergs buying from you but with a luxury brand mindset, your confidence shines….like a Cartier diamond ring.
Very nice piece. Thank you. During my many years working in International Sales and Marketing for LVMH, I remember orders to burn millions of dollars worth of perfect merchandise after goods could not be received in Asia during a financial crisis in an effort to dilute the strength of the brand. I will add that if you take this approach for a product , make sure you have the appropriate margins in your product so that one can afford to be selective if you are selling to retailers. I have tried to adopt the luxury mindset with my brand so reading this is a nice reminder. Being patient and selective when selling product or choosing partners, may feel like you are giving up opportunities, but th.e relationships you build with clients that who find you or are “invited” to purchase the brand are usually stronger and and have more longevity.