How To Get Out Of The Doldrums: The Value of Smile Landmarks!


We have learned over the years of owning our various businesses, that feeling good every day, and especially in business is very important.  As a matter of fact, we wake up daily with the mantra, "nothing is more important than we feel good!"  We learned this mantra from a very good friend. When we feel good, everything aligns and a myriad of doors open for us.  Our senses are heightened and we can distinguish the wheat from the chaff.  We are quick at making the right decision.  

We are often asked how do we get out of the doldrums, that low, tired, disappointed bank of feelings brought about by some insidious circumstance of other, like the news, the real estate deal that fell through, the friend that disappointed you. We don't allow ourselves to dwell on anything negative more than a minute or two.  Even when the two of us are in concert on something unpleasant, one or the other snaps out of it.

We distract ourselves by getting back to the present with a new conversation that makes us feel good. There is always something or someone we appreciate, or we focus on spotting something beautiful or unusual.  We call these places smile landmarks!  If you have followed our posts, you know that we love having smile landmarks. These are places that when focusing on them bring a smile to your face.  

While driving in Santa Barbara, we notice the ocean, the landscaping on the freeway. Yesterday on our way to a meeting, we noticed this adorable smile on a bright yellow car.   Some of the roads we drive on are memorable for their magnificent wisteria hedge, and in season we will take a detour to check out the blooms.  Our home has cut flowers and or orchids in every room.   We have no excuse for a sad and crabby face.  When all else fails, Quincy cat is always a source of smiles. 

Do you have smile landmarks?

The Advantages Of Getting Off Your Point Of View!



One of the most important aspects in luxury or any other type of real estate marketing is to be able to shift your point of view.  Have you ever been in a situation when you thought you were “on the same page” with your client, only to discover that you were actually a world apart?  


You were looking at and talking about the exact same set of facts, (they are seeing black and you are seeing gray) but you both were aligned to a different model of thinking that yielded alternative meanings. 


The next time you are speaking with someone who sees exactly the same set of facts that you are looking at but is coming up with a completely different interpretation, think of this graphic.  Two sides of an argument really can be right sometimes. Take the time to loosen your grip on your fixed way of viewing things and try to see things their way.


We are not suggesting that you do away with your point of view.  Instead of presenting your case and the sanctity of your point of view, we are suggesting that you open your mind to consider how the other person is seeing the same set of circumstances.


This means developing the skill of looking at things wholly from another person's point of view.  It is adopting the other person's way of looking at things and considering the situation from their side of the equation without bringing your point of view and preconceived notions and judgments into the mix.  By demonstrating your willingness to understand, the other side will be more inclined to listen to you.


The practice of shifting your point of view gives you an edge when it comes to negotiations, marketing your listings, as well as having great business and personal relationships. It also gives you the advantage of noticing the small details that bring about smiles.


Your perspective will always be there again when you come back. It doesn’t mean you have to take actions that go against your grain. At the very least your life will become richer because you have learned a “new language” of perception.


The best part of this is that you have enriched your experience and your ability to understand people.   And that shows in your conversation, in your marketing and in your demeanor!

Branding Moments: Unique To Be Unique?

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When we saw these bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, we were confused by the name.  The word "Chateau" is a French word for castle.  Smith is not necessarily a French surname, however it is possible that through immigration, there are now French Smith (s) in France. However, this wine is from Washington State. It has nothing to do with France!

The font used is Gothic implying heritage and history.  The website reveals that this is the brainchild of Charles Smith, formerly a rock band manager turned winemaker.  Chateau Smith is one of the brands, along with Eve Chardonnay, Kung Fu Girl Riesling, The Velvet Devil Merlot, Boom Boom Syrah, etc..

Here are the Winemaker's notes:  Elegant, Raspberry, Cherry, Full Bodied Columbia Valley, Washington- Elegant and nicely focused to show off its bright raspberry and cherry fruit. Lightly veiled in fine tannins, picking up white pepper and cinnamon notes on the lively finish.

We laughed at the name and moved on to look at other brands. In our ever so humble opinion, it was unique to be unique!  What do you think?

A Brilliant Branding & Marketing Lesson From Nike!

This past week at the US Tennis Open Nike debuted this video of their client, Serena Williams.  What makes it brilliant marketing is that Nike used actual home video footage of 9 year old Serena being coached by her father.  He is encouraging her to do it as if she is at the US Open. As she hits the ball as a 9 year old, the video is interspersed with cuts of her as an adult hitting the ball at the US Open.  You can hear her father's voice coaching her, "This is You at he US Open. "Good follow-through," Richard says as she smacks a ball over the net and, "Nice try!"  She has won 6 US Open titles and may win another one this coming week.

What makes it brilliant branding is a subtle difference in the way Nike marketed their taking the focus of themselves and putting the focus on their star.  It is not all about Nike, it is all about Serena.  That subtlety is what many real estate companies miss in their branding guidelines.  They forget who their focus should be on!  Instead of focusing on their brand, they would be so much more successful if they focused on their agents!

Branding Moments: A Memorable Branding Ad To Achieve Top Of Mind!


Yesterday morning, while reading the Wine Spectator magazine issue of Restaurants with the best wine cellars, Inoticed this ad that caught my attention and made me smile.  This ad cleverly illustrated that Côte du Rhône wines should be top of mind when it comes to French wine selection.

The Côtes du Rhône region is not well known among those who enjoy French wines.  Many French wine lovers associate Burgundy and Bordeaux as the best of wines produced in France.  Wines has been produced on both banks of the Rhône River region since Pre-Roman times.  

With a dash of humor by using the image of the lion, (the king of beasts) and the slogan "Be Your Own Character" it appeals to those who can think beyond the norm, and are courageous enough to venture into new experiences. 


Branding Moments: A Market For Every Taste--Bread And Butter Wine?

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In real estate whether one specializes in luxury, condos, or affordable housing, it is important to have the right brand and marketing message that your market can relate to.   Here is an example of a wine brand that demonstrates its understanding of its market.

Bread And Butter Chardonnay has its place in the "approachable wine category,"like its Aussie cousin, Yellow Tail.  An approachable wine is one that tastes good and is geared to that specific segment of the wine market who wants a good wine, without focusing on the intricacies and the nuances appreciated by wine aficionados. They also easy on the pocket book. 

From this standpoint, the name "Bread and Butter" fits perfectly.  The dictionary define Bread and Butter as: "1. a person's livelihood or main source of income, typically as earned by routine work. 2. an everyday or ordinary person or thing."

From our standpoint, the brand fits perfectly! There is a market for every taste.  Cheers!

Balancing High Tech and High Touch Part 2


In October of 2013, we wrote a post on this subject.  Almost 5 years later, we revisit the same concept of the double-edged sword of finding the balance between high tech and high touch.  High touch remains the winner

Not a day goes by without someone bringing up a new fix, a new link, a new SEO tip, or a Google change to lure leads into their website. And every day a new company pops up with some lead generation program promising leads, phrases and keywords, zip codes in order to make you rich. While some of these fixes may and do work, they do not guarantee success, or high placement on Google. This is true both in the luxury real estate and other real estate marketing segment.

The companies that offer all this stuff can outspend any real estate agent or independent agent on this planet, and they do.  And they are busy outspending each other in order to gain dominance for the same pool of buyers and potential listings.   The big box companies have also entered this game, and some of the companies are planning to go head to head with the three major aggregators.

Recently one of our friends in Los Angeles listed her magnificent estate with a high profile successful independent firm.  As we were reviewing the presentation on line, we noticed that it was difficult for us to find who the listing agent was.  What came up, when we looked up the listing by the address were the usual aggregators followed by the big box firms. The listing company was way down on the first page of our search.

Why did our friend list with an independent, when she could have had all the google juice with a big box firm and their star agents?  She was not impressed with the big box stars who strutted their stuff and their high-tech knowhow, nor their global and Hollywood connections.  

What made her sign that listing contract was the compassion and understanding of her situation that these two agents exhibited.  She knew that they had access to the same tools and contacts that any other agency has.  She felt comfortable with them as well as comforted.  She left town knowing the home was in good hands. 

We agree with the Dalai Lama’s statement, “I think technology really increased human ability. But technology cannot produce compassion.” In our experiences with high producers in the high-end market, we have found that the secret ingredient in their success was not how much they spend on tech, it was their innate compassion when working with their clients. Compassion cannot be bought or faked.  

Branding Moment: What Does Your Brand Stand For?


As a luxury real estate marketing professional, it is absolutely essential to clearly articulate your Brand Position. That is, the conceptual place you want to “own” in the minds of your target market including the benefits you what them to think about when they think of your personal or company brand.

Facebook is under siege by the media and by the governments of many countries due massive breaches of security. Facebook users have had their confidence shaken to the core as more evidence of Facebook’s disregard for user privacy is being exposed.

Meanwhile, Apple, with its $1 Trillion valuation has taken the position that their company values and stands for security and privacy. Every time Facebook or Google is called on the carpet regarding their disregard for security and privacy, Apple’s brand value, in the minds of their target market, soars.  That is an important reason that Apple’s target market is willing to pay a premium for their superb products. Embracing security and privacy as a brand position has translated handsomely to Apple’s bottom line.

What does our personal or company brand stand for? Take a stance that is juxtaposed to your competition. Own that concept and its benefits in the minds of your target market. Then watch your business soar!

Vespas Arrive At Cold Spring Tavern: Full Expression Of Bella Figura!


Cold Spring Tavern in Santa Barbara is a former stagecoach stop (now restaurant) in the Los Padres National Forest.  It is a beloved spot for food, music, and motorcycle meet ups.  This our first sighting of Vespa here.  We loved the rainbow of colors, the matching jackets and helmets.  It exemplified the concept of Bella Figura.  Here is an excerpt (from the Eyetalia Blog) that gives you the gist of the concept.

"Bella figura can mean many things, but at its core is presentation…how one looks, how one comports oneself, how one makes the best possible impression in all things. 

That such a concept is hardwired into the Italian psyche is no surprise: what else could be expected from a country that’s been creating beauty for centuries? Beauty is revered in Italy, whether expressed grandly through art and architecture, or more simply by the perfect cut of a suit."

Happy Sunday

BSM (Before Social Media): Practicing The Ancient Art Of Networking Face-to Face!


A long, long time ago, BSM (Before Social Media) there was an ancient practice known as meeting socially, in person, face-to-face. In a business context, these meetings were known as networking. It is an art form rarely practiced by luxury real estate marketing professionals today. 

But, those who proactively embrace networking can soar to top-of-mind status within their marketplace. They are able to stand apart from their competitors who have retreated and are hiding behind their digital screens waiting for business to happen to them. Agents who consistently integrate the art of networking as their dominant marketing strategy can significantly increase their visibility, their listing inventory, and their commission income.

Watch this 3 minute video case study of one of our most successful clients who has set new standards for the art of networking in luxury real estate marketing.  

Branding Moments: Finding The Uncontested Market Niche!

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If you have followed our blog, you know that we are proponents of niche marketing when it comes to having a successful real estate practice.  Regardless of how big or small the city or the marketplace is, we have successfully helped our clients find the uncontested market niche.  There is always a gap that no one is filling or has noticed.  Here is an example from the very crowded and competitive wine industry

Yesterday, we drove to Los Olivos (a small city, population 825, in the Santa Barbara County Wine area), where wine tasting stores, restaurants and specialty stores abound. There we spotted a new logo (pictured above) on one of the 25 tasting rooms that dot the two main cross streets.  We decided that we would visit them after lunch.  

Our first question was:  What is Solminer?  

Solminer means mining the sun, and the sun is part of what makes the vines grow.

What is different about Solminer, among the 25 other tasting rooms in Los Olivos, and the 200+ wineries in Santa Barbara County?

They grow grapes that come from Austria, which no one else has in this region.  Here is an excerpt from their website:

"Our personal desire is to reflect the vineyard in the wine and experiment with Austrian varietals.  Since the beginning, we thought Grüner Veltliner would do well here and soon after we discovered that the Austrian red grape, Blaufränkisch, is perfect for our climate as well. 

We've rounded things out with a bit of Muscat to create an Austrian inspired dry "Muskateller"... We also have new plantings of Riesling to add to our  sources from neighboring vineyards that we have selected for their climate, soils and sustainable growing practices. 700-900 cases are produced per year. "

This was our first taste of wine from Austrian grapes.  All four whites were exceptional.  The other differentiator was their wines are not as high in alcohol 12-13%, unlike many of the new wines which can be as high as 15%.   This is in keeping with the European style, where wine is meant to be savored and heighten the taste of the food served, instead of making one tipsy.

This is the story of Solminer's uncontested market niche.  Although we generally prefer red wines over whites, these won us over.  They would be perfect with to accompany  a cheese platter or seafood.

Like in winemaking, there are many niches in real estate.  Some are obvious (focusing on a certain type of property, waterfront, land, condo), and some are not, and some need research to find the exact parameters. This research will open your eyes and minds as to many possibilities that are available. 

Branding Moments: Do You Have An Uncontested or Underserved Market Niche?

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This business model pictured above is a perfect illustration of the concept of the uncontested or underserved market niche. Is this business model uncontested or Underserved?

When looking for an underserved or uncontested market niche, you have to spend time researching the marketplace in order to identify it.  In real estate or any other business, it means that there are very few concentrating on that segment of the market. Real estate professionals often focus on working in areas where there is plenty of competition. Their logic is simple driven by the notion that they can do a better job than the agent or business that is thriving there.

In our commercial real estate career, we assumed that there was money to be made in working the Beverly Hills triangle, because of the high lease rates and high prices for the commercial buildings. However, there was very little money to be made, because there were three dominant players who owned the marketplace. All three were excellent agents, and two of the three owned commercial buildings in what is known as the Golden Triangle. 

Trying to carve a dent in that market area was equivalent to swimming with the sharks, also known as a red ocean strategy. (This refers to a book titled Blue Ocean Strategy, “How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant”, written in 2004 by W. Chan Kim and RenéeMauborgne,two Harvard professors.} When you swim with the sharks, the competition is fierce and to remain alive you have to battle for a piece of the action.

Blue Ocean Strategy refers to finding an arena where you can thrive without major competition, and become the market leader. This led us to researching different areas of the Los Angeles Westside. We noticed that the marketplace outside of the Golden Triangle had very little professional representation with many “for lease or for sale by owner signs.” This area became our blue water market place.  Within a few years, we were known as the go to agents in that marketplace, and had our signs on every new development.  Those who tried to compete eventually gave up.   

In our opinion, “milk and” is swimming in shark infested waters.  Food delivery to busy households is an arena dominated by big players with large marketing budgets like Amazon’s Whole Foods, Kroger and Albertson’s.  Their claim to fame is that they pick up from farmers their produce and products, so they are the equivalent to shopping at the famers market, which is what they were doing in our neck of the woods where many farms and avocado ranches are located.  Eventually someone is going to fold or be acquired.

Are you swimming with the sharks or enjoying an uncontested market niche?

Who Is Your Target Market: Pigeonholes VS People?


There is a tendency in the marketing world to focus on categorizing people into pigeonholes as a shortcut in order to influence those they are marketing to. As the world’s population grows, more people are pigeonholed and pundits appear to tell you how to market to this and that group.  While this may be valuable as a construct, it is not the absolute truth regardless of what the experts say.

We subscribe to many online marketing publications, and we see some of the dopiest headlines.  Here is an example: “Millennial shoppers value compassion, customer service more than most... They tend to expect brands to be more value-conscious…” We, who are not in the millennial pigeonhole, value compassion and customer service, and it is unimaginable that anyone in any pigeonhole would not value great service or compassion. 

Another headline touted that millennial folks invented and love craft beers. Fact is that craft beers have been around a long, long, time all over the world.  This group may have popularized craft beer places but did not invent them. In our little village, we have a craft beer place that has existed before the word “millennial” was invented.  And we can assure you that we have met people with the millennial label who disliked beer of any kind.

In order to be successful in your marketing efforts, you need to focus on specifics or the core values of the people in your marketplace. Who are the people in your target market, what is important to them? What are their habits? What kind of lifestyle they have?  Do they read the newspaper and is it delivered to their door every morning?  If they do, then you better have an ad in that paper! This may be contrary to your beliefs that “print is dead”.  For them it is not.

Understanding the values of your marketplace without judgmentlabels or preconceived notions, will put you way ahead of your competition who are relying on pigeonholes.  It takes time to understand different values and adjust your thinking.  In the long run, you will have learned compassion.  And, compassion is something that is a value that is understood and appreciated by all. 


Details Make Perfection & Perfection Is Not A Detail--Part 2!


In January of 2016, we wrote a post with the same title.  As we mentioned then, the title is a quote by Leonardo da Vinci, and it is one of our favorite quotes.  Recently, we spent time in Arizona on a project.  We had booked our stay at the historical Arizona Biltmore.  Both of us had fond memories of our stays many years ago.

This hotel was designed by Albert Chase, a former student of Frank Lloyd Wrigh,t along with his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright  acting as his consultant.  They came up with the idea of creating "Biltmore" block pictured in the photo above.  This block was created from the desert sand on the site, and the different patterns are inspired by palm trees.  Frank Lloyd Wright primary tenet was that architecture should be in harmony with nature.


Even though the hotel has been remodeled to meet current building codes and added conveniences expected of a luxury resort, we are happy to report that they honored the spirit and the attention to detail that Frank Llyod Wright and Albert Chase came up with in 1929.


Even though the hotel has been remodeled to meet current building codes and added conveniences expected of a luxury resort, we are happy to report that they honored the spirit and the attention to detail that Frank Llyod Wright and Albert Chase came up with in 1929.

How does this apply to real estate? Details often complete the look and feel of the brand and its logo.  Although they may seen unimportant in the whole scheme of things, it is what makes a brand stand out.  

In our experience with creating brands for our clients, it is always that detail that makes the brand memorable.  It may be a simple as a font, a color, or photo.  Perfection is in the details, and details make a brand remarkable and unforgettable.

Branding Moment: What Is At Stake When Choosing A Brand Name?


The first goal of marketing is to build and maintain a preference for your brand within your target market. This is true if your intention is to be the market leader. It makes sense to find the right name for your brand. It has to be easy to remember and easy to say.  This is very important when it comes to referrals, and word of mouth. 

This morning as we were returning home from an appointment, two trucks were waiting at the red light in front of us. The one directly in front of us  was branded  paysage  This is a French word. Its primary meaning is scenery. Its secondary meaning is landscape. We wondered how many people in Santa Barbara understand the word or could pronounce it. Would someone call this company, "pay sage?" Listen to this 15 second video below if you want to learn the pronunciation .

It is easier to say FedEx  than to say paysage. And the majority of us knows the word FedEx. 

Our research revealed that Paysage, the local landscape company, has been operating in Santa Barbara since 2000. Apparently, they are doing something right, however, they are not considered to be in the top 5 in the city.  The top 5 have an easy name to remember.  

If you want to maintain a preference for your brand, be sure to take time to choose the right name.  What is at stake is word of mouth and referrals.

Happy Birthday America: Fourth Of July Floral Display

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We enjoyed this beautiful floral display that we saw at the lobby of a hotel.  The roses, hydrangeas and gladiolas made up the stripes, and the blue pebbles in the vases added the stars.  We found this very creative along with the flags on either side also planted in a vase with blue pebbles.  

Enjoy the Fourth of July!

The Future is Here: The Solution For The Affordable Housing Shortage Is On Its Way!


We are all aware of the “affordable housing” crisis is affecting many parts of our country.  There is a solution that will soon be put into effect in the homebuilding industry. It is known as 3D printing

In January of 2014, we wrote a post called, “Science Fiction Becomes Reality.  We focused on the 3D Printer that premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. We likened it to the Star Trek technology in the 24thCentury known as the replicator, which could produce food, clothing and other sundry items. We also posted a video demonstrating the making of a wrench with a 3D printer.

Four years later, on May 12, 2018, this video  premiered on YouTube.  It showed an affordable 3D-printedHouse that took less than a day to build for $10,000. The prototype was built in Austin, TX, and was the first to received a permit for occupancy. The company ICON is predicting that the costs can be brought down to $4,000, for a 650 square foot home.  

The use of is booming in many industries. With a 3D printer, a dentist can print a perfect crown for his patient in 30 minutes. Automobile manufacturers are printing auto parts. Even the luxury industry is now using 3D printing.

“The Future is here.  It’s just not widely distributed, yet --William Gibson, Science Fiction Novelist


A Spicy Pursuit: What Specialty Is Missing In Your Marketplace?

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One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd in luxury or other real estate marketing is to find the underserved market niche, or filling a need in your marketplace..  In order to find it, one has to do quite a bit of research, because at first glance the market may look crowded. It is not unusual to assume that every niche in the real estate market is already taken.  Here is an example of a business that did just that.

In one of the markets we frequent here in Santa Barbara, the spice and seasonings aisle takes up over one quarter of the space. It is our source to find the rare spice or seasoning for a dish we are making.

Food experts advise that spices diminish in flavor over time. They are susceptible to heat, moisture and light.  Furthermore, they are sold in quantities that are too large for an average household to use up in a short period of time as they have at best one to two-year lifetime of flavor. 

Spicely Organics found the underserved market niche among the  biggest spice producers in the food industry.  Gelson’s Market added more shelf space to their spice aisle to accommodate them. Thanks to Spicely Organics you don’t have to go out of your way to assure yourself that certain spices may be a detriment to your diet because how they are produced. Everything is certified for every type of food concern. 

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Furthermore, they sell them in small batches, which means that you don’t have to worry about the shelf life of your purchase.  There is enough for two or three uses.  It may seem more expensive than that big bottle you are used to buying in terms of quantity, however, this beats the competition in terms of quality.  

In the realm of real estate, we have heard many success stories of agents who specialize in what may seem to many who will take any listing at any price crazy niches.  We can assure you that those who specialize in just condos, for instance, or just properties they personally like, or just historical properties, or just land are thriving regardless of the market conditions.  These agents researched what was missing in their marketplace and became experts, and the go to agents in those niches.  What  Specialty is missing in your marketplace?

Knowing Your Marketplace And The Mindset of Your Ideal Clients Can Assure Your Success


If you want to have a successful luxury or other real estate practice, you must understand the mindset of your ideal clients and the intricacies of your marketplace that make them happy to live there.  When you take the time to really understand what they need and assure them that you can deliver the results they are after, you become the answer to their prayers.  Here is an example:

Recently, we visited Deer Valley, Utah with friends.  We went to The Market in Park City to stock up on provisions to munch on while watching the NBA Finals. We discovered a section devoted to exclusively to artisanal cheeses.  I (A) asked the cheese monger, Marcy, what was new and exciting? After taking the time to understand our tastes and preferences, she knew we were all fond of cheese and eager to learn.


Marcy proceeded to tell us about her favorites that she was sure we would love too. One of them pictured above was an alpine blossom covered rind cheese made in Austria with milk from 15 brown Swiss cows in each herd.  They feed in the pasture of the Alps.  As the cheese ages, the rind is washed and is covered with the dried edible flowers and herbs from the surrounding Alpine Meadows.  You eat the cheese topped with a bit of flowers along with the rind. We all agreed that this was one of the best cheeses we ever tasted.  

Marcy also went out of her way tell us which crackers to buy and which went with each cheese for the 5 varieties we bought.  Then, as we were walking in the aisles, she ran over to tell us that we should buy a Rosé or a Riesling wine, to pair with our cheese selection.  

We loved her enthusiasm, her expertise and her extraordinary service. Naturally, we followed her advice in selecting wines. Marcy was the answer to our prayers. While out of town we look for experiences that are like touchstones to recall and share with others. It is only natural to refer our readers to her cheese department at The Market in Park City.

Are You A Jack-of-All-Trades, Master of None?


The NUMBER ONE mistake that luxury real estate marketing professionals make is trying to be all things to all people.  We understand that it is challenging to narrow your focus and concentrate on just one niche.   The trick is discovering the right niche for you, the one that has the potential to provide the financial return you want if you were to give it your 100% undivided attention.

Watch this 2-minute video and learn how being a Jack-of-All-Trades is the biggest marketing mistake. Being a generalist vs. a specialist is the most common marketing trap