Our economy is growing again and property is becoming a central pillar of that growth once again. Of course nobody wants a return to the boom-bust scenario we have just witnessed over the last 20 years in Ireland. But property development must now ramp up and begin to deliver the housing units the country so desperately needs.
But how has marketing property changed for todays developers and selling agents? In broad terms the answer is DIGITAL should now be the central pillar of any marketing strategy, where previously it was a support to the traditional tactics.
We don’t mean that traditional marketing is not required, it is – but as part of a broader multi channel strategy, with digital taking a driving role.
The developers and selling agents have to understand the market in the location that the development is planned - the geography, the demographic breakdown etc. What will these demographics look like in the future? Is the development looking to shift this status quo or tap into it? You must understand the likely emotional needs of a potential buyer within the area. What will trigger them to engage? What is the lifestyle they are looking to buy when they purchase a property in this development?
Ultimately your target buyers are buying their homes. This is going to be a long-term place of happiness they hope, where they will look to attain goals and experience their lives. Your home defines such a large part of you. It reflects you and hence the development has to reflect and capture them enough that they can envision their future in these homes.
You are selling a lifestyle
You need to develop a desired positioning for your development. Understanding your location and your audience forms the backdrop to this. From here you must develop propositions that help to verify and build the lifestyle promise.
When we carry out detailed marketing analysis with our clients, it results in developing personas around the target audience. These are detailed pictures that describe the characteristics and needs so that you can build marketing messages that really do answer these desires. The marketing cannot be faked - it has to be real. The buyers of these houses must believe fully in your vision. They are the ones that will be building the physical community after all. Their investment is significant and before they buy they must be convinced that it is the right investment.
You are building the elements that will inform all aspects of the program to develop and sell these properties.
The architecture and design development of the site should be informed by this marketing criteria – understanding location, demographic, target audience profile and needs etc.
By extension all of the other design elements from the interiors, landscaping and the marketing elements can take their cue from this strategy. It can and should be that powerful.
Your marketing must look to build relationships with your target audiences. This should have a long-term focus. After all some will buy from the next development but more will not. You want to retain a connection with these people and continue to engage them. This is now possible with the digital tools available.
From the outset your marketing should look to establish you within the physical community. Ultimately your development will need to integrate and become an integral part of this community. You need everyone (existing and prospective residents) to feel it will bring positivity to the local area. The sooner you start to try and deliver this as a prospect to them the better.
We love the example from the Australian market where a developer was looking to develop into an area that was well known as a cultural hub. Conscious that the community was concerned of the effect on the green space being reduced and population increasing that a new development would bring, they responded by building a cultural art studio within the development space and donating it to the community. This created an immediate relationship between the community and the development. The positivity and personality of the studio became a central element in the design and delivery of the development. This highlights the value of early integration and communal interaction working positively.
There is no question that being able to see and experience a new home before you buy is a critical element in a successful sale. The show house hence continues to play an important role in showcasing the lifestyle you want to present to prospective owners.
But today digital plays a role in presenting a show house virtually. Virtual Reality modeling really helps to bring the envisioned property alive. This becomes even more important with more developments needing to sell a certain amount of units from the plans before construction can begin. Investing is capturing your virtual lifestyle is becoming a very necessary part of the marketing program.
You will have to plan your marketing communications so that everything sits in line with the established brand positioning.
There will be a mix of traditional and digital marketing. But the balance has shifted and the heavy lifting in terms of communication, generating leads and engaging with your targets will now be done through your digital activities.
Your traditional elements will be made up of the core brand identity of the development, the name, logo etc. The construction site branding will be important – the signage, hoarding all have to work hard to deliver your message and capture the ‘lifestyle’ on offer. Brochure and other promotional literature must also get the tone and character right.
In terms of your digital channels, you will need to create a development specific website, social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, Pinterest etc)
But before you activate across any channel, you must put in place a communications plan identifying what, where and when you will execute your different marketing tactics. This plan will be a really important template to ensure you stay on track and consistent with your message. This is particularly important when you consider the long-term nature of the design, build and sell stages. And as we have mentioned many of your target audience will not buy from this development, but perhaps the next.
We are advocates of inbound marketing and it holds true for developers and property agents looking to make long term and dynamic relationships with their target audiences.
The principles of inbound marketing are that you create valuable content that helps solve the problems or issues your target audiences are experiencing and by offering these solutions through your online channels, you engage your targets and drive them towards you website where they can find other valuable pieces of content which they want to interact with.
From this point on your website you want to turn these visitors into leads for your development(s) and to nurture them through the sales funnel and turn them into buyers. The customer journey in buying a house is usually long. Hence you want to understand where your targets are on their sales journey and continue to engage them along that journey with appropriate content. Are they ready to buy now or it is more likely to be in 18 months time. What sort of property stage are they at – first time buyer, trading up/down, investor etc.
The secret sauce in delivering a successful marketing program is to create remarkable content. Seth Godin referred to this phrase ‘remarkable’ because it captured a key outcome of great content – that people would want to remark on it. So if your content is good enough that you had people offering comments, you had achieved something.
For developers they want to be able to convince targets that they deliver the right sort of home for them, that their design, engineering and build skills for example are industry leading etc. For agents, it is to communicate their deep knowledge of finding the best properties and matching them to the perfect buyer. The content offered needs to convince that their experience is leading and that the advice they offer will always put the customer first. Think content followed by more content and then think great content always!
Great content will ensure that you are offering solutions to your audience that helps them solve problems/concerns they are facing. This could be content about a development that communicates about local amenities such as schools, shops etc or perhaps it captures detail about the engineering aspects of the design or how green the development is etc Perhaps it can offer advise on ways to finance the purchase and develops partnerships with finance house etc. Whatever the subject matter, your offer has to provide your potential customer with information that will help them make the right decision.
The type of content that should be considered includes:
Blogging should be a major weapon. It helps to establish your authority credentials and builds trust with your audience because they see you offering your insight and expertise and that gives you credibility. You should consider:
The traction levels achieved today with social media mean that it must be a core element in your marketing activities. There will be different social media platforms that lend themselves to different aspect of your marketing task. For example Instagram and Pinterest are very visual tools and can be very useful to promote design aspects of perhaps local amenity detail.
Other platforms such as Twitter is excellent at keeping people in the community up to date with recent activities. It could be about a design stage completion or a show house viewing time etc – but they offer excellent platforms to build a community and stay in two-way contact with them
Ad words & SEO:
Your digital efforts will need to consider how to harness:
In conclusion, we believe that todays developers and selling agents must embrace the broadest possible marketing strategies to help them position and engage their audiences successfully and turn all their viewers into buyers.
For more information on how digital and inbound marketing can help your development succeed contact the team at Barlo today.
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