Risk reduction in sales assumptions and increasing marketing ROI
1. Launches fail. The era of the sales launch weekend was not only short lived but it is effectively over. The over-used strategy was to create hype and a false sense of urgency around buying up front. And while the strategy may have driven initial sales when cheap money was available, that is certainly not the case today. Luring buyers with hyped up launches and attempting to create a false sense of urgency in this market can have the opposite effect. Not only will it fail to lure buyers but it has the potential to create a brand image of conveying misleading information. In other words, the entire market knows that real estate development is at a very low point, using misleading statements about the market that are easily verifiable on Google will only damage the marketing efforts. The developer and brand will not be trusted and sales risk rises in a negative correlation to brand trust.
2. Investor speculators are out of the market – focus on the user. The marketing strategy of a development should be based on the eventual residents. Who are they? What do they want in a development? What elements of their particular lifestyle can you satisfy to the degree that they will buy? The marketing then focuses on those lifestyle elements as the core-messaging strategy. Defining a marketing strategy based on investment potential or speculative buyers, as in the case of vacation or second home property, is a very low return, highly risky strategy. Instead valid marketing strategies focus on the lifestyle interests of buyers. If you find the sweet spot between your brand and their personal passions and needs, the demand curve shifts upward.
3. Digital rules. Every one of your potential buyers will research the development online. They will search competitor properties, evaluate your lifestyle amenities and validate or disprove any claims you make. Consequently digital marketing must be the core around which all of your marketing is based. Chris Anderson, Author of The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is selling less of more said, “Your brand is what Google says your brand is, not what you say your brand is.” While this generalization highlights the extraordinary influence that search and other digital media have on a brand, I believe that the relevance to real estate developers is to understand the dialogue and the nature of information, then build a strategy to optimize the multitude of touch points across digital networks.
4. Customization and niche marketing. Ask any development marketer about tactics and undoubtedly you’ll hear direct mail. Of course it will be qualified that the response rates are typically 1 – 3%. BS. Response rates on direct mail (printed) are probably closer to 0 than 3% and the response rates on digital (email) are why spammer’s exist, i.e. the response rate is a fraction of a percent. Both tactics can work, if you are prepared to undertake a massive and sustained effort. For example a .01% response rate yields 10 leads from 100,000 people. An alternative strategy is based on highly customized or niche direct marketing tactics that leverage the enormous potential of database technology with variable data publishing (both print and digital). The example I typically use is imagining a typical direct mail campaign of 5000 pieces. Each person gets the same piece except for the mailing label; now imagine 5000 different pieces going to 5000 different people. Each recipient’s piece was made specifically for them based on their preferences, likes and needs embedded in the database. This hybrid can easily yield double-digit response rates. Reliance on “spray and pray” marketing tactics are not only ill-advised in today’s market but can add significant risk to developer absorption assumptions. Variable data with it’s highly customized and niche targeting can reduce risk in absorption and decrease costs over the long run as ROI increases.
These are just four of the laundry list of common mistakes that are at the core of failed marketing strategies. I’ve highlighted just a few of the emerging trends that are powering successful marketing strategies in many diverse sectors. If you are a developer, marketer or funding source the entire list of common mistakes and emerging trends should be at the top of your marketing meeting agenda.
FORMO not only prepares some of the most innovative marketing strategies in the industry today but we also consult to groups looking for expert eyes to ad value to their own strategy.