Nearly every aspect of modern business has been disrupted by the extraordinary rise of social media. Sales & marketing across all industries is in the throes of a digital revolution. Print advertising and broadcast media, once the foundations of every marketing strategy, are increasingly being replaced by digital formats. Property marketing is no different. I believe we are on the cusp of some big changes in property marketing in response to social media.
How does this affect the property industry?
What does this switch to social media mean for property marketing? In general terms, the property industry has been slow to adopt digital technology. Despite forecasts, online agencies have not replaced estate agencies on the high street. And to date only about 5% of UK property is listed with companies like Purplebricks. For reasons I have already discussed here, I don’t see this situation changing soon. High street agents are very much here to stay.
Property marketing needs to go digital:
But if transactions aren’t going digital, digital technology is on the brink of dramatically changing property marketing. Lots of agents and developers still believe that a printed brochure is essential to drive sales. Developers spend tens of thousands of pounds on hardback, glossy brochures full of photos, floor plans and location information. This format is starting to look outdated and overdone!
Don’t get me wrong! A brochure is an effective marketing tool.
But I am no longer convinced that investing so much marketing budget in a printed brochure is worthwhile.
Printed brochures are really expensive. The content is fixed. But most importantly its effectiveness depends getting it in to a potential buyers’ hands in the first place. This is challenging at a time when footfall to agents’ offices and marketing suites is diminishing. This is part of a wider trend that sees millennials largely ignoring traditional shopping experiences and seldom visiting retail stores. Millennials are an important demographic because they now make up 66 percent of the market for first-time home-buyer. Social media is their métier.
Why does digital make sense?
With developers looking to cut marketing costs in the current economic climate, what better way to do this than to replace paper with digital? Digital is effective because it can be incredibly targeted. This makes advertising spend go much further. Moreover, you don’t need someone to come to your office/ marketing suite to view your product. You can send a video or tweet a link directly to their phone or tablet. In a tight sales market, social media can offer a way to leverage a smaller budget in a way that paper advertising and brochures just can’t.
There is no word in the English language to describe the opposite of ‘targeted marketing’.
But if it did exist it would surely be called something like print media! With this medium, you publish and keep your fingers crossed that your target customer will see your advertisement and respond. Tracking the results of print advertising is much more difficult.
But how do you sell property on digital?
The future of marketing may be mainly digital, but property marketing faces some real challenges when it comes to effective online campaigns.
- Bricks and mortar aren’t in themselves ‘sexy’. Social media platforms are largely driven by attractive visual content. How can concrete frames, plasterboard and brickwork look good and excite viewers?
- Property is a very high value, low volume kind of industry. People use social media for low value and high volume trades. So, how do you sell really high value items on a ‘disposable’ medium?
- Social media is all about fast-moving content, about the instant and the visual, developments and events happening NOW. Conversely, the construction industry moves at snail’s pace! This difference in pace makes it difficult to generate interesting content. I challenge anyone to create interesting tweets on a site in development for 3-5 years!
- While access to data and properties in the market is very easy nowadays, competition is fierce. How can developers create differentiation in a crowded market?
There are ways to overcome these challenges and turn the transparency of social media into an advantage.
Branding is the foundation
Lots of developers take the view that they don’t need a brand, or that only top end London developments require this sophisticated approach.
But the power of branding is everywhere. Instagram has made a brand out of everyone and everything.
This means that developers need to invest in a coherent and attractive visual language for what they publish online. Don’t leave your selling agent to take control of this element of your marketing. Be confident about your product. Develop your own signature style. This will help you to stand out from other projects on the market.
Imagery is king
Social media platforms, particularly Instagram, have put aspirational lifestyles and gorgeous imagery into the hands of everyone with a smart phone. That means that developers and sellers need to up their visual game.
Good photography is king when it comes to selling property.
Investing in great photography and / or CGIs will help to increase your digital capital. The language of social medias is rarely text! Focus your efforts on your imagery and you will see interest in your property increase.
As an aside, if you are unconvinced by the hype regarding the power of imagery on Instagram, check out Netflix’s latest documentary about the ill-fated Fyre Festival. This festival was a disgrace, but the documentary demonstrates that the right kind of visual content can weild untold power online.
Create raving fans!
Deliver a great finished product and your #happycustomers will market your development for nothing. Remember that if you can turn your buyers in to raving fans, you will have social proof of the desirability of your product.
Social proof is the currency that pays dividends more than any other online.
A good digital record, testimonials from others saying great things about you is much more powerful than YOU doing the talking. It counts for so much more than boastful corporate statements.
Content marketing is the sophisticated way to do it:
Content marketing and influencer strategies are clever ways of advertising without the ‘sales pitch’. Digital can help to blur the lines between paid advertising and promotional material. Take a look at the innovative way in which Ulster Bank is marketing its mortgage products here. The tactics some of the banks in Ireland used in the aftermath of the credit crunch made financial institutions very unpopular.
This sponsored content is an attempt to rehabilitate the bank without resorting to an ‘in-your-face’ sales approach.
Content marketing requires planning and effort, but it can be incredibly effective in communicating a corporate message.
Plan for each platform
Finally, developers need to plan for social media at the beginning of the sales strategy. Tacking it on at the end just won’t work. And each social media platform requires a different strategy and some dedicated resource.
If you are able to adapt to the opportunities that social media brings, you can steal a march on your competition. By approaching your property marketing with digital at the forefront of your mind, you can flay pounds off your marketing budget, find customers to market your product for you and stand out from the crowd!
Are you looking for strategic sales and marketing advice? Do you think your development would benefit from a digital marketing strategy? Visit our website now https://residentialedge.co.uk/ to book a free consultation or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.