Today, the challenge of marketing a new property development is more nuanced than ever: not only do you need to create compelling branding and storytelling in an increasingly noisy space, but you also need to stay ahead of the competition and make sure you’re up-to-speed with developing channels and tactics such as programmatic advertising and marketing automation.
We’ve put together the following advice for anyone involved in the sales and marketing of new property developments.
Make the development the star
Increasingly, smart developers are putting the branding of their developments front and centre when it comes to marketing. Why? It’s all down to changing consumer tastes and the ongoing shift in the market towards selling life experiences rather than just shifting units. Today, your brand alone is not enough for people to truly fall in love with an off-plan development (although it still plays an important role), especially in cases where you’re targeting audiences such as first-time buyers, or those moving to a new home. These types of buyers need to feel as though they are buying into a lifestyle, a change of scenery; a new, better life. For this to happen, a development needs striking, compelling branding that will stand out from the crowd. Where once the developer’s logo took centre stage, now it is there to complement the real star of the show - the development itself. The name, colour scheme, visual style and route to market ought all to be tailored for the target audiences you have in mind. Use everything you know about them to inform these decisions, and you’ll find it far easier to create brands that hit home. Which brings us onto our next tip.
Create in-depth buyer personas
Think carefully about who will be buying within the development. First-time buyers? Families? Investors? Most developments have a mix of units that will appeal to different personas such as these - townhouses are particularly attractive to families, for example - and so should have sales and marketing plans that are equally tailored for their intended use. The starting point for these marketing plans is the creation of buyer personas, which you should aim to make as detailed as possible. For each part of the development, ask yourself questions (or even better, complement this with market research) that get right to the heart of your buyers’ motivations. What are they looking for from their property? What needs do they have? What are their values - and how can you make sure that your marketing messaging speaks to these values, in a way that is not just convincing, but utterly compelling? The more work you do on understanding your audience, the more likely you are to be successful in not just creating a brand that connects with them, but also in your ability to reach them through the most effective touchpoints, from the marketing suite, through print, into digital marketing.
Focus on digital performance
Of course, a development’s visual branding and value proposition is only really as effective as the number of sales it leads to, so you’ll need a robust marketing plan in place to make sure all of the work you’ve done understanding your audiences translates into them becoming customers. Beyond the initial brand-heavy burst of marketing suites, sales brochures and beautiful microsites, it’s important to map out a plan for how those who connect with this collateral will continue to be nurtured along the journey to becoming a buyer. Start with the basics - the website and brand SEO/PPC all need to be in place as soon as the development is ready to be unveiled to the world (in fact, some savvy developers ‘soft launch’ these elements to build up a bit of equity ahead of time) - then move onto the more intelligent digital marketing strands that will give you the edge. Think smart channels such as programmatic, or highly targeted social advertising, both of which can be highly effective in positioning your brand in front of people who are most likely to become customers (and, like branding, can become incredibly refined the more you know about your target audience). Map out your funnel and make sure conversions converge on highly optimised landing pages, so that the beautiful work done on branding doesn’t go to waste.
Effectively link sales and marketing efforts
With a nicely mapped funnel and marketing tactics at all stages designed to help people towards converting, you’ll also want to make sure that sales and marketing are working closely together to share the benefit. This is where inbound marketing and eCRM come into their own, on platforms such as HubSpot and Salesforce. Platform features such as lead-scoring enable you to preset criteria to build up a profile of all your website visitors, categorising them by who is most likely to buy a property. These profiles can then be accessed by the sales team, giving them in-depth insights on which pages users have viewed, how many times they’ve looked at a development and even the exact times they are browsing your website! Other powerful software features include email workflows, which enable you to automate email messages to website visitors, based on which property they’ve viewed and showed the most interest in.
Bring the offline world online
You’re selling people their dream home - probably the most considered and highest-value purchase anyone will ever make. You also want to sell them a lifestyle, a destination, a way of life that only your development can provide. Will words and pictures be enough? Not today. Experience-led marketing ought to be consistent and synonymous with the real-world experience of engaging with both you as a developer and the branding of your development. Your website is effectively a digital version of your marketing suite, and should be just as immersive and welcoming. This is where formats such as VR, AR and 360-degree video come into play, helping people to form an early idea of what life will be like in their new home - allowing for the possibility that they fall in love with the development long before it is finished. It’s even better if you can then bring elements of your online experience into your marketing suite, via digital signage and interactive displays, to really create an immersive, seamless customer experience that bridges online and offline.
Develop an underlying place strategy
If you’re looking at bringing several different developments online, especially ones that are geographically close to each other, it makes sense to frame all of the above work - and plot appropriate routes to market - as part of a broader place strategy. Thinking about things in a more joined-up way as part of a cohesive approach to placemaking and marketing can deliver real benefits - whether that’s economies of scale in budgets, or more traction on marketing and PR activity - and will drive additional credibility around your voice as a developer. If you’re serious about place, start by putting people, and their needs, at the heart of your plans to create useful, beautiful neighbourhoods.
Thanks for reading our tips. Are you looking at bringing new developments online? Need some helpful advice around sales and marketing? As ever, if you have any specific challenges you’d like to discuss, or even if you’d just like to pick our brains, you can call us on 0800 0149 884 or send us a message here and we will be in touch.