"Communication needs to be constructed with care, and a general scattered approach is a big negative."
How a development can secure sales from registrations of interest
In this post I am going to look at the links between project websites, pre-sales, and the importance of display materials.
Firstly I wanted to briefly outline how the site can be used to support an ROI (registration of interest) campaign. I also want to reinforce how essential it is for small projects to accurately target key markets, which will help appreciate the role of online activity. Because no matter how good a website looks, or how well it is constructed, there is a need to create awareness of the site, as it is not a source but a medium of enquiry.
The real estate industry is one of the largest users of online advertising, with an ever-increasing level of spending. Real estate was one of the first industries to exploit this media, and so we have already established a wealth of experience. Now the big changes taking place revolve around how funds are spent online.
Project marketing online expenditure usually involves email, commonly referred to as eDM (electronic direct marketing), targeted display advertising on the major property portals, paid search such as Google AdWords, organic search (search engine optimisation), video – usually via YouTube –and online audio or podcasts.
The understanding of how to benefit from online advertising is still evolving. The main reason for this stems from the reality that this is not a simple formula- or template-driven environment. We are dealing with a highly literate and experienced audience, therefore it is exactly the opposite.
There has been a big increase in the number of projects using ROI campaigns with the aim of securing pre-sales, in particular the sale of apartments off the plan. However, despite the popularity of ROI campaigns, I feel it is timely to emphasise that a solid framework built around a complete strategy is required. An experienced sales team should always have an existing quality database that can be a solid launch point.
Key aspects of ROI campaigns
While there can always be some buyer resistance in gaining pre-sales, there are also strong buyer motivations that can help to make the process worthwhile. Timing and the use of a well-structured website will be essential for the project to gain traction.
By comparison with larger projects, the motivation of buyers interested in small projects is frequently far less speculative. This group may well include experienced buyers looking for a particular area, or buyers driven by very specific lifestyle considerations.
While such buyers may not be easy to identify, during the course of a ROI campaign, they can be engaged via quality communications, including a well-managed online campaign and website to capture the leads.
At the start of such projects the value of existing quality databases will, as already highlighted, be an obvious advantage.
However, any database will only be of value if it is up-to-date and matches the needs of those who have taken time and effort to register. Because we are dealing with a smaller number of potential buyers, communication needs to be constructed with care, and a general scattered approach is a big negative. Our target may well lose interest if ongoing contact is poorly managed.
ROI campaigns will suffer if the marketing is not in tune with local conditions and buyers’ expectations. Flawed timing and inaccurate collateral would be a costly mistake. This is where we also start to see an overlap with the display material that will be required to support a small project.
I also stress that the same “rules” will still apply even when a small project, by its very nature, has a strong level of pent-up demand. While the buyers might not be camping on the streets, from a marketing perspective, they still share one important facet and this relates to the timing and accuracy of information available.
A major CBD apartment project can be flexible or staged, and the potential buyers will normally have more choice. Buyers can also take their time and possibly cherry-pick available stock, but in a small project this will not be the case. Once buyers have been attracted they need to be taken on a sales path that will readily secure the purchase.Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.