With easy investor market sales drying up in the overheated off-the-plan apartment market, property marketers will face some of the most challenging conditions they have seen for many years over the next 12 months.
Many of the foundational tactics that have driven recent success – investment seminars, channel partnerships and rental guarantees – are unlikely to deliver anywhere near the same level of leads they have done in the past.
Tighter lending criteria and diminished expectations about returns for investment-focussed buyers means marketers will need to seek out new types of buyers. In other words, the owner-occupier is back.
This market presents an entirely new challenge for developers, starting from site selection, through design and into sales and marketing and construction. Not only does the product need to be different, but the tools to reach and engage them need to be different.
What motivates buyers?
A 2014 report by the Commonwealth Bank showed the stark differences between the motivations of owner occupiers and investors. For buyers looking to purchase their next home, the top three motivations were:
Content marketing is one of the best ways to make an emotional connection with potential buyers. Unfortunately, while content marketing has revolutionised customer engagement and conversion across most industries, many property marketers are still oblivious to what content marketing is and its value.
In its simplest form, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Here are five simple ways to make content marketing work for your next project:
Tell real stories
Since the beginning of time, property marketers have been obsessed with using stock imagery of their ‘ideal’ buyers. Inner city apartments get leggy blondes drinking champagne, suburban land subdivisions get mum, dad and two kids running through a park with a kite.
One way to embrace the value of content is to replace these stock customers with real customers. People love reading about people, and not just the Kardashians.
Remember the people who buy your products are always your best salespeople. Don't just scratch the surface; find out who they are, what makes them tick and ask if you can use their story. The real value of client testimonials is in the detail. These people are the neighbours of your future buyers, so get a little from them, then their name, age and motherhood statements.
Here are some great examples of how to create a great testimonial.
With the rise of digital media, especially image-driven sharing-friendly social media channels like Facebook, strong visual content like infographics have emerged as one of the most effective content marketing tactics.
Infographics use simple images and content to represent and communicate information in a way that is easy to understand. The best infographics take complex data and make it all work together to clearly communicate in an intriguing and insightful way. Businesses are taking note of the importance of bundling relevant content together in a visually pleasing manner.
The best infographics have several levels of data and insights that all tie together and provide a visual narrative. They are very logical when done right. Infographics can also be used to drive social sharing. For example, Twitter recently started promoting image posts, and these posts with images now tend to receive the highest engagement levels.
Native advertising is a type of disguised advertising, usually online, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears. In many cases, it manifests as either an article or video, produced by an advertiser with the specific intent to promote a product, while matching the form and style which would otherwise be seen in the work of the platform's editorial staff. The word "native" refers to this coherence of the content with the other media that appears on the platform.
More and more publishers and brands, including this site, are collaborating on native advertising initiatives - mainly because they work. Sponsored posts are probably the most prevalent form of native advertising and can provide you with access to much bigger audiences at a fraction of the cost of advertising.
The ultimate success of native advertising comes down to the quality of your content. Simply recycling a brochure into a narrative won't work. Use truly engaging content like testimonials and videos to maximise engagement and lead generation.
Build a blog
Buying a property is a far more emotional decision for an owner occupier, than an investor. This will be their home and they want to know details. They do plenty of research and want to know lots of details.
A regularly updated blog is a great way to building not only engagement with potential buyers. Open source publishing tools like Wordpress make creating attractive, search-friendly blogs easier than ever.
Populating your blog with regular content is always the biggest challenge so it is important to think outside the square. The first place to start is your community of stakeholders. Your architects, interior designers, suppliers, builders and other contractors are all great sources of content. Most will be happy to promote their brand and your project. Each blog shouldn't be more than 300-400 words so it shouldn't be onerous to do something every couple of weeks.
Video consistently ranks as one of the most successful lead-generation tools of all the different types of content available. Across social media networks video content constantly outperforms all other types of content. Facebook specifically developed its Live function to meet the increasing demand for video.
According to Facebook, their users are spending considerably more time with live videos. With engagement being such a critical metric of success for content, this is great news for content marketers looking to justify their budgets.
Speaking of budgets, one of the greatest hurdles to property marketers using video to engage is misconceptions around cost and production quality. When you are charged $20,000-$30,000 for a few minutes of flythrough it’s easy to dismiss all video content as expensive.
It is important to remember not every video needs to be a Spielberg production. Technology means you can produce a good quality video using your phone and some simple editing software. Some simple ideas for engaging video include:• Take a short tour of the sales office
• Do an interview with your architect
• Walk through a local restaurant
• Interview a buyer.
The key is to keep it simple and entertaining. Your audience will understand it is you walking around with a phone. They won’t judge you, they will thank you for a small insight into their future home.
Ben Ready is the Managing Director of communications and content firm RG Communications and the founder and Editor in Chief of Content on Demand.