“The biggest traps in property, and how to avoid them”
“50% of advertising is wasted – I just don’t know which half”
Does that strike a chord with you? That famous quote by Lord Leverhulme seems relevant more than a century after he first made that famous statement.
After over 12 years working in the property sector, we’ve seen some fantastic successes. And of course, we have also learned a lot along the way.
So today, it’s time to share the lessons we have learned. In this report we’ll look at 5 pitfalls we think are preventing a lot of success in the sector.
You might find some of these problems ring a bell.
Pitfall 1 – No Cut Through
“The property industry constantly battles this problem. Just think of your typical property client or customer, they are busy, stressed and stretched every-which-way.”
Your customer’s natural reaction to this situation is to work in a kind of auto-pilot. And, your first task in property branding is to get that same customer just to STOP for a second, to consider your property proposition.
We know for a fact that decision maker’s desks harbour stacks of identical looking property brochures – A4 double sided. The same old same old – and all destined to be firelighters for the weekend BBQ!
You know yourself the cut-through problem too. Think of all the unsolicited material you receive every day. It’s a lot, especially if you include emails! Just try to remember 3 of the pieces you have received this week. It’s an effort isn’t it?
Many property branding materials are just not strong enough to cut-through.
The solution: Your target client should find discovering your brand like opening a box of chocolates. Powerful and engaging enough to get them to stop, feel some emotion, and get a taste of what’s to come. All property branding needs the magic of cut-through.
Pitfall 2 – The Scattergun Approach to Targeting
We’ve all heard this at some time – maybe from a boss, or colleague:
“We want to target everyone”
It is tempting to want to reach as many people as possible when preparing a property campaign. And to be honest, there was a time, not too long ago, when a scattergun approach could work. But in the digital age, the scattergun approach is broken. A targeted approach is now the only way to efficiently and effectively build your property brand.
One specific example of the scattergun approach is the continued temptation for marketers to buy long lists of general business contacts from 3rd party providers. Time and time again our experience has been that smaller, in-house generated lists generally outperform the scattergun approach.
And look carefully at your data quality – many property marketers are still using third party lists to blast messages.
If you do need to buy in data, make sure it is targeted, and high quality (when it comes to data, you generally get what you pay for).
The solution: Could your next campaign harness the power of focus? A great technique is to tightly define your hero target customer by thinking of a single, real-life person, and imagine all your work is directed at them.
Pitfall 3 – No Positioning
“Property brands without a clear positioning are in trouble”
Although the functional benefits of a property are very important, studies have shown conclusively that emotional appeal is essential to capture peoples’ interest and attention.
Positioning simply describes the perception you want to create in the mind of your potential customer. It is one of the most important considerations because perceptions are usually laced with emotion and therefore very powerful selling tools.
Successful property brands are almost always the ones that have a very clear positioning. Positioning is like personality. If you are clear on positioning, you will find generating consistent and captivating communications a breeze.
The right positioning takes into consideration the property type, your target and any competition. It helps determine the most effective tone, and is enormously useful in creating the conditions for great cut-through.
The solution: You need to spend twice as much time working on positioning as deciding a new property name. If you get the positioning right, the naming challenge becomes much simpler.
Pitfall 4 – Not Involving the Key People From the Start
Property projects are tremendously complex, and have often involve many people from inception to campaign roll-out.
We find that many of the best insights into projects – ones that help find the best positioning – come from people who were involved early in the project. Architects, asset managers, development managers, property managers, and even leasing and sales agents can help unlock great branding.
Unfortunately, many organisations are process-structured and place branding and campaign development at the end of the project. By the time an agency gets involved with branding and campaign planning, they can miss out on some of the most essential thinking around the project.
The solution: We recommend a kick off meeting where all key stakeholders are present to discuss the intended positioning and campaign targets for a property. This should be followed up with planned milestone meetings with the same team, to keep them engaged with the project’s progress.
Pitfall 5 – Being Too Clever
“Have you ever seen a property strapline that you really didn’t understand?”
They are usually trying to be a little too clever – but lose you in the process. We see this clever-clogs syndrome in every sector but we do seem to see a lot of it in the property industry.
Examples of the clever-clogs trap are often where the strap lines sounded very clever around a boardroom table – but require too much thinking for the customer. The problem is, the customer doesn’t have time for thinking – so, if your message is rational, it must be clear and simple. And if it is emotional, it needs to hit home without immediate analysis.
The solution: Keep things simple and clear whenever you can. And try not to use long words when short ones will do. Before you decide on a message, check that your target customer will be see it as relevant, authentic and genuine.