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A Revolution in in the Methods of Marketing

The Birmingham Post (England), January 16, 2014 | Go to article overview

A Revolution in in the Methods of Marketing

Byline: Charles Toogood Director GVA

WHILST nonchalantly flicking through a recent edition of one of our esteemed industry titles, it suddenly occurred to me just how much marketing in the property industry has changed over the past two decades.

At the risk of sounding a little like Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses, during the days of yore property marketing meant visiting your favourite creative agency and wrapping up all the facts, figures and details in a nice brochure with some illustrative photos, floor plans and suitable prose.

This was sometimes supported by a press release, an event for agents and potential occupiers, occasionally highlighted through advertising and a dedicated website and if you were being particularly creative, backed with a leave-behind such as a branded ball-point pen or folio. Other than that, it involved rifling through your little black book to personally inform as many contacts as possible that a property was on the market.

Alright, so I might have slightly over-simplified matters a little but things have certainly moved on considerably since my early days in the profession.

Of course, there has always been a need to identify, target and contact potentially interested parties, but new technology, and the need to differentiate the offer in a changing market, has altered the game and led to something of a revolution in our approach with far more variety in the methods we employ.

There is still no magic formula to marketing commercial property and definitely no 'one size fits all' approach to help sell or let properties faster or better. However, an absolutely fundamental part of our business is to match buyers with sellers and, although this will never change, as the market shifts one way or another so we in the industry need to shift with it and march in time with the significant advances in technology.

Even now, the huge majority of marketing literature is relatively standard - a good representative image on the front cover, descriptive but accurate text, details of the building's features and benefits, plans and floorplates, more images, a map and contact details all contained in a carefully branded, well-finished brochure that can be mailed to potential occupiers and agents.

Creative, engaging, relevant and well produced marketing collateral effectively communicates key messages and, alongside events, signage, exhibitions, presentations and displays, raises awareness of properties and reinforces brand credibility. As such, it continues to perform a critical role in any marketing or brand communications strategy and remains pretty much indispensable.

However, the 'Green Agenda' has made an impact here as elsewhere, with the result that, where there used to be print runs of up to 3,000 brochures, we now need only around 500 - with those generally using recycled paper.

But such printed material is now greatly supported, if not entirely replaced, with the ethereal wonders of the digital realm - QR codes, virtual tours, fly-throughs, websites, e-mailers, augmented reality, social media and smartphone / tablet friendly formats are all finding their place in the marketing mix.

When it comes to property marketing, I believe there can be no doubt that, while this technological innovation and creativity are highly desirable, effectiveness is absolutely essential, as ultimately the whole purpose is to complete a deal. So all marketing activity, whether traditional or cutting edge, needs to be carefully considered, strategically selected and effectively utilised so as to not only reach our target audiences but to engage them and prompt a response.

So it's now all about targeted marketing and building relationships - and with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software being used extensively, once again technology is making a difference.

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