Wednesday, March 07, 2012: 03:17:53 PM

TJCD Guest Column

Basics of real-time real estate marketing - Shajai Jacob of JLL India

A professional real estate marketing approach requires research-based insights into market demand, micro and macro-economic market influences and the study of historic sales graphs of a particular project typology in a given location

In the environment of cut-throat competition, which exists in the Indian real estate market today, developers without a forward-looking marketing plan for their projects often lose out.

Whenever one looks in the larger cities, commercial and residential property projects with dozens of unsold and unleased units are evident. In this scenario, one tends to assume that this state of affairs comes from a lopsided demand-supply scenario. While this is largely true, some of it can be attributed to skewed marketing as well. 
Property marketing insights
Some interesting, if disheartening, real estate marketing insights are given below:
Many newly-launched real estate projects in good locations are losing out on sales because of faulty marketing vision
Coming from an exaggerated perception of the demand for trendy new concepts (‘lifestyle quotient’, ‘green living’, ‘smart workplaces’), the advertising agencies of such developers have hyped these projects off the market. Confronted with the highbrow amenities and specifications featured on hoardings, banners and advertisements, potential buyers often assume that the project is clearly beyond their means. This ‘marketing disconnect’ seems to happen quite frequently in our larger cities, for either or both of two reasons:
  • These developers have not fathomed what marketing touch points will work with their target clientele.
  • The creative agencies retained for the marketing of these projects have not been able to fathom the developer’s vision, resulting in a fatal Chinese Whisper syndrome.
In both cases, sales and leases take an ‘inexplicable’ and terminal beating.
An erroneous assumption that long-standing market reputation alone will ensure sales
This fallacy, based on an obsolete truth of the Indian real estate sector’s boom periods, has caused a number of very respectable real estate banners of yesteryears to hang limp in the winds of change that are blowing today.
During the boom time of 2007-08, a developer’s brand was often sufficient to ensure property sales and leases. The market back then was largely driven by speculators who had very little insight into the true nature of real estate. For these players, a developer’s brand was often the only yardstick, and apartments and offices in newly launched projects were snapped up on that basis alone.
Today, even end-users and occupiers know exactly what they want from the spaces they buy and lease. They will patronise a project because it gives them what they want within their budgets – not because the developer has a long-standing brand.
In short, players who fail to adopt real-time marketing strategies for their projects are falling by the wayside.
Developers tend to believe that real estate marketing can be safely entrusted to an advertising company
Because they cater to a wide band of business genres and product categories, generic advertising agencies lack the capabilities to deliver effective real estate marketing plans. In fact, most agencies tend to use a standard ‘cookie cutter’ methodology to address real estate marketing needs. In other words, they use large-format press ads, larger-than-life hoardings, radio jingles and kiosks without much thought to customisation.
Today, real estate marketing is clearly a domain for real estate experts, who are deeply involved in and informed about the Indian real estate market.
Type of property marketing in vogue
In many instances, revitalising a developer’s marketing strategy has required us to scrap the previous plan altogether. It is not uncommon to find a developer’s balance sheet burdened down by exorbitant promotion spends that are yielding zero results. A professional real estate marketing approach requires research-based insights into market demand, micro and macro-economic market influences and the study of historic sales graphs of a particular project typology in a given location. These insights can give an accurate and predictive road map of what the market wants now and will want in the future.
This kind of approach is extremely important from the standpoint that marketing of a project invariably begins much before construction begins. It is imperative to have a marketing plan which factors in real-time demand drivers as well as those that will prevail when the project nears completion.
In short, real-time real estate marketing consists of:
  • Studying every facet of the project
  • Juxtaposing it against prevalent and future market requirements
  • Developing accurately targeted promotion collaterals and advertisements
  • Allocating marketing funds in a highly focussed, result-oriented manner
Interestingly, such an approach can often result in a 25% decrease in marketing spend and yield with a 20-30% increase in market response.
Shajai Jacob, head (Marketing & Communication) at Jones Lang LaSalle India, an international property advisory firm

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