When did property marketing lose its mojo?

People from outside of the property industry frequently ask the question – how/why does marketing ‘happen’ the way it does in our beloved industry? – why doesn’t it so seldom bear any resemblance to its product or audience?

To explore this issue we need to grasp a little of the industry itself. As a bellwether of the economy, the property market can be one of the most volatile – especially for the uninitiated or those higher up the risk-reward curve. At the height of a boom, prop-co’s can sell ice to the eskimos without marketing – no problem thank you very much, whilst at the bottom of the industry they notoriously slash marketing budgets – so where’s the consistency? – there’s rarely any, and this is generally borne out in the quality of the marketing.

For myself and the Innesco team, marketing is the alignment of your property product to a specific audience that you’ve identified as being lucrative – so you can ‘sell’ it for the best possible price or make it appeal to the best possible occupiers. Fine so far? Well, somewhere along the line this premise was lost. Ask many people in the industry, and marketing means requesting a lovely brochure or website. Hang on a minute – haven’t we just skipped several chapters to get to requesting an end product? What happened to strategic thinking, or selecting the tactics that support your strategy? Far too many seem to settle for a default suite of marketing materials so they can tick the ‘marketing’ box for their bosses, fund or bank.

In my view this is where so many companies are getting it wrong – how does one immediately know that you need a lovely brochure, a PR campaign or snazzy give away? Because it’s been done that way before? Well times have changed. By following the earlier research and audit stages of the marketing process and feeding these findings back into improving the product itself – yes, actually changing the product using feedback from the marketeers! Shock horror! This is quite common within every other industry sector, especially FMCG brands of course, just not property.

I’ve always thought it was strange that there was seldom a two-way conversation between marketeers and agents, never mind the developer or owner themselves. Often the brief is handed out – “brochure please!”. Often there’s no brief at all! Every aspect of managing a development or property still seems disconnected – each team doing their own thing, with management teams often adopting a ‘divide and rule’ approach at a time when collaboration is needed.

Time is in short supply for everyone these days, but with a little more time spent aligning different teams’ discussions and adopting a collaborative approach, we’d find ourselves with stronger property products that are more robust in the market place – whether you’re equity raising, buying, leasing or selling.

Dan Innes, Managing Director

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