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The structure of a registrations-of-interest campaign will vary depending on the project

The structure of a registrations-of-interest campaign will vary depending on the project
The structure of a registrations-of-interest campaign will vary depending on the project

Over the past few weeks we have examined how a well-managed registrations-of-interest  (ROI) campaign structure is required to ensure that a quality plan is seen as the imperative of all activity in this popular area of project marketing and that tangible sales result.

We have established that from the first stages of planning every step is important, including key elements of how information is collected and managed and how consumers are engaged and motivated so that they see real value from their involvement.

Well-managed campaigns with a solid and creative structure can and have produced very good results. But there have also been some very poor examples where a great deal of time and effort has been wasted. The good examples will help produce solid sales and thus give any early bounce to a project.

Poor examples not only fail to leverage the ROI campaign but can go further and have a negative long-term impact on a project.

ROI campaigns also need to reflect the current market conditions; while these campaigns always need to have a well-managed structure they also need clever creative thinking. That in turn reflects market conditions and brands each project in the most appealing way.

The creative ideas and how the campaign is communicated needs to match the prevailing market conditions. An idea that worked during a strong market will not work or will be less successful when markets are not buoyant. Or likewise when a market is filled with contended tribes of purchaser that are of a particular demographic, the creative again needs to speak to this audience, not what the personal preferences are of the project team.

While some ROI campaigns can be achieved with less expenditure than a traditional marketing release, the expenditure does have to be balanced with the anticipated results.

The central aim needs to ensure that people who do register will ultimately be interested and able to move to a paid expressions-of-interest and perform on the launch day to an exchanged contact.

It can also be a mistake to peak interest among buyers too far in advance of the project’s release. While some potential buyers will always be happy to have a long lead time, others will not. This will mainly be a fact determined by the different target groups involved with each stage of a campaign.

Some potential buyers may be sourced from already well qualified existing client lists including repeat buyers, experienced investors including investment networks, friends and associates of a project and buyers on an active ‘early-bird’ list. For some projects these groups would also include off-shore markets, which will require very experienced engagement. [Because this is a very unique area of property marketing, I will look at off-shore markets in a future series of posts.]

The common thread being that these groups are not usually entry-level buyers, but are targets that know the market or the project and want to be involved.

The structure of the ROI campaign can be such that consumers have to take several steps in the registration process. Simply collecting for example a large on-line database might be a waste of time if anyone who registers is not substantially pre-qualified at some stage in the campaign.

Almost all data ages and becomes stale very quickly.

Areas of high demand

But with well-managed data one method is to contact people on existing databases and ask them to register their interest in a new project should they be ready to move to their next purchase. The ideal way to make a final qualification of a ROI enquiry is to require that a refundable deposit is made to secure their place in the queue.

Some ROI campaigns in a strong market or where the appeal of a property is highly competitive can and do require potential buyers to pay a (refundable) registration ‘fee’ of $5000, $10,000 or $15,000 to secure their interest to preview and purchase a property at launch.

Such registration campaigns can be very successful as the act to pre-qualify buyers and create a sense of urgency, and when conditions are suitable and demand is strong they work in areas even when more general conditions are less than robust. It is all a matter of understanding the local conditions, having the right product mix and solid planning.

However such ‘deposits’ are not always possible or even advisable and if mistimed or used with inadequate market knowledge then the circumstances can backfire and damage a project’s possible success.

Despite all of the industries experience and the detailed insights discussed over recent weeks, ROI campaigns are not universally suitable for all projects. I can’t stress enough, if not done correctly, they can cause more harm than good. Despite a trend that has seen the idea become very popular – do not be fooled! ROI and launch campaigns are not as easy as they appear – they require years of experience.

It is easy to understand this popularity as a successful campaign can save money and as already outlined help secure sales that underpin a project and influence prices in a very positive way.

There are alternatives to the ROI campaigns that can be considered where the activity is driven by quality databases from assigned groups such as local agents, investor groups or buyers agents.

In this instance there is typically a campaign that is undertaken with the support of specific media that revels just enough about a project to secure people’s interest. There is a need to be ‘in-market’ even when selling through databases to provide confidence and assurance the project is genuine. If well managed these campaigns, while involving a reasonable amount of media investment and exposure, can be very successful.

This adaptation however requires the ability to be able to offer the project as ‘market-ready’ so that prices are set with contracts able to be exchanged so that potential buyers only act out of genuine interest rather than joining a database in anticipation of a future launch. This format of pre-release campaigns usually only operates on very short time frame. The key aim is to secure demand in a particular target group.

Whisper or off-market campaigns

While ROI campaigns and limited release campaigns do involve a varied degree of public exposure of the project, there is another option to act on prior to being ‘on-market’.

A whisper campaign that does not involve any formal marketing because it is a strategy based upon existing market contacts and reliable blue chip contacts.  It is a strategy based upon, literally a whisper, which could be these days one based around social media between already well-known and reliable parties associated with a potential project about to be taken to market.

Networking

‘It is not what you know but who you know' – a phrase that has been used endlessly to describe the value of networking.

In marketing terms networking is very powerful and in some very practical ways plays an important role in the project marketing environment. While the high-end of the market can be a very fertile ground for networking it has many varied and surprising applications at almost every level of the market and will in future be a more fertile ground thanks to social media.

The notion is tied very much into the power of word-of-mouth or personal recommendation… ‘a word in the right ear can move mountains’. It has been suggested if you could go and talk personally to every potential consumer face to face you would have the ideal marketing tool.

In its modern form networking via social media and eMarketing is an everyday reality as both rely upon an idea being spread in a targeted way without the direct use of traditional media or at least within limitations as traditional media is still very relevant.

So powerful is networking the idea has kept pace with and even lead some aspects of today’s communications. Every time a consumer gives their email address to a supplier or any organization to receive online details of this or that product or service they are in fact agreeing to become part of a network.

The reason for the willingness is the expectation of getting in ahead of the wider community on some news, offer or deal that may be offered.

So networking can cover a wide spectrum of applications from a direct email, a tweet or telephone call to a well-placed friend or associate about an opportunity or through the use of a blog on a social network site to spread some good news.

However, before taking on any of the alternative ROI strategies we have discussed, one overriding fact remains the chief ingredient in any campaign: the need to pre-qualify any person who expresses interest in a project so that when the property is released and on the market the required sales result is secured.

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International

 

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.

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