Property Development Marketing & Sales: The Complete Guide (2019)
Last updated 03/09/2019
With social media and proptech transforming the business, the days of expecting a few glossy brochures to bring in the customers are now definitely over.
With hundreds of similar property listings online, it’s more important than ever to make yours stand out for all the right reasons.
So how can you benefit from great property development marketing without having to resort to the expense of outsourcing to estate agency marketing or a specialist property marketing agency?
We’ve got your back, with our comprehensive guide to sales and marketing that will put your property on the map.
You shouldn’t scramble to make sales once your property development is close to completion.
You should have property marketing and sales in mind from the minute you go sourcing your site.
First of all, you’ll need to create insightful buyer personas around your target customers.
Don’t understand the marketing lingo?
A buyer persona is simply what you write up about your target customers - their age, gender and economic demographics, interest and goals, and crucially the problems that they want solved.
You should do some research, but it’s also wise to use your own expertise, some educated guesses and common sense - it’s a pretty safe bet that if you’re advertising a development in a quiet area with good transport links, you’ll get the most interest from retired couples and young families.
Check out where your buyer personas usually look for their houses and flats, to get a good idea of who your competitors are, why your customers like them, and what you can do to differentiate yourself.
Last but not least, you’ll want to give your buyer personas memorable and even slightly silly names - so you never forget who you’re marketing too, but can treat them as more of a real person rather than just ‘buyer type X’.
And that’s the key to this - getting the persona nailed, but also recognising that there are hundreds of diverse real people within that type.
2 examples of buyer personas to give you some ideas:
1. ‘The Family Fords.’
If your development is right next to a school be sure to mention it and its Ofsted ratings, and play up how your property will be a great place to make family memories.
Young families will likely use online sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla to find their homes, but they’ll probably be a lot more cautious and exhaustive in their search, so they will look at brochures and maybe even print listings as well.
They’re also more likely to want the perceived protection of an estate agent guiding them through the process - so you can either rope one in or feature great case studies and testimonials to reassure them how trustworthy you are on your own 2 feet.
Cost will also be a huge feature for them, so make sure to put it on the market for the right price.
Is there anything else you think the Ford’s will want from you?
2. ‘Student Sui’
Student Sui will be looking for great transport links to her university, but will probably compromise on journey time for features like good security, great entertainment options and affordability.
If you’ve invested in PBSA (purpose built student accommodation) you’ll want to play up any luxury features in your property marketing strategy, use high quality images and videos, and revolve your marketing around what an energetic community they can find by living in your development.
Don’t forget your personas once you’ve sold - if you’ve found any interesting surprises with your buyer personas, note them down somewhere.
You might find you have more success marketing to a buyer type you didn’t have in mind when you developed your property - so be flexible!
If you want to learn more, we’ve found these 100 questions to ask yourself about your buyer persona.
Big-up Your Brand
Property branding has changed dramatically in the online era.
Getting it right is key to seeing the capital gain you deserve, as Knight Frank found that “Branded residences command an average uplift of 31% compared to equivalent non branded schemes.”
So how can you embrace the challenge and create brilliant branding that will reach out to your ideal customers?
While location will always be a huge draw-in for any type of buyer or tenant, they are now more likely to think about a property in terms of how it will fit into the lifestyle they want - because young buyers have had to save harder for longer than any generation before them, you’ll have to present your home as so much more than bricks and mortar.
You should focus on advertising your property as a great potential home that plays into their lifestyle aspirations.
Customers are scrambling to find the best deals on price, so if you can anchor your property branding around how affordable your property is, then you’ll have customers lining up out of the front door.
At the same time, luxury homes are generating increased interest, so advertising based around a prosperous lifestyle can pay dividends too.
Let's have a look at the design elements.
Attractive design will always play a part and here are some of the ways that the most innovative property developments are distinguishing themselves from the rest of the market.
- Brand Guidelines - create a comprehensive guide for your employees - or yourself - as a reference for all of the design elements of your brand, creating a ‘house style’ for your communications, copy and visual branding, e.g images and videos.
- Name Development - there’s a lot in a name, as property development businesses are learning in their droves. While you might think this is only something you need to worry about when setting up a limited company or a joint venture, more and more individual developments are coming with their own name.
Make sure it’s short and sweet, easy to spell, remember and pronounce, highlights the best points of your property, and can be easily distinguished from your competitors.
It should reflect your USP - more on that later - and your property company’s personality.
Are you a traditional but gentle hand guiding your customers to buy with excellent service and a relaxed approach to sales?
Or are you dynamic, playful and social media savvy, targeting young professionals?
Once you’ve used these key points to brainstorm some great brand names, then it's time to test customer reactions to the potential names, and check that they’ve not been trademarked by anyone else, by conducting a trademark search.
- Branding and logo design - distinctive logos are becoming more important to property developers. Nowadays the best brands engage in crisp design with emotionally engaging colours, abstract shapes and foil blocking. If you want some inspiration, these are some eye catching designs that are redefining the standards of the industry.
- Sale boards - no matter how the property market changes and innovates, sales boards will always be super important for property sales and marketing. It creates local word of mouth and real time brand awareness in a way no other branding option can.
Should be bold but unfussy with a color palette of 1 or 2 bright colors.
Regularly check that they’re still standing and in good condition - if there’s been any heavy wind or storms, make sure that they’re still standing!
Even the most luxurious house will look ugly to buyers if the sales board is at an awkward wonk.
Make sure you retrieve your boards quickly and store them properly to cut out extra costs.
The conceptual side of property branding
- Figure out your brand’s core purpose - if you don’t know the purpose of your property brand, then your buyers won’t know why they should choose your property. Think about what wider purpose your brand serves, so you can connect with your customers on a human level.
Do you want your buyers to fall in love with your local area?
Do you focus on environmentally friendly developments?
Or have you designed your flats to create a social living space and increase well being by getting neighbours to know each other?
- What’s your USP? - your Unique Selling Point could be the same as your core purpose, or something else.
Maybe you’ve got second to none service to help your clients through their decision to buy.
Or perhaps you’ve got innovative features such as an internet connected thermostat or an electronic door lock.
- Instill buyer confidence by learning about the buyer’s journey and using it to your favour - because of the big financial and emotional expenses associated with buying a property, your buyers will usually come across about 6-8 touch points with your property development brand before they seriously consider deciding on your property.
The buyer’s journey here might go like this:
They find your property development through an online search -> they visit your website -> check if you’re on social media -> email or message you with an enquiry about your development -> phone you for a more comprehensive talk about the property -> arrange a viewing to your development.
You need to make sure that your branding is clear and coherent throughout all stages of the journey and offers a smooth transition between steps.
Just keeping your branding consistent can have a big impact on your buyer’s confidence.
TOP TIP: If you really want to stand out from the rest of the market, try and make sure your branding is engaging to the locals as well as your customers - building a brand that they trust too will reduce any objections to future developments and generate great word of mouth.
Using psychology to bring your branding up to scratch
Property advertising has become about so much more than advertising the property itself.
Using psychology in your branding is a smart move that many more developers are starting to look into.
Your buyer will want the property they live in to say something about their personality and values.
As many as 24% of people who have bought a house say that their decision was based primarily on their gut instinct.
While you can’t give everyone those all important butterflies, there’s a lot you can do to encourage gushy feelings.
- First of all you should also include the aspirational goals and psychological motivations of your buyer personas.
- Have an intercultural approach. Make sure your advertising reflects all the demographics in your area, so anyone can see themselves living there. Think about foibles and superstitions - apparently a property at number 13 can sell for up to £6,500 less than its neighbours!
- Take advantage of ‘the primacy effect.’ Research has consistently shown that people remember the first things they see the most when they’re making a purchase.
So if you want to sell your home fast, the advertising will have to begin the minute they walk to your entrance. Tidy up any garden paths so no-one’s left with a stinging impression from nettles digging in their ankles or gravel stuck inside their socks. Make sure the front of the property looks as handsome as the inside, and that the entrance is tidy.
- Talking of gardens, make sure to play up any green space that your property offers.
Buyer’s are increasingly thinking about the environmental impact of their homes, and seeking out green spaces that have been proven to help health and wellbeing.
If you’ve not got a garden, don’t despair. Make sure to mention any parks, greens or walks near to your development, if your area has good air quality or if your property has a good energy or environmental impact rating. If nothing else, you can always create the association by dressing the living room table with fresh flowers, or placing houseplants on the windowsills.
- You need to make sure the decor is bright and neutral. It needs to be a blank slate for your potential buyers so that they can see themselves living there. It’s not your property to put your mark on, as tastes may vary. Going with simple but elegant interior design with unfussy dressing will always do wonders.
- Top Tip - look for a story about your property.
There won’t always be one, but if there’s a good emotional story about the property, it’s grounds, past homeowners or tenants, or even the surrounding area, these can all help your buyers ‘fall in love.’
Diversify your marketing channels
Advertising online and social media has become a no brainer now. But there are other ways to make the most of property marketing in the online world:
- Property video marketing is quickly becoming a must to generate good sales quickly. This type of property advertising relies on you connecting on a human level to your customers, showing what life in your property could be like. It should be informal, colourful and make your potential buyers excited about making your property their home. Here’s a good example. You can even make a 360° video to show off your property from the inside!
- Text message marketing is a growing channel for marketing to potential buyers. In 2017, a US study found that while 62% of home buyers would like their estate agents to send them information about properties over text, only 5% of them actually utilised text message marketing. While this is likely to have changed, chances are it’s still an untapped market - and using text message marketing is a great way to get your customers to love you for taking the stress out of the process.
- Email marketing is also a great way of keeping your customers in the loop. You’ll need to utilise a platform like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor to write emails that remind your customers about your property offers and why you’re the right choice for them.
- AI Marketing: AI can identify the best potential customers and chatbots can help kick off a relationship, with the computers answering the easy questions so that you can put your energy into more in depth sales strategies.
What can you do if after all this you’re still shaking your head, asking ‘how can I sell my house without estate agent marketing?’
Don’t worry - we’ve got some handy extra tips to boost your marketing and sales potential.
- Look at recently sold homes in your area and investigate the developers who are making great sales. Are there any trends in how they’ve branded themselves, or which buyer personas they’re marketing to?
- See if they’ve generated any PR for their big developments. But don’t assume you need to have all the newspapers on speed dial - take a look at the reactions of commenters before you make your own PR strategy.
How are locals and potential buyers reacting?
Does the PR resonate with them, or are they cynical about it - what particular concerns do they have price, environmental impact or a lack of space?
Take note and address common grievances in your marketing.
- That being said, if you know you’ve got something special, or a really exciting new USP for your area, it is always worth taking a note of local interest and property magazines that you can contact to publicise your development.
- Consider investing in a furnishing team for your property. They take the hassle out of furnishing a property by providing high quality packages for buy to lets. It might seem like an unjustified extra expense, but furnished houses can generate up to 21% better prices than unfurnished ones. You can also deduct a percentage of the cost of the goods from your tax liability.
It takes on average 102 days days to sell a home in the UK. But if you develop a coherent property marketing and sales strategy, it’s almost guaranteed that your property will perform brilliantly on the market - and maybe even get your competitors hot under the collar!
For more information about how to get ahead in all aspects of property development, take a look at our regularly updated blog.