Obsolete Marketing Ways
Obsolete Marketing Ways
A USD 100 billion real estate industry which has been termed as a sunrise sector doesn’t seem to move away from the traditional ways of running media/ advertisement campaigns. Ashish Mahajan, Co-Founder, Indianrealtybytes.com, a real estate dedicated content platform opines.
Pamphlets by the same firm with that one project continue to fall from our daily mails.Or for that matter the “in your face banners” that prompt you to look at a Deepika Padukone, Shah Rukh Khan, Shradhha Kapoor and even Boman Irani endorsing property developers. Come to think of it, the day real estate companies stop advertising; the bill board business may come to a standstill.
Not surprisingly, a typical Sunday newspaper in Gurgaon would be filled with numerous advertisements which read – “’ABC’ Clinic, ‘DEF’ Advisors, ‘GHI’ partners invites you to the biggest property fest of all times”. Or some would go to an extent of saying “homes for 15 lacs”, “homes with assured rentals for 15 years”, “homes with numerous finance schemes”. The same will play on your popular radio shows as jingles. In fact, a recent SMS and Facebook campaign by a leading player came to notice, whereby the firm is marketing properties worth Rs.10 Cr and above – on mobile handsets….
If I were to ask anyone to name five leading brands in real estate sector, I don’t think I will ever get a convincing answer. Because there are just no brands in this space, there are just developers who have built a strong regional or national presence. Today, when the real estate market is floundering across the country, there are no outliers in this space who can claim “we are still selling”.
Yes, we do admire certain firms for their financial and business prudence and that is a good enough reason for us to work with them; yet, we believe there is a “big gap” between what a consumer is looking at from the real estate developer “to communicate” versus what is being “told to him”. The only takeaways from any of these traditional campaigns are “Price, location brief and base prices”. Even here, the developer will probably not be telling the complete story and that, might for example result in things such as, a Rs. 40 lac home translating into Rs. 55 lac or so, with all additional charges.
The sale process is prolonged and tedious too. It would mostly involve a site visit followed by continuous engagement and “wait” no credit cards are swiped here but a mortgage will have to be availed. In all this to expect that a consumer, especially in a weak property market, to go gaga over an endorsement by a leading cricketer or Bollywood personality, to buy a home worth several lakhs – is a bummer from the start.
Emergence of Online Marketing
Has anything really changed in the way the properties have been marketed in recent times? Yes, an unknown giant “Digital Marketeer” walked into the meeting rooms and when one developer latched onto the practice, the others followed suit.
In our basic analysis of keywords for Google campaigns and discussions with developers, we found them spending enormous amounts of money to attract clicks to their landing pages. And what do these landing pages contain – more often than not – a lead generation form.So a developer, intermediary or leading classifieds are all hoping that a consumer who is online, probably searching for property or information on property/ developer is tempted to leave his phone number/ email id, the moment a lead generation form pops up? Some of the niche digital agencies have been highly critical about the cost per lead model, as real estate is a high ticket involvement game. Rightly so, though every lead is worth several hundred rupees, unlike a restaurant or movie ticket, the amount of money at stake is very high.
Reluctance to Modification
In many cases, developers let their “preferred intermediaries” run offline and online campaigns and they are refunded through brokerages. In one instance, a developer selling a vacation/ retirement villa at an upmarket hill station made a mention of “Property worth Rs. Xx crore” in his Facebook campaign. Yet, he got weird responses such as – I am going there for an evening, what is going to be the room rent? Or are you selling property worth Rs.50 lakhs, which was like 1/3rd the proposed pricing.
Such a practice is maligning the marketing especially the brand building effort, as there is little to no control on quality. Intermediaries are in the business of making a sale happen; for them, background of the developer doesn’t really matter. Hundreds of micro sites are created on the internet by these intermediaries which are replica of the company website. This results in copyright infringement on multiple counts. So, when you go about searching for property of a certain developer, you would be skimming through a whole host of micro sites and the developer’s portal would rank way behind (In most cases). In a nutshell, the whole brand building is left to the intermediary.
The thing that is scarier is the attitude of the sales teams – “the flats need to sell”. This has resulted in little to no product differentiation, developers paying digital firms enormous amounts for unqualified leads and no brand really to talk about
The real estate industry is enamoured by what has been an accepted way of marketing for decades. Promoters of many closely held real estate firms are not willing to experiment with anything new.
Steps to Transformation
For years, the consumer had been chased by developer’s sales team or intermediaries, No wonder, consumer himself is unaware of what to look for in a property, beyond price and location. On the other hand, there is a lot to know about a property – infrastructure and connectivity, current status of development, approvals, location development/ benefits, construction techniques, designs and benefits of it, developer track record and model apartment, amongst others.
There is a long way to go for “content marketing” in Indian real estate space. In the current economic and real estate slowdown several weak players may have to wind up their businesses. The ones that scrape through will have to analyse their best practices, projects and plans. With RERA Act talking of regulating advertisements, a lot is supposed to change. All the fancy gimmicks and grand brochures may be talk of the past.