Historically, property advertisers have focused their marketing spend around tactical media channels that generate direct response. However for all other sectors, brand is the basis of a successful campaign; it’s time property marketing followed suit.

The issue is even more crucial in challenging economic times, but also more counterintuitive: in a tough market, focusing activity around the channels with the lowest directly attributable cost per response is the instinctive reaction. But to set themselves apart from the competition, whether that’s the second-hand market or other builders, developers need also to consider the long-term view. This strategy will enable them to achieve the strongest average selling price in an uncertain marketplace, without sacrificing volume.

In an extremely competitive market place, how do you set yourself apart?

“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business” – Steve Forbes, Editor in Chief of Forbes Magazine

When pursuing a direct response agenda it is all too easy to focus on the return on investment from each medium in isolation, with little consideration of the halo effect of other media channels. When we know that a combined approach of brand building and activation generates the strongest long-term response, why in the property sector do most advertisers assume this would not be the case?

Recent IPA research clearly shows a greater impact on large business factors when a larger % of the marketing mix is focused on brand (recommended 60% brand / 40% activation).

Tactical media buys will work best when targeting people with an imminent intent to purchase (portal emails, database communications, retargeting). Brand building requires a commitment to high-reach media channels that deliver consumers in their passive stage and so may not show an immediate return. Marketeers must fulfil both objectives to be as effective as possible.

Brand is the key to premium pricing in the Property Market

The main competition for new build is the second-hand market. To command a premium price, developers must improve the perception of new build overall; undoubtedly a strong objective of the May ‘New Homes Week’ HBF campaign.

During quieter seasonal periods or economic downturns, new homes’ share of the market tends to grow as the overall market shrinks: industry statistics frequently suggest that new homes enquiries do not rise and fall commensurately with the volume of enquiries for the whole market. In a tougher marketplace, those consumers who are actively in market have a higher propensity to enquire for second-hand homes. To counteract this propensity, we must communicate the many benefits of buying new without racing to the bottom in terms of price and promotion: not just ‘X saving on this plot, with Part Exchange, Stamp Duty, Carpets and FREE Cat included’.

Brand is particularly important for those developers trying to achieve a higher average selling price over their direct competitor set, especially on consortium sites.

In the IPA Databank of over 1,000 cases, there is not one single example of a brand that reduced-price sensitivity through activation activity only. Source: Les Binet and Peter Field ‘Effectiveness In Context’ EffWeek2018

To reduce price sensitivity and justify premium pricing, brands must focus more of their activity on brand.

Key Thoughts

It is easy with all the data/martech available to get sidetracked into focusing marketing budgets into a few key channels with little or no consideration for the overall reach of the message. In a challenging marketplace, we must consider the long-term objectives and not focus only on the quick win.

Your brand is not just a marketing message: it should be at the core of everything you do. From POS, interior design, company culture and most importantly your employees; be that a Site Manager, Sales Director or Land Technician.

Source: SmartInsights, How To Define Your Brand And Vision Identity, Brand-led Business Strategy Model: BrandCap

Best practice would be to create a six-month plan and stick to it (obviously with an allowance for some short-term additions and pivots). Leave Panic Monday Media Buying in the 90s where it belongs: it will inevitably result in an underperforming, overspending marketing plan. If tried and tested channels are not working, let’s not throw money at those that we have identified in a strong market place as poor performers.

Developers must produce content appropriate to the channels being used rather than shoehorning existing content into all platforms. Do you have portrait photography that will work in an Instagram story? Do you have a version of your TV advert that works without sound on social channels?

There’s a visible commitment in other sectors to focus marketing decision making around a long-term mindset that the property sector must emulate.

“The debate continues around the balance between aiming for short-term performance marketing and long-term brand building. In 2019 I think we will see a tipping point where more brands move towards making more decisions based on a long-term view, even in the face of an immediate impact upon short term sales” Source: Mark Evans, marketing director at Direct Line Group. Marketing Week, Marketers from Sainsbury’s, Direct Line, Debenhams and more share their predictions for 2019. 20 Dec 2018

England defied expectation in reaching the 2018 World Cup Semi-Final not by reliance on the experienced players that were considered the most likely route to success, but by trusting in a manager, with a plan, with a vision, that focused on a team approach to success not identifying one or two star-players (and don’t forget the waistcoat!).

If you’re interested in learning more from a range of data experts, come along to our Always-On Property event on Wednesday 30th January, where we will be opening the floor to experts from Hitwise, Mintel and Google. We will be sharing insights about the challenges and opportunities faced by property developers in 2019 and we’d love for you to join us.


Heather Connearn, Associate Director