Selling bricks and mortar

Newsroom 06/11/2007 | 17:58

Toni Todosiciuc, marketing manager at Eurisko, says the marketing for a real estate project targets the increasing interest for the property by using more or less traditional advertising and communication tools. According to him, the real estate products benefit from a live warranty, but the brand value only lasts briefly. The brand's added value lasts as long as the selling process is ongoing because after the sale the property doesn't need marketing anymore. The result of the developing project – the property, either a residential compound or an office building – becomes a portfolio trophy for the developer, the real estate agent, the architect or the construction company, Todosiuc expains.

Marketing by real estate agencies
When the real estate agent is about to represent one project, it should financially consider the promotion of the project. To market a real estate project requests the entire package, starting with strategy, implementing it and communicating.
Developers would rather work with some agencies which already developed a certain background on the market and own a portfolio and benefit from a positive rating in the field. Often, new players emerge on the market and they need consultancy and guidance, and they will first look to the experienced ones. The rating of an agency doesn't appear out of the blue, so this is where the real estate agent's marketing strategies occur, marketing specialists say.
On the other hand, there are residential projects which don't really need a laborious back-up in advertising, and are sold after the first construction stage. “This was the case of the Green Lake project. We launched the project in October 2006 and two months later, the project was 75-percent contracted. We started with a launch, we targeted some printed media, we developed a wave of online campaigns, and two visible models. Compared to other projects which benefit from aggressive campaigns in media and through OOH campaigns, Green Lake project had two short and targeted waves,” said Adriana Sohodoleanu, research and PR coordinator at Colliers.
The marketing strategies don't need to be developed for any project, for instance, the small- size projects and the luxury ones are so targeted and focused on a certain audience, that a good presentation and brochure is enough, said Sohodoleanu.
As in other marketing strategies, the real estate marketing follows certain patterns and it seems that in such a market where the demand is high above the supply, the only thing to do for promotion is to show up and the rest will follow, according to Todosiciuc of Eurisko. As the supply will meet the demand, new marketing strategies have to be implemented and there will be a time when new advertising tools and new communication manners will be required.
“A real estate broker first sells trust, especially on such a diverse market with lots of projects which can only be seen on paper in a sketched phase and especially when a buyer doesn't know too much about the developer and the constructor. The agencies build a foundation of trust on behalf of the developer,” said Diana Metiu, general manager at DMI, a PR company specialized in promoting real estate projects.

Where do they sell?
The developing market leads to diversity in choosing the media mix, with the opportunity of the penetration of the real estate in television and with the newest support of online promotion. Lately, the products which rule the prime time advertising are banks with their varied products including the financing for real estate products, insurance companies and telecom products. Even if TV is not a playground for real estate properties presentations, there are specialized TV shows to promote projects and to analyze the real estate market from every point of view: the tendencies, investments, projects and according to real estate agents, TV is an important support for promoting the real estate projects because of the large accessibility. Still, TV doesn't quite hit the mark in terms of real estate projects and products, despite the wide audience, and the high costs of TV advertising are a deterrent. “You can't find media at all if you're not buying up front,” said Moshon Levi, BMD Advertising's marketing director and founding partner, in an interview for the The Prague Post magazine, referring to the Romanian market. “The market in Romania is about five years behind the Czech market, but it's booming in all segments. So now is the time to penetrate. We can bring some of the know-how from the Czech market to the Romanian market, even though we know that the mentality is a bit different, the focus of our 2008 agenda is to build up our Romanian client base,” said Levi.
According to the advertising monitoring company, Alfacont, the residential advertising market represents 0.09 percent of the share from the total advertising market of print, TV and radio ads, while the real estate agency presence within this market represents a 0.10 percent share. At this point, there are many projects advertised by showrooms where a potential buyer can see the scale of apartments or the houses developed within a project, with the interior design and the complete furnishings. This kind of pre-selling strategy is the correspondent of “sampling” for consumer goods. Regarding the residential projects, they help the buyers to customize their future property. Some developers chose to finish an apartment in the very building they are developing, while others are constructing a replica which displays different types of furnishings.
Online presentations of the projects offer a higher level of interactivity and, according to developers and real estate agents, online presentations and guidance are a must in selling these projects. “If a brochure is made to catch the eyes, a website offers many other details on the projects, development plans, calculation, and direct linking to financing opportunities. The online presentations are a more pragmatic tool for pre-sales strategies, and the newsletters are usually used as a communication tool for a better-targeted audience,” esplains Sohodoleanu from Colliers

Building a brand in real estate
Real estate agencies were the first to build a brand on the market, after which the developers started to underline the concept of their projects, build a coherent image of their products, and adjust their marketing strategies to the local needs.
Apart from the corporate marketing strategies, the real estate market holds a characteristic of building brands for each project. “This is the logical thing to do since each project has its own identity, brings specific benefits, and we see each project as an entity. Building a brand leads to personalize each project,” said Luciana Petrescu, communication manager at Regatta. The big challenge for the real estate marketing is fitting and promoting the project to the interests of the end-user.
With the effervescence of the market, the agencies tend to specialize, also by increasing the budgets. The agencies as well as the developers started to be open to collaborating with advertising agencies, such as the developers of Cosmopolis or Baneasa projects. “For now, the developers would rather use classic communication strategies but with the development of this segment even more, the creative campaigns will make the difference on the market,” said Despina Ponomarenco, marketing and PR manager at Coldwell Banker Affiliates of Romania. “The developers clearly define their promoting budgets for the projects, which stand for 0.5 percent and 1 percent of the project's cost for the residential projects, with 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent for the commercial developments,” stated Despina Ponomarenco.
Depending on the strategy concept and the developer, the percentage could go further up. “In the first year of development, the cost may vary from 3 percent to 8 percent from the total cost of the project, while in the following years, the percentage stands at 2.5 and 3.5 from total costs,” said Nicoleta Radu, business director for Westhouse Group.
The agencies count on the added value of building the confidence of their public and underlining the corporate assessment of the company and their portfolio. “Each project is marketed as an entity, not depending on the targeted market segment, and there is no singular success formula for all projects. The same thing can be said about the budgets, the agencies and developers set the entire strategy and budgets according to the dimensions and the target of their project,” said Petrescu.

Magda Purice

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