The secret to selling property online – TRUST

Trust - the secret to selling property online

The secret to selling property online? Great and authentic content + awesome social media strategy!

Ok ……maybe you won’t actually make the sale online – you will still need to have good salespeople and be able to close, but this is how you generate quality leads online.

The property industry is prolific at generating content. Every project has literally reams of content written for it come launch date. Website content, brochures, sales kits, press releases, realestate.com.au ad’s…. the list goes on and on.

And now all of that same content is going on social media – facebook, twitter and more. And people wonder why this content doesn’t work. Time and time again I am told by property industry professionals that social media doesn’t work. The answer isn’t that it doesn’t work, its just that you are doing it all wrong. Let me tell you why!

Social media, and the crazy amount of content that is constantly being pushed out into the Internet of things, is changing fundamentally how consumers choose suppliers. In the case of property, how consumers find and buy property.

Gen Y’s, Millennials, and an increasing number of Gen X’s are savvy enough to recognise marketing spin when they see it. They are now looking for authentic content they can trust. Even more than this, they are looking for genuine and trusted relationships with the organsiations they buy from.

So when you push out another PR article on Facebook, don’t be surprised when you get no likes and no responses. Consumers can see through the marketing spin and quickly discount it. Yes they are hungry for content, but if they wanted marketing spin and self-aggrandising claims they would visit Buzzfeed – not your site (sorry Buzzfeed!).

I encourage you to read this article in Fast Company, “the only lasting competitive advantage is extreme trust”. Whilst this article talks about trust in the context of e-commerce, it is spot on when it comes to consumer behaviour online. E-commerce is, and will continue to be, the pointy end of selling online. This is a true transaction and companies like Amazon are genuinely recreating the sales and marketing process to build the trust required to get people to part with a lot of money over the internet. We all can watch and learn from what they do right; and wrong of course. Then we need to start applying this to how we do property sales and marketing.

The property industry, and in particular the off-the-plan property industry, has to start changing. Consumers no longer trust your advertisements. They want, and need, more. They want authentic content and ultimately they want a long term and trusting relationship with you. Sound like music to your ears? It should! Imagine a loyal customer base who can’t wait to hear from you, love reading or watching what you send out, is a repeat customer and most importantly of all, happily refers you to their friends and family.

Since I started out providing digital solutions to the property industry 20 years ago this is what we have been striving for. A 1-1 relationship with our customer which – let me repeat –

can’t wait to hear from you, love reading or watching what you send out, is a repeat customer and most importantly of all, happily refers you to their friends and family. 

From a technical perspective, content marketing and social media is the first genuine opportunity for you to create these types of relationships on an industrial scale. You can now genuinely aim to have these types of relationships with hundreds and even thousands of consumers. It is possible and you should be starting on this journey. It won’t be easy, and it certainly will not be fast, but it is the future of project marketing.

The first step, of many, is building an online persona / reputation of authenticity and trust. Just like in the offline world, this takes a lot of time and effort. So it is all a question of getting started – sooner rather than later.

So how can we help?

  1. PropertyMash.com – this is our new off-the-plan property portal that is all about content marketing and trust. We have a team of journalists who create independent and authentic content that property buyers can trust and rely upon when searching for property. We also publish authentic content that you produce that will help you build your online persona / reputation.

    PropertyMash.com is a whole new way for the property industry to communicate with buyers. We will be pushing content through our portal, social media channels and also into key international markets such as China, Hong Kong and Singapore to enable the property industry to reach out and communicate in new ways.

    Ultimately, PropertyMash.com will generate for you enquiries that are from buyers who are highly qualified and genuine.

    So if you have off-the-plan projects for sale, please get in touch.

  2. Social Marketing for you. Brightfox has a whole social marketing team and we can bring to your project that same expertise that is behind PropertyMash.com. We have our own digital marketing experts and content writers inhouse. So whether is it generating quality content, integrated landing pages to optimise conversion, facebook advertising, re-targeting, Weibo or WeChat, Adwords, Instagram….. you get the idea, we do it. Ultimately this means we generate for you quality leads.

Property and the unstoppable VR Headset Hype

Once considered the realm of Sci-fi movies, and although still very much in its infancy, property developers are now looking for ways to capitalise on a technology that is sure to have a huge impact on the way we purchase off-the-plan and new property. So what’s all the recent hype about?

There are some high-quality immersive virtual reality headsets hitting the consumer market for the first time. These devices could end up having a societal impact as substantial as the introduction of smartphones.

The biggest challenges working with such new technologies in the Real Estate industry is getting the consumer experience just right.

The questions we must first ask, does Virtual Reality add or improve the sales process?

This is the fundamental question when looking at any technology. If you can realize an ROI – it’s worthwhile. If it’s just for a gimmick, the money may be better spent elsewhere. Of course that gimmick might be the reason the prospect walked into your display suite, and met with your sales agents rather than a competitors display suite, but the question is will it help make the sale!

Will a prospect still feel the property is a spacious 67sqm two bedroom apartment after they’ve seen the living room packed with furniture in a render that looks a little too crowded?
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We use VR technology extensively in our touchscreen and App solutions, with Augmented 3D buildings and virtual walk through of apartments being very powerful sales tools.

We believe the best use of VR headset technology at the moment lies within visualisation of large masterplanned communities. It is a very effective means of ‘virtually’ standing on the front lawn of a future home, taking a peak at what afuture neighbours house will look like or for going for a stroll through the community facilities. This is now perhaps the best way to explore / visualise these masterplanned communities, but do require extensive 3D rendering of course so it is still costly.

So in conclusion what do we think about VR? We love it and already use it extensively in our Apps and touchscreens. Watch out however for the gimmicky VR Headsets and new technologies that are launched as the overall technology evolves. Most of the VR Headsets that we are seeing now will be gone relatively soon as the technology rapidly evolves. Like most new technology we can expect a rapid period of technologcal explosion followed by a period of consolidation as it matures. It is at this stage that readily available and commercially viable VR Headsets will become commonplace.

Check out Microsoft’s Hololense – this is really exciting new take on VR Headset technology and we think going to be a big hit!

Why salespeople hate CRM? (& our solution!)

Why is it that salespeople generally dislike and do not use CRM software implemented by the Company that they work for?

After all as commission based salespeople don’t they stand to benefit from the primary reason CRM exists – to improve sales!

To start with you might even question this proposition. Perhaps in your organisation your salespeople do use your CRM. That is great if they do, but let me assure you that in most organisations with CRM software, the greatest problem with true implementation is getting salespeople to adopt and use the software. Over the 20 years that we have been building and implementing CRM software in the property industry, this has been and continues to be the single most difficult issue.

In the property industry we can charactarise a number of reasons that management elect to implement CRM software. We believe they are:

– improve sales

– improve systemisation

– provide better data clarity

– reduce costs

– reduce risk

I will go through each in turn:

1. Improve Sales. This is the most obvious reason and ostensibly the primary reason for putting in a CRM. “Lets capture every lead, put in sales source automation, coupled with fully integrated database marketing, and lets see our sales rates improve”.

2. Improve systemisation. In the property industry this includes everything from capturing leads, then implementing systematic database marketing, price list management, contract administration, financial reporting and so on. The implementation of a system to manage this entire process is a compelling reason to implement a CRM.

3. Provide better data clarity. A CRM should provide clear and realtime data on everything from leads, to live price lists, contract status, financial exposure and so on. All critical information to be a successful property business.

4. Reduce Costs. This is really a by-product of Point 2 – Improve Systemisation. Through implementing a CRM successfully, you should be able to reduce operational costs in your business.

5. Reduce Risk. This is not raised as often as it should be as a reason to implement a CRM. By centralising your company data into a single ‘silo’ you will eliminate significant risk in that data walking out the door, being lost and generally misused. Data is becoming an increasingly valuable asset to all property businesses, and a CRM should be an essential tool for collating and securing that data. Through systemisation of your business CRM will also reduce a businesses reliance on specific personnel, reducing the impact on any one or multiple employee’s leaving.

Quality CRM software is now generally good at delivering on the last 4 of these points. Industry specific software such as our foxEnterpriseCRM, are particularly powerful at Point 2 through many years of continuous optimisation to meet the specific needs of property developers, project marketers, investment groups and so on.

Point 1 – improving sales is however still a significant challenge for almost every CRM implementation I have seen. Why you might ask? The answer is simple. If you salespeople do not systematically use your CRM software, your sales pipeline has failed at the very point where it starts. If your salespeople are not entering new leads, are not updating leads as and when they communicate with them, if they are not following your automated activity plans, and not even accessing live price lists and other essential sales information via the CRM, then your attempt to improve sales through improved conversion rates, cross selling, database marketing or other techniques will fail…. or at the very least will struggle.

So we come back to the question at hand: Why do salespeople hate CRM? I will pose this in another way. What do salespeople want in a CRM? In our view it is the following:

1. Software that is easy to use.

2. Software that helps them perform their sales or admin tasks more easily.

3. Software that gives them the essential sales information they need (live price lists, sales kits, floor plans, fly throughs etc)

4. Software that is available to use no matter where they are

I have included below a screen grab of Salesforce, reputably the most popular CRM in the world.

The No 1 reason salespeople do not use CRM software is complexity. CRM software is just too complicated and confusing to use. When looking at this Salesforce screen grab there is nothing ostensibly easy about reading and certainly entering this data. Lots of of fields, lots of categories, lots of buttons. If you use the toolbar and start going into Accounts, then Opportunities and so on it just gets worse and worse.  If this software was developed and implement for salespeople, as every CRM vendor purports, just why has it ended up being so complex and difficult to use!

I am not just picking on Salesforce here. The is no CRM software that is as powerful and as full of features as our own foxEnterpriseCRM. For 20 years we have been customising and improving it with feature after feature to meet the specific needs of the property industry. The answer as to why foxEnterpriseCRM and other CRM software is just so complex can be found on my earlier points on why CRM software is implemented in the first place. As pointed out earlier CRM software is expected to do a lot more than just help salespeople make sales. Points 2 through to Pt 5 above all have nothing to do with salespeople and helping them make more sales. Each of them are fundamentally important reasons to implement a CRM however, so we can not say that a CRM should be developed solely for the needs of a salesperson. Marketing Departments, Contract Administration teams, Customer Service and Handover teams, Management and so on all have detailed requirements, and the CRM software has to meet all of them. By virtue of this, the CRM inevitably and inexorably morphs into a complicated beast that salespeople will simply not use.

If you have read this far then you are desperate to know the solution (or are a competitor of ours!). So I will let you out of your misery. The answer is you need 2 CRM’s. One for your salespeople, and one for your admin team!

One that gives your salespeople exactly what they want and need, and another that gives your administration staff exactly what they want and need. We think this is a revolutionary idea and is going to change forever how people think of CRM software. We are calling it CRM V2

One size does not fit all. One CRM does not work for all! Your current CRM almost certainly does not work for your sales team. So we have developed and launched a new CRM that runs side by side with foxEnterprise CRM – its called SalesCRM and as the name suggests it is made exclusively for salespeople. It is easy to use, beautiful, fast, available on every device and did I say simple to use! And it works.

Your salespeople will love it, and your management team will love foxEnterprise. Two CRM’s, working as one representing a whole new approach a successful CRM implementation.

How will Google’s Latest Search Changes Affect You?

SO WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?

As of April 21st 2015 Google changed its search algorithms to favour websites that are ‘mobile friendly’. This means that mobile optimised websites will begin to rank better in searches than those that are not.

WHY IS IT CHANGING?

This change by Google is a response to the changing way in which users are increasingly searching for content via smartphones and tablets. It is a move to improve the user experience and ensure users are directed to mobile-friendly sites as a preference when searching for content on Google.

WHAT ABOUT MY WEBSITE?

If your website doesn’t have a responsive design or mobile specific site it is likely that your search rankings will suffer. This can send your website tumbling down Google’s search results and potentially cost you deals.

BRIGHTFOX IS HERE TO HELP…

Although this change has already taken effect there is still time for businesses to act. Google can recognise newly optimised sites quickly and will revise your search ranking accordingly. Contact Brightfox now and ensure your website is ‘mobile friendly’ and you’re not losing sales as a result!

Why bother with video and what’s with all the fuss?

 

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Videos have always been a powerful tool when marketing property as they allow us to get potential buyer’s attention and help share the ‘story’ of a project or individual property in a truly engaging way. One of the greatest limitations of email design has been the inability to incorporate embedded videos into your emails like you would in a website or other interactive media. But times are a changing and Video support in HTML email is quickly becoming the hottest topic in email marketing circles.

For those who have been working with direct email campaigns for a number of years you may recall that there was  a time many many many years ago that most desktop and web-based email software supported video in email. But with online security tightening and spam becoming a bigger problem, the belt was tightened and video support in email became a thing of the past. 

With the release of HTML5, it may all be possible again. One clever project has surfaced that uses the <video> tag for browsers that support it and for those don’t support it provides a fall back to the traditional option of a cleverly designed image linked to your video on a hosting platform such as YouTube or Vimeo.

So why should you consider incorporate video into your email content strategy?

According to a recent survey by the Web Video Marketing Council, a whopping 88% of marketers who included video in their email marketing reported a positive impact from recipients. With the rise in popularity of mobile devices, such as Apple iPhones & iPads, which provide the perfect platform for HTML5 and embedded video playback you have the opportunity to put your content rich visualisations directly into the hands of your customers. This direct compatibility is also true for Apple Mail, which is also excellent news for your desktop readers. Gmail and Hotmail users, can also view an inbox-playable preview if linked to a video hosted on YouTube.

Is there a downside to incorporating video into my emails and how do I overcome it?

The downside is that adding URLs as text can trip off phishing warnings in some email clients, so this should be applied with care. For browsers and desktop email software (such as Outlook) that does not support embedded video it is possible to include a fall back image, which will display if HTML5 is not supported. Being able to reliably provide a fall back image is absolutely imperative to ensure that all recipients are able to receive the most relevant content available to them

Our Recommendation?

Our recommendation is that you should do some market research and explore your options before deciding if it’s worthwhile incorporating video as a standard into your emails. Utilising a product like the foxMessenger platform provided  by Brightfox will allow you to run your tests and review the report statistics of your send(s) to determine if you’ve had a better uptake from your customer base.

The Modern Real Estate Display Suite

The property industry knows how to spend a lot of money on marketing! That is a simple fact. As an organisation that has done business in Dubai and the Middle East for many years, I will never forget the excesses of the marketing undertaken by Developers promoting projects in the Middle East. This was most fully demonstrated at the wonderful exhibition – Cityscape Dubai. Here is a link to a walk through video of some of the models that were built for Cityscape Dubai in 2007. I think it would be fair to say that millions of dollars was spent on models alone.

I would argue that models, and this kind of excess, has to be confined to the pages of history. In the modern world of reduced budgets, mobile customers and international markets, physical models such as these just do not cut it. Why? Here are a few reasons:

– 1. Deadlines. When was the last time a physical model was supplied on time? Almost never. The process simply is extremely time consuming and inevitably something that must be completed by a small number of staff with the suitable skills. This makes delivery painfully slow.

– 2. Cost. Physical models, for all of the reasons mentioned above, are expensive.

– 3. Physical constraints. It is very difficult to simply bundle up your physical model and throw it on a plane to Hong Kong, or Milan or anywhere for that matter. Worse still it will often turn up damaged. Physical models simply are very difficult to move.

– 4. Evolution. We all know about DA changes, extra levels being added, masterplan changes and so on. If any of this occurs, your physical model is pretty much a throw away.

And yet a model provides some fundamentally important information to a prospect. When selling property off the plan, there is no doubt that visualisation of the final product is a huge advantage in selling a quality product. The majority of us are more visual learners (up to 65%) as opposed to auditory and kinaesthetic learners – so we love to look at things and learn more by doing so.

So the question is how do we overcome the limitations of a physical model, and yet deliver a sales medium that educates (sells!) to our prospects? We believe that interactive touchscreen models are the answer.

Let me be clear that I don’t necessarily mean a physical 60″ touchscreen. This technology will work as equally as well on a tablet, however when it comes to visualisation, big is better. If you need convincing check out that Cityscape Dubai video again.

With the evolution of technology over the past 5 years, touchscreen can now deliver a fantastic representation of a property development, delivering many of the same benefits of a physical model, and also adding in a few new ones. With the rapid reduction of the cost of TV’s and the rapid increase in their physical size, large scale touchscreens really have come into their own. It is now very affordable to have one or even two large touchscreens in even a smaller project’s display suite – and certainly affordable enough to have a touchscreen at seminars and exhibitions. With the inherent ease to setup and install the underlying program, it really is realistic to say that a touchscreen solution can be deployed at all significant events – notwithstanding the physical location. This in itself opens up a whole new world in the way that Developers and Project Marketers can run Seminars and Exhibitions, and of course set up a Display Suites.

So to summarise the benefits:

1. Mobility. A touchscreen solution can be easily deployed to multiple locations. We have clients that have touchscreen solutions in their display suites, the corporate head office, take it to local and international seminars and even place them in the offices of key stakeholders and business introducers.

2. Adaptability. Making a change to a touchscreen solution is possible, and far easier than a physical model. We recently had a client who added a further 2 levels to a building. Not an insignificant amount of work to change the touchscreen solution, but it was possible without having to start again.

3. Cost. Cost of touchscreen solutions in my experience is generally lower than building physical models. This price differential increases as the size and complexity of the project increases. In other words touchscreens become proportionally less expensive for larger projects/buildings.

4.  Faster to produce. It is a simple fact that the production of physical models is a bit of a specialist art. Whilst quality IT people may be relatively hard to find, they are certainly more abundant than quality model builders. This makes production easier and inevitably faster. Deadlines are therefore far easier to hit.

5. New Features. With a touchscreen we can introduce a whole heap of new features that can enrich the experience in a way a model simply can not. Live availability for one is a fantastically powerful way to get a prospect deeply involved in exploring the project, and progressing down the sales track. Interactive location maps, travel times, floorplans and more all add to these multi-layered ‘exploratory’ process.

6. VAK’s learning. As I touched on above, most people learn primarily through a visual process. However auditory and kinaesthetic learning are all used as well to differing degrees and are the primary learning styles of a significant % of people. A touchscreen solution stimulates all of these learning styles – kinaesthetic through the physical touch exploration process, and of course audio by taking advantage of the speakers in the device. A well constructed touchscreen solution can therefore extend the learning process and lead to a far deeper level of interaction with the prospect than physical models can.

To have a quick look at some of the touchscreen solutions that we have been developing  click here. If you are interested in implementing a new and more innovative ‘model solution’ for the launch of your next project, we would love to talk to you.

HTML5 in mobile and web development

You may or may not have heard the term ‘HTML 5’ used lately when discussing the future of web development and in particular the future of mobile web development. So what is HTML 5? HTML 5 is a browser-based programming language that can make your content more accessible and interactive. In short HTML 5 can deliver app-like usability and mobile friendly delivery in a website.

Is it worth jumping on the HTML 5 band-wagon? The continued support and growth of HTML 5 is undeniable and its capabilities were clear to Apple Inc’s CEO Steve Jobs over two years ago when in April 2010 he controversially issued a public letter that concluded that Adobe Flash would no longer be necessary to watch videos or consume web content as “new open standards such as HTML 5 will win . . .” in the mobile arena. The result of this statement? Apple does not support Flash based content on any iPad or iPhone devices and when you consider that global sales of these devices are in the region of 180 million units, that’s a whole lot of users without the ability to view your content and subsequently adobe gave up the fight and ceased development of mobile versions of flash.

With improved support for offline data storage, advanced form development and API support for complex web applications HTML 5 is clearly becoming the favoured path to follow, particularly for companies looking to avoid the increased development time & cost to publish multiple platform specific applications. Brands such as Ford, The Financial Times and Vimeo have paved the way, utilising the power of HTML 5 to develop their web based ‘apps’. According to the Burrows Communications Agency who developed the ‘Ford Showroom’ application it’s all about cross platform integration and “The cost savings of not developing twice (for multiple platforms) can add up to the hundreds of thousands . . .”

Here at Brightfox we’ve been busy building HTML5 websites (stay tuned and check out our revamped website due for release in a little over a month) and web apps for the property development industry. A new product that we have recently launched is a powerful multimedia sales tool developed for use on Tablets, and in particular for the IPAD. Combining the power of our live agent portal sales tools and our interactive display suite touch-screen solutions, we have developed a sales and presentation tool that not only allows our clients to interactively present their product to potential purchasers but also seamlessly roll their presentation into a sale utilising one dynamic tool. Stay tuned for more on this product!

Click Here to be taken to an interesting infographic about HTML 5 hosted by mycustomer.com

Look who is going Places in Project Marketing (our recent newsletter)

This month Brightfox is proud to introduce Brisbane based project marketer, Place Projects.
In the last few months Place Projects have not only adopted foxEnterprise to manage the sales, marketing and reporting functions for their project sales but have also released a brand new website with a custom design by Brightfox utilising the power of the Umbraco Content Management System.

The Place brand launched onto the Queensland residential real estate scene in late 2002 and since then has grown significantly in both recognition and in market position.

Real Estate power houses – Bruce Goddard, Syd Walker, Damian Hackett and Lachlan
Walker partnered with this growing name, to open the Place Projects office. Understanding that their project marketing needs were going to be immensely more complex than a residential sales office, they approached Brightfox looking for a high quality CRM system and a website that could keep up with the times.

The Place Property group had an existing in-house CRM software application in use
throughout their offices. But to suit their specific project marketing needs
Place Projects spent a considerable amount of time investigating the various
options available on the market before deciding on foxEnterprise and according
to Kathy Cuthbert of Place Projects.

“. . . We never found a system before that catered for
projects. . . and the system is amazing and so user friendly”

and 3 months down the track…

“Since using foxEnterprise we get help with anything
we ask for and if it can’t be fixed straight away or the
person we speak to can’t help us, any issues
arenormally resolved within 24hrs.”

Place Projects is a business involved in launching and marketing
new ‘off the plan’ Projects, so it was essential that the website presented the
Company and the Projects it was marketing professionally. The website needed to
be user friendly and be easily updated, with both new Project content but also
up to date research from Place Projects own internal research division.

The Place Projects website has been built from the ground up to work
seamlessly with foxEnterprise, ensuring that all prospects are imediately
captured and profiled for each Project within the foxEnterprise CRM. The
Brightfox CMS (Content Management System) ensures that Place Projects is 100% in
control of the content on their website, updating as they need to, thereby
ensuring it’s up to date and encouraging repeat visitors to the site.

and the results…   

“We had our projects website designed and operational within a couple of months, the training for it was great and even now, when there is a question it’s answeredin no time at all. It’s so user friendly we can make 99% of the change ourselves”

Real Estate Open Homes, Botox & Luxury Car Test Drives – A Winning Sales Combination . . . . ?

The other day an interesting article came across our desks here at the Brightfox office courtesy of Real Estate Business Online.

Free botox, test drives to lure agents to listing

According to the article an ingenious, for want of a better word, Californian Listing Agent  has teamed up with his local Audi dealer to provide prospective sales agents the opportunity to test drive the latest range while attending open houses for the agent’s multi-million dollar listings.

Traditionally a nice spread of good food was enough to seal the deal, but with competition growing he wanted to push beyond this approach.

. . . “We look at ourselves not just as agents, but as promoters, and want agents from Malibu to Palos Verdes either attending this event or at least talking about it,” he said of the US$8.495 million Beverly Hills-based property.

The offer includes $300 worth of free botox and a test drive of an Audi, and comes as the US property market continues to flatline . . .

 . . . “I attended a few gifting suites last year for the Emmys and Oscars and saw companies giving away great stuff to [celebrities]. I started thinking about how I could pair businesses with agents and wanted my open house…to be more like…those gifting suites . . .

If this sounds like the winning edge you’ve been needing, give it a go and let us know if it works out for you!

To read this article in its entirety please visit Real Estate Business Online