This is part four in our re-published series on property portal marketing strategies by John Hart, a consultant at Property Portal Watch publisher Classified Ad Ventures. Prior to joining us, John spent over six years with the REA Group, most recently as their group sales and marketing manager working across 10 countries. Before REA, John was with one of Australia’s largest real estate networks – First National – for 12 years with more than seven as their national marketing manager. If you missed them, here’s part one, part two, and part three.
Many portals wait until they have some form of critical mass before looking to provide estate agents with a substantial range of advertising options for promoting property and their brand. But depth products can be a significant source of revenue and at the same time service your customer needs and aspirations.
At a time when Internet users are becoming extremely savvy about what they expect, agents need to have a comprehensive portfolio of options to present to prospective sellers and the ability to generate more and more qualified leads not by just being on a portal but by how they advertise when they are on.
Depth products fall into a number of categories:
- Listing placement: products that provide prominence to individual listings.
- Push marketing products: electronic brochures, email alerts distributed to portal databases.
- Display advertising: banners, skyscrapers, advertorial, pop-ups, etc designed to promote estate agency brands and drive traffic to their sites.
- Web design: agency websites, individual property websites.
- Back office tools: online products designed to increase agency effectiveness.
The big question is, how do portals implement and market these products?
It’s not enough to develop them and put them out there – like any suite of products there needs to be a great deal of strategy behind the “what and how” of your product offering.
1. Test marketing the acceptance of products by potential customers.
2. Is the market ready for it?
3. What products do I implement and in what sequence?
4. When and how do I launch each product?
5. How do I offer this product?
6. Who sells this product?
7. Is it automatically generated or do I sell on a contract basis?
8. Who is my target market for this product?
9. How do I create demand?
10. What do I charge?
11. How do I market this product ongoing?
12. How do I convince agents of the worth of this product to their business?
It’s not only the lack of product depth with many portals, it’s also the way in which products are launched, marketed and sold that shows they have missed the mark in many cases.
The other vital area is education of the industry in relation to the use of these products. The embracing of these products by the industry will be largely dependent upon the ability of portals to educate on the use and benefits of these products along with the marketing support and direction provided to agents to be able to effectively on-sell appropriate products to their customers. The emphasis from a technical viewpoint in product development is too often far greater and out of kilter with the time spent on sales and marketing aspects prior, during and post development.
This is not to say that you don’t need the significant time on the technical aspects, but the better the investment in strategic planning for product development and implementation is in my opinion directly commensurate with its success.
The best “theoretically sound” products in the world can quite often fade off into the ether through lack of attention to marketing process, strategy and execution. In the early days at REA, the sales and marketing team were part of the product development team from the birth of an idea through to launch and the product and technical team were very much part of the process in going to market. This included the significant research required to ensure the product was not just a “good idea” but effective and saleable both from a consumer and agent perspective.
Estate agents are rapidly embracing the importance of the Internet as the key driver of leads and portals need to keep ahead of the game. If they are not offering what agents and their customers are seeking then the progressive companies will migrate towards those portal sites that do and even the dominant leaders are at risk if they lose momentum to some of their competitors who get it right.