By Kunal Banerji
With the advent of RERA and a stable Government, without any inherent adverse policies towards the real estate industry, there seems to be a silver lining on the dark clouds, which appeared last year. Real estate sales and marketing is a function of market sentiments and activities. We are guided by what we hear and what we see others do. In that respect the media and industry-speak has been somewhat negative and apprehensive. I am not talking about the ‘paid’ media columns and spokesmen with vested interests. What I am referring to are the realistic well-researched reports and actual on-the-ground channel partner experiences. As the true gauge of market sentiments are the number of bookings and cheque realisations!
The Government realises that the real estate and infrastructure industries will create around 30 million incremental jobs for the country. More jobs will lead to a robust economy and growth. It is, therefore, no surprise that a lot of attention is being paid to our industry. However, clarity in the forthcoming policies, and more importantly their implementation is what everyone is watching out for in the next six months.
In a recent survey published in the Economic Times, called ‘The Real Estate Sentiment Survey’ conducted by Ficci, Naredco & Knight Frank, interesting findings may be observed. The sentiments among real estate players are positive but cautious. In the residential real estate arena launches, price appreciation and sales have more or less slipped or remain as gloomy as it was last year. There is a similar story in the commercial segment. Neither has office rentals appreciated at all.
For the common developer the economic growth has not produced any great demand. In fact, the current funding and liquidity in the real estate sphere is worse than it was last year.
Looking at the above, if sentiments and action are to be quoted for the outlook in 2017 so far, we do not have much to go on.
So what do we do? The answer lies in innovative Marketing, PR, CRM and speedy implementation of these plans. The trick is in thinking out innovative options and converting these options into actionable plans within a stipulated time period. Of course, this would require a fair bit of soul-searching and applying the most creative communication strategies and techniques. Let us explore some of these ideas:
1) Portraying completed and delivered projects
2) Engaging prospects with the architects, designers and horticulturists.
3) Taking the channel partners into confidence and entering the sales journey to prospective customers together (developers and channel partners)
4) Highly innovative and transparent pricing and payment plan options
5) Entering the global market of the Indian diaspora, in a professional manner, as one would market and promote in the national market.
6) Building a community of loyal champions, members, clients and channel partners who would form a core group of well-wishers and constructive critics.
7) Create avenues for ethics, community surveys and environment protection, research study and implementation.
8) Engage in corrective brand building, each day, as we live and breathe.
These are some of the topics that we may delve into, which may pull us out to the gloom and deliver us to a position of strength.
Let’s look at each of these strategies and deliberate upon them.
Completed and delivered projects.
I am certainly of the opinion that today’s real estate investor is astute and practical in his or her decision to invest. What can be seen and felt is far more desirable than a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ proposition that may or more often than not, be delayed and in all probability be of lower than expected quality. That is why it is more than ever important to display delivered projects and endorsements by credible owners of residences. ‘Life’ experienced in the projects in question is the key to the persuasion efforts.
Engaging Investors with architects, designers and landscape engineers
Nothing would be more convincing than an engaging ‘conversation’ with the makers of the product on offer. In fact, the more we talk to prospects and seek out their ‘contribution’ towards their future investment…the closer we will be to conversion .
Sharing the sales journey with the channel partners
Sale has never been just about a company selling its products. It has been more about ‘one-to-one’ relationships. It is more to do with trust and confidence. And confidence invariably emanates from a collective effort shared between the channel partners and the Developers. That ‘sales effort’ part is both an ‘art’ and a ’science’. The roles need to be well-rehearsed and pitched to break down barriers effortlessly
Innovative pricing and payment plans
This is obviously dependent on the original land prices and current debt situation. But it would be pertinent, nay, necessary, to examine pricing/payment strategies that would leverage the assets and future earnings, in order to make it highly attractive to investors.
The Indian diaspora has always been an attractive source of sales for the Indian real estate market. However, many NRIs and PIOs have “burnt their fingers”, by unscrupulous builders, especially in North India. Well we have to turn things around. Be more professional. Arm ourselves with legal experts, bankers, and international channel partners of repute. We need to earn their trust. We must turn negativity to positivity.
Build communities of loyal supporters
Engagement and empathy, builds a loyal band of ‘brand ambassadors’ for the industry and specific companies. There is an art of cultivating ‘loyalists’.
Environment and academics
It is becoming more and more important for the real estate industry to show genuine concern about the environment in which we live (After all we are selling lifestyles in one way or another). Moreover the quest for knowledge and the research undertaken by the company, on the status of the real estate market, will go a long way in establishing the company’s credibility and strength.
Engage in brand building each day
There is no letting ‘ones guard down’ when it comes to sustaining the company’s brand image. Each day is yet another opportunity to demonstrate your brand positioning. Whether it’s the receptionist’s spiel or the leadership stand taken by your latest blog on the Net…. the new energy will flow. Every brand-building drop will build you an ocean of goodwill and positivity.
In case one follows these eight routes for promoting ones project, I am confident that it will lead to a mighty favorable position and positive sales realization.