A few thoughts on trends for 2013. There's a bias towards Melbourne , but it should be relevant for all real estate marketing professionals.
Social media finally gets strategic...
Social media peaked in 2012 as a property marketing tool. Most of our clients have realised that putting every listing on your Facebook page is just a modern form of spam. Social media hasn’t revolutionised the business in the way many expected, but it’s here to stay and can’t be written off. In 2013 we’re going to see brands get a lot more sophisticated about how they use it. A few will figure out creative ways to connect with their customers, most will have the buttons on their site that will never be updated.
...And more importantly
Just a few years ago, many of our clients saw social media as the replacement for all other media. Some pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into building themselves a presence on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, before quickly realising that return on investment was minimal. We’ve seen many real estate businesses devote more time and money to social media than anything other channel - all for the sake of a couple of hundred Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Friends and followers who are, almost without exception, other industry players. As we’ve pointed out above, brands need to be more strategic on social media. It’s about to get more important than ever as Google will soon change its search algorithm to make social media like, shares and comments an integral part of how they rank sites in their search listings. It will no longer be enough just to create and post unique content - companies need content that people want to share and actively engage with.
When it comes to print media, the push towards including unique editorial content in real estate magazines, brochures, and flyers is only going to increase. More and more, we’re seeing our clients trying to engage with editorial content in order to make their products stand out. When the editorial’s done right it, can be used across multiple print and online media channels. It’s a crucial element but also a big expense, so the challenge for agents in 2013 will be to prove to their vendors that it’s worth paying for.
Bold brands will win big
Brands kept it conservative with their marketing in 2012, and we saw very little risk taking as agencies stuck firmly to the mainstream. In 2013, we’re expecting that to change as companies realise that to really stand out they need to be brave and try something a little different. The question is: who will be the first to take the plunge? For those who play their cards right 2013 will be a breakout year.
Letterboxing continues to deliver
Sometime the old fashioned letterbox drop is overlooked in favour of newer, flashier marketing strategies. That’s a mistake, because letterboxing is an effective marketing tool - and one that more agencies are harnessing. Five years ago printing a ‘Just sold’ card was an anomaly, but in 2012 it was the norm. More agencies are learning that a letterbox drop is a great way to reach out to customers and deliver unique, relevant, and timely content. 2013 will see letterboxing continue to be the cheapest way to reach your farm areas reliably and regularly.
Strategic spending In 2013 agencies are going to get a lot more strategic with how they spend their marketing budgets. People are realising just how important the money they spend out of own pocket is, and that to make it work in a truly effective way they need some serious strategy behind it. In 2012 we saw requests for our marketing planners triple - there is a huge demand in the marketplace for a much more structured approach to marketing. That will only increase in 2013.
Newspapers: dying and thriving
2013 will see the mainstream papers continue their downward spiral. The Age is collapsing even faster than predicted, while the Herald Sun has woes of its own. A quick flick through The Age will confirm that advertising from the Bayside agencies has all but vanished, and in 2013 Stonnington and Boroondara will begin to follow suit. A few elite agencies may still see a benefit in newspaper advertising, but largely the majors will continue to watch helplessly as their advertisers jump ship. Niche publications, like the Weekly Review, will continue going strong - amazing what the right ownership can do - thanks largely to the fact that they are micro-targeted at those within the industry.
2013 will see further consolidation in the supply chain. Briner has introduced robotic manufacturing for real estate sign boards, while Fairfax’s purchase of Metro Media - publisher of The Weekly Review - has seen it become the monopoly supplier for the leafy green suburbs. Meanwhile, Newlitho is making some interesting acquisitions of its own, to be announced in the coming months. In 2013, you can expect to see the big players get bigger while some smaller ones bow out of the industry altogether.
More CRM chaos Expect CRM to remain the strategic imperative that never quite seems to work. It’s a constant theme for us - we get so many clients telling us that their CRM is ‘almost there’ - but we’re yet to meet anyone who’s actually gotten it there. Large numbers of our clients are finding a total incompatibility between the rigours of CRM data entry and the laissez faire attitudes of their salespeople. CRM continues to be a bugbear for all of our clients, and in 2013, that won’t change.
Dot com wars 2012 should see RealEstate.com.au take the fight to ReviewProperty.com.au - and win. Review Property has had some success in curtailing REAs pricing power and putting a cap on the site’s ability to drive 20 to 30 per cent price rises. But Review Property will continue to struggle to gain traction with buyers and sellers because its model simply doesn’t offer enough differentiation to be of value to an already satisfied consumer base. Wild speculations of a nine figure sale price for Review Property should be well and truly put to bed as REA maintains its dominant position throughout 2013.