The New Age of Marketing

What keeps me awake at night? The answer – at least the one I’m willing to commit to a blog post – is below.

What keeps me awake at night? The answer – at least the one I’m willing to commit to a blog post – is below.

It’s in an interview I did to help promote the Canadian Resort Investment Conference (at which I am a speaker), and I’m posting it because, even though I’m talking about real estate, I think its marketing lessons are broadly applicable. Substitute some particulars, and this could be a how-to for branding barbershops or accounting firms. Hopefully, something in here makes you stop and rethink an aspect of your business communication and positioning.

Q: Marketing resort property has traditionally followed a formula – how and why is it changing? What marketing methods are now being used in the industry?

The recession has changed everything. The investors and flippers are now gone. Buyers remaining in the market are thoughtful end-users, and they are being cautious in their purchases. Education and information are the only antidotes to fear and uncertainty. We need to stop being “hype and jive” marketers, and instead become more like journalists – Marketing Journalists, if you will. We refer to our company as a Marketing Newsroom, because that’s the functionality we need to provide to our clients these days. We need to help them BE the media.

Q: What is the impact of social media on the real estate/resort industry? Is it a fad or is it here to stay?

It’s here to stay. The recession has sped up the mainstreaming of social media. At a time when we are a) looking for community and b) distrustful of traditional communications channels, there is suddenly a new way to talk to people and engage them on a meaningful level. What would more motivate you to buy a car today – a fancy ad campaign or two friends on Facebook recommending it? Eighteen million Canadians are on Facebook. Of those, more than 50 per cent are over the age of 35. That makes it exponentially more powerful than the CBC and Globe and Mail combined.

Q: Fill in the blank: “The future success of the second-home property industry is reliant on _______.”

Truth. And plenty of it.

Look, it’s simple. For years we’ve sold resort and recreational property by showing people a sunset with a couple in matching sarongs holding hands. That won’t cut it anymore. Today, our buyers want to know about construction quality, energy efficiency of the appliances, resale potential, demographics of the community, historical averages of weather, cultural opportunities, soundproofing of walls, insurance policies, census data for the area, population and immigration patterns, and so on. Be a journalist. Be the media. Blanket prospects with a nice warm layer of facts and credible information. They will respect you for it.

Q: Today, developers and hoteliers are trying to make their product more attractive and marketable. What can they do to achieve this in today’s climate?

Be reasonable. If you have a “C” site, don’t put in a Euro-kitchen and bidet and try to sell it at premium prices. Build a good entry-level product and sell it accordingly. Second, really think about the consumers and how they will use the space. There are many small questions about which you will have to answer but getting it right on the granular level gives you a strong and solid truth. It’s something your customer can gravitate to.