As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the world, it is creating uncertainty for people and businesses with the situation changing rapidly – often multiple times per day.
This uncertainty can create pressure for businesses to step back from digital marketing activities and bunker down to prepare for the short term consequences impacting their industry. Real estate is no exception.
We believe that effective digital marketing and adoption of digital technology does not benefit from a deprioritisation, and requires ongoing focus. Here are our thoughts on how to successfully lead your business through to the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.
We need to be clear that marketers and entrepreneurs should not be opportunistic and exploit the situation. Many around the world have been exploiting shortages of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and other necessities. The focus should be on the long term.
Stay on strategy
There will very likely be an impact on your real estate business in the short term. Our data shows that since mid-February open home attendees have been declining by -12% week on week as buyers stay away. Businesses like Apple have closed their stores to stop the spread, so there will be a reduction in consumer confidence and increased negativity.
However, we know that among our customer base of real estate and other businesses, many have experienced downturns before. Many have flourished during tough economic conditions and grown market share. While COVID-19 will require short-term decisions, it will not last forever. Think big picture and position yourself to thrive post-crisis.
Digital takes focus and consistency
Using digital technology to grow your business, service your customers better, and grow market share needs focus. It isn’t something that can be turned off and on. The effort you put in now will pay off once the crisis is over. Real estate businesses should be:
- Growing their office and agent brands in social channels
- Grow their office and agent brands with smart marketing in Google, Facebook, Instagram
- Nurture their customers and prospects with great content, and
- Growing their online presence
South Korea and China appear to have reduced the spread of the virus in two months. If Australia can have a similar trajectory with social distancing and good hygiene, then the market could recover by Spring 2020. Businesses that invest will be ready for massive growth by the selling season. Businesses that pullback will be scrambling for listings when buyers re-enter the market and vendors list their homes for sale.
Review your expenses
Digital technologies offer many ways to save on costs with automation. This can help you maximise your budget in the event of a decline. Look at your customer lifecycle to see what can be automated and potentially save on manual labour costs.
Digital technologies can help you:
- Automate your sales and rental customer journeys with branded, customised emails. If you have agents and people manually responding to emails, then this is a significant saving.
- Automate your prospecting for vendors and investors with AI-driven processes that surface up leads. This is a highly efficient way to build pipeline in preparation for Spring.
- Automate your digital advertising for properties, offices, and agents with placement, creative, optimisation, and reporting all being zero-touch. If you are doing this manually, then this can be a significant saving and lead to better marketing results.
- Reach more potential customers more efficiently with targeted advertising. If you are still investing in print advertising, now is the time to go digital.
Audit your marketing
Understanding your return on investment is key for any great marketing. If you can’t measure and report on the impact of your marketing, then cancel it.
With an expected drop in listing volume for one to two months, focus your marketing on your strategic assets – your website and your social channels. This can be measured and reported. Any marketing not focused on your brand and your assets, such as print or portals, should be reviewed.
Look after your customers
With uncertainty and negativity, it is essential that you help your customers get through the crisis by stepping up with regular communications, extended support, and doing things differently.
At Plezzel, we are updating our auto-responder emails, conducting more remote meetings using video-conferencing, and letting them know we are available to support them.
Our real estate customers are offering hand sanitizer, having reduced groups through open homes, and using video tours for buyers.
Look after your employees
Any crisis or change can impact people emotionally as well as physically. The most crucial action you can take is to have a plan that you communicate with all employees. Excellent communication is key to ensuring your team can continue to support your customers and your business.
Build your brand and stay positive
This might sound negative, but you should continue to build your brand during COVID-19. Now is not the time to pull back on marketing activities like advertising and EDM’s. Remember that the crisis will pass and you can be stronger on the other side.
There are still vendors that need to sell their homes and buyers that need to purchase homes. With the right marketing and technology, these opportunities can be leveraged.
If you want to learn more about how to optimise your business, please get in touch with the Plezzel team.