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Try something new today (*caveat)

Have you ever taken a look at current plans and just felt, well, that it all feels a little too familiar? Ever get the sense that your campaigns are ‘as expected’ or ‘standard’ for your industry? Ever got the feeling that the latest project is just a recycled version of th last one with a change of date and title?

Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, to fall into a ‘lather, rinse, repeat’ cycle of marketing monotony. Projects come and go and the same familiar tactics are wheeled out time and again with little creativity, experimentation or distinctiveness from the competition. Effectiveness suffers, it gets harder (and takes more time and money) to reach and engage clients and customers, and your team’s motivation takes a knock.

This isn’t to decry the use of tried-and-tested, effective marketing tactics. As the saying goes, ‘if something’s not broken, don’t try to fix it’. I’m all for spotting best practices and taking lessons from the past to apply to future activity. But at the same time, if we don’t take risks, try new things, push the envelope a little… how are we going to move the commercial needle versus our competitors?

There’s a big caveat here. A ‘test and learn’ mentality is important – vital, I’d argue – but it’s still got to have discipline. We can all look around our sector and spot examples of frivolity, gimmicks and vanity activities which look more like a whim than a calculated attempt to break away from the pack.

Experimentation and unconventional marketing activities still need to be backed up with a decent thought process, a smattering of audience insight and some solid KPIs and metrics to make sure lessons (positive or otherwise) can be learned.

In 2016, I was privileged to be asked to support the Property Marketing Awards as the Chair of the independent Jury, around a dozen senior marketing professionals from a diverse range of brands including DHL, the V&A Museum, the London School of Economics, Hawes & Curtis and Royal London.

I’ll be honest – commercial real estate and residential property was one sector where I was expecting to see some pretty vanilla, uninspiring, ‘cookie cutter’ marketing campaigns. After all, how much innovation can really take place when it comes to shifting warehouses in Manchester or listing a new suite of apartments in Battersea?

I’ve been more than pleasantly surprised. The UK property sector is ripe with smart thinking, talented teams and a willingness to embrace new tools, techniques and channels – but without losing a grip on commercial reality (and the discipline your average FD demands).

Two such examples which caught the judges’ eyes in 2016 are housing association L&Q and property developer Landid.

L&Q learned that buyers were confused by shared ownership, and as one of the UK’s leading housing associations, wanted to set the record straight and establish themselves as a leading voice for the sector. Their ongoing PricedIn campaign focused on demystifying shared ownership for four clearly identified customer segments, all told through the lens of 33-year old Londoner Sally. A combination of clever storytelling, creative use of video, gamification and a focused social plan – all integrated across channels – delivered impressive commercial results whilst helping L&Q to break away from the pack.

Landid, meanwhile, were responsible for the redevelopment and marketing of the iconic former Coca-Cola London HQ, One Queen Caroline Street, in the heart of Hammersmith. One of their challenges was to entice commercial clients and develop a robust letting pipeline, whilst not allowing viewings of a half-finished, exposed service fit-out for fear of confusing the viewer. The team made clever use of virtual reality and Google Cardboard glasses to create an interim viewing experience, and take the building to the client whilst it was still in development. The reception was fantastic, achieving an impressive response rate and garnering unexpected attention from trade media.

These are only two examples of some great work going on in property. New thinking, backed up with discipline. As a Jury we’re excited to see what the 2017 award entries have to show, and – as this marks the 25th anniversary of the Property Marketing Awards – we’ve introduced some fresh new categories to help celebrate the very best of UK property. Entries are now open, so if your team deserve recognition for great efforts over the last 18 months, get your entry together now, and it could be you on stage in June.

Thomas Brown, Founder and Chief Thinker, ThinkStuff, Chair of the Jury, Property Marketing Awards


Twitter: @ThinkStuff@PropMarAwards