Mind your Marketing

Real estate is ripe for gamification

| Updated on September 19, 2019

Sandeep Reddy, AVP – Sales, Marketing, CRM, Mantri Developers

This week, we are in conversation with Sandeep Reddy, AVP – Sales, Marketing, CRM, Mantri Developers, a young, astute real estate professional with 17+ years of experience who has helped direct over $1 billion in marketing investments, he was a key player in building Database Marketing Capability in real estate. He recently received the Young Achiever of the Year Award in the Real Estate & Business Excellence Awards 2019.

Millennials and technology go hand in hand. Is marketing keeping up with this generation?

Social media has transformed how this generation shares its thoughts and extends its influence over others. Ratings, likes, and comments have given them power to share their opinions and pass judgment on the things they approve and disapprove. Whether supporting a cause, offering an opinion about a product, or simply giving their support to a political figure, millennials know their voice has power and they are wielding it. They rely on each other to make more informed decisions.

To sell to any audience, you must understand it. Millennials are reshaping the way goods and services are being marketed by staying unresponsive to traditional marketing tactics. As their purchasing power increases, millennials continue to drive consumer demand, making it necessary to reevaluate this generation and develop strategies for engaging them.

What are the best ways to connect with and to sell to this generation?

* Focus on innovation- Upgraded construction technology, new architectural designs, renewable energy.

* Use reviews - This generation decides where to eat based on Instagram pictures, chooses hair stylists from Facebook and has their groceries delivered to their door based on a recommendation from a friend. So, make sure your online reviews and customer experiences are up to par!

* Connect with millennials through social media incentives - Harness the power of a millennial on social media by adding incentives to your marketing plan. Not only does this generation talk about your brand or product online, they also have the power to get sales leads for your business.

* Utilise rewards or loyalty programmes - Focus on references and work on in-house clients.

* Plot twist - Try radio commercials.

It is important to keep in mind that each generation comprises of unique personalities. Don’t throw out your other demographic targeting and segmentation strategies out of the window.

Can you tell us about a few technologies that have changed the way you market to the current generation of real estate buyers?

Gamification - Real estate is ripe for gamification. It takes complex tasks and breaks them down into simple steps like a video game. On the client side, there are inspections, paperwork and legal steps that must be completed before a property changes hand. On the agent side, there are training and marketing requirements. In 2019, more of these tasks will be gamified.

Smart contracts - Smart contracts present another potential development for real estate. Like cryptocurrencies, smart contracts use computer protocols to verify legal transactions. This can help the involved parties save time and reduce costs. While its growth will likely be slow and measured, we may see smart contracts creep into the industry.

Indoor mapping tools - Indoor mapping allows agents to create 3D representations of an interior space that can be posted online or displayed on a tablet. Agents and brokers will find new ways to incorporate indoor mapping into their listings and client relations.

Neighbourhood intelligence – Most millennials put a premium on access and community. For these buyers, the neighbourhood can be as important as the home itself. These services visualise a neighbourhood and its amenities in a map or graph.

Diversified content offerings - To get ahead, agents will need to offer robust and diversified content like podcasting, live streaming and videos, to name a few. Agents that produce the strongest content will attract the most leads.

How do we create distinct customer experiences and how does one bridge the gap between expectations and experiences?

In the future, customer experience will surpass price and product as the key brand differentiator. There is no ideal strategy for delivering excellent customer experience. Regardless of the techniques, true customer experience is all about building meaningful relationships with your customers by allowing them to experience your service at the best. In simple words, it is all about treating your customers right.

* Have an effective call centre: Providing a faster resolution to customers gives a positive experience and improves brand recognition. Cloud contact centre allows agents to be more productive by evenly distributing calls to each agent, allowing remote working facility, and reduces manual intervention by automating repeated processes. This helps agents concentrate on queries that are more important, making the call centre function more effectively.

* Gain customer insights: Customer feedback must be the core of any business. By gaining real-time insights about what the customer needs, it becomes easier to map the customer journey, bridge the gaps, and improve the product and user experiences.

* Reduce manual intervention: Check the nature of queries being received daily at the customer support centre. Segregate the repeated queries and automate their response. This gives agents ample time to handle the actual queries that need human interaction.

* Third party integrations: Third party integrations like Salesforce, Zoho CRM and Vtigr are commonly used by businesses to understand customer preferences and add business value. Integrating Cloud telephony solutions make it super functional and easy to bridge communication gaps between agents and customers without any extra training required for businesses to function better.

Sandeep says…
  • One strategic change we plan to execute by 2020
  • ‘Build to suit’, create a client-centric approach in building homes
  • My top three marketing mantras
  • Hyper local/hashtag, live streaming and algorithm
  • Three words I believe define a hot brand 
  • Execution, innovation and trust

What does it take for brands to stay competitive in today's dynamic economy and market?

Cost leadership strategy – Sell your products and services at a cheap price. The challenge is in producing them at a low cost, otherwise, you lose your profit margin.

Differentiation strategy – Identify an attribute or characteristic that makes your product or service unique.

Cost focus strategy – Target a specific segment of the market and offer that market the lowest prices available.

Differentiation focus strategy – This strategy again, targets a very specific segment of a market but instead of offering the lowest prices it is about offering something unique that competitors aren’t offering.

What are the secrets to successful branding?

Create the right tagline. What is the emotional reaction you want your audience to have when engaging with the brand and what do you want them to remember?

Stand out from the crowd. Who is your audience? What are your top competitors doing in terms of their site? How are they expressing themselves? Where can you innovate and differentiate?

Develop your company culture. "It only takes one customer’s bad experience with one bad employee to sabotage a multimillion-dollar investment," says Steve Blue, CEO, Miller Felpax, in his book ‘The Ten Million Dollar Employee’.

Be patient with your brand. Don’t rush any of your outreach activities, whether they be PR, advertising, or marketing materials.

Be consistent. Think of your outreach as being interconnected, like a body. The brand is the brain. Public relations, advertising, marketing, and sales are all extensions of that brain, and they must be coordinated and aligned. Find people who capture the essence of your brand and use them consistently.

Put people first. Nearly everyone prefers working with businesses that are people-oriented and care about their customers. Be that company by embodying a people-first attitude in all that you and your employees do.

Can a one-size-fits-all approach work in a differentiated market such as India?

Today, customers demand tailored solutions. This is not an easy task and requires constant listening, adapting, and innovation. Innovation is key to progress: a truly customer-centric organisation knows this, but it doesn’t innovate alone – it co-innovates with its customers. We have set up specialised Innovation Centres where our customers visit us with very specific needs, and we have joint workshops and develop innovations together.

Why should the South Indian market be treated differently from North? Isn’t it high time that brands think local?

Southern India has for long been the silent crusader, building and strengthening its real estate development as one of the most sought-after destinations in the country. Cities such as Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad have attained a place on the global real estate map, a status that was limited just to Mumbai and Delhi in the past.

South India's retail real estate market has gone through a makeover in the past decade when its retail stock grew from a mere 1.6 million sq.ft. in 2003 to 13.2 million sq.ft. in 2016. South India's residential market has been an ardent follower of the 'affordability' mantra, with more than 80 per cent of the new launches in the past two years being priced under Rs. 4,000 per sq.ft. As a result, the residential markets of South Indian cities have remained resilient in the past few quarters, relative to the significant decline recorded in the sales volume of Mumbai and NCR-Delhi. With these markets having exhibited healthy resilience during times of uncertainty, it is imperative for the developers to ensure prudent pricing strategies in the coming quarters to remain competitive as well as sustain the momentum that they have gained during early 2017.

With globalisation comes an opposite, if not equal, reaction. In a globalised world, there will inevitably be many similar trends across the globe. And these, in turn, will generate opposition in the form of localisation, as people try to assert their own identity, which is only natural. In order to do business anywhere, we need to have a firm grasp of what it means to be global and what it means to be local.

The focus of Indian real estate is shifting from Tier I to Tier II cities, and the southern region is also embracing the same, with secondary hubs developing in Kochi, Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam and Mysore, that are persistently striving for higher milestones.

This article is part of a brand initiative by The Hindu BusinessLine to profile marketing professionals from across India. To read the full interview scan the QR Code or visit thehindubusinessline.com/mym

Published on September 19, 2019

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