The onset of the COVID-19 has inspired many industries to evolve their approach to business, and while there are still unknowns when it comes to the future of how we live and work, real estate developers have been among those coming out ahead with innovations and industry-disrupting tactics during this time. Developers who successfully brought their work back to their values and who explored new opportunities for creating a virtual customer experience were able to pivot in a way that helped grow their business.
As we embrace a new normal, real estate developers can prepare for the future by adopting marketing plans that match the current climate. It is so important to use this time to revisit your brand values and make sure your communications output aligns with your vision, and invest in strong renderings and visuals that showcase your project in the absence of inperson interactions. There will also be a new relevance for developers to engage in strategic partnerships with like-minded brands as a way to reach new audiences, strengthen the core identity of a project, and further build a brand name through the alignment.
Additionally, now is not the time to stay silent on social media. Be open and conversational with your audience, share news about the community, and demonstrate your voice and industry thought leadership. People do not simply want to scroll through a feed of pretty pictures of interiors and renderings of standard amenities. Customers build trust with a brand when they understand what the brand values. Social media is one of the most direct methods to engage your community in a meaningful way.
From adopting new technology to thinking with a customer-centric approach, here are the ways that global and local real estate developers can adapt their short-term strategies and plan for a long-term prosperous future in a post-COVID-19 world:
Embrace digital transformation
Unit sales are often a product of face-to-face experience, but with social distancing, developers had to look at new ways to showcase their space without the support of a traditional presentation centre. Through the introduction of virtual unit walk-throughs and immersive online experiences, to utilizing digital platforms such as Salefish to support brokers and agents in getting contracts signed and transactions processed securely, the real estate industry can embrace tools that are not only part of a short-term solution, but that will likely be used beyond 2020.
Instil consumer confidence
As we plan for the return to work, thinking with a customer-first philosophy can helps developers get ahead and anticipate new changes in the industry. For example, Lee Piccoli, CEO of Fusion Homes, used the time to launch the Safe Work System, a comprehensive back-to-work plan with new safety guidelines, which prioritized the well-being of construction workers who continued to work on projects deemed essential. Not only were the guidelines used in Fusion Homes’ projects, they were adopted by other companies – ensuring that customers, workers and project managers had confidence that these developers were taking all the means necessary to continue projects safely and with health top-of-mind.
Use all the tools in your brand toolbox
This is one of my favourite sayings when it comes to marketing and getting creative. You can’t be afraid to look beyond the norm and do something different! Toronto’s Lifetime Developments teamed up with incredible local creators to develop the “See You Soon Toronto” philanthropic campaign and merchandise collection, uniting Torontonians in support for the reopening of the city. Tapping directly into the core demographic for the developer’s new projects, the See You Soon Toronto program has since raised more than $200,000 for community initiatives. Lifetime not only demonstrated its values to its audience through real action, the company amplified the brand name in a truly positive and completely unexpected way.
This period of social distancing has allowed space for developers to reflect on their brand values, get creative with their marketing plans, and explore new partnerships. Those that continue to embrace these new business opportunities and unique ways of connecting to audiences will be well-poised to come out ahead in our new normal.
Natasha Koifman is President of NKPR, Toronto. nkpr.net