It’s been a buzz word for so long it’s meaning sometimes gets forgotten but for retailers ‘experiential’ is all about making an emotional connection with consumers in an attempt to get them away from behind the screens (TV and PC) and into bricks and mortar environments, against a background of falling footflow and declining High Streets.
Sound familiar? The problem for ‘traditional’ Estate Agents is similar – so does the property market have anything to learn from the lessons of the retail sector?
Some might legitimately answer ‘no’. After all, the main driver of experiential marketing is to develop long-term customer relations and that is rare in property sales. But a blanket dismissal may prevent Estate Agents from uncovering some ideas that may bring long term benefits by increasing referrals, improving the impact on your High Street presence and developing future business streams.
The experiential environment
One clear lesson of much experiential marketing has been the change to the retail environment – the actual look and feel of many shops has undergone major changes to make them places customers actually want to visit.
Of course, sticking a coffee shop at one end is not much of a solution for many Estate Agency branches, but thinking clearly about the décor, layout and use of space within the branch can have a major impact; too many Estate Agents remain rows of forbidding desks in cavernous spaces in which the most private of financial details are broadcast for all to hear.
There is an alternative – and a visit to almost any High Street will show how lighting, colour, furniture and layout can create a much more welcoming, stylish and discreet environment that customers will want to visit – and tell their friends about.
PropTech starts at home! There is a whole array of digital technology that helps create a truly interactive experience for customers – a way to link their online search behaviour with their instore activity.
Technology can be integrated into the retail environment – from huge screens that can be a central feature of the overall design of the branch to smaller screens that can be used during your interaction with potential vendors and buyers.
It can be used as part of your window displays to create dynamic content that adds interest and appeal to any display. Digital technology is becoming increasingly more cost-effective, reliable and simpler to set up and update, so if you haven’t investigated the advantages recently, now is a great time to think again.
Event Marketing for Estate Agents
Another lesson that retailers have learned is the power of events in bringing customers to stores. From book signings to keep fit classes, golf lessons to cookery classes, events have the ability to bring in new customers and create brilliant collateral for social media marketing – from pre-publicity to post-event picture posting – and is often determining the actual layout and design of retail environments.
There are many obvious events and activities that can be created by Estate Agents – and perhaps a few less obvious ones. ‘Early Bird’ new development launches, property investment seminars, mortgage clinics and events to recruit new landlords or update on the ever-changing rental markets are very obvious but too often overlooked.
But throw the net wider. How about helping potential first time buyers save for their deposit with some money-saving clinics? Or advising potential sellers on cost-effective ways to improve the saleability of the property? Or simply getting staff and sellers together to build closer relations and reduce the chances of vendors switching to a rival agent.
Not enough space? Then use the lack of space as a reason to be selective and make that exclusivity part of selling the event. Avoid using other locations – the important thing is to create the link between the event, the environment and the brand.
Cost? It’s unlikely any event will be very costly but think of these as the added-value services that help you maintain higher commission rates than online agents and some High Street competitors.
Not all the experiential marketing lessons of retailers are applicable to the property sales sector but many are and could have a major impact on your activity.