I'm going to say it: Real estate is a laggard industry. And successfully marketing to a laggard industry requires purposeful engagement and clear communication of your value proposition.
Fortress, my real estate technology (or proptech) company, offers a core property management solution to the real estate industry. We continually fine-tune and source the highest ROI from our marketing campaigns and have identified a few approaches—even in this laggard industry—that help us get more qualified eyes on our product while distinguishing ourselves from competitors. Specifically, we adhere to the following guidelines: remain raw and transparent with messaging, thoroughly communicate our "why," lean into partnerships, create space for the right connections and clearly articulate our strategic value.
Be Raw and Transparent
Like many technology companies, we benefit from "disruption." Taking an anti-status quo approach should be reflected in the brand, team, product, customer service, partnerships—anything associated with your company. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
At trade shows and conferences, use unique branded taglines (ours is "Fortress: Delivering Badass Solutions"). This tactic can generate plenty of conversation with prospects simply because people will be curious about what your bold messaging means. How you define your company, especially in writing, can help you stay true to yourself while making a lasting mark.
Own your identity. When marketing via email or other ads, explain how your product works in clear, concise terms. Don't oversell but showcase your product's features and the technology behind it.
If people like not only who you are but what your company represents, then they'll want to be your customer. If people find your product is not currently right for them, that's OK, too. Your goal should be that people truly understand who you are and what value you can provide.
Communicate Your "Why"
Why should someone consider your product? It's a big question, and you can answer it by focusing on why your company exists.
For us, we were a newcomer to a market plagued by outdated technology, extremely difficult and cumbersome UIs, and messy data structures. How did we know that? Because we were a client of these technologies and saw an opportunity to fix a seemingly unsolvable problem. We developed and delivered a property management solution with Apple-like simplicity, and real estate companies use it to automate and centralize operations, saving time and save money while creating tangible success.
Your team will have to work hard to create a solution to the problem you see. Get to know it really well, identify a possible solution and then continuously search for ways to enhance that solution. When discussing the solution with potential clients, explain your "why" and encourage them to ask questions and share concerns. This allows them to learn more about you and helps you find ways to continue to enhance your company.
Your partners can play key roles in marketing your technology product. Case in point: our partnership with Sage Intacct.
We were looking for an accounting systems partner to help us provide a holistic solution by building a bidirectional API custom to real estate management. The API would let property managers seamlessly access and manage real-time data on income, deposits, final account statements and other monthly financial data.
To find our partner, we evaluated multiple accounting systems and users and developers of the systems. We learned as much as possible so we could identify a partner who would meet the needs of both us and our customers.
We ultimately found that Sage Intacct offered everything we needed to deliver on our goals. We launched our integration with Sage and continue to work with its team on cross-selling opportunities.
If you are on the lookout for partnerships, take the time to find the right products and like-minded companies, then work alongside them to promote your products and achieve shared goals.
Create Space for The Right Connections
The right connections open doors and create opportunities. Don't be afraid to employ a "work smarter, not harder" mentality when creating space for these connections. A great example of this is working with partners to co-host happy hour events at conferences you attend.
Acknowledge that you aren't going to be right for every client in your total addressable market and focus on a strategic invitee list defined by your "ideal" client partner description. Ensure that you know how to bring value to potential clients so you can clearly articulate why they were invited and why they should know about your company.
When you are already spending money traveling to a conference or panel, consider hosting a small event. Take into consideration the purpose of the event, who you can co-host with, who you want to attend, and how you and the attendees can provide value to each other. You can then map out your event and make it a value-add for everyone while also identifying potential client partners.
Clearly Articulate Your Strategic Value
What (exactly) does your product do? What problems does it solve? What value does it provide? If you don't have marketing materials that clearly articulate these three things, you are potentially wasting everyone's time.
Simply stating that your product is, for example, "easy to use" isn't enough. Instead, communicate what you do, how being "easy to use" solves a huge problem for your client partners and how you create tangible value. In our case, we communicate that 78% of Fortress users have saved at least one hour per week utilizing our software. That is actionable information for a COO who is trying to cut down on inefficiencies across a real estate portfolio.
As a startup marketing a large product to a laggard industry, Fortress has had to test, quickly pivot and rapidly adopt a strategic marketing strategy that has real ROI. You, too, can utilize purposeful engagement and clear communication strategies to generate success while continuing to evaluate and evolve.