Integral Marketing: The REMA Solution
Successful real estate marketing consists of four phases that are most commonly executed in sequential order as (1) Market Research, (2) Consumer Attraction, (3) Merchandising and (4) Processing. Each of these phases has matured in recent years to accommodate the advances of digital technology (getting exclusive leads for home service contractors, etc). These advances offer not only greater efficiency for each phase—combining speed with accuracy—but also open opportunities to a more effective solution by iteration amongst components of each phase.
In short, our computers now offer the ability to integrate all four phases of marketing into a stronger and less costly marketing plan that produces greater support and higher rates of conversion for sales counselors.
Historic market research consisted of the two basic tenets of economics: supply and demand. Supply was researched in terms of current and potential competition in the estimated market area to be served by the new development— i.e. what are the competitors selling (often leading to the conclusion that many developers simply “follow the leader”). Demand was researched in terms of the characteristics of potential consumers for the proposed product offerings. This important variable was often reduced to “demographics” of the identified market (how many persons of differing age groups, how many children per household and how much household income) on the often mistaken assumption that these characteristics will prevail in this market through sellout of the proposed development. The biggest advance in this type of research has added personal and group behavior as a significant characteristic, referred to as “psychographics”. But interpretation of this variable often includes too much guesswork to become a reliable indicator of consumer actions as well as trends of those actions for future prospective buyers.
Historically, this phase was often referred to as “Advertising and Public Relations” and it relied primarily on the creative skills of the principals and creative artists. Presumably, this phase would depend upon the definition of the potential market area consumers for this product, but the visual creations were often judged by the client as though his/her personal opinions were reflective of prospective buyers—a fatal error in more than a few cases. We now have specialists in psychographic research as well as in demographics interpretation, but they are often ignored as being too expensive by developers eager to display their own craftsmanship and experience.
The term “merchandising” was borrowed from retail store advertising to describe the presentation of product offerings for attracted visitors. In residential marketing, offerings mean both the community and the dwelling(s). The underlying premise of merchandising is that the initial impression of the product offering is often the deciding factor: the community entrance, the front elevation of a model home, the first view of the dwelling interior from the front entrance. The old cliché for personal selling—“you only have one opportunity for a first impression”—is as relevant to real estate selling as it is to non-graphic products (e.g., insurance). The common error of spending very large sums on a model interior hidden behind a forbidding directional fence guarding the entrance has reduced the potential of many good offerings.
The fourth phase of marketing is the processing of consumer inquiries about the product offering. The big change in process over the past decade has been the consumer preference for computer communications rather than telephone or personal mail. The initial greeting by telephone was a vital element of the sales trainer’s message, which has now all but disappeared in the emphasis on website design. The latter has become a specialty practiced primarily by graphics professionals, whereas the importance of the above principles is as applicable to the communication of the product offering by Internet as it was by other media in years past. Actually, the principles are even more important in website design because of the ability to apply several media in a unified communication. The website has one overriding goal: a personal consumer inquiry, preferably as a site visitor, but secondarily by telephone or Internet response. This goal is, in fact, the purpose of all marketing components: to provide convincing support to the selling process by the self-action introduction of a consumer prospect to a sales counselor.
The REMA Formula
In recognition of the shift in real estate marketing to Internet communications, Parker Associates founded the Real Estate Marketing Alliance (REMA) in 2011 to integrate these changing marketing components into a unified provider of marketing services. REMA contains four principals, each providing a distinct viewpoint to each of these phases. Their integration of the phases begins with initial market research and design of offerings. Consumer characteristics and competition response provide parameters throughout to enable the four-man team to assume the role of “consumer advocate” for both product and marketing decisions. The result is integration of specialties in oral discussion prior to implementation that is more efficient in terms of both cost and impact. After many years of application to both large and small real estate projects, the REMA formula has proven a worthy successor to historic linear methods of marketing.
Dr. David Forster Parker
For more information, contact Dr. David F. Parker
or go to our web site at www.parkerassociates.com.