by Michael Wolter
If you work in proptech, this probably won’t be the first time you’ve heard this: the property industry has been historically slow to adopt technology. Perhaps this should come as no surprise, since nearly every type of property transaction – purchasing, renting, home surveys – require in some way human expertise, and oftentimes also require a friendly human to best facilitate the transaction. Letting and estate agents, for example, tend to be friendly, outgoing people, and you could even argue these are necessary qualities to perform these jobs well.
Proptech companies, on the other hand, often position their technology centrally and market it as their primary USP. From their perspective, proptech companies provide value because of their technology, so it therefore becomes central to the sales pitch - it’s even half of the word “proptech.” And this pride in the technology is warranted: without the technological innovation that’s been created recently, the property industry's outreach would still be awash with phone calls, property brochures, and reams of paper when any significant transaction took place.
The struggle is finding the middle ground between these two worlds, property and technology, so that fervent proptech adoption can begin. Some of the difficulty might have to do with the structure of the marketplace: the way the B2B environment is set up means that the tech companies are the salespeople and the property companies are the propspects; the property companies have not asked the tech companies to create a proptech solution, in most cases, but the tech companies have seen a way to add a huge amount of value to property companies, and are thus charged with selling their proptech solution to the relevant property industry segment.
As such, proptech companies must think strategically about their B2B sales approach to property companies. While the technology behind many proptech solutions is incredibly exciting to those in the thick of it, and also those of us who understand it well, it may not raise so much as an eyebrow at a property company. Therefore, proptech companies must adapt their sales and marketing techniques to the industry they target. Don’t sell proptech like you’re talking to a tech company, sell proptech like you’re talking to a property company.
The direct mail campaign is not dead. Property companies still rely on direct mail/snail mail for marketing purposes themselves. Despite the argument that they should rethink this approach, it is nonetheless the language they speak. As such, they are much more likely to respond to a direct mail competing from a proptech company than other industries might be. Although digital marketing is the first inclination for many proptech marketers, they should nevertheless consider adding direct mail to their marketing arsenal as a way to communicate effectively with property companies. Direct mail is familiar. Familiar is friendly, familiar is relatable, familiar is comfortable, so use direct mail to enhance engagement.
If you’d like to try a different ink-and-paper approach, industry magazines are also an excellent way to reach a large part of the audience; not only that, they’re still read by a lot of property professionals, so your brand could get better visibility than if you stuck to digital advertising.
Property industry professionals also appreciate personal interaction. It’s what many of them both excel at and thrive on. In-person meetings are essential to converting proptech companies from leads to users. As Mina Change writes for Forbes, “In today’s fast-paced world, you can’t forget to embrace humanity. Take time to genuinely get to know people because they are your best assets. Understanding why people do
Property exhibitions and conferences are excellent opportunities to engage with a lot of property professionals in a short amount of time. They’re attended by the same crowd on a regular basis, so if you’re able to exhibit at some of the major events throughout the year then this can vastly improve your visibility. For an even bigger impact – budget allowing – sponsor an event. This will not only make your proptech company more recognizable, but it will also build trust in your brand as a proptech force to be reckoned with.