Proptech is revolutionising the construction and real estate industry. Technological solutions are not only making the construction and inhabitation of our buildings safer but also greener and more comfortable thanks to the use of online platforms, sensors, IoT devices, and further innovations.
With proptech now a booming industry, there are a growing number of companies that are looking to position themselves in the market effectively. Recent data (https://techcrunch.com/2020/12/03/this-is-a-good-time-to-start-a-proptech-company/) has shown that in 2020, over 80% of real estate companies now plan to incorporate new digital technologies and proptech into their traditional practises.
Standing out amongst this crowd of proptech companies requires effective positioning.
Startups and scaleups can therefore leverage the sector’s move to digitisation to successfully gain the attention of potential customers. In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the ways we can achieve this by embracing relevant digital marketing techniques and understanding the best way to interact with a target audience.
Positioning a proptech startup
Whether it’s a brand new startup or a small proptech company looking to scale up a few years in, positioning is what creates the image within your target customer’s mind. It involves communicating what makes your product beneficial and unique using carefully considered messaging and branding.
Positioning a property technology (proptech) company effectively will influence the perception of your brand and tell your audience what sort of problems your products can solve. It will not only tell your customers what makes your product unique but will tell them something experiential about what they can expect by using your company.
Amongst other things, good positioning will tell your customer:
What your product is: That is, in what capacity does your product exist. This could be a physical product, digital software, or an ongoing online service.
What your product does: Good positioning will also let your audience know what problems your product solves and how it does this.
Why your product is better: Good positioning will always highlight the key benefits of your product over the competition.
The importance of public relations
Public relations (PR) is one of the most important aspects in positioning your proptech company. Public relations manages the flow of information and how it is communicated. It dictates who hears what about your company and in what manner.
The proptech field is now booming, with many companies filling the space. Standing out within this crowd is becoming increasingly difficult. We tend to think of PR as a way to recover a good public image when things have gone south for companies, celebrities, or politicians. Good PR, however, involves far more than fixing perception. The key aim of PR is, instead, to develop and build a good image from the get-go.
Nowadays, PR is more subtle than simply shouting about your company’s benefits, but instead involves maintaining a positive image by being visible where your customers can find you. This is sometimes done in-house through staff trained in brand awareness and digital marketing, or outsourced to outside agencies that know how to maximise media opportunities.
Modern PR involves establishing relationships with individuals and companies before they need your services. This proactive approach means daily public engagement and being seen by companies through advertisement, social media, featured articles, guest articles on other sites, and content marketing, amongst other things.
The benefits of good PR are:
Awareness of your brand and product
Creates a positive brand image
Your target audience will grow
More sales and engagement
Understanding your customer
One of the biggest mistakes companies make in their public relations is speaking too broadly. While there’s no need to deliberately exclude individuals and companies from your intended reach, you should always keep your target audience in mind.
In terms of proptech, this audience is an overlap of experts from the fields of real estate, construction, asset management, and facilities management. These potential customers will be at least semi-literate with the relevant terminology and tech involved. In your research, it is important to establish what communication platforms and channels your target audience most commonly uses.
It is important, then, to tailor your communications depending on who you are targeting. An advertisement for automated emergency lighting tools will have a specific audience in mind, namely facilities managers and alike. Positioning here can include technical jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations if necessary. A proptech company like AirBnB, however, has your average consumer in mind and their messaging reflects this. It is free of technical terms and is relatable to a much wider audience.
If your proptech startup or scaleup offers products that cater to a mixture of target audiences, a balance needs to be established between audience reach and specificity. Different types of customers will use different channels of communication, however, so it is possible to segment positioning campaigns through consideration of messaging.
Effective proptech positioning
Like a lot of tech companies, proptech startups will find positioning themselves using digital positioning techniques the most beneficial. Proptech companies should focus on digital marketing techniques as this will be the home of their most interested potential investors and customers.
What follows are some of the ways you can help position your proptech company and the best ways to use them:
Advertising works, especially when it is targeted. As property construction, ownership, and management become increasingly complex, the need for proptech solutions grows.
Oftentimes, a customer will not even be fully aware that there is a problem that can be solved. Using the previous example of automated emergency lighting testing solutions, property owners may seek solutions in terms of cheaper contractors who would do this manually for them. Demonstrating an alternative solution to such people with ongoing, long-term benefits is now possible.
Using paid, targeted ads on platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, algorithms will match your ad with relevant, interested customers.
While these advertisements vary in size on the page or length in terms of videos, they can still be used to convey a lot of information quickly. This is especially the case when animations are used.
Market research can be utilised here to ensure the content of your ads are addressing relevant pain points and the best platforms for your customers.
Making use of social media
Maintaining an online presence is now a lot easier through the use of social media platforms.
Despite falling somewhat out of favour with younger demographics, Facebook is still logged onto regularly by the majority of adults in the world’s major nations. Through the use of promoted business pages, the platform’s algorithm can help pair up your proptech solutions with people working in the relevant industries.
Twitter is a great platform for your brand to proactively engage with your target audience. In giving timely market insights, reactions, and positioning your product accordingly, you can demonstrate utility and credibility.
Instagram’s popularity makes it an effective positioning tool for proptech. Primarily a visual tool, the platform is great for visual signaling the nature of your brand. It can also be used to give visual insights into the workplace dynamics of your company and employees, something which builds trust.
The use of these social media platforms for proptech positioning can be seen by entering the hashtag #proptech.
Leverage content marketing
You can also position your proptech company for success through content marketing.
An extremely effective way to market a product or service, content marketing involves targeting relevant, researched, keywords. People will use these keywords when using Google or other search engines to find results.
For example, using our same example, a long-tail keyword such as “cheap emergency lighting testing” could be a targeted keyword. This keyword would be inserted into long-form articles with content that seeks to answer the query. Good content marketing will identify a pain point and then offer solutions, with your own brand and proptech solutions highlighted.
Good content will find itself shared over time, increasing awareness of your website and product as a result.
Connecting with customers
Finally, perhaps the most effective way to position your proptech startup or scale for long-term success is to keep connected with your customers and community.
Through digital channels, this is now a lot easier than it used to be for tech companies.
Social media offers a way to directly engage with individuals and other businesses with comments, posts, and replies, with the thought of positioning your brand, kept in mind. While maintaining a certain air of professionalism is important, modern positioning also involves a little personality that should be identified through market research.
If your product is something that involves serious ramifications, your brand personality through these engagements should reflect that. If your proptech makes life easier or better, however, but does not necessarily involve the safety of individuals, then a more jovial tone can be employed.
A good way to do this is through the growing use of audio social platforms like Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse. These voice-based online spaces allow free and open dialogue, often with industry experts discussing subjects with anyone free to join and listen and request to speak. These can be used to gain credibility, establish expertise, and gain an interested following.
Webinars and workshops
Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all become a lot more comfortable using online video platforms like Zoom and Teams. These can be used to hold online workshops and webinars where proptech can be explained to a general audience or target industry professionals.
These can then be used to share contact information, maintaining your startup’s brand in the mind of your target audience.
While positioning your startup is an ongoing process, these methods are a good place to start. By leveraging analytic data and market research, you can soon identify which positioning techniques are working and which are not.
Proptech Ireland is leading and facilitating transformation of the property and construction industries by connecting innovators with industry organisations and investors (angel and VC). For real estate companies to be successful, innovation is now a critical competency. Proptech Ireland consultants take on the role of in-house digital transformation and ESG strategists, advising on tech suitability, procurement, and ROI calculations – from vision to operational veracity. www.prop-tech.ie.