On Thursday 25 March 2021, Profile held a Q&A webinar which looked at some of the latest trends and techniques across Business Development in the property sector.
Our panelists were: Helen O’Reilly – Head of Marketing and Digital at Colliers International; Jenni Montgomery – Business Development Director at Barton Willmore and Charlotte Bishop – Business Development Manager at Howard Kennedy.
Helen started the discussion discussing how there has been a huge shift over to digital in the last year. In the past there had been a lot of conferences and events to create new business, but with all of them cancelled they found that their agents were coming to them to find out how they could build those relationships online. They did workshops on building the brand using social media, how to engage with clients on LinkedIn and how to present on webinars. They came up with the series ‘How to become a BD Super Agent‘ educating their agents about what digital marketing means. They did some smaller digital campaigns with the agents and showed them the tangible benefits. Colliers have increased their budget for online spend, for example – they have recruited a motion designer to do more video content and have designed a special studio to do this.
Colliers also took a step back and instead of pushing too much content out there, they paused and asked their clients what they wanted and stayed connected with them in an absence of a lot of market activity. Now that the transactional market has picked up again they are front and center of the clients minds – don’t rely on the marketing team to stay connected, everyone can stay connected. Agents shared data and analytics with clients to give actionable insights and intel.
Colliers also hosted webinars where they attracted new clients and were asked to pitch for new business off the back of the webinars.
Jenni from Barton Willmore said that they focused on Who and What they are, particularly focused around purpose and what they are trying to do as an organisation beyond the standard. Personalise and drive it! with more focus. Internally, have focus with specialising in one area for periods of time to build confidence and understanding and then move to a new focus. Finding the digital channels that are working and have a consistent message rather than just ‘noise’.
Barton Willmore uncut – Podcasts with exciting individuals, fun for employees, kudos from individuals who were invited, great conversations with relevant content which were fun to do, built confidence in the staff who participated. Great for BD with the guests and those who download the podcasts.
Barton Willmore 2021 Reboot ‘Get the inside track‘. Around fifty internal events over the last three months – Interviews with clients encouraging them to talk about their inside track – who they are and what they’re worried about. Helping build the understanding of the businesses that they’re targeting, the problems they’re facing and how their solutions fit. Internally, Barton Willmore also produced a video at Christmas which pulled together the whole of 2020 bringing staff who worked on it closer together and it celebrated who they are and what they had achieved in a very difficult year, giving everyone pride in the company. The video worked really well and is something exciting going forward.
Focus and Get Personal campaigns. Putting together similar industries and driving a conversation and ideas, getting quotes from clients. A mini-campaign but hugely measurable.
Charlotte from Howard Kennedy spoke about BD from the legal perspective.
They had to look at new ways of reaching their audiences. First of all, Charlotte spoke about their external audience. They started the following webinars and podcasts: REALTalk which was quite technical and reactive – COVID related implications for real estate businesses; Economic breakfast briefing series made virtual; ‘Talk Straight, Think Smart‘ firmwide podcast series. Balancing everything between being useful, informative and original.
Campaigns: Their biggest rock campaign is currently the private rented sector and then smaller campaigns include sustainability and airspace development. Each one has its own team of lawyers around the campaign. To give them a platform HK give them digital sponsorships, LinkedIn Ads and panel opportunities. It has a great reach and digital sponsorships are more cost effective. A lot of value has been seen from these, especially for profile raising.
Thought Leadership: Over the last 18 months they have recently carried out over a thousand survey interviews with the help of YouGov and Censuswide on the role agility plays within their business – how they will adjust and survive alongside Covid-19. The result of the survey showed how companies are far more focused on agility than previously. The survey took place pre-pandemic and then mid-pandemic which gave some really interesting comparable data. They are going to continue with this and put out some reports in the future.
Charlotte then spoke about internal BD, including stakeholders. Content is massive and they started a content initiative – blogs, articles, LinkedIn etc. They wanted it to be more joined up, useful, digestible and informative in the areas that they are known for, tailoring content to specific clients, contacts and audiences. They gave a few lawyers a ‘content coordinator’ role to look after various campaigns. It was their role to work with BD and fee earners on those particular topics. This created a good infrastructure and the quality of content was better than it was before.
Targeting: Access to more accurate data via digital marketing – see who has clicked more than once and then target that user; sponsorship and advertising. Also they have taken time to use CRM more effectively.
Connecting: Educating everyone about Howard Kennedy’s social media presence and making sure that key people and stakeholders have a LinkedIn profile. During lockdown they had ‘coffee roulette’ when they were given colleagues and clients to have a virtual coffee and chat with and would sometimes make them fun by introducing things like a murder mystery theme.
What they learnt: Assessing value of every opportunity; Building quality content is more powerful and effective; Digital sponsorship opportunities are more cost effective; We still need organic, face to face, BD.
To access the recording of this webinar please contact Ali Mellegard