Why is marketing in the property sector behind the legal and accounting sectors?

Posted on: December 21, 2003

Some may argue that it is not, although usually people observe that lawyers and accountants are more sophisticated in the marketing of their professional services than surveyors and architects.

There are a number of possible reasons for this, for example:

Many professional staff in the property professions are agents – whose main role is to market and sell their clients’ developments and buildings. Yet often the agents do not receive much training in professional marketing and there is much confusion in the market about the differences between marketing and selling. Yet the skills and techniques to market and sell a building are not the same as those needed to market intangible and undifferentiated property related advice.

The property market is relatively small and insular. Everyone knows everyone else. Many agents rely on close personal relationships and networking to maintain their market awareness and contacts – and these are key tools for them in marketing and promoting buildings. These approaches are less effective when they must promote their services either to consumer markets for residential property or market their commercial property advice to organisations seeking office, factory or retail accommodation or commercial property advice.

Agents are under increasing pressure from clients to keep their budgets for marketing property low. There is also pressure to stick to tried and tested methods such as advertisements in property trade magazines, mailshots to frequently hired lists of other agents and the usual range of agents parties and sales promotions. This makes it very hard for those employed to market the services of a surveying practice to introduce new and bold marketing approaches.

The property sector was relatively late to embrace the world of e-marketing as well. So while lawyers and accountants were investing in ways to promote and deliver their professional advice in the electronic space – the property sector was just about getting to grips with email and brochure-ware web sites.

Like many partnerships, the employed marketers within a property firm are seen mainly as providers of marketing services – PR, design, advertising, events etc – rather than as an integral part of the strategic management team. This means that marketing is rarely part of the business planning and management process.

However, things are changing rapidly. Many of the larger surveying firms have seen the advantages of a more strategic approach to marketing and are employing (and listening to) professional marketers. Let me know if you would like copies of some of the many articles I have written on the subject of property services marketing for Estates Gazette magazine.

 

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As always, if there are particular topics you would like me to address in the future, please let me know. You will also find a source of more and up to date information on a broad range of management and marketing issues in the professions by checking out the blog where I also post regular reviews of books that might be helpful.

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