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The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Monica Padillo, this chapter is titled “Turning Dreams Into Reality in Real Estate.” In it, Julienne Cruz, the AVP for Marketing Communications at Century Properties Group (CPG), is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in expanding the opportunities for the everyday Filipino.
The Secret to Subtle Consumer Persuasion
Most, if not all, people have a dream home in mind; perhaps a two-storey house in the suburbs for the families or a clean and sleek loft for the city dwellers. However, turning a dream into a reality is not an easy feat in real estate. It is difficult to imagine how you’ll live in a new house, even more so to invest trust when purchasing pre-selling properties—they cannot be tested like cars, appliances, or other similar products.
Julienne Cruz, AVP for Marketing Communications at Century Properties Group (CPG), is aware of this challenge. Prior to joining CPG in 2007, she briefly delved into the world of television production and worked as a TV host and segment producer. At the time, she had first-hand experience in creating content that could capture people’s attention. She then brought this skill to CPG, initially serving as its Public Relations Specialist and now working at the helm of the real estate developer’s marketing efforts.
With her 13 years of experience in CPG, and four years as an interior stylist on the side, Cruz firmly believes that selling properties is not only highly technical but also tremendously visual and emotional. She recalled that offering pre-selling homes required immense imagination and trust-building.
“The main challenge is how well we can communicate the vision to a client and how we can help in the process of making a life-changing decision. We have to keep the relationship strong especially during the project’s construction period while they’re still paying monthly for their equity,” Cruz said.
To address these, and also to make CPG stand out among its competitors, Cruz planned extensively for the company’s marketing efforts. She believed that the selling process was dependent on the quality and effectiveness of their marketing collaterals in terms of messaging and design. After all, people are often attracted to visually stimulating offers first before anything else—the expression “to see is to believe” fits this narrative.
In order to encourage clients to invest in CPG’s pre-selling properties, Cruz and her team moved past traditional marketing mediums. Aside from the usual coffee table books and brochures, Cruz’s team invested in high quality photography, videography, graphic design, and musical scoring to create engaging audio visual presentations, apps, computer-generated imagery stills and flythrough, infographics, video content, and films. They made sure that these promotional materials were of the highest quality possible to show people that they’re more than just selling properties.
They also based their marketing collaterals on customer behavior, insights from market research, and feedback from CPG’s sales team. Cruz noted that it’s imperative for them to engage the audience and capture their attention to help their sales agents effectively sell projects.
When it came to the actual content of their marketing collaterals, Cruz said they’re focused more now on the art of subtle persuasion, or soft selling. Instead of just providing the basic information—such as location, prices, and features—of the properties, Cruz and her team made sure that their campaigns and projects are educational, emotional, entertaining, and enlightening. They also made sure to release their content on a regular basis to keep up with the attention span of their clients and digital audience.
Because of this shift in strategy, their department has greatly evolved and now has effective direct and indirect marketing strategies in place to support the needs of their salesforce.
“When it comes to trust building, we recognize the importance of highlighting real stories from actual unit owners or residents through storytelling with digital films and regular construction update videos. These efforts also keep our clients well-informed, while enabling us to share our company’s milestones through news features,” Cruz shared.
Some of CPG’s marketing digitals include the “Inside Century” video series, which features company events, interviews with key executives, construction updates, and important announcements.
They also have the “Condo Goals” video series. It features unit owners giving a tour of their homes, walkthroughs of their ready-for-occupancy (RFO) projects, as well as resource speakers such as interior designers sharing their insights about real estate and design.
Cruz even hosts most of its episodes on-cam herself. Her passion and dedication for real estate is evident even in her personal endeavors outside CPG, such as joining a podcasting platform dedicated to the Philippine real estate industry called RealtyTV Podcast. With this digital platform, Cruz is able to impart her advocacy for responsible home ownership, as well as show her support for local businesses in real estate.
According to her, joining the podcast is her way of giving back to the Philippine real estate industry and sharing insights and learnings with the new generation of Filipino homeseekers belonging to the millennial market segment.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as well, Cruz continued to implement real estate-related initiatives. She helped CPG pivot its marketing efforts to fit the mobility and economic changes in the country. With social distancing and quarantine measures in place, Cruz and her team quickly shifted to creating virtual tours for their salesforce team so they could still sell properties while working from home. The tours were divided into two categories: for selling and for turnover.
The “for selling” tours included 360-degree immersive virtual walkthroughs of CPG’s existing model units, bare condo units, and amenities on site that home seekers could access via their mobile phone and desktop.
The company also provided teleconference live virtual tours where sales agents, aided by CPG’s concierge or turnover staff, virtually toured clients around a condo unit they wanted to view in real time.
Meanwhile, for their “for turnover” tours, CPG provided walkthrough videos of RFO condo units for turnover to each respective client who may not be able to visit the site yet but need to inspect and accept their unit.
With over 17 successful projects launched for the company, Cruz believes she is still a work in progress. She considers herself extremely fortunate to learn from and work closely with CPG’s owners, the Antonio family, who have been instrumental to her professional growth through the years. She said it is important for marketing and communications professionals to be servant leaders with passion. Marketing leaders should also learn to reinvent themselves in the process, especially with the real estate market constantly changing due to economic and regulatory factors.
With economic crises brought on by world events like the COVID-19 pandemic, Cruz additionally shared that there is a need for the real estate world to embrace digital technologies and initiatives now more than ever—not just from end-to-end of the contactless investment cycle, but also in how people will live in condos with smart devices and systems that can improve their lives moving forward.
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Julienne Cruz, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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