How Do You Get Emotionally Attached To Real Estate
The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Pancho Dizon this chapter is titled “How Do You Get Emotionally Attached To Real Estate.” In it, Revianne Sesante, the Co-CEO of BedsAndRooms.ph, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in giving importance to their employees' well-being.
When the average person looks for a permanent place to live, there are a ton of factors that must be taken into consideration: How safe is the surrounding neighborhood? How close is it to the workplace? What are the available amenities?
There’s an art to marketing something so essential. Just ask Revianne Sesante, currently the CEO of Bedsandrooms.ph, an online platform that quickly matches home seekers with landlords that can readily provide them with affordable rental housing. Before this role, she was also the Head of Marketing for co-living and dormitory brand MyTown. All in all, she held over a decade’s worth of marketing experience not just in real estate, but in various other industries such as event management and consulting.
Thus, Sesante maintained that there’s one secret to marketing real estate so that it wasn’t just another place, but a home. “You can easily market any product as long as you know how to relate this product to different types of market,” Sesante said. “The key to this is figuring out what gets the market emotionally attached to your product.”
In this case, marketing real estate actually meant marketing a sense of community. When she was with MyTown, this meant highlighting the many different amenities the company’s dorms had to offer. For example, MyTown regularly held events that got tenants together and let them get to know each other.
“At least once a month, we offered activities like fitness classes or financial literacy seminars,” Sesante said. “We wanted them to socialize but also give them something that would also be beneficial for their own self-development.”
This is especially relevant because most members of MyTown’s community were young professionals in the early days of their careers. The demographics of their clientele are also consequently why the company’s dorm buildings were located near business districts like Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
“The point is to give them budget-friendly accommodation that isn’t so far from where they work,” said Sesantereferring to their buildings like MyTown Rio and MyTown Cape Town, which were respectively located in East and West Rembo in Makati—just a stone’s throw away from BGC. “Though they aren’t exactly in BGC, we also highlight that in our marketing, as they can also get the best of barangay (the smallest local government unit in the Philippines) life. So enjoy the nightlife of BGC, then walk a few meters over to eat isaw (pig or chicken intestines) on the street or buy pandesal (Filipino salt bread) from the panaderya (bakery).”
The message of offering convenience at budget-friendly rates was echoed by Mark Koojiman, CEO at MyTown’s parent company Philippines Urban Living Solutions. Koojiman has often explained that MyTown was founded after realizing that they should always seek to provide what their target market looks for in a housing solution. Since then, this idea has formed the core of Sesante and her team’s messaging.
Of course, another strategy was adopted when targeting businesses as potential partners. Rather than marketing the company as a gateway to a community and convenience, the emotional hook for businesses was that MyTown could take the hassle out of certain aspects of their operations. Finding a training facility, for instance, was as easy as pie when you have the company’s numerous venues at your disposal. Partnering with them also made it easier for businesses to offer subsidized housing as a perk to young employees, a practice that’s only been around since 2017 even for the most innovative of companies like Google and Facebook.
It’s often that these tech companies offer subsidized housing to their talent, recognizing that it’s an effective means of improving retention rates. The idea behind it was that when a company helped out with an employee’s rent, it’s one less thing for them to worry about and they get to focus on their work. Thus, MyTown was an easy way for other companies to replicate the practice.
“A lot of the time, companies already have all these pre-existing needs. It really is just a matter of reaching out to them and showing that your venues can give a safe, well equipped place to not just host training, but even house employees,” said Sesante.
Sesante took a similar approach—emotionally hooking her target market by pointing out how the product made lives easier—in her work for new company Bedsandrooms. ph. Bedsandrooms.ph was founded when she realized that although there were online platforms for the housing market, this really only catered to higher-end properties. Thus, Bedsandrooms.ph was created to be a bridge between landlords and potential tenants who wanted a place to stay at reasonable rates.
One thing they did to make the user experience seamless was having comprehensive search locations and landmark options, and putting price filters on the website so users can easily stick to their budget. Every listing on the site also has the landlord’s terms and conditions clearly stated, reducing the time the landlord has to spend answering the same questions over and over again. For both sides of the marketplace, the platform made things much more efficient than if they had done things the old-fashioned way.
Bedsandrooms.ph also appealed to different demographics by readily offering categories on their website like “female only,” “pet-friendly,” “kid-friendly,” and even a special category called “first-time job seeker spaces.”
They also made themselves highly visible to their target audience. Knowing young people will most likely look for housing on social media, the Bedsandrooms.ph social media strategy was made to integrate a Facebook ad campaign. Here, they’ve set up a comprehensive Facebook page and paid to have it advertised throughout the platform. It’s been so effective, said Sesante, that they’ve amassed 10,000 new users on their website in just one month.
Another strategy they employed was working on search engine optimization for their website. This was to ensure that if anyone searched for keywords related to what Bedsandrooms.ph does—say, “room for rent,” “bed for rent in Makati,” or “house for rent”— they’d appear amongst the first few search results.
Sesante emphasized that every bit of this was intentional. “We’re aware that a good bit of our customer base is people living on their own for the first time. It can be an intimidating experience, so everything surrounding our platform is designed to be as easy to find and friendly as possible.”
Sesante’s success in recent years can be owed to the fact that she knew she was selling more than just real estate. Through her work with both MyTown and Bedsandrooms.ph, Sesante has figured out the art of adding a compelling emotional hook to selling inanimate objects, a skill that is crucial beyond just the field of real estate. Sesante’s insights drive home the point that no matter what a company is selling, what’s crucial is that a company’s messaging clearly speaks to what its consumers really want. By doing so, you aren’t just selling a product, but rather something to aspire to.
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Revianne Sesante, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
The Evangelists - and other business books about the Philippines and Asia Pacific - will soon be streaming on Audiophile, our platform for exclusive Filipino audiobooks.