Bryce Patterson shares his hard-won expertise at working with marketing and sales teams to maximise success in off-the-plan sales.
Twenty years in project marketing – from working alongside Barry Shepherd at Hume’s in Toorak to six years with Kevin Hunt at Mirvac – has taught Bryce Patterson a thing or two about selling apartments off the plan. Now, as Director of Capital Property Marketing, he has worked on a broad variety of projects, covering almost every configuration and demographic, from entry-level apartments to high-end luxury residences, for first-home buyers to overseas investors. The key factors to a successful project, Patterson says, are bringing the marketing team into a project early, a thorough understanding of the target market and leading from the front.
1. Use marketing in its most strategic sense
The stage at which a marketing team gets involved in a project can be a major deciding factor in the success of a project. The best creativity in the world can only make up for so much if the product isn’t designed correctly for the target market from the start.
“I like to get my team on board early,” Patterson says. “The best advice I’ve ever received is, ‘Don’t leave things to chance.’ Think everything through in detail.”
For Patterson, marketing begins at ground level. “A lot of our developers come to us early to ask what I think about a site. That’s where the process really starts: analysing the site and determining what it is most appropriate for. Some sites are better for first-home buyers or investors, while others are more suited to owner-occupiers, maybe if they’re downsizing.
“Two projects could be in the same suburb, but their different placements could mean they become very different products in the end.” For example, Claremont Street in South Yarra, being quite built up, would demand a different approach to product design than Rockley, which overlooks Rockley Gardens.
2. Understand the buyer intimately
“People today are educated enough where they can read plans and spot a good design from a bad one pretty quickly,” Patterson says. “They pay attention to things that have become important today, such as storage allocation and smart use of space.”
It’s imperative to design the product around a deep understanding of the buyer – rather than building first and trying to find an audience for it.
“For me, it always starts with design,” he says. “You’ve really got to work out who your target market is, and you’ve got to design a product with that buyer in mind.
“We do a lot of research into what else is selling in the area, as it is important to know your competition,” Patterson adds. “Come up with a competitive set to see, if we were in the market tomorrow, who our main competitors would be and what they are offering to determine what your point of difference will be.”
There are a lot of projects out there, he says, but there’s often not much between them. “You can only do so much, but you’ve got to try hard to develop key points of difference in the areas where you can. Find your niches and angles and carry that through the project.”
3. Lead from the front
As director of the company, Patterson doesn’t keep himself at arm’s length from the weekend workers. “I go out and do points of sale – it’s good to keep that going because you really can’t just sit in the office being a general and making decisions without going to the frontline.
“With the multitude of things to keep up with during a project’s lifespan, it’s important to keep in touch,” Patterson explains. “In this game, you’ve got to be across most things, from floor plans and interiors to the marketing and sales.”
That said, he’s quick to point out that it’s only made possible by the team. “As I say to every developer, there's not one person who can get credited with success – it’s the many people that need to be involved to get a project to market doing a lot of things over a long period of time," Patterson says. "The best thing you can have is a good team – if you’ve got a good team around you that is super supportive and enthusiastic, that’s the formula for success. We’re lucky we’ve got a strong team that’s been in the game a long time.”