During one of the worst economic downturns in modern history, it’s inevitable that proptech firms are currently wrestling with the question of utility vs. necessity. Companies are having to think very carefully about where they focus their time, energy and money. If something is useful but not ultimately deemed necessary, it’s simply not worth prioritising at the moment.
As the UK Proptech Association’s recent COVID-19 Proptech Impact Report made clear, cash flow and a fall in demand are the two biggest challenges right now for the majority of proptech firms. What that means in practice is that companies have narrowed their focus almost exclusively to cash saving and generating sales, and are unwilling, and in many cases unable, to commit money to anything that doesn’t generate short-term revenue. The expense of certain activities is being evaluated against their necessity.
One area of business often stripped back or cut altogether during periods of economic uncertainty, is marketing. Seen as useful, rather than absolutely critical, firms often view marketing and communications as one of the first areas where they can save both time and money. The result is that marketing budgets, personnel and ultimately outputs are all scaled back, in order to focus on seemingly more cost-effective activities.
It’s likely that many proptech firms, stretched to their limits financially and logistically during this period, will arrive at the same conclusion. Companies may be tempted to ease off the social media content, the press announcements, the blogs, the newsletters and the advertising. My strong advice to providers tempted to follow that course of action is: think again.
I am of course biased. I’ve worked for leading PR agencies, as well as recently heading up the global communications at proptech firm Equiem. However, I’ve seen first hand the impact that quality marketing has on generating new leads and closing sales. I’ve seen the impact that effective communications and messaging can have in helping the market understand a company’s value proposition and relevance. Far from being seen as a boom time luxury, marketing should be seen as a downturn necessity. Demonstrating your company’s relevance, results and importance could not be more important than it is right now.
Of course, firms don’t need to spend thousands on flashy advertising campaigns, but maintaining, or even increasing content output across other marketing channels is vital. If providers don’t think their own proposition is worth shouting about, why would potential buyers think differently? If proptech firms don’t make an effort to stay relevant during the lockdown period, the reality is that they will have faded into obscurity once we’re out the other side.
So the proptech firms out there: keep going after sales, keep looking at where you can save time and money across your business during this period, but do not abandon your marketing efforts. Make sure you keep yourself on the radar of potential buyers, potential investors and existing clients, knowing that if your efforts don’t repay you this month, they will surely will as the economy begins to stabilise. We may be in lockdown, but whatever you do, don’t let your marketing go into lockdown too.