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Powering into project marketing with John Minns

With John Minns Dexar Leadership Group

Real estate agents are at the coalface. They know, long before all the government statisticians, what people are looking for in a home. It seems obvious therefore that real estate agents move into larger scale residential marketing and even development. But the prospect of developing and marketing large-scale residential projects can sometimes seem too daunting. It can be done though. Just look at what John Minns from Dexar Leadership Group has done.

Only operating in the space for a few years, John and his team now create some of the ACT region’s most sought after offthe- plan properties. John who also hails from the ACT property powerhouse, Independent Property Group, says, “We started dealing with new land estates in Canberra and started selling an awful lot of house and land packages. From that base in Canberra, a number of those builders who were quite often at that stage of only doing one or two houses a year, gradually built up their capacity, their knowledge and expertise, and were able to move into larger projects. A lot of this happened organically.”

John says in the last calendar year, “We sold somewhere between 1,200 and 1,300 properties just in project marketing and I would be expecting to do a similar, if not slightly higher number this year. We also now have a project planning business where we can be engaged right from site acquisition stage onwards and we will work through with all of the relevant stakeholders to make sure the feasibility is right. We will help through the DA and the planning process, will help through the architectural design process, and all of that's before we're even at the stage where we are starting to talk about marketing – which, when people think of project marketing, is quite often where they think we come in.”

To be successful in the project marketing and creating space, John believes it is imperative to understand that there are three drivers and three partners that need to be considered.


  1. Deliver a great product
  2. Meet demand that exists in the marketplace
  3. Sell the development out.


John says, “Get a development started as soon as possible. Hit the market strongly with a great product. If we can help a developer get started six months earlier than they otherwise would have by getting the appropriate number of pre-sales and secondly, if we can get 100% settlements happening as early as possible, then the project becomes a much higher financial success for the developer and, of course, that helps us with winning future business and maintaining a long-term relationship.”

He adds, “A developer doesn't want to be a landlord. They're interested in the movement of the property and the properties must be sold.”

John believes that if you focus on the buyer experience, you will be successful. He is emphatic, “It’s not about commissions – it’s about experiences and looking after the buyers in a wonderful way. You have to be totally committed to the experience of the buyer. One of the things that we look at, if we're going to talk about those experiences through the lifetime of the project, is we say, ‘Let's set a goal. Let's set a goal to make sure we've got the happiest possible buyers at the first Strata AGM’."

He adds, “If we can communicate all through the process with them, we can let them know what's going on. They can understand what their logistics of moving are, they can understand what's happening at final inspection, they understand what the Strata costs are going to be. Those are people who are not only going to be happy, but they will refer more buyers to either us or to the developer, but they'll also move in feeling a lot better about their decision and be far more confident and happy next time they do it or when they're talking to family and friends. We can't treat this as a money generator because if it's all about the commission, then you're not all about the clients. If you're not all about the clients, then the opportunity to be successful in project marketing is one you probably should pass on. That's number one.”

Build the trust and you will build success.


1. The developer

John says, “Our developer clients are essentially looking for us to deliver results. Often we look at developers who are selling $100 million, $200 million, $300 million worth of property in a year and think, ‘They haven't got much to worry about’. The truth is their worries tend to get multiplied by the amount of business that they're doing. The more they're doing, the more things are on their mind and sometimes, they get lonely. They're often not running big businesses and they're often trying to make all the decisions in the space of one or two people's heads. That doesn't always work for them. Knowing that they've got someone who understands that, gets it, and is prepared to be a partner in the process can be incredibly important. They need to know we're part of their risk mitigation strategy.”


2. Other core stakeholders

“You can't delegate our responsibilities for the project being successful to somebody else,” says John. Creating a relationship with architects and landscapers who not only have a great design sense but seek to serve the needs of the people who are likely to be buying the accommodation mix is incredibly important.


3. Buyers

John says, “Buyer management is something that as an industry we're getting better at, but traditionally, we haven't been great at. One of the most important databases and one of the most important CRM strategies is how we deal with both potential buyers and current buyers because in this process, we're expecting people, to some degree, to buy on trust. When we're talking about purchasing off the plan, making a decision on something that's not actually there, that doesn't have a definite completion date or a definite move in date, there's a level of trust that has to be developed and people need to be confident that they're dealing with professionals.”



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