What sets your business apart?
Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in marketing means the distinguishing and distinctive factors or considerations that separate your product(s) or service(s) from the rest. In simple words, USP is what makes a potential client pause and ponder on you.
Same Old Story!
Many real estate firms, organizations, and companies claim that their USPs are communication skills, lower rates, standard technologies, honesty etc.…….But do all these claims really make you distinct from others? For me the answer is a big NO! Because for buyers all real estate agencies opt for these assertions. For them all these declarations are SAME OLD STORIES they are listening from eons.
What’s Your USP?
I believe that in today’s post-modern world the most successful enterprises are the ones which utilize arresting representations which not only capture all the five senses but also allure the extrasensory perceptions and trap you in their trance. The same formula also works in real estate; the more attractions it has the more sales it gets.
In Pakistan it was Malik Riaz Hussain who revolutionized the concept of real-estate. He brought many innovative USPs, which took the nation by storm, that has become a blueprint for all the real estate businesses in Pakistan. For example, for the first time when he advertised his project, he presented it as an international standard housing society with an uninterrupted supply of basic necessities such as electricity, gas, water, hospitals, educational institutes, community halls, parks etc. Secondly, the concept of wide roads, underground wires and water pipes, elegantly crafted roundabouts, at the beginning, played a significant part (and is still playing) in the sale of residential plots because at that time there was no residential area in twin cities which could promise undisturbed supply of such necessities which he presented as luxuries. This again is another USP where you present something quite basic and fundamental as something executive.
Being Innovative is Trendy
Although now there are many real estate companies who have adopted this same USP (thus transforming it into a regular selling proposition), the sale of Bahria Town is still the highest with the highest prices. The reason for such a hype is that Malik Riaz has incorporated many new USPs. For example, Bahria Town is creating replicas of famous monuments, sites, seven wonders of the world etc. For example, the Eiffel Tower of France, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Colosseum of Italy, Statue of Liberty of the United States of America and Trafalgar Square of England are the examples of how a simple housing society can be turned into a glamorous commercial venture. And same as before this USP is also being adopted by many other housing societies.
Additionally, the idea to cash national and international events has also worked as a fruitful USP for Bahria Town. For example the special show of fireworks on independence day and new year eve entices the general public into buying a residential and commercial for themselves.
Many businesses hire famous personalities for the advertisement of their brand. For example, Humaima Malick is hired by Sunsilk to promote their brand in Pakistan. Similarly, Wasim Akram has become the face of Ariel laundry detergent. Likewise, Sjal Ali is the brand ambassador of FoodPanda. The same trend has also entered in the real-estate business lately. For example, ‘Eighteen’ hired Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan for their publicity; ARY Laguna DHA City hired Fahad Mustafa and Hamayun Syed for their promotion. Even societies like Blue World City hired international stars like Esra Bilgic for their marketing. As this strategy has always worked in other businesses, in real estate too the utilization of star power has reaped many financial benefits for real-estate companies.
Other USPs used by real-estate businesses is that apart from presenting themselves as modern, stylish, and luxurious, they add elements of faith to capture the religious sentiments of masses. For example, Bahria Town names its sectors after four Khulafa u ar-Rashidun. Similarly, Qurtaba City also proclaims that their society stands on the same pillars on which Muslims established the Caliphate of Cordoba in Spain. Similarly, many housing societies, such as DHA, have named their sectors after freedom fighters and leaders of the Pakistan Movement. This sort of strategy is often used to encapsulate the same ideological stance adopted by these individuals.
City within a City
Moreover, another USP used by famous housing societies in Pakistan is that they are not mere residential schemes rather they are complete cities. For example the management of Bahria Town is constructing a separate Sports City in Bahria Town Karachi where the sports enthusiasts could enjoy all sorts of sports activities. They are building Rafi Cricket Stadium. It is Pakistan’s biggest cricket stadium which is designed according to ICC standards. In the same way, in Bahria Town Islamabad they have introduced Go-Kart Tracks.
Real-Estate Becomes Disneyland
Umberto Eco presented the concept of ‘hyperreality.’ According to him, we create realistic fabrications which produce an illusion and make them desirable for the masses, for they appear far better than the reality. He explains this phenomena through the example of ‘Disneyland.’ He states that Disneyland is a false reality which creates such an atmosphere that becomes more real than actual reality for visitors. These simulations become a portal of escapism and happiness. For Eco, such ‘false reality’ is created to generate a reality that is more beautiful, pleasing, exciting, interesting, inspiring and real than the reality we face in daily life.
The same technique has been utilized by many real-estate businesses. For example, the presence of internationally acclaimed brands in the esthetically designed buildings with special focus on lights, post-modernist architecture, exterior and interiors, sitting areas, ambient style of music playing in the background all play a part in creating an artistically pleasing ambiance which creates an appealing and bewitching false reality which captivates the potential buyers.
Have You Decided Your USP YET???
Jean Baudrillard, a French sociologist and philosopher, takes the concept even further when he states that in today’s world there are only simulations. The distinction between what is real and what is artificial is long lost. I believe Baudrillard is right in his claim. Aren’t our happiness, joy, happiness dependent on these fabricated realities. These simulations have taken control over our minds; and many businesses, like real-estate, play around these hyperrealities. Even housing societies like Bahria Town and Blue World City have created their version of Disneyland in the form of ‘Bahria Adventure Land Theme Park’ and ‘Water Theme Park’ respectively.
Another concept closely related with hyper reality is ‘Consumerism.’ According to it, the happiness and well-being of an individual fundamentally depends on the consumer goods and materialistic possessions. For example, especially going to Centaurus Islamabad to buy a dress from ‘Khaadi;’ or going to ‘Savour Foods’ College Road for the taste are the classic representations of consumer culture prevalent in society. In the same way, in real-estate too people prefer DHA, Gulberg Green, Bahria Town etc as they are status symbols. Same is the case with famous real-estate developers like AAA Associates, Prism Estate & Builders. So another USP can be to present yourself as a brand and let your consumers go wild for you.
Lastly, as all real-estate businesses are going westranized, this USP has been used so excessively that it has lost its fascination. I believe that we should add a traditional touch. By traditional I mean something specifically related to South-Asia and Sub-Continent. This USP could work because we are slowly losing familiarity with our roots. For example, how many of us would know about ‘Baisakhi,’ ‘Basant,’ ‘Lohri.’ If we add something related with the culture of the sub-continent, I am sure the masses would definitely be intrigued by it.