Wednesday, 8 July 2015

From Mr Nasty to Mr Nice: How to solve a problem like OTM.

Yesterday I complained about the new, agent backed property portal, Especially the way in which it has forced sellers to use an ineffectual (so far) marketing tool.

It's easy to knock something (and I should know as it's sort of my stock-in-trade).

So, for a change, I thought I'd put on my other hat. The constructive, hopefully creative one.

My problem with OTM, you see, is that it's really just a copycat site that will only survive and possibly prosper because it has what some might consider unfair leverage within the agent world.

It has nothing new to offer. Does nothing better than its competitors. And adds nothing to the mix.

So, if I'm to be Mr Nice for a change, what could they have done that would have really been exciting?

Well, first they needed a differentiator. Something that would separate the site and its service from the competition.

I think that what the market really needs is a good 'Prime Only' portal covering £1m+ properties. Nobody needs another all-encompassing list of every bloody property in Britain.

£1m is a natural dividing line in the market and buyers and sellers would be attracted to something that focussed on their end of the market. In London maybe the value should be set even higher - but that's a detail.

The name needs to be either a) a brilliant, youthful web brand like UBER or AIRBNB. Maybe something like LATERAL or WOW...or  b) a qualitative expression of the service like PRIMERESI (yes, I know that's taken).

The marketing needs to be original, compelling and very different. Take a look at how the National Lottery are using Piers Morgan to see what I mean. Clever, relevant, humourous, distinctive. (Everything the OTM campaign isn't.)

The website itself needs to tear up the established blue-print adopted by Rightmove and Zoopla and move into the current decade.

Lists are fundamentally boring. But a good designer could rethink the presentation of properties. The site needs to look more like AirBnB and less like a page on eBay. More like the Domus Nova website in looks (if you want an agency comparison). And written more like Crayson's.

People love property. But show me a portal that even remotely reflects that fact.

Why not divide properties more creatively into categories such as MegaPrime, Wrecks&Refurbs, LandedGentry, LockUp&Leave, Downsizers etc etc. Wouldn't searching be more fun, more relevant to the consumer.

Of course you would retain the more conventional search methods as well. But clever market segmentation is the future of the web. Curation, not saturation.

As well as lists of property, what the site really needs is unique content. Yes, like many others, I hate the word 'content'. But we all have to move with the times. Even the estate agency world.

What I'd like to see is sections on the site that add real value - like an interior design directory, architect & builder reviews, well written insights into different locations, even reviews of schools, restaurants, etc etc.

There's so much a site like this could contribute to making us want to return time and time again - yet nobody seems to do much more than pay lip-service to these areas. If I see another portal blog about PipofftheTelly, I'll throw myself off the nearest dreadful St George development.

Oooops. That's not very Mr Nice, is it?

Sorry. Can't help it.

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