Property Portal Watch has kicked off its conference in Bangkok today with Simon Baker's eighth exclusive Best Practice Master Class at the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Thirty five people from a variety of countries and industry portals including local business Dot Property and Australia's Real Estate Investar among many others, have gathered to gain detailed insights from Baker on building their business and strategies for success.
Baker, the founder of Property Portal Watch, former REA Group CEO and serial portal business investor started his presentation by predicting portals of the future will opt into the transaction stream with e-commerce style structures.
He reminded participants each property portal's business model must justify its value and work directly with its customer base to achieve success.
Baker told participants today's Master Class will describe the best ways to work with customers and how to build those long term relationships in detail.
"We'll also look at how to organise and structure your business," he said.
"I'm currently working on that issue with the Mitula Group. You don't build the structure you have today at the start. You work out the best approach so you can grow into the business structure you're planning for."
Baker says step one is all about creating awareness of your product with agents, brokers and developers.
"The agents and developers will be there today and they'll be there tomorrow," he says. "Not the private sellers, they come and go. You can't build a business around private sellers, except perhaps in France where 45 per cent of all sales are private."
Baker told delegates the best way to start is with agents and brokers, prioritising developers second and and private sellers last.
"You need to have those strong relationships (with agents) because they don't change; they're peo ple around for the long term. You can use those individual relationships to differentiate yourself in the market.
"But differentiate on two dimensions. One is from the advertising side and the other from the consumer side."
Baker says content is critical.
"It's a marketplace so if you don't have content you're dead in the water," he says.
"Agents and brokers have thousands of listings, but they're generally not very sophisticated. They come through sales stream, not trained marketers.
"Developers have a lot of stock; but most buyers don't care if the home they buy is established or new as long as it's their dream home.
"If you can build traffic in the established markets, then you can go to the developers and tell them 'I've got traffic in your area, I want to send you leads'.
"If you send them leads, they should pay, so you can start with a pay relationship with developers, which is where you want to be."
Baker points out, interestingly, in established markets, such as Australia the REA Group's P&L shows 70 per cent agents, 30 per cent developers. However in emerging markets it's the other way around.
"In each market there are also the listings you don't know about, so what's the hook to get them engaged, get them involved?"
Baker says the answer is 'keep it simple' don't try and sell them too much.
"You need to have a clear 'go to market' process, just like any business; you need to know what you're selling, who's your target market. You need to build the initial revenue streams."
Private sellers should be targeted last, because although there is a large number of them, especially in established markets, they come and go, tending to prefer free classifieds options which makes it very difficult to monetise their listings.
"However private sellers are a source of unique content, which is gold," Baker says.
"If you have five listings everyone else has, they're just a commodity. If you have listings others don't have then the buyer will find you. You need content, it's critical.
"It's all about building content and if you try to build from scratch with private sellers it's very hard."
The Master Class continues today.
It will also unpack ways of driving traffic and leads, monetisation, raising capital and business structure.