With a wealth of knowledge and experience behind her, Deirdre Moore leads the creative team at Just Property who deliver the learning and development, marketing and public relations collateral and services to the national Just Property franchise network. As chief brand officer, Moore is passionate about unlocking the powerful network effects that are possible in a franchise group with over 100 offices that is focused on a unified goal – ‘Peace of Mind. Delivered.’

We chatted to Moore to find out more about the role she and her team play at Just Property, their most successful channels for sharing the brand’s message, and what’s on their wish-list of objectives for 2021.

As chief brand officer at Just Property, what does your role entail?

Deirdre Moore: I drive the strategic direction of the marketing, advertising, design and PR activities of Just Property, both at a regional and a national level, to ensure that they are aligned with the brand’s business goals. I work closely with the CEO, the internal marketing team and external partners to deliver on national and regional marketing and PR initiatives. Financial and people management is central to my role, as is data analytics. Specific responsibilities include:

Marketing and brand:

  • Develop and execute the marketing roadmap, including digital and other marketing initiatives at head office- and franchise-level.
  • Manage a high-functioning creative team, including designers, copywriters and social media engineers.
  • Manage the Just Property Marketing Fund.

Public relations:

  • Manage relationships and deliverables with an external PR agency and media contacts.
  • Facilitate brand and franchise representation in PR pieces.
  • Facilitate consistency in “messaging”.

How is being a proudly South African brand incorporated into Just Property’s operations?

Moore: Although we serve clients at either end of the property spectrum, our target market is the middle-market segment. The average price of properties we sell is R1.1m and the largest part of our business is still rentals, which allows us to reach aspiring South Africans across the spectrum of their individual property journeys.

Diversity in our organisation is something we are proud of and are working hard to enhance. Almost 30% of our workforce is made up of South Africans of colour and split almost evenly between men and women. We’re geared to improve exponentially through our franchising team that is actively focused on transformation at the business-owner level and our operations team that is helping recruitment efforts nationwide.

From a PR perspective, I am privileged to be able to showcase successful and inspiring South Africans like Willard Nyamagodo, Potso Mabusela, Noziqhamo Sinoyolo Moss and Lwahluma Mtsulwana. It’s my daily mission to uncover their stories and to share them far and wide.

Can you share with our readers any recent brand campaigns run by the company and the rationales behind them?

Moore: Brand messaging is a tricky thing. Because we are a fragmented organisation, with each franchise individually owned and operated, it’s a challenge to get everyone internally to understand our brand essence and to communicate it in a way that resonates with our people at an emotional level. Only when it grabs their hearts can it become part of their everyday ways of working, a subconscious guide that feeds into our words and actions. Our most recent brand campaign, from both an internal and external perspective, has been our ‘Peace of Mind. Delivered.’ campaign designed to articulate our value proposition to the market and give a renewed sense of purpose to our agents in the troubled world we find ourselves in as a result of Covid-19.

Here’s the rationale behind the campaign: Our industry is flooded with the same customer messaging, the same promises, the same superficial references to trust. We needed to acknowledge that and dig a little deeper; underpinning great customer relationships is the element of trust. For us, trust manifests itself in peace of mind – that sense of relaxing, knowing that you are in good hands.

If our clients can say that we give them peace of mind in an otherwise chaotic world, we will know that we have delivered on our value proposition.

What is so exciting for me about this campaign is that I can see it coming to life in a way that previous brand campaigns have not. For example:

In a recent sales training workshop, the facilitator asked what we are selling (as the answer was not ‘houses’) and an agent called out ‘peace of mind’.

Reviews from our clients validate the relevance of this campaign messaging, increasingly using the words ‘peace of mind’.

In our franchisees’ responses to reviews, they celebrate being able to ‘deliver peace of mind’.

And there are high levels of personal satisfaction and pride in my amazing, all-ladies creative team at Just Property as this campaign is 100% ours, from concept to roll out. It has boosted our confidence and showcased our ability to manage campaigns internally. That’s a big win when you run a marketing function on a relatively small budget (my team often teases me about what we get done for R3.50 – my ‘go to’ number whenever financials are on the agenda).

What have been the most successful channels for sharing Just Property’s brand message in the market?

Moore: As a head office marketing function, we have a much smaller marketing budget than many (if not all) of our competitors, so we have to ‘box clever’. Three years ago, we chose to focus almost exclusively on digital marketing because it offers scale, speed and measurability. Real estate is a traditional and slow-to-change industry but our franchise network is embracing the power of this digital channel with ever-increasing creativity and confidence. It takes a monumental effort from the head office marketing team that includes bi-monthly live training sessions, editable digital marketing templates with built-in, step-by-step instructions on how to use them and retain their brand integrity, quarterly management reports showing the traction we have received, a dedicated help desk for real-time digital marketing support, AMP (our Accelerated Marketing Programme that provides a menu of bespoke marketing services to our franchisees)… and much, much more. Facebook and email marketing are our key focus areas and we are pleased to have achieved the following KPIs:

  • @JustPropertySA is the most ‘followed’ brand in our competitor group, growing our Facebook following from 17,000 in October 2019 to more than 68,000 today and a target of 100,000 by the end of the year.
  • The average open rate on our national marketing emails is 36.3% (vs. the industry average of 19.7%) and the click rate on our most recent mailer was 4.6% (vs. the industry average of 3.5%).
  • We have activated the franchise network, with our best-performing teams regularly sending their own, best-in-class email newsletters each week and posting fresh, engaging content on social media.

Established in 1976 by the late property and real estate icon Pam Golding, the Pam Golding Property group has since achieved world-class status…

What have been some of the vital tools and trends of your trade?

Moore: Vital, but perhaps not best described as ‘tools’, are a diverse team and anti-fragility. To be effective, a brand and marketing team needs to have different skills and perspectives, and a willingness to speak their minds, to challenge the status quo. My team demonstrates this daily! A related idea is that of anti-fragility. According to quora.com, ‘anti-fragile describes the quality of a system to get stronger when it is subjected to stress’. Our team is subjected to stress every day: are we meeting deadlines, are we meeting the needs and expectations of our internal and external clients, are we managing resources responsibly, are we constantly innovating to stay relevant in a very fluid and fickle environment? Yet, we are stronger and achieving more today than we were a year ago!

In the digital marketing space, there is an overwhelming amount of data, tools and service providers to choose from. A clear head is needed here; knowing what you want to achieve and what metrics measure the performance of your creative output will save a lot of time and money.

Don’t get tempted to explore (or buy) every shiny new digital marketing tool!

On the flip side, the digital marketing landscape changes daily, so ongoing learning and awareness of what’s available and what other brands you’re tracking are using is vital. A key member of my team is our social media specialist who loves research and isn’t afraid to quickly implement new ways of working. Speed of execution is a key success factor for us and she enables that.

Consumers, particularly the youth, are increasingly favouring sustainable brands that consider their environmental and socioeconomic impact. How is Just Property embracing sustainability and conveying this to consumers in its brand messaging, if at all?

Moore: Socio-economic development is at the heart of why we exist. Our central purpose, the common thread running through everything we do, is to ‘create wealth through property’, as articulated in our company profile. And it is about more than monetary wealth. We are driven by the sense of abundance our clients experience when they live, work and play in spaces that they love. What an incredible privilege to be in a business that spans Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, from safety to self-actualisation!

As chief brand officer, what’s the best part of your job?

Moore: This role is the culmination of a professional journey spanning 20+ years and I am blessed to be here at a time in my life when I am confident in my own skills and judgement.

Being able to use my God-given talents every single day is incredible! I get to write, create and collaborate with like-minded people and that brings me joy..

What advice would you give to aspiring marketing and brand professionals?

Moore: You have to immerse yourself in the business you serve; know the people that work there, understand what they do and explore the value that they bring to the world. It’s your job to tell their stories and you can only do that with integrity and authenticity if you are deeply vested.

Nurture and protect your mental and physical well-being. Being a creative can be very draining – the hamster wheel of campaigns, fresh ideas, deadlines, client needs, etc., never stops turning and you cannot deliver your best work if you are not ‘filling your own cup’ daily. Personally, exercise and laughter are the best!

Ours is a highly subjective business and there will always be people who don’t like your creative output, there will always be an audience that you do not resonate with.

Measure your success on metrics, not opinions!

What’s on your wish-list for brand objectives for 2021?

Moore: Internally, I want to see everyone in our franchise network embrace the brand messaging, bringing it to life in their everyday actions and words. I want them to understand what an incredibly powerful construct ‘Peace of Mind. Delivered.’ is and to find a sense of purpose in the opportunity to bring this to the world.

I want to see everyone leveraging the collateral we produce at head office; unlocking the network effect within our franchise group will change the game for us.

I want Just Property to become a household name, with positive brand sentiment wherever we have a footprint. From that, we will grow our market share and profitability as a business.