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Meet the REB Awards 2024 finalist: Fiona Yang

Promoted by Plus Agency
13 February 2024 | 8 minute read
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It’s a pleasure to introduce Plus Agency’s Fiona Yang, a finalist in the Marketing Professional of the Year category at the upcoming REB Awards 2024, with the awards to be held at Sydney’s The Star on 29 February.

REB is proud to showcase a number of finalists in the upcoming REB Awards 2024 in this special Q&A series. Here, we chat with Plus Agency executive partner, Fiona Yang.

Fiona, congratulations on being named a finalist in the marketing professional of the year category for the Real Estate Business Awards 2024. How does it feel to be recognised as a finalist?

Of course, it feels great. I think what is more important is that the industry is recognising that multi-cultural marketing is now essential in Australian real estate.

People who grew up here buy Australian property, but also people who grew up in Europe, Asia, North America … all over the world. To be able to market effectively to all these different groups of people is the best achievement a marketer can have. It vastly increases your potential buyer pool.

In your eyes, what does it take to be a good marketing professional?

The most important thing is to understand human behaviour. The second thing is to have incredible attention to detail. And the third thing is to always be conscious of cost and the overall budget.

In 2024, marketing is no longer just about showcasing your listings. You have to go beyond that by communicating in a way that will cut through the noise and get people’s attention. Consumers today have information overload, even more so than just 10 years ago. So, you have to understand human behaviour to know how to get your messages across.

Before, people got a lot of information from papers. Now, no one can leave their home without a phone. In fact, I know several people —including myself— who carry two phones!

When it comes to the Chinese market, you used to only need to market via QQ and Weibo. Then, about five years ago, that shifted to WeChat. Now, Redbook delivers the most conversions and the lowest cost per lead.

We constantly evaluate how people find information and let that decide where we focus our marketing resources.

What sets your agency apart from your competitors when it comes to marketing?

First, we are an Asian market specialist with a focus on new development sales. Both my partner and I are Australian educated but born in China, so we understand the best of both cultures. Asian buyers are active in Australia and both immigrants and students from Asia are coming to Australia in large numbers.

We do more than just help our developer clients sell. We advise them on how to make minor changes to their properties so they appeal to Asian preferences and thereby sell at higher prices.

At a Lane Cove duplex we sold in December to an older Chinese couple, the buyers wanted a smart toilet. These are very common in Asia, but not so much in Australia — and it wasn’t an option the developer was offering. We managed to persuade the developer to spend $50,000 on toilets, and in turn he sold for about $250,000 more than he had considered possible.

The last thing is just our bigger database. If your agency is purely oriented to English speaking buyers, your database won’t be as large as an agency that markets to both local and international buyers.

Buyers with millions to spend but who don’t speak English well can reach out to us. And it’s not just Chinese. In total, our team speaks more than 10 languages, including Hindu, Malay, and Korean. That means we can work with the whole market, and not just those from one background or another.

Here’s an example. We just sold two properties to a buyer who is from Hong Kong who never looks at the Australian portals, never visits OFIs, and never looks at the local media. Yet, we have them in our database and have helped with millions of dollars of property.

How has real estate marketing changed over the years, and how do you keep your finger on the pulse?

The real estate market today is more digitally oriented than it has ever been. It has also evolved from still photos so that videos are now vital to sell a property. Just a few years ago, a property video seemed like an add-on. Now, you must have a compelling video before you can get anyone to look at a listing.

It’s a fast-changing environment, so the marketing team is constantly developing new ideas and improving our execution to stay on top of things.

That brings me to the next change, which is data. Today, you can carefully measure results across almost all your marketing efforts. We know the reach and cost per lead and final conversion-to-sale rate for every one of our marketing channels. That includes English social media, international social media, portals, retail kiosks and office walk-ins.

What tools or programs do you use on a daily/weekly basis as a marketing professional?

Of course, we use all the big social media and keep a steady stream of posts flowing through a program called Dripflow. It automatically takes properties from our CRM and posts about them on social media.

For Chinese social media users, we use Redbook and WeChat, every single day. We also use all the English language socials, too.

Two other tools that have become essential for our multilingual team are Canva and ChatGPT. With these tools, we can do much more with limited resources than ever before.

Throughout your career, what have been your biggest achievements to date?

Well, I would have to say the biggest achievement of my career is the founding of Plus Agency, together with my partner Peter Li. We wanted to run an agency that looks after the Asian market professionally and connect them to Australian properties. We didn’t just want to sell to them, but actually to help them find the properties that suit their lifestyle and to help them adjust those properties for their own tastes.

We had a buyer in Mosman who told us he had tried to see a property with another agent, but the agent didn’t even bother to take him through or to present his offer to the developer.

That agent had no international experience and as a result threw away a sale, probably without even realising it. The buyer had a couple of requirements, like a white fence instead of a black one and some smart home upgrades like voice-controlled curtains.

The agent didn’t know anything about smart homes, so he thought this purchaser was just wasting his time around. “What’s wrong with just opening your curtains with your hand?” He didn’t understand how Chinese live.

The buyer eventually came to us, and we took him to the listing and helped him buy it. He made an offer high enough to shock the developer. He wondered why he had never gotten such a high price before.

In the end, the buyer got the fence and smart curtains that he wanted. And the developer was happy to do it because the price was right.

What can we expect from yourself and Plus Agency in the year ahead?

Plus Agency is really trying to dig into project marketing even further and provide excellent service to not just big developers but also smaller ones.

We have built an excellent team. Now, we can help the entrepreneur developer who has two duplexes, 10 townhouses, or projects of a similar scale. We want to serve a broader share of the market at a more affordable cost. We know we can help these developers get more for their listings.

We only launched Plus Agency in February of 2021, and last year we sold $305 million of property in Sydney. This year, in addition to our flagship in Chatswood, we have already opened our new office in Castle Hill. Soon, we will expand into Macquarie Park.

So, this should be a year of growth for us.

Best of luck at the REB Awards 2024!

You can find out more about the work being done by Fiona and the team at Plus Agency here.

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