Property Investments – Direct and Collective Investments

Investment Options

Access to property investments is well-established, with a range of direct investment opportunities and collective investments available for both retail and institutional Investors alike. In the first instance we should look to the range of property sub-sectors available for consideration, and further investigate both direct and collective access points for the sector in general.

The main property sub-sectors that may be available for smaller investors are:

Student Accommodation
Care Homes
Leisure / Tourism
Within each sub-sector lies a range of possible entry points for Investors; broadly categorised as either direct investments or collective investments. Collective investments being either regulated or unregulated fund arrangements, where Investors capital is pooled so as to acquire a basket of assets, or participate in a project with a large capital requirement. Direct investments on the other hand are simply straightforward acquisitions of property assets by the Investor. There are, for example, funds for residential, student accommodation commercial and most other sub-sectors, and likewise, there are options for Investors to directly acquire investment properties in each of these sectors via freehold or leasehold title.

Direct investments – Simply the acquisition of property assets by the Investor, direct property investments take many forms; from the acquisition of property for improvement and sale; through to acquisitions for leasing/rental to a tenant or operator. For the Investors with sufficient capital or finance, direct investments remove the majority of risks specific to collective investment schemes where Investors are reliant on the external management of a property portfolio. Direct investments do however carry asset-specific risks; property assets can incur significant financial liabilities including on-going maintenance, tax and round trip purchasing costs (the cost of buying and selling an asset).

Property investments, especially direct property investments, provide the Investor with a level of security that paper-based investments do not due simply to the fact that quality property assets retain capital value throughout the long-term, which in the case of well-chosen properties in good locations, is unlikely to fall and cause the Investor a capital loss. Provided the Investor is prepared and capable of tolerating the illiquidity associated with physical property assets, this asset class provides true diversification out of traditional financial assets such as stocks bonds and cash.

For the direct Investor, careful consideration should be given to the due diligence process during the asset identification and acquisition stage, as in most regions this will require specific professional input from legal practitioners, surveyors, valuation agents, and in the case of niche property investment projects with a specific strategy Investors must also consider the counterparty risk in that in many cases Investors might be reliant on the performance of a strategy manager to achieve the expected returns from investing in their strategy.

Collective investments – Property funds come in all shapes and sizes, and invariably involve a Fund Manager acquiring a basket of properties in line with the fund’s investment strategy, and managing those assets on behalf of Investors in the fund. There are funds, both regulated and unregulated, that invest in all of the major property sub-sectors. One can find opportunities to invest in residential real estate, student accommodation, care homes, commercial real estate, shopping centres and property developments. Some of these funds cater only to large Institutional Investors, whereas other offer lower entry levels for smaller Investors.

The structure of collective property investments varies from fund to fund. Some are highly regulated affairs, established and operated by major asset management groups, others are small, niche operations established to capitalise on current short term opportunities or niche sectors or markets. Collective funds may be listed on an exchange, allowing smaller Investors to trade in and out of the fund as and when they please. This removes the potential illiquidity associated with the property asset class, however this also detracts substantially form the returns generated from the underlying property assets as some capital is never invested in order to ensure that redemptions can be made from cash without liquidating part of the underlying portfolio.

Whether listed or unlisted, regulated or otherwise, collective investments in property assets offer access to the asset class for the smaller Investors, although in many cases the cash flow dynamics of securitised investments differ greatly from direct investments in property assets.

Direct Mail Marketing: Right on Target

One of the reasons that direct mail is the ultimate form of marketing is that it’s targeted marketing. You’re using a rifle, not a shotgun. When you advertise in papers, magazines, or on TV or radio, you’re “shotgunning” your offer out to all sorts of people, most of whom will have no interest in your service or products. Direct mail lets you zero in on exactly the type of people you want to reach.

That customization makes all the difference. You can spend your money to reach the people who are most likely to do business with you, not waste it on the general public. You learn what worked best and where they learned about your offer, unlike television, radio, magazine, or newspaper ads, so you save money. Your sales message can be confidential, personal, and one-on-one-and that’s very powerful.

With direct mail, there are no limitations. You have total flexibility and control over the length and format of your sales message. Other forms of advertising make you conform to their rules; not direct mail. You have the power to make your sales message say what you want it to, and to ask for the offer in a direct way. When you mail 10,000 pieces of mail, it’s like having 10,000 salespeople in an envelope. Don’t get me wrong-I realize that if you had a sales force making calls, they’d probably have a better ratio of orders per people called than direct mail. In fact, it would be very unusual if they didn’t.

But how many people can a salesperson reach in a day? Ten? Twenty? They’re limited by how many businesses or consumers they can call or call on. With direct mail you can mail as many pieces as you like. They may not have the impact of the face-to-face salesperson, but they’ll do a better job because you’ll get more orders. Salesmanship is great, but few of us can afford to send a big sales team out to call on our prospects.

Direct mail is the ultimate marketing research tool, too. It’s the ultimate way to reach new customers, and it’s relatively cheap, because you can test-mail. You can make small mailings to start with; and then, when you see results, you can double, triple or quadruple the number of mailings you make.

I believe direct mail has proven itself to be a powerful communication tool, even in this age of electronic marketing. It’s tailor-made for two-step marketing, and you can use it for any business. Some people think that if they have a store, they can’t really use direct mail because all of their sales happen in the store-but that’s not true, because it can bring people in the door who might never have come otherwise. It can make you a great deal of money-and you should get involved with it as soon as you can.

You know how a shotgun works; it sends out a spray of shot that hits everything within a certain distance. If you’re using a shotgun approach to marketing, your message scatters in all directions. Mostly it hits the wrong targets. Radio ads, television ads, billboards, newspaper and magazine ads-all those are shotgun approaches. You message is wasted on most people. That’s just the nature of a shotgun.

On the other hand, you’ve probably heard about sniper rifles, and how a really good sniper can hit a target hundreds or thousands of yards away. Rifles offer extreme accuracy. When you extend this analogy to your marketing, you’re talking about precision and control, putting your sales message exactly where you want it for maximum impact. There’s very little in the way of wasted resources. While you won’t hit everyone, at least your mailing is reaching only people you already know are interested in the types of products and services you sell, whether you’re a local reaching out to specific people in the community or a nationwide mail-order firm. Your list may consist of your own customers-people you’ve sold similar things to before-or a rented list of those who’ve bought similar things from other people.

The fact that a direct mail package is basically a sales rep in an envelope is particularly effective. You can present your entire sales presentation in an envelope thousands or millions of times, and never have to worry about your sales reps getting temperamental, tired, or depressed-and they never ask for a raise. When people open your envelope, you make them a big promise and a guarantee of what they’re going to receive when they do business with you. If you use two-step marketing, you invite them to ask for more information. If you’re a local business, you can invite them to come into your store for a sale or special event.

Direct mail is salesmanship. It’s about taking the very best qualities you see in an entire sales presentation and reducing it to one package. It answers all the major objections a prospect buyer will have. It makes all of the benefits come to life and creates a great sense of urgency to get them to respond now. Your strategy can and should include lots of follow up. Recently, I handled a two-step campaign where we follow up with a 44-page sales letter. During those 44 pages, we reveal everything. It gets people fired up, excited, and ready to go.

You can start small with direct mail, and grow it as your business expands. That’s another aspect of total control; the scale is up to you. You can go as big as you can afford, or advance slowly. I love this aspect of control, as I believe any entrepreneur would. Control feels good. You’re not giving your money to some magazine, paper, radio station, or TV station. You don’t even have to give your money to a mailing house. You can do it all yourself if you want.

Marketing for Hospital Success

Marketing for hospitals can be tricky. Today, the healthcare market is extremely competitive-a variety of options, providers and services are available to patients. And more so than ever, the average patient is a value-conscious consumer that makes educated choices based on their options.

In order to stand out from the competition, it is extremely important to craft a clear and innovative strategy. A successful hospital needs a successful marketing plan. A combination of direct and electronic mail, as well as social media is your best bet to wrangle in more patients and to keep them coming back. Studies have shown that depending on age and gender, all three are necessary to successfully connect with a broad target population.

Okay, first things first. Let’s start with direct mail, a tried and true approach to getting your hospital name in the hands of potential patients. Remember, consistent touches are the key to success. Wow them with colorful images of your facilities and services. Or showcase friendly pictures of your medical staff-this adds a personalized and intimate touch to your hospital brand. If done correctly, direct mail can be the best, most reliable strategy for marketing for hospitals.

But let’s not forget about electronic mail, an equally effective approach for marketing for hospitals. In this day and age, where almost everybody has a computer, patients expect fast results. Young people, in particular, utilize their computer as their main source of information. So it makes perfect sense to leverage electronic communication as part of your marketing strategy. Immediately connect with patients through email blasts and electronic newsletters.

Last but not least, social media is emerging as an influential communication platform for marketing for hospitals. Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, and if you are open, it can be utilized as a powerful tool to generate buzz about your hospital brand. Depending on your level of interest and commitment, try creating a Facebook or Twitter account-both are effective ways of reaching your patients directly. Address any concerns they may have, answer questions, or simply post fun photos, informational updates, and health advice.

Admittedly, there is no perfect formula for marketing for hospitals, but if you craft a plan that incorporates direct mail, electronic mail, and social media, you are on your way to marketing success! Remember, patients can’t frequent a facility that they don’t know exists! So it is your job, as a healthcare marketer, to make them know how great your hospital really is.