A Competitor Eroded 30% of This Agency Owners Market Share Overnight. Here’s How She Got It Back.

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A Competitor Eroded 30% of This Agency Owners Market Share Overnight. Here’s How She Got It Back.

Elite Property Campaigns (EPC) was just a few months old when a large corporation sought to aggregate the agency in 2017.

Its founder, Gia Le, was determined to stay independent. Although the company courting her agency had a larger database that she could use to provide even better campaign targeting for her clients, it would certainly threaten the culture she had built.

A Competitor Eroded 30% of This Agency Owners Market Share Overnight. Here’s How She Got It Back.

For no reason would Gia “be held ransom to their branding and values,” she said. So, she turned them away.

Six months later, the corporation came to market with a service nearly identical to Gia’s. They copied everything she offered at the time but did so at a 60% discount.

Immediately, she lost 30% of her market share — not an easy event to stomach for a fledgling agency.

The pressure to discount her services and compete on price was immense, but it would also have destroyed her business. Gia couldn’t afford to go as low as they did, nor did she want to. Instead, she doubled down on what made her business desirable and made sure her value proposition was better than theirs ever could be.

“We offered a superior product,” Gia recalled, “and I can tell you now we don’t lose business to them. They lose business to us because we’re smaller. We’re agile, we’re growing, and we’re not scared of them.”

And when her agency boasts of clients with $3B in assets, it’s easy to see why she’s so confident.

What follows is the story of how Gia built an agency that everyone else wants to chase. And she did it without budging on price.  

Bonus action list: [sg_popup id=”215″ event=”click”]Get our 2-page PDF summary[/sg_popup] of action items you can take to grow your agency’s market share based on Gia’s advice.

Getting Started: From Financing Saleswoman to Journalist Extraordinaire

After seven years of being a top saleswoman in the automotive financing industry, Gia realized it was time for something new. Looking to replace her circa $350,000/year income, she set her sights on real estate.

But to sell million dollar properties in Perth, she would need a network. And as a first-generation immigrant, she knew no one that would buy the properties she wanted to represent. Instead of pursuing traditional strategies, she put her degree in marketing and media to work.

“I would reach out to some of our city’s wealthiest and most elite entrepreneurs and personally interview them in their homes. I would bring a media team with me and we would style a shoot. I was trying to brand my name against entrepreneurs in the city,” she said.

She would post her interviews on her personal website and on social media.

Gia called her series of interviews “Perthspective.” They are still available on her personal website.

It worked. Six months later, even the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia was asking her for advice on selling real estate. That’s when she knew she had the beginnings of a business plan. The result was Elite Property Campaigns, a digital marketing agency specializing in high-value real estate.

Living off savings, she immediately reinvested any agency profits back into the business. Two months after launching the agency, she invested all her earnings into hiring her first, full-time staff member.

“I went into business to be big,” Gia explained. “I made a decision from day one that I wasn’t here to be a one-man band. Every decision that I made, everything I’ve put towards my infrastructure, was not a cost. It was an investment.”

That mindset is a major reason that Elite Property Campaigns is so successful today. Gia believes that many agency owners start out with a “survival” mindset rather than an “investment” mindset.

If you have a survival mindset, every purchase is scrutinized. You’re less likely to “spend double” on your infrastructure or go big on your marketing budget. But sometimes, those risks are exactly the ones you should be taking to establish your agency for long-term success.

And it’s that mindset of investment that kept Gia’s agency afloat when her competitor tried to take over the market.

A Two-Pronged Counter Attack to Reclaim Her Market Share

It’s easy to imagine a world in which Gia scrambled to discount her services after her competitor launched at a 60% lower price point. But Gia isn’t the type of person to panic and make decisions that undercut her agency’s hard work.

Instead, Gia’s response to losing 30% of her market share was to bring in outside help and work with her team to implement two key strategies:

  1. Refine EPC’s value proposition by improving the services offered
  2. Redefine EPC’s target customer.

By simultaneously improving her service and targeting clients in a better-defined niche, she ensured she would always have the ability to attract and retain the best clients for Elite Property Campaigns.

Here’s a deeper look at how she approached each step.

Superior Data Mining, Lead Generation, and Reporting

No one does data mining like Gia does data mining.

At least, no one in Australia uses the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) census the way she and her team do.

When a client turns to her to sell a property, she doesn’t just distribute ads and hope someone notices them. She turns to the census to mine data on exactly who she should target with advertising efforts.

“Clients think they know who their target market is, but they haven’t sat down and dissected the data. The law here is that, once it’s collected, census data has to be made freely available to the population,” she explained.

“Nobody bothers to troll through the millions of pages; we do. And we make sense of it. The whole point is that we use data strategically and we know what to look for. We know the key metrics and the pivot points. If you told anybody else to go through that, all that they’d see is just numbers. But we’re like the Matrix. We know exactly what we’re looking for.”

This video is one of multiple ads that EPC ran for 1 Carrol Grove in Mt. Waverley, which sold in August 2018.

Facebook is the primary platform they use for advertising, but they also run campaigns on LinkedIn and Instagram. “We’re constantly optimizing our campaigns,” she said. And when that isn’t enough, they’ll take their research further.

For example, her agency is currently working to sell $12M apartments. As part of their marketing strategy, they compiled a list of Asia’s top 500 richest people. Then, they searched for contact information and connected them with Sales Navigator whenever possible.

After that, she shared, “We use MailChimp and we design these beautiful EDM. It’s personalized and very property specific. We take these billionaires and millionaires on a journey of two to three months as we deliver the features, the benefits, and the lifestyle of buying into this particular development.”

As a result, Elite Property Campaigns delivers leads, not vanity metrics like impressions or reach.

Gia is the first to admit that her initial business model was delivering impressions and views, just like her competitors. But when faced with an eroded market share, she turned to a consultant to learn how she could better use the technology available to her.

“The biggest thing that changed our business overnight was the ability to generate inquiries for our clients using the lead generation platform on Facebook,” she said, as a result of the consultant’s recommendations.

Her agency was generating real sales, and now she had the metrics to prove it.

After she revamped the way EPC uses Facebook, she also revisited reporting. From the beginning, Gia had been using ReportGarden to demonstrate results to her clients. But she reconsidered the way she used ReportGarden and opted to send more reports than before.  

“The other company was only giving clients one report per campaign,” Gia shared. “We were producing three reports per campaign. My clients are very busy executives, so being able to sit there and actually see ads in context means we’re adding value to their day.”

A sample of one of Gia's Facebook ads

Gia shows her clients the ad next to metrics in each of three reports per campaign. This is just a snapshot of the first two ads out of 10+ Facebook ads.

“Every single campaign that we run for them is documented on ReportGarden. The perception of value is magnified because rather than thinking we ran one campaign, they know that we’re doing multiple tests for them at all stages of the campaign. They can see every single image that we’ve been testing. When we come in and we follow up in a meeting with them, they are actually quite alarmed by some of the statistics because some of the photos that they thought were going to produce the most inquiries were actually the most unpopular ones,” she said.

That dedication to data during every step of the process — from initial targeting to testing specific ads in campaigns — is what makes her agency attract clients who hold $3B worth of assets.

Redefining Elite Property Campaigns’ Ideal Customer

Gia with one of the consultants who helped her business.

Gia hard at work with one of the consultants who assisted EPC.

Just like Gia worked with a consultant to learn how to leverage technology that could improve her service offerings, she also worked with a consultant regarding her target customers.

Initially, Gia’s primary audience was real estate agents who wanted help in getting homes sold. Her consultant pointed her toward developers. And not just any developers: She works with “mid to upper tier” developers in terms of the size and value of their projects in the pipeline.

Partially, that’s because the supply is consistent. Gia compared the shift in her business model to going from owning a restaurant to running a catering business. “Catering is far more profitable because it’s all projected. There is no wastage and you’re not relying on retail public to walk in.”

Similarly, developers have projects year-round, whereas real estate agents have a noticeable reliance on seasons and market conditions.

Plus, developers have larger budgets, which means Gia and her team have the freedom to create powerful, effective campaigns. In addition, it’s easier for Gia to explain that a certain percentage of views will likely become leads, and of those leads, a certain percentage will likely convert. Her process meshes well with the efficient and data-oriented mindsets of developers.

As a result, Elite Property Campaigns isn’t dependent on the seasons. The agency is bustling year-round with clients happy to let Gia’s team manage all the details.

“We’ve got clients that have two and three hundred million dollars worth of projects in the pipeline, and they’re talking to us. They’re using our services, and we’re not even two years old yet. It’s very flattering,” she laughed.

Reflecting on the Journey: Don’t Do Everything Alone

Gia with the EPC team

The Elite Property Campaigns team.

Gia’s hard work, determination, and calm thinking are what saved EPC from folding when her competitor launched their product. But Gia herself isn’t the only reason the agency is a success.

Gia firmly believes that Elite Property Campaigns wouldn’t be the success it is today if she hadn’t invested so much in her infrastructure — both when it comes to technology and when it comes to people.

“We still reinvest every single dollar back into the business,” Gia said. “The reason why I grew very quickly was that I was never afraid of painful, wonderful advice. I paid the best employment lawyer from the very beginning to craft an employment contract that was robust. And I was not afraid to pay multiple consultants to come in to review business processes.”

Even more important are the people she brings on to the team. “I hire for creativity and I hire for ambition. I hire for their ability to digest and comprehend information because our campaigns are very data-driven. I work very, very, very hard to mentor and train my young team because it’s my way of giving back. And I think every business owner who goes into business needs to think bigger than just profits. It’s got to be people before profits.

“People who think that they can do it on their own probably will do it on their own, but that’s all they’ll be — on their own.”

Bonus action list: [sg_popup id=”215″ event=”click”]Get our 2-page PDF summary[/sg_popup] of action items you can take to grow your agency’s market share based on Gia’s advice.

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