Vancouver’s Key Marketing looks east to Calgary, Toronto

Innovative condo selling agency Key Marketing is looking to take its successful partner-driven operating format east to the markets of Calgary and Toronto later this year.
Vancouver-based Key has carved out a comfortable niche in that city’s energetic condo scene in just four years, going head- to-head with a trio of established players.
“We are in many ways the new kids on the block,” said Cam Good, managing partner of Key Marketing.
“In 2011, we sold 1,600 homes so we were actually the highest in terms of volume so we are right there with the big guys.”
Attention to detail seems to be the secret sauce for Key.
“We find that when projects don’t go well it is because of 'death by a thousand cuts’ and when we are successful, it is because we have done a lot of little things very well.”
For example, an assignment with a developer starts with an old-fashioned “drive around” of the property and the competitors' real estate “and really walk the dirt,” he said.
“This is such a critical first step that so many people skip it boggles the mind.”
A better mousetrap?
The company also states that it puts a senior, experienced person in charge of the sales process for a condo project whose compensation is based largely on sales results.
“You want the person you are dealing with to be making life-changing money on your project, to feast or starve and that is the way this model works.”
The Key Marketing senior staffer or partner in charge of the project typically works on only three developments at various stages in their respective sales cycles. He claims this is vastly different from the “condo king” model prevalent in the industry.
“It is flawed. It is really just a condo king surrounding himself with marketing staff to help out with too many projects because he can’t do it all himself. That is really the model,” said the Key’s founder.
“The developer who hires this condo king is disappointed pretty much right after . . . because they realize they don’t get the condo king because he has moved on to fill the pipe with the next project.”
Good, who has a background in the high-technology industry, said he is not reinventing the wheel with the Key Marketing sales model.
“It is simply me taking what I have seen work well in professional services and applying it to an industry that has been dominated by condo kings surrounding themselves with assistants.”
Key Marketing's partner model will make it easier for him to expand to the Calgary and Vancouver markets as “there are plenty of great people” in those cities willing to work under the company's system.

Groupon condos
Vancouver, just like Toronto, is characterized by an active – some might say overactive – condo-building environment. In an effort to help developers move condo product in a special “sales” environment, Key developed a unique Groupon-like sales vehicle dubbed
Rather than a brokerage, Condoday is an event-planning and advertising company that takes a small commission on special deals or sales offered by developers.
How it works is relatively simple: would-be buyers sign on to the group with the promise of a significant discount because they are buying at the same time as other members at one-day sales events.
To date, four developers have used the concept to sell units. It currently has about 3,500 members signed on and the online vehicle has sold 22 units on its best sales day to date and about 50 units have been sold in total.
Currently, Condoday is operating only in the Vancouver market.
“But we already have interest from some savvy developers in Toronto who know that Condoday will be successful there.”
Good’s main challenge with Condoday appears to be keeping the deals real.
“The fact of the matter is that a lot of developers contact Condoday because they would just like the Condoday group to come to its build centre. We spend a lot of time weeding through fake deals to find truly good deals.”
Condoday members typically garner savings of 15 per cent on the regular purchase price of a condo.
“If developers are looking to give buyers $5,000 or $10,000 off, that is typically not very interesting for Condoday. But if a developer has a genuine business reason to use Condoday, they use it because it already has a large group of buyers following it.”
Developers interested in using the service run the gamut from being close to making their pre-sale numbers to wanting to close their presentation centre or having 20 units of inventory left to sell, he said.

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