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Sinclair and Ruiz is a consultancy that creates integrated local, national and international marketing strategies


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Opinion: The Future of Affordable Housing in Vancouver

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The real estate industry has many parts, and one of the most interesting sides of the industry is the one run by non-profits and charities. In Vancouver, where the high cost of living and a  housing supply that does not meet demand have made it the least affordable real estate market in North America, housing run by non-profits is all the more important. It is also a type of real estate I never gave a second thought to when I worked in the private sector. Today though, I see how non-profits have become indispensable in delivering homes to thousands of people the private market has left behind. The crazy thing is that people in need of affordable housing range from those with very limited income to professionals that would be considered to be earning a good living by standards elsewhere in the world – or even elsewhere in Canada.
The challenge for non-profits/charities is knowing whether to/how to expand, partner, further penetrate the market or transfer assets to organizations better positioned to meet the challenges of the current market. Building is a long and costly process. On top of that you can add a tax regime that does not clearly recognize the need for affordable housing providers to build-up the cash reserves needed to maintain and replace real estate assets (think redevelopment or roofs and elevator replacements). It’s not like after responsibly breaking even over a number of years you can quickly raise $800,000 + to fix leaking pipes causing unsafe moldy environments for tenants. After all, being “not for profit” does not mean you can be “for loss” when people depend on you for shelter.
Many organizations are looking to rise to the challenge of building more affordable housing – including some community-based organizations that have never operated housing. In order to do this, most are looking to form strategic partnerships. Partnerships in this realm must take into account needs that go beyond building homes. It requires building capacity for effective long-term management of assets and clients under circumstances that are more complex than those faced by the private market. Furthermore, not every partnership is appropriate. Even with powerful partners, many longstanding operators are struggling to maintain the housing stock they have.

Entering into the (no-for-profit) business of building and operating affordable housing in today’s market requires the willingness to look for non-traditional partners. Even though there are promising initiatives from the provincial and federal governments, long-term success will still require taking the time to vet and let go of potential partnerships and funding offers until the right ones are found. Entering the realm of affordable housing requires a commitment to creativity and perseverance. It also requires stepping back and moving away from knee-jerk reactions in order to plan for long-term solutions.

In Vancouver, several organizations are now in the process of delivering affordable units. There is still a huge and growing need.  Yet, the situation and top-of-mind interest from the community is setting the stage for non-market housing providers to become a driving force in the delivery of housing solutions.

Carolina Ibarra, BA, MSSc

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What are the biggest challenges to entering new markets and how do you overcome them?

There is no single way to overcome the challenges to new market entry. Conversely, those challenges/obstacles should be determined before products or strategies are developed, to prevent substantial expenditures in the midst of entry. Once you understand which obstacles/challenges must be tackled, you determine how to overcome them. In a rush to move things along, many organizations fail to recognize the importance of carefully evaluating challenges before jumping all in.

overcoming obstacles

 

Carlos Escobosa commercial and administrative director of The Residences at Solaz says that in Mexico, where an important percentage of sales are directed to foreign buyers north of the border “the biggest external challenge is the negative perception that North Americans have of Mexico.  The best way to overcome negative perceptions is through  PR campaigns focused on the value, security of investments, and levels of capital being invested. In addition, there is often an internal lack of knowledge of what a consumer wants or needs in our industry (Travel & Leisure and recreational Real Estate)”. Cindy Collins founder of Mining Technology Partners told us that  “the approach for us would be the same as it was in coming into a new territory in our market of mining & metals. Except now  we have greater access to online resources such as advertising, SEO marketing and so on.  We are working to take advantage of this … with a new website, podcast and other content.  This is in addition to face to face meetings…it is more than about effective marketing, it comes to relationships”.

Rahul Samant CEO of Rehabtronics stated that “…the biggest challenges include regulatory, sales, distribution, and marketing. Typically to overcome these we enter markets where we have first established a strong sales and distribution partner that understands the local issues in this context”. Alejandro Godoy founder of Seafood Business Solutions adds that “entering new markets is all about understanding the demand. But on the other hand, explaining and demonstrating your product and its benefits in comparison to others” is key.

The research and development phases of a project often seem protracted, but it is essential to prepare and take your time to do it right. As noted above, the key issues to keep in mind for overcoming barriers are marketing, a clear understanding of demand, and relationship building.

Each organization has its own way of navigating areas of opportunity. Some companies are well versed in entering new markets, have strong processes and count on the necessary resources to do so effectively. For many others, hiring a consultant the most effective way to define specific challenges and design a strategy for tackling them. The avenue offers a way to overcome a lack of initial internal capacity within an organization, and support capacity building in an effective way; while continuing to move forward with the due diligence required for new market entry.  In addition, consultants can assist in overcoming sensitive subjects, as they can bring an impartial opinion and an unbiased eye, as is mentioned in an article by Alex Nuth  titled “Why Companies Really Hire Consultants” .

In a nutshell, taking the necessary time and doing your homework will minimize risks and maximize results.

This article is part 3 of 3.

In case you missed Part 1: Top 4 Challenges to Business Development. 

In case you missed Part 2: How important is it to develop strategic relationships and contacts inside target markets?


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How important is it to develop strategic relationships and contacts inside target markets?

The importance of making strategic contacts is fundamental to success – particularly when expanding into new territory. Relationships facilitate market penetration, assist in identifying new audiences, and measuring product performance. Partnerships can be formal or informal and require different levels of commitment in order to keep the relationship beneficial.

strategic relationships

 

Rahul Samant CEO of Rehabtronics told us that… “it’s very critical to establish strong sales and distribution channels as well as relationships with key opinion leaders”. Cindy Collins founder of Mining Technology Partners noted relationships are …”  huge and the focus of [her] company. [They] put providers together with contacts in Mexico and help them with distribution or [creating a] sales network.  Not only this, but to find references and the who’s who of using your products… this industry [mining] is very dependent on the usual early adopters.  We are often asked for who is using our customers’ products, especially for the more innovative or game changing products” . Alejandro Godoy founder of  Seafood Business Solutions highlighted “…it is very important to develop relationships with key decision makers, specialty seafood buyers in new markets.” Carlos Escobosa Commercial and Administrative Director of  The Residences at Solaz observed that “contacts in target markets offer a direct line to what consumers in those markets want, and most importantly, how to reach them in a cost-efficient way”.

This article is part 2 of 3.
In case you missed Part 1: Top 4 Challenges to Business Development.


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Top 4 Challenges to Business Development.

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There will always be a variety of challenges to face in order to achieve successful business development. In pursuit of fresh perspectives, we interviewed business people from different industries including Fisheries, Med-Tech, Mining and Travel & Leisure.  In the first of a series of posts on the subject, we explore the answers to our initial question: What is the biggest challenge faced by your industry today?

The top 4 responses – in no particular order- were the following:

  •     Innovation
  •      Sustainability
  •      Regulatory Barriers
  •      Security/Image

What is interesting is that the challenges identified by each respondent are not mutually exclusive to the sectors. In fact, each of the industries represented faces more than one at any given time. Cindy Collins founder of Mining Technology Partners, identified innovation as the primary challenge to the mining industry. She noted that “…the need for innovation is great due to minerals being more difficult to find and financing being in other industries such as tech…  This is great for innovative providers of technology and services and the combination of the two”. Alejandro Godoy founder of Seafood Business Solutions, identified sustainability as “…the current low captures of wild seafood has increased all seafood prices… and aquaculture needs fish-meal to farm species. Seafood needs better sustainable standards to help future industry growth”. Rahul Samant, CEO of Rehabtronics said that “…in the medical device industry there are many challenges: Regulatory, Export barriers, R&D costs, health care procurement and adoption… Its very difficult to say one challenge that is the biggest, but if I had to I would say the pace of Health Care adoption which is slow in-part due to regulatory barriers”.  Carlos Escobosa Commercial and Administrative Director of The Residences at Solaz identified overall security and image issues that affect Mexico as a whole”.

The first step to overcoming such issues is identifying them. That also allows companies to seize on any areas of opportunity that present themselves by dealing with them in an effective way. Some barriers are more complex and systemic such as threats to environmental sustainability. Failing to address challenges early on risks creating unnecessary obstacles or complications in the future.

This article is part 1 of 3. Continue reading


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Lesson: How Social Media Organizations Market Themselves

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Having a social media strategy is essential. However, it is important to understand the role social media plays in an organizations marketing campaign in order to use it effectively. Social media is a valuable tool, not an inexpensive alternative to integrated marketing. Social Media companies themselves offer the best example.

A few months ago, we attended the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions seminar hosted by LinkedIn, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. This was a great event that shared insight into social media user behavior, how consumers use LinkedIn, as well as the products offered by the company to assist organizations in reaching these consumers.  The sales portion of the presentation was informative, direct and very effective in changing the perception that the platform should mostly be used for personal professional networking purposes and employment searches.  Linked In certainly offers many other valuable tools for organizations wanting to reach their valuable membership. The curious thing about LinkedIn’s brand awareness and sales strategy is that it transcends social media. That is, the tools were promoted via an event that allowed face to face communication, the event was marketed via BC Business (a business magazine and e-newsletter), and the collateral material distributed at the event was a hard copy report. This is a great example of an integrated marketing campaign.

Facebook also promotes product awareness via events. Brooke Oberwetter, associate manager for policy communications at Facebook, spoke at a Vancouver Board of Trade Event in June of this year. Furthermore,  Twitter is using traditional network building strategies in Canada by “developing partnerships with creators of TV and Web programming”, according to the Globe and Mail in an article that suggests they work with traditional media outlets to promote their public relations message.

This is an important lesson, as it showcases the fact that in order to build their valuable membership and customers, they draw on multiple marketing tools. Thus organizations must take advantage of what social media offers, as a tool to be used in a wider strategy.

Contact Sinclair and Ruiz today at info@sinclairandruiz.com to find out how we can integrate social media in to your organization’s marketing strategy. www.sinclairandruiz.com


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Case Study: Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis

At the end of a 6 month events & promotions campaign for a developer client withImage

recreational developments in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, Mexico we analyzed the

results of our client’s strategy to determine strengths and weaknesses. The objective of the analysis was to design a plan of action to improve the existing Return on Investment (ROI).  S&R evaluated results, and developed a series of recommendations to increase ROI by focusing time, effort and investment on the more successful and cost-efficient elements of the campaign. The modified campaign concluded with a significant increase in prospects and sales.

Contact Sinclair and Ruiz at info@sinclairandruiz.com to discuss how a review of marketing efforts can increase cost efficiency, effectiveness and sales results. Visit  http://www.sinclairandruiz.com today.


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Case Study: Tennis Sponsorship Campaign

Tennis Sponsorship CampaignSinclair and Ruiz designed and implemented a sports marketing sponsorship campaign to reach a niche market for a resort client. The client’s infrastructure encompasses 4 hotels, a marina, golf and country club, and a gated residential community. The multi-dimensional campaign included advertising, PR and event participation, which secured leads as desired.

Following the initial campaign and implementation of the subsequent inbound marketing strategy, leads purchased all-inclusive packages at our client’s resort to participate in a 4-day tennis tournament.

The tournament was incorporated into the sports marketing campaign in order to generate an immediate return on investment. In addition to the tournament participants, those leads provided referrals to spouses and other family members who also traveled to the resort on dates within the 4 months following the conclusion of the campaign. Therefore the encouragement of referrals as part of the campaign increased the client’s short-term return on investment.  Within the first 4 months following the conclusion of the campaign, our client registered a lead conversion rate of 11%, concluding the 12 month cycle with a conversion rate of 33%.

Contact info@sinclairandruiz.com to discuss how sponsorship campaigns and sports marketing can increase your organization’s brand awareness and sales. You may also visit www.sinclairandruiz.com.