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Developer's search for creative minds

Published on Friday, 19 Mar 2010
Illustration: Bay Leung
Sino Group’s Alice Ip (left) and Salenda Lau enjoy the creativity involved in marketing the developer’s properties.
Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Hong Kong Gold Coast has a promenade which takes advantage of perhaps the best location in the city to watch the sun set. Developer Sino Group needed to get people to use the area and build a feeling of community, so Salenda Lau, general manager of sales and marketing, came up with a novel solution.

"We wanted to do something to let people really enjoy the area," she says. "So I went to a lot of places, including Lamma Island, with a small ad recruiting artists and handicrafts people to display some of their work along the waterfront. It's a good way to attract people and it encourages street artists."

Such challenges and calls for creativity are all in a day's work for people working in marketing for property companies. With many properties being developed, there are extensive opportunities to find work in this field. Sino, for example, is recruiting for positions in its corporate, retail, hotel and China marketing departments. It is also looking for a general manager for marketing and corporate communications. "We have a good number of projects rolled out or to be rolled out," says Alice Ip, associate director of group human resources.

She says the company's growing range of activities ensures variety for its marketing team. Its customer bases range from mainland tourists visiting malls to luxury homebuyers. Marketing employees collaborate with other teams and are encouraged to rotate jobs.

Another interesting project Lau worked on was The Palazzo, a luxury residential development in Sha Tin. Here the challenge was to explain the development's special features and layout to potential buyers before construction.

"Instead of just having the [clubhouse] facilities in one building, the company decentralised them and separated them with gardens," Lau says. "We had to present this picture to the customer before [construction]. How are you going to sell it to the customers? How are you going to present the general building plans, transform them into something user-friendly and let people visualise the beauty of the project?"

The marketers produced an elaborate brochure with a large, foldout cross-section of the building to show the different gardens along its length. They commissioned artists to depict these gardens and the Roman bath-style pool. These not only gave potential customers a vision of where they might live but also inspired the design process.

Ip identifies this kind of creativity as one of the key skills the company looks for in its marketing personnel. It is vital for building a feeling of community at a development or generating a buzz about a new shopping mall.

She says it is also very important for marketing staff to be good team players. "You have to think 'the hotel is doing this, can I leverage on the hotel?'. You always have this kind of collaboration going on."

Lau says it is necessary to have the right personal qualities and attitude to be successful in a marketing role. "They should be [people] with passion, with life ... and also be practical and not just dreaming. They should be very proactive and positive, willing to learn and to do. Not just to try, but to do." She says this attitude allows marketing professionals to cope with the busy schedule.

Marketers should be keen to absorb new ideas.

"We see [the development] from the initial planning of the land to when it's built," Lau says. "When we hand it over to the customers, I see their smiling faces. I feel very satisfied."


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