Let’s Talk Marketing with Dipo Davies – Building Your Brand in a Niche Market: The Castles Experience {RECAP}

dipo davies

This week’s Let’s Talk Marketing with Dipo Davies was another interesting discussion, Dipo Davies was able to shed more lights on how to build a strong brand in a Niche market, for startups this discussion will serve as an eye opener on how to grow your brand in whatever niche you have chosen.

As usual the moderator was Daniel Iyam of Reach 360 Media our Lead Discussant was Dipo Davies, the CEO of Realhouse Communications Limited, publishers of Castles, a leading Real Estate Magazine. Mr Davies is also a Lawyer, Speaker and a man of great depth when it comes to Entrepreneurship and Brand Building.

Below is the recap of the discussion.

Moderator

Today we would be tapping into his wealth of experience as we discuss the topic, “Building Your Brand in a Niche Market: The Castles Experience.” Hello Mr Davies,  welcome to Let’s Talk Marketing

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Thanks, Daniel. It’s good to be here

Moderator

Great. Let’s jump right into the first question.

Gives us some background into the circumstances that made you start Castles?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Hmmmmm. Those who are joining us on this platform have to cast their minds back to 1999 to fully understand my answer. There were only 400,000 landlines then with most of them not functioning. So imagine no mobiles not to talk of smartphones. There was hardly any use of internet and many people, including professionals, were not computer literate.

So the only cost effective way to advertise property sales and lettings then was through the newspapers.

At that time, the Guardian had almost cornered the market by publishing a Property segment, every Monday. But this was too expensive for many estate agents. So the idea behind Castles Lifestyle, was to create a niche property marketing platform that would strip out all the costs of a magazine and thereby give estate agents an opportunity to advertise at a very cost effective price.

Moderator

Hmmmm The pricing strategy!!!

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Yes o. That was our ace card.

Moderator

Will you say that worked?  Looking at it from the short and long term

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Well, we are still around! 😁😁

The challenge many estate agents face is that they even if hey advertise a property but don’t conclude all the advert money is lost

Moderator

Interesting. 19years is such a long time to keep a business going and successful.

How has the journey been?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

So we offer a cost sensitive alternative. But this does not mean that we compete only on price. Arguably, we have the best content on property on a weekly basis

Moderator

Great.
I hope my maths didn’t fail me?
19years. Am I correct?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Absolutely Correct

Moderator

😀😀😀😀Please go ahead.
How has the journey been?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

We have seen many economic cycles and political upheavals. We have had to make many iterations to our original idea and we are still doing so today. One very interesting thing was the opening up of the telecommunication space and with many agents now getting mobile phones they are more likely to advertise. That was a great stroke of luck for us

Moderator

Could you explain a little more?  On the correlation between the agents getting mobile phones and being able to advertise

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

As I explained, there were only about 400k lines compared to 65m today. An estate agent who did not have access to a phone would not like to advertise as readers would not be able to contact him. So we were beneficiaries of the liberalization of the telecom space,

Moderator

Interesting.

Moving on swiftly…….

In building the Castles brand, what were the things you implemented or did that you will consider your success triggers?

I know you have mentioned a couple.

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

For any business, as long as you are relevant to your customers and are priced properly, you will survive and even thrive. In our case, we realised that we were a bridge to two sets of customers: the advertisers and their desired audience (the readers). As long as we continued to be that bridge, we would be successful. So the ultimate Key Performance Indicator for any publisher is his distribution or what we call circulation. The more copies you sell (or the more eyeballs see your customers advertisers), the more they get responses to the advert, the more they get responses to the advert they more they come back or recommend you. So no matter how ‘fine’ your magazine is, if people do not get to see it and then buy it,  failure is almost inevitable. Another KPI for us was cost management. We manage costs to pass this on to the customers. It is a critical advantage to us and keeps the barrier to entry in our segment of the market very high.

Moderator

Talking about cost. We know the Naira/Dollar issue has affected many businesses
Has it affected your business in any way?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Of course! It is at times like this that Management’s understanding of its operations come to play

We had always been aware following the economic trends that this was coming and that is why we reduced the size of our magazine

Moderator

Interesting!
Reducing the size of the magazine

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

We have also looked at other ways of printing and have been able to keep the high costs to reasonable limits
Daniel – a funny story. You know gala has reduced? We did something similar 😜😜

Moderator

😄😄😄😄😄😄
Nice one!
Next question. How has the brand evolved to maintain its staying power?
Technology and things in that light…

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

So from my answer to one of the questions above, you will see that our strategy means that our marketing costs are very low. As we strive to ensure our advertising customers needs are met, they come back over and over. Our prominent distribution also makes new advertisers to come to us and they are eventually seduced by our low prices. As we work hard to give them the necessary response, the virtuous circles continues.

Apart from low marketing costs, because we are fixated on customer satisfaction, we confidently make the necessary changes to meet them. Many erstwhile competitors have come into the market with their own idea of what the market should be and insist that their ‘customers’ bend to meet them. We bend to meet our customers and we bend even long before the customers demand a change.

Moderator

Talking about evolving
[You did have what I might not necessarily call a name change
You evolved into Castles Lifestyle
Tell us about that……….

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

The name evolved but not the magazine! We are struggling with that I must accept.

Moderator

Members will soon start sending in their questions and contributions
It’s almost 7:30pm

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

We assumed that since people come to us for housing they should refer to us for lifestyle living at home. But they seem to want the sales and letting bits only

Moderator

Was that a surprise for you?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Yes. We thought it was a natural progression but you have to respect market sentiments.

Or we have not done it right!😳😳 we will keep iterating

Moderator

The consumer is still king.

Absolutely.  Businesses always have to tweak and rework to stay in business.

Audience

One great question I’ve always wanted to ask is when castle rebranded to the smaller and more quality magazine which you referred to as cutting cost(hmm).. how did the market cope with the change and those adverts becoming smaller. Did u lose clients or were there complaints of advert characters/contents becoming too small by people used to the former content size.

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

We did not lose customers, at least not more than usual. In out business, customers do come and go.

The market has complained but we keep engaging. Gala buyers are also complaining 😎😎

Audience

You talked about changing the trend ( size of the magazine but no reduced contents) to meet changing economic situations. Are there plans to create an online platform for subscriptions for ur magazines or is there one already?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

You can download castles online at www.castles.com.ng

Audience

For free?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

The online download is free…..for now 😆😆😆

Audience

Hello Dipo

You talked a little earlier about the impact of technology…
With the heavy migration of audience engagement by traditional business to online platforms, do we expect to see printed Castle Magazine give way to an online version? Or do you believe there will always be a market for your printed offering?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Looking at matured markets, we expect that the printed magazine will still be relevant in the future. In the US, Canada and U.K., the printed property magazine is still alive and well.

Audience

With the current pressure on the print industry, is there a reduction in the number of your buying customers?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Interestingly, no. We expected this but we still have a loyal following

Audience

Question 1
I ask as a real estate consultant, kindly throw more light on this statement from you.

“The challenge many estate agents face is that they even if hey advertise a property but don’t conclude all the advert money is lost”

Question 2
Some of my real estate colleagues still consider advertising on Castle as expensive. Would you give a special discount to me so i could have my first and many more advert on Castles? 😊

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

I meant that the way Nigerian property market is structured if an agent spend money in advertising but does not conclude the deal all the money will be lost. Channel discount requests through Daniel! 😁😁😁

Audience

How has your personal brand helped impact on the success of your product(property advertising)? Were they strategies you consciously plotted (I.e leveraging on your personal brand)? If yes, mind sharing some of such strategies?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

I don’t think I have a personal brand. I try to distance my persona from the biz.

Audience

Oh Interesting

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

What would you call a personal brand?

Audience

Well,…

‘seeing you’ and listening to you ‘speak’, you come across as a ‘market knowledgeable’, amiable, honest, focussed and professional individual.
I most likely will feel comfortable enough with your expertise and personality to trust and deal with you on property.

I felt you may how somehow have leveraged on that ‘persona’ to enhance the ‘credibility’ and acceptance of your product brand.

So its interesting for me to know you have attained such amazing success, separating both.

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Not quite. We have close to 10k customer’s  with 400 active every week. I cannot speak with them all personally so I have put in place a system that can relate with all honestly

Audience

Splendid!

Audience

Does the distribution network for Castle magazine in Print cover the Entire Country or is it Geographically segmented to meet specific target markets

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt only. Other markets are too thin

Moderator

While we wait for more questions. Let me throw this in.
What advice will you give anyone going into a niche market?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

By the necessary definition of ‘niche’, it will follow that the business must have a better than average knowledge of the market. I am also a real estate player so I am always aware of what is going on in the market. This will give the business a head start  in anticipating customer needs and meeting them

Moderator

How have you dealt with competition?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

we are our own competition. We have a high standard we are chasing and that why we keep innovating before the market requires us to

Moderator

👍👍. General question.  What three things will you say life has taught you?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

1. Face facts- they won’t go away

2. Plan for the worst

3. Be ready to change

Moderator

Great.
We are gradually coming to a close today
Thanks a lot Mr Davies for coming through. Any last words?

Dipo Davies (aka Double Dee)

A brand requires a long-term vision and strategies that look forward into the future. If you want to be around in 19 years this should guide your thought process. All the best to all

Moderator

It was a pleasure having you. Thank you everyone.

Remember Digital Marketing Unboxed is really close. If you will like to register please call: 08055940019 or 08083337681. Looking forward to seeing you.

I leave you with this quote from Jim Rohn

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse”

Goodnight Everyone.

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