What this millennial marketer is doing to shake up conveyancing

Emerging business leader shares the marketing strategy and millennial thinking she's putting behind what is a cautious, old industry sector

Mikala Fair
Mikala Fair

A marketer who switched from British American Tobacco to a property conveyancing law firm isn’t someone you come across every day. But for Ladybird Conveyancing sales and marketing manager, Mikala Fair, it’s an example of how marketing skills can transcend industries – and how to be pushed out of your comfort zone.

The millennial marketer was a 2019 Telstra Queensland Emerging Leader Business Women State Finalist for her efforts at Ladybird Conveyancing, a Queensland-based SMB law firm focused on the property buyers and sellers in the Sunshine State. As Fair puts it, her role is to develop relationships with key influencers and partners, and ensure the buying/selling process for clients is as seamless as possible.

Prior to three-and-a-half years with LadyBird, Fair was business development manager for Security Merchants Australia. This followed a short stint as trade marketing representative at British American Tobacco – where she admits the product challenges and grey legality of the industry as a non-smoker became too great. She’s also worked for Crest Personnel in recruitment and Australian Catholic University as a marketing assistant.

And it’s her roots in customer service Fair said have helped steer her approach as a marketer.

“Having a background in customer service is a real asset to both sales and marketing. When I talk to my mentees and other people in the business, that’s recognised as a good backbone enabling what you want to deliver to people,” she told CMO. “Coming from somewhere where my standards were set initially particularly high has translated into the businesses I have worked for.”

Law firms are not typically known for perceiving marketing as a strategic business driver, and Fair did meet with initial resistance upon joining LadyBird Conveyancing as its first sales and marketing manager.

“Some of the lawyers especially, who are very good at what they do, had reservations about whether this was something they wanted to invest in,” she said. “It came down to me bringing in analytics to show this was the right investment, and removing that stigma against marketing.

“And my role has evolved positively – there is trust, which took time to gain. Also, because of the legal industry, I make sure I go through all the channels to ensure everything is approved, so today, it’s 50 per cent internal and 50 per external focus for me day-to-day.”  

Marketing as education

Conveyancing is certainly an industry experiencing change, particularly as younger buyers enter the market.

“There’s a lot changing around what is included when you buy a property - some people might think they get a chandelier, but the contract is not inclusive, for instance. So it’s about preparing information for all our markets to make sure they understand what’s included in their property purchase,” Fair explained.

Fair has direct experience herself as a millennial buying a property, a rising tier of buyers in the property market.

“I had no idea what conveyancing was all about,” she continued. “There are a lot more first-home buyers due to stimulation in the market coming through – perhaps their parents haven’t bought in a long time, or their friends haven’t bought. It feels quite isolating and you’re dictated to by real estate agents doing it day in, day out, who don’t realise how overwhelming it is.

“So it’s about preparing tips and information for consumers. Our marketing strategy is all about educating in totality.”  

Having that concept of educating, helping and guiding people, to make it as seamless and stress-free as possible, is key.

“What I feel deeply passionate about is people understanding what is happening and the impact of signing a contract. Some people do this only once in their lifetime, and it’s exceptional to be part of that,” Fair said.   

An example of this proactive education approach is a 90-second video-based campaign, dubbed ‘Spot on service and advice’, that saw Ladybird investing in a freelance production business. The cartoon animation strips conveyancing back to the basics, detailing the role it plays, the importance of research and positioning LadyBird as a stress-free choice.

“Real-time measurements can’t come through instantly of opportunities, but what we have noticed was that people coming through our referral partners were better educated and understood why they were choosing us and why they were buying their first home,” Fair said.  

Being a law firm, content needs to be of a certain standard, which can be an obstacle from a social media and marketing perspective.

“You have to have 100 per cent accurate information, with disclaimers and so on. You have to be so careful with the information you deliver as you can be responsible for so much,” Fair continued.

This hasn’t stopped her from building Facebook as a key channel for LadyBird, however – a must, given the millennials target market.

“The majority of the time when you’re searching, you go to a Facebook page then the company website. But at lot of conveyancers don’t spend the time or the resources on building this out, so it has helped us to stand out,” Fair said. “When we ask a lot of customers how they heard about us, they say through Facebook forums, friends or by searching on Facebook. That was definitely something I knew we had to have.”

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The other must was a weekly SMS broadcast to referral partners to help LadyBird stay front of mind. Coming into 2020, marketing priorities include broadening LadyBird’s referral program in terms of geographic reach. Previously, the firm targeted specific locations such as Ipswich and Brisbane.

“We have concentrated efforts in parts strategically where we wanted to market; now we have had success in those patches, it’s time to stretch out,” Fair said. “Each location is very different, and their needs, wants and what they respond to is so different. The actual places are so different – the Sunshine Coast is beachy, whereas Ipswich is hot and dry.  And we see it through the analytics.”

Informing this targeted approach is a combination of macro trends related to the property purchase and sales process, the distinct needs of first-home buyers versus investors, and the wants and desires of the millennial market.  

“We are such a fickle demographic [millennials] – one week there will be something we’re keen on; the next week it’s something different. Having insider knowledge helps, coupled with the personalisation both in terms of market trends and demographic traits,” Fair said.  

Measures of success

Helping Fair understand the impact marketing is having is the ability to cross-reference data on how many properties are being sold and LadyBird’s market share.

“It’s also about brand awareness,” she said. “We have invested a lot in a Salesforce CRM platform, and can capture when prospects have seen us on Facebook, or even if they’ve seen our car branding, helping articulate brand recognition.”  

The CRM, which has been in place for about three years, serves a dual purpose for Fair. “On the one hand, it allows me to help with referral partners to oversee the process, but also for capturing data,” she said.

“We’re underusing it, but I know it’s going to streamline the future. It tunes in beautifully with a particularly archaic industry. Conveyancing is 100 years old, and we’re still using faxes and cheques. We can streamline sales and marketing through the whole process of conveyancing.”  

Secondly, the CRM is helps Fair personalise marketing for LadyBird’s referral partners in terms of personalised and automated text messaging, emails and updates. These include a mix of agents and brokers across Queensland.

“It’s more streamlined. And in getting them those live updates, it’s made the process much more simplistic,” she said.  

Lessons learnt

If Fair had to pick one overarching lesson so far as an emerging marketing leader, it’s been recognition that everyone is different.

“I’m a chronic people pleaser. As a leader, I need to step away from the fact some people may not agree with it. And sometimes that’s great,” she said. “Being open-minded and a little less sensitive makes a big difference. In this industry, that’s huge as you’re working with sales agents, real estate agents, and you need to detach emotion. It’s about maturing as well as being a leader.”

And since being part of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, now in its 25th year, Fair said she’s also been particularly guided towards the next generation of business women, encouraging them to step up and lean in. The point of the Awards program is to celebrate women spearheading change and success across different organisations and industries nationally.

“It’s about getting out of your comfort zone and stepping up to take on the challenge,” she said.

“The legal industry is definitely male dominated and in real estate, there is a boys club. There are multimillionaires and a lot of money, so to stand tall and promote what we’re doing is big lesson to learn.”

It’s arguably for this reason Fair nominates confidence, positive energy, enthusiasm, passion, and empathy as key traits of marketing success.

“To empathise with the people working with you, above you, for you and around you in the market in general is a big one,” she said. “Positive energy can make such a difference. It helps with dealing with those obstacles. Open-mindedness and being dedicated makes a big difference too.

“And bravery and courage are ones I’m constantly working on – there aren’t always comfortable conversations, and it’s about standing up for what you believe in.”

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