“It’s about rewarding their intelligence, having an eye-to-eye conversation with our customers and making them feel valued.”
Cara Cunningham, BPM.
Many of us have great business ideas, yet we often lack the marketing nous to take it to the next level.
We wonder: How can we build our brand? What does it take to really stand out?
Enter Cara Cunningham.
She’s responsible for the strategic direction of a super successful lifestyle company which epitomises strong, seamless branding, BPM.
Founder Jonathan Hallinan, is changing the face of our city and recently finalised a $180 million dollar deal to take his apartment developments with gyms, cafes and even a fragrance to LA.
I met dynamic Cara over coffee and couldn’t wait to share her marketing gold….
Martine Harte: Cara can you tell us what it takes to build a successful brand in the modern age?
Cara Cunningham: I think consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what they’re buying and the brands they’re attaching themselves to.
They want to know where products are manufactured, whether the process is ethical and sustainable, who is the face behind the product.
They want the answers to those questions because they want to align their own values and aspirations with the brand they choose to purchase.
No matter what industry you’re in, this is paramount to successful marketing:
Engage in genuine conversations with your purchasers, not just knowing their demographics and how much they spend with your business – but really knowing them by name at that very granular level. Cater your product and the way you market your business directly to their requirements.
And your company’s success seems to come from constantly thinking outside the box?
Cara Cunningham: If you look closely at the world’s most famous luxury brands, their power and influence really lies in their ability to redefine culture.
They’re at the forefront of art, design, architecture. They’re constantly challenging and inspiring these cultural art forms.
We’re really trying to take a similar direction and I think to create a brand in property that’s truly impactful it must be re-defining in that way.
So for BPM we have a great commitment to exceptional architecture, design, fashion and art (a little different in the property market) we really want to deliver an experience which contributes to the evolution of our city rather than creating a homogenous product.
You say it’s about creating an experience for your customer?
Cara Cunningham: We often use the analogy: if you can’t buy a Chanel handbag you can still attach yourself to the brand through buying a lipstick and having that association.
That’s something that we’re trying to deliver on, the experience.
We’re creating a brand of cafes so young, passionate people can align with us. You can still experience the BPM world in a way that doesn’t necessarily involve them just buying an apartment.
It’s about building relationships.
For other women looking at a career like yours, what’s your typical day?
Cara Cunningham: It’s probably important to note that working with an entrepreneur like Jonathan, there isn’t a typical day! (laughs)
He’ll come into the office and talk about a new idea and that can change the day doing research and strategy around those ideas.
But typically I get into the office early: do a scan of the morning news as I like to keep up with major updates in property and business and to make sure I’m on top of any coverage our competitors are featured in.
I work closely with our PR agency, announcements about site acquisitions and working on business commentary for Jonathan.
I work alongside our sales team: managing advertising of those projects, launch events, through to the execution of display suites and signage and a big focus is working with our development team.
It’s important for everyone to be fluent in the brand and understand how to execute that through the design process and obviously that enables me to market it through to the residents experience.
So a good brand needs to constantly re-invent?
Cara Cunningham: Absolutely.
It’s about moving beyond the four walls of a building and owning every aspect of it: what it smells like, how it looks, what kind of art works are on the walls, what music is playing.
Reach people on every level to create an experience.
I think online is even more so, you can go online for a dress or you can go to Chadstone and buy one, what is the experience you get when you shop in a bricks and mortar store as opposed to in front of your screen?
I think retail brands are having to dig deep and create unique and memorable experiences to keep their brands alive.
Can you share your biggest threat to professional success?
Cara Cunningham: It comes down to self-analysis. Replaying how you negotiated a particular outcome in a meeting, or handled a discussion with a manager.
Letting small failures be blown out of proportion would be a massive threat to my success and I have to work hard not to let it happen every day.
There’s so much pressure on women to be perfect in so many areas of our lives: jobs, relationships, bodies etc. I’ve been guilty of succumbing to that, but that lesson of letting things go is really important.
Self-analysis is a threat to your success; it you don’t have confidence you’re not going to put yourself in vulnerable positions. Ultimately you have to brush off failure.
And many of us are guilty of this. Fantastic advice to brush it off!
Cara Cunningham: Must admit it’s easier said than done.
Yes it sure is… so any tips in that respect?
The Confidence Code is a book I read recently which I highly recommend.
You know I’m also very lucky to work with someone who has a genuine interest in advancing women in the workplace and rising women into leadership positions.
Jonathan is an innately intuitive person and picks up on what he describes as the threshold. When you have a low threshold or self-esteem you’re more likely to set low standards for yourself or it sees you in a line of work that is not meaningful.
He is very supportive of myself in a male-dominated environment and has made it a personal mission to help women.
Find out more about BPM Construction and Development group by heading over here.
Hook up with Cara: by tapping here.
Check out the BPM gallery here.