Archive for October, 2008

How Change Never Did.

October 30, 2008

This is not about change. This is not about politics. This is about the best case study we marketers have had in years to demonstrate the power of branding.  How the simple idea of CHANGE was brought to market with a well thought out plan and ironically NEVER CHANGED through all of the volatility in our country.  How understanding the needs and wants of you target market allows you to plant your stake in the ground and how a distinct and consistent message delivered with frequency and relevance will win almost everytime.

Staff Video Work In Progress

October 26, 2008

We have been intending to update out staff video section on our Web site for sometime. Here is the first take.

Four Low Cost, High Impact Marketing Programs for Real Estate

October 22, 2008

Yes times are tough but not marketing will only prolong the pain.  It is my beief that those that keep a presence during the down market will be the first to benefit when things do begin to turn.  Yes, not if, but when.

The real estate market is cyclical and the pendulum will eventually swing back.  When?  That is what only the Man upstairs knows.  But will you be ready or will you be scrambling to catch up?

My recommendation is to keep a low cost, high impact action plan.  Unlike other market downturns, there are new opportunities that weren’t around during the downturn in the late 80s.

1. Your database – if you have 5,000 or more names statistically there are sales in there.  Our research shows that 5% of your untouched database has already bought somewhere else.  You could have been that sale if you were constantly servicing your leads. the sooner you talk with them, the sooner they will purchase when things do turn because you will be top of mind.
2. Your Website – Do you have a brochure online or do you do a good job of creating a local resource and thorough community overview?  Can a prospect grasp your value proposition quickly or do you blend in with all of the competition? Do you have multiple call-to-actions on every page?  Remember the goal is to convert a visitor to an inquiry, not just create visitor.  If you are not capturing 1.5-2.5% of your visitors to inquiries your site may be under performing.
3.Online Marketing – Web site inquiries are NOT bingo leads.  They are buyers on their time.  Can they find you in their search? If a buyer is online shopping real estate today they are ignoring the headlines and making an independent decision to look for good opportunities.  If they can’t find you they are finding your competition.  Search engine and optimization and online media are far more economical than traditional print media and are easy to track. If you are not taking advantage of search you better start today, it can takes months to see the benefits.  It is like a garden… plant the seed, water it, let it grow and then harvest your new leads.

4. Relationships – Are your owners proud of their investment?  Are they advocates for their community?  If so, then they will be the ones driving the “thinker” buyers that know now is the best time to buy.  Cocktail party chatter will soon be about when the bottom will be here.  Are your advocates equipped and up to date on your latest offering?  Get your owners and local brokers involved and communicate the benefit of spreading the word now.  Remind them of why they chose your community and get them to share.  This can be successful with both on-site and off-site cocktail parties that provide a casual atmosphere to get owners, prospects and referrals together to talk about experiences they have shared at your community.  No one tells your story better than those that live it.

Marketing Does Not Need To Change—The Way We Think About It Does.

October 5, 2008

Yes.  We all agree that the market has changed. But does marketing need to change, or does the way we think about marketing need to change.

Is it time for us marketers to look in the mirror?  I believe some of the problem lies in the cookie-cutter approaches that most real estate developments have taken.  And we are all guilty.  Unlike most corporate brands with armies of marketing generals and brand police, real estate has always been armed with sales savvy entrepreneurs and “I need it yesterday” deadlines.  And when the pressure is on, we all default to what we know best – what ever worked last time.

The critical thinking that needs to go into a successful brand is always left in a haze of gotta-have-it-now timelines.  In the end, we have magazines full of beautiful mountain views, couples holding hands on the beach, seniors with their feet kicked up on bicycles (which I don’t think has ever happened without a camera around), and golf holes basking in the morning light.

We have forgotten some of the branding fundamentals that really connect with people and tug on the heartstrings.  Branding is about differentiation.  About standing out and being easily identifiable in a herd.

Brands are not things that developers or marketers create.  Brands are built in the minds of consumers.  And the art of “branding” is what allows you to plant that seed in the users mind.

So where do we start?  Back at the basics.  All successful brand share four common characteristics:

1. The brand presents a tangible point of difference. Attributes have been identified that sets the brand apart from the competition. Does the world really need just another signature golf community?

2. The brand is relevant to its audience. The audience has been identified, and that audience feels a need in their heart that can be satisfied. Is your community what the market wants, or is it a monument to your ideals?

3. The brand is consistent. The audience, when greeted by the receptionist, when reading a magazine or surfing online, sees and hears the same core message.  Verbal and visual cues align across all mediums.

4. The messages are frequent. When you understand what makes you different, who you need to target and what you need to say—then say it. Again, and again, and again.

So, does marketing really need to change?  Or did marketing ever change?  I think that it is really time to go back to basics and identify how we effectively communicate our unique selling propositions, who we are talking to, what they desire and last but not least, ask them to do something.

The Market Has Changed. How Should Marketing Change With It?

October 5, 2008

Back to the Future: Relationship Selling

If you’re in resort and residential real estate, it comes as no surprise to you to learn that the market has changed. What is surprising is that most sales and marketing tactics haven’t changed with it.

We are learning that the soft landing we were all anticipating is in fact, a fundamental paradigm shift. Gone are the herds of sheep. The speculators. The flippers. Who does that leave? The end user. Remember them? They’re the people who actually build the homes and live the dream that we all help to create in glossy brochures and dynamic Web sites.

The good news is they’re still there. And they still believe in dreams.

The bad news? They’re gun shy. Every day they read news reports of the slumping housing market and are subjected to forecasts that suggest things might not bounce back any time soon. They could use a little persuasion, a little salesmanship. Slick, opulent marketing materials simply aren’t enough to sell in the current environment.

Selling is going to take an evolution in the way we market and communicate. But there are also some tried-and-true methods that can work better than ever in the current market. I know this may sound a little old fashioned in the age of virtual tours, e-mails and over-the-top collateral, but there’s never been a better time for effective relationship marketing. Get that prospect, that end user with the emotional attachment to the property on-site in order to experience the lifestyle firsthand and press the flesh with talented, energetic sales people.

A recent direct mail campaign from Hill Mullikin is a perfect example. We targeted our client’s affinity base promoting a preferred-rate stay at their sister resort destination in tandem with a tour of the real estate community. No pressure. No launch date. No call for a “priority reservation.” Just “come and enjoy one of America’s greatest retreats. You just might stay forever.”

Our client has booked over 136 tours in less than 60 days. Now the market is right where we want it. Onsite.