Be bigger than you are

Principal Consultant , David Allison Inc.
  • Nov. 22, 2009

Unless you are building your real estate development in an area where you are the only game in town, chances are you have some competition. If you’ve done everything right – the design, the floor plans, the pricing, the amenities, the views, the location – then you have a good chance of attracting the right prospects if you market the project intelligently. But what if other projects in the area are equally smart? What if the resale product in the neighbourhood is also an appealing option? What can you say in your marketing materials that will make your project stand out?

I think one answer is to be bigger than you are.

Being bigger means talking about the area, not just your project. It means scoping out the things that make the idea of living in your project particularly appealing.

We promoted a townhouse project by making the funky edginess of the neighbourhood a huge selling feature. Sure, it probably scared away people who weren’t prepared to face a barista with a pierced tongue every morning at the coffee shop, but for the right prospects it was so appealing that the project sold out. We marketed the suites by being bigger than the building.

We’re working on a large tower project in a major US city, where the idea of living downtown is still a novelty, and the entire campaign is based on selling the idea of downtown living. Yes, we are probably helping our competitors, and yes, we are still selling the bricks and mortar. But the net effect will be that this tower has a brand story that resonates with anyone who is interested in an urban life without the hassle of a long commute. Before we can sell the inventory, we have to have a story that is bigger than the building.

I was asked to come and speak to real estate agents in a small city last week, by the developers behind a very cool development in an emerging neighbourhood – a neighbourhood that has yet to be officially named in a way that people recognize. This neighbourhood has been referred to in the press as The Design District, and what we’ve proposed is that this project pick up that ball and run with it. Promote the name The Design District, unite the merchants therein, excite the prospects about living there, and make this story the central theme of the project marketing efforts. In effect, we’re proposing that the marketing budget be spent on making the district a reality. In doing so, the suites will sell.

Of course, while your project marketing talks about larger issues, you still need to talk about the specific attributes of your particular project. But in a world where there are so many choices, sometimes you need to look outwards to find something for people to believe in. If you can give people something to believe in, they will be more interested, more engaged, and more likely to buy.

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David Allison, Author and Partner at Braun/Allison Inc.

David Allison is a partner at Braun/Allison Inc.; a Vancouver-based company that provides creative services for residential and resort real estate developers. His book, Sell The Truth, is available for free here. You can connect to him on LinkedIn , follow him on Twitter @BAdavid and read his blog, One Brand Clapping here.



David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting…

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David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting…

Read more




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