Remember why you got into real estate in the first place. You wanted to work on culturally-relevant, visible projects with a lasting positive impact on your community. And a major development represents an opportunity to do just that — if it’s handled right.
Here are a few takeaways from our real estate marketing work. Some of these are no-doubt familiar. But when used in combination, they can be a powerful way to get people invested, excited, and committed to a transformative development.
Understand the context.
First, get to know the history of the area. Consult a local historian, interview lifelong neighbors. Make an appointment to explore your public library’s archives.
Next, explore the geography. Travel to your new site via multiple transit modes. Then, analyze the economics of the area with help from micropolitan data visualizations. Most importantly, absorb the interpersonal dynamics of the neighborhood.
Assemble your team.
You may already have strong partners and solid relationships in one or all of these areas — branding, PR, community engagement, space programming, or sales and leasing. If you don’t, it’s a great time to engage (or upgrade).
Define your position and narrative.
A clearly articulated position will help set you apart from the competition. How will your development be different from other offerings, locally and nationally? How will it be similar? Who’s your target audience, and how would you segment them?
To start your narrative fill in the blanks in this simple statement: We believe ______. So, we will ________.
Engage the community.
It’s ethical and responsible, and it impacts ROI. Our recommendations: One, take stock of your potential impact on the community. Two, ensure a high-ranking member of your team is responsible for building relationships with neighborhood leaders. Three, ask the community what they want. Fill in these blanks. The community would like to see/have __________, not _________. Then, do your best to incorporate that feedback into your plans.
Develop your brand.
Engage a professional branding firm; the good ones will start with strategy. Then, you’ll get to the fun stuff, like visual research sessions and design mock-ups. You can even start saving your favorite branded elements (logos, icons, wayfinding systems, fence wraps, etc.) to a Pinterest board. Invite the rest of your leadership team to add their finds.
Get creative with partnerships.
The key to a successful partnership is mutual benefit. Look for the overlap between your needs. For example, you might want artists to experience your brand and promote your project. And, they’re looking for a raw space for their next open house event. You can offer the location, and they’ll provide the influencers. Activate your site early and often.
Manage the message and the media.
This is no small feat. It requires a partner, a plan, training, and pitching. In sum, a proactive approach. Look for a firm or consultant who has secured the type of coverage you want. You’ll also want to find a personality fit, since you’ll be spending lots of time together. To jump start PR planning on your own, focus your efforts with this exercise. We want the public to know this one thing: ____________ (now, in six months, in one year, in three).
Create hype with video.
You’re going to need a compelling way share your vision with investors and partners — especially if your site is years in the making. Video is a great way to create excitement, and your branding firm will likely recommend it. To ensure the final cut is effective, try to agree up-front on the purpose, the target audience(s), and the narrative. Then, take a creative leap.
Maintain the momentum.
It’s time to market your project, nurture sales leads, and continue your community engagement. Don’t worry. With a plan and the right partners, you’ll do more than get through it. You’ll shape the future of a city.
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