The objective was simple.
Drive immediate sales of new homes to qualified home buyers in our client’s South Windsor subdivision. “Immediate” was defined as – launch at the end of September and be, at the very least, 60% sold out by the spring. This would allow construction financing to be put in place and home construction would begin in March.
The inventory consisted of five homes remaining in phase one and 51 homes planned for phase two of the development.
While new home sales at the time were holding their own, we definitely weren’t facing a “booming” real estate market.
We certainly could have mirrored the marketing efforts of the other builders in Windsor who were running very safe ads weekly in the real estate section of the newspaper. Ads that featured headlines that screamed out “Move up to South Windsor – Starting at $329,900.00” or “Dare to Compare – Single Family Homes from $325,000.00” or “Move in with South Windsor’s Top Builder”. (Maybe my earlier sentence should have read “…who were running very safe ads weakly in the real estate section…”.)
We had to break through the clutter. We had to stretch the industry’s current paradigm. We had to get people talking. And most importantly, we had to get people moving.
We created a promotional and advertising campaign targeting all residents of Windsor and the surrounding communities. The campaign consisted of a series of elements beginning with “Dream Days – Coming September 30th” teaser newspaper ads which ran two days a week for the three weeks prior to the campaign launch. The intrigue resulted in over 100 calls to sales pavilion staff asking what “Dream Days” was – but staff were coached to not “spill the beans”. (This was one very big request – if you’ve ever dealt with a real estate agent you know exactly what I mean. After all, we were asking them to ignore the fact that they had a live, breathing, talking person on the other end of a phone line.)
The teaser campaign was followed by a full-page newspaper ad the day prior to and the day of the launch. Also included on the day of the launch was a foldout, freestanding insert in the newspaper.
The full page ads and the insert outlined our promotional campaign which offered all visitors to the sales pavilion a Dream Days scratch-and-win card for a chance to win a grand prize of up to $25,000.00 off of their new home purchase. Other prizes included: upgraded Italian ceramic tile; upgraded carpeting; a fireplace; interlock stone driveway; and professional landscaping.
As a little “added” touch we attached the scratch-and-win card to a small bouquet of scented, dried flowers. While every scratch-and-win card was a winner, the prizes were only valid on the purchase of a new home in the subdivision.
The campaign, which ran for one month leading up to the opening, generated over 1,000 visitors to the sales pavilion on the first weekend alone. Within 21 days the five homes left in phase one and the 51 homes in phase two had been sold. Translation – a return of well over 2,000% on our client’s original $153,000.00 marketing investment and $130,000.00 prize budget…in less than one month. Selling out the South Windsor site generated revenues of over $6.5 million.
I probably could end this story here – but there is a part 2 that is worthy of telling. It illustrates the power of a paradigm’s grip on an industry.
Mid-November our client called us in to discuss another project he had on the market. It was an enclave of 18 beautifully finished executive homes ranging from 3,500 – 5,500 square feet and starting at $750,000.00. Ravine lots, marble entrance ways, outdoor hot tubs, master bedroom fireplaces, wine cellars, reading lofts, and much, much, much more.
With puffed out chests and ego-inflated heads we marched into his boardroom. After all, we had just run the Dream Days campaign that sold out 56 homes in 21 days.
The new project had been on the market for four months and only one of the homes had been sold.
We cried out, “let’s get started”. “What possibilities can we create.”
We tossed out free-form ideas that included:
- “We’re going after executives, and we can target them by name. How about pulling all ads and begin marketing to them directly?”
- “A lot of executives have a certain self-designed way of thinking that includes a demand for high-level, one on one service and attention. How about mobilizing the sales pavilion and taking it to them?”
- “How about sending them a brick?”
- “How about hosting an art gala?”
- “How about…?”
- “How about…?”
We were into it! Ideas were flying from all seats around the boardroom table. Except the seat occupied by our client.
“STOP!” he called out. “These are executives we’re talking about. They read the newspaper every day. All we want you to do is design us a nicer ad. Maybe one that shows the beautiful exterior of our all-brick construction; or one that pictures our elaborate marble entrance ways; or maybe one that shows a happy, relaxed couple sitting in their new hot tub. Your idea for the Dream Days campaign was fun – but it would never work with executives.”
Try as we might we couldn’t shift his fixed way of thinking. He just couldn’t accept that doing the same old thing was, at the very best, going to produce the same old results (which had been quite poor to this point). He couldn’t accept that executives were no different than everybody else. Like everyone else, they too put on shoes every morning and took them off every evening. Maybe their shoes were a bit more expensive – but they were still shoes.
We declined the design project and in doing so we lost ourselves a client.
And as of last month, five months after we met with the client and nine months after the launch of the enclave we picked up a Windsor newspaper and checked the real estate section. In it we found a quarter page ad for our former client. It featured a beautiful artist’s rendering of a house and a headline that read “Executive Homes Starting at $525,000.00”. There was also a starburst on the ad. It read “ONLY 15 LEFT”.