So, you’ve gazed upon your ‘fields of corn’ … you’ve dreamt, you’ve designed and you’ve built. Now what? Do you sit back and ‘wait for them to come’, as Ray Kinsella (a.k.a. Kevin Costner), the Iowa farmer in the movie Field of Dreams, did? If you’re Kevin Costner or some other A-list Hollywood star, chances are they’ll come in droves; unfortunately, the rest of us must rely on good, not-soold-fashioned sales communication strategies and good marketing, which curates leads, from a qualified market…
With current statistics showing a 15% growth in the number of residential communities being constructed andn developed annually, a figure that now exceeds 6,000, competition is fierce. And it’s not necessarily the biggest, grandest, prettiest or even the best development that will succeed – it’s those with the loudest and most strategic brand communication strategy.
It’s also not just about how you communicate it, but what you communicate and to whom. So, what makes a development more sought after? And higher priced? One would think it would be the services offered, such as state-of-the-art security, recreational facilities and a private on-site school facility. However, most developments are made up of very similar facilities, with a sound security system being a prerequisite, so the defining factor then must be location and surrounding amenities – and to that you can add demand, investment potential, and how the new or existing community is portrayed. In a sense it’s the attractiveness a mixed-use development that increases its value, something that developers are aware of and are increasingly incorporating.
So how do developers outsmart and outplay their peers in terms of offerings and market share? It’s by having a well thought out, strategic brand communication strategy – one that they’re happy to shout about. Loudly.
Brand communication is invaluable as the battle for market presence intensifies, and both external and internal communication to the consumer is a vital component of driving the perception of a development’s value. It is this promise of superior property values and investment potential that grabs a potential resident or investor’s interest. And this successful brand communication strategy is essential for maintaining a strong and lasting presence and building community pride. This, in turn, will attract investors, encourage third-party suppliers to offer their best services, and retain satisfied residents.
Something I learnt many years ago at an advertising training course is that without a ‘road sign’, no one will find your lodge, hotel, development, or whatever. At that stage we were talking print advertising, but currently, with the advances in technology, your ‘road sign’ needs to be highly visible in both the print and digital realms, and should be delivered by experts in the community, that understand what community embodies. So, what’s your ‘road sign’? And how do you get people to see it? By harnessing technology. Useful website content (content is king, remember), search engine optimisation, relevant linking, and the use of social media are all necessary to communicate the experience your development offers, thereby gaining traction and achieving the relevance, sales and reputation mileage you require. Relevance and the credibility of the platforms are your unique magic wand.
This is no longer a here today, gone tomorrow kind of exposure – today’s news is no longer tomorrow’s fish-and-chips wrapping. The longevity of content in the digital realm encourages quality of workmanship and credibility, and provides a long-term resource for potential customers and investors to tap for information. Your message, within a digital environment, if utilised correctly, has near-immortality. Tie this in with other relevant, credible information, and you become a part of the community.
So how does one go about creating this ‘near-immortal’ content? Firstly, you should ensure that all content is credible and represents you accurately. You need to outline your vision, detail your plans to make this vision a reality, and discuss solutions to potential real-time problems. You need to create content that enables foreign investors and out-of town buyers to experience your estate – they need to be able to ‘experience’ the professionalism of your security staff and the efficiency of the management, they need to be able to ‘see’ where they would be living, to ‘walk’ through beautifully landscaped gardens, and almost ‘smell’ the proverbial daisies. This is where high-quality imagery and video content come in.
The content you create, and the communication strategy you follow, should be well rounded, and for best results, the platforms you choose should incorporate the eco-system of print, digital, online, social and networking media.
So, you’ve got the ideas, but how do you make it happen? You need industry specialists, content creators and curators who work the market every day. You want a team that’s been to your site, had drinks in your clubhouse, played golf on your course and, most of all, has got to know your community and others like it. For a new development, you want a team that understands what it takes to launch a new brand, build a community and create excitement around the very essence that is your offering – but most of all a team that has the experience to do so.
Louise Martin, COO of Estate Living, explains her company’s strategy:
“Estate Living has been a valuable resource to the residential estate industry for almost a decade.”
“We are the official resource to this industry and a team of industry experts who consult with developers on their needs, and based on market alignment offer unique content creation and ensure the strategic distribution of that content. “The business consists of a portfolio which includes community consultancy, media platforms, a publishing house, and a sales, lead-generation and marketing agency. We partner with various industry associations, which places us at the epicentre of information to the benefit of our clients.”
Through identifying key common ground, sharing information, and building relationships with individual estates and the community at large, Estate Living builds communities of like-minded people across the country and abroad. As the conduit to the market, Estate Living’s core theme is building the community and – through this – driving sales.
Promotion needs to be done in a manner that reflects your community within its specific environments. To avoid waste, your communication needs to be direct, targeted and specific to your market. Estate Living does this by sharing positive stories and articles about your estate and community, by including likely searchable key words and phrases, and by digitising your estate experience in a way that is captivating and easy to share, thereby growing your message exponentially and generating qualified sales leads
So how does Estate Living serve the interests of estates and developments? The Estate Living ecosystem, which launched in 2012, is a platform dedicated to serving the specific interests of estates and developments in the domestic and foreign markets. The platform and its people offer in-depth insight into this exclusive and continuously expanding sector. It serves as a go-to resource for ‘anything you need to know about estate life under one roof’, and is an integrated communication and sales referral channel.
The residential estate industry shows no signs of weakening. The need to establish a visible and influential presence to ensure the profitability and longevity of this dynamic industry has never been greater. Estate Living has created a platform and network for communication in South Africa that will be the benchmark for global communities.