10 Creative Marketing Ideas for Real Estate Developers
Marketing, Real Estate Development
Read Time: 12 Min
As a real estate developer, your goal is to sell homes, rent apartments, or fill a mixed-use space — right? Creative marketing allows you to stand out, cut through the noise, build brand recognition, and truly engage the community in a unique way. We utilize creative marketing in everything we do for our clients, from digital advertising to out-of-home tactics and website design.
Whether you are a mixed-use developer, a multi-family rental building, or a home builder, you will find a tactic within this list that will work for you.
Creative marketing is the first, second, and third step in the process of getting your audience from “I’m looking to buy a home” to “Everyone! Guess what! I bought a house!”, so let’s take a look at some tactics that can work for you along the way.
Digital marketing opens the floodgates to creative opportunities that will connect you to the community, build brand awareness, and get your target audience interested in what you have to offer. It’s common to use these tactics early in the selling process — it’s a great way to reach your target audience without asking them to go anywhere but onto their phones.
Maybe you don’t have a sales center, but you do have social media, and so does (almost) everyone else. Engage with your target audience on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Remember that depending on your target audience, some of these platforms may be more useful than others.
You’ll want to get your audience engaged with your content so try posting quizzes or contests. People are more interested in interacting with online content if they get something out of it. You could ask your followers to post pictures of their pets in front of local stores and restaurants, all while promoting your local neighborhood and pet-friendly property values.
Find a Local Connection
Social media contents and campaigns like the one above are great for highlighting your surrounding neighborhood early on. It’s common for people to move into a new home community or apartment complex because of the surrounding area rather than solely the community or complex itself. You may even look to find an influencer to generate buzz, even better if the person is local — they’ll know the best restaurants, shops, and parks to explore.
Social media is a powerful tool. Connect with it early on to engage your target audience right away.
We live in a visual world. People are drawn to stunning photography, video, and design — so take advantage! You may need to rely on mood boards or company culture videos to get your audience excited about the project as it’s just getting started. But once you have a sales center, you can really lean on it, as well as renderings, to start getting your audience excited about their future home.
Capture ‘Home’ with Photography
Capture beautiful HDR photos of your facilities, apartments, and model homes. Share those photos on social media, or even better, use matterport technology to create a virtual walk-through. Matterports grew in popularity over the course of the recent pandemic — they allow people to explore their future home without having to meet in person. Similarly, you can take 360 photos of empty lots and create an interactive map. Potential customers can explore lot options without ever having to set foot in the community.
As your complex goes up and new homes are being built, create tour videos of your property to display on your website. Ask your employees and sales reps to be in the video — prospects may like to see the faces of those they will be interacting with in the leasing/buying process.
Try a Creative Video Series
If you want to get really creative, try creating video series that promote the culture or something about home living to excite your prospects. For example, you could make a cooking video series by asking a local chef to prepare meals in a model home kitchen. Your audience will get to see exactly what it will be like to cook in their future kitchen. Video makes people feel connected to a story — it gives them something to dream about and imagine for their life. Use that as a tool to showcase your projects and make your target audience dream of a life in your homes and then make it a reality.
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The digital world is endless, and the possibilities are all worthy of your efforts. But getting people face-to-face? That’s where true connection begins. Try hosting events that would be interesting to your target audience — a cocktail party for your 55+ communities or a makers market for your millennial crowd, for example.
Events get people together and will start to build community around your development. It is a great way to show your potential customers that you are interested in serving them and making their time at your development enjoyable. We’ve seen this tactic work with a developer who was selling condos in Denver’s Art District. They hired a well-known graffiti artist to come out and paint the building during a sales event. Utilizing a graffiti artist really made prospects feel like they were in the Arts District. The developers even auctioned off smaller versions of the art to generate buzz.
We also worked with a developer who was building luxury condos in Downtown Denver. They hosted a party in one of the finished penthouse spaces to get people into the building and touring the amenities. The penthouse gave way to amazing views of the mountains and downtown which was extremely appealing to prospects. Our client focused their efforts on high net worth individuals in the Denver area and those that are well-connected.
If you don’t want to host your own event or don’t have the means to, it may be a good idea to sponsor local events or partner up with local businesses to host events. A new home builder we’ve worked with often sponsors local events such as 5ks, movie nights, and community concerts. At the events, they hand out swag like sunscreen with their logo and information about their projects included. Local events are a great way for you to connect with the community, show prospects that you are interested in bettering the community, and also to meet potential customers and connect with them face-to-face.
4. Direct Mail
Direct mail is a way to engage with prospects and customers offline. With an increase in digital marketing over the years, you would think direct mail would be a thing of the past, but many consumers have noted they sometimes feel overwhelmed when inundated with promotional emails, social media paid ads, etc. Direct mail is a solution which offers a way for you to connect with your target audience without overwhelming them. Since direct mail is a less popular option amongst marketers, there is also less competition. This gives you the opportunity to get to your audience first, and actually put something physical in their hands.
Direct mail offers many ways to be creative as well. Through any sending platform, you can deliver personalized gifts, brand swag, treats, eGift cards, and even experience tickets to a local baseball game or ski mountain. You can even try something really out-of-the-box, like sending paint swatches or pieces of colored curtain fabric to get your audience thinking about how they might decorate the new home you’re building for them. The possibilities are endless.
Don’t know where to send the mail? Maybe look into purchasing mailing lists from nearby apartment buildings or other mixed-use facilities. You may find that your target audience is similar to your competitors and it doesn’t hurt to check.
5. Out-of-Home Opportunities
Out-of-home advertising is as it sounds — advertising that is seen out of your home. This form of advertising might include billboards, wallscapes, or posters. It is a brilliant opportunity to expand your marketing far beyond digital advertising. Its potential to be large-scale and in-your-face really means you have the world of creativity at your fingertips. The real question is, how are you going to get people to tilt their heads? Some companies opt to stick with billboards — and it works. When a local developer was getting ready to launch their new apartment building they put up a huge billboard right in front of the lot with a giant arrow pointing toward the building — “you could live here!” It was hard to miss.
But sometimes out-of-home can be smaller in scale. For example, you may want to create compelling visuals for a bus decal, or plaster your logo on every grocery cart at every nearby grocery store. Shoppers need a place to put those groceries, right?
Maybe you want to give your prospects a little bit of incentive. You could partner with a local moving company. They may allow you to include your information and some designs on one of their moving trucks and in big bold lettering it could read — “Sign a lease today, and we’ll provide free moving services.”
Think about shareability when it comes to this type of advertising. What kind of visuals or message can you relay that will make people take a picture, share it with a few friends, and start thinking … “Hey, maybe we should live there!”? Compelling. Creative. Makes. People. Think. That’s the goal with this tactic.
6. Sales Center Tactics
Once you finally have a sales center, or at least physical location where you can interact with your potential customers, you have the opportunity to convince them that your development is the place they should set up shop. If prospects can actually touch what their apartment or space will be like, they may be more likely to follow through with the purchase. That’s why it’s beneficial to set up a mock apartment space or ensure that your sales center has a design studio so customers can interact with their potential space.
One interesting spin on this tactic is to ‘beef up’ your sales center — give it some pizazz. If you know that there are big selling points that your complex, community, or space has to offer, but they aren’t built yet, fake it! Maybe your community will have a golf course — include a golf simulator in your sales center. Maybe your mixed use facility is dog-friendly — set up dog bowls and partner with a local shelter to bring some dogs in. Or maybe your community is right next to a hikeable mountain — offer hiking backpack fittings for free, that’ll really get your prospects excited about living there.
7. Pinterest Boards
We’ve already talked about social media and digital marketing, as well as photography and video — but what if you combined the two tactics? Pinterest is a form of social media, but relies very heavily on curating digital photo albums of content. Take those beautiful HDR photos you took of your model homes and mock apartments and curate Pinterest boards that match certain aesthetics — boho chic, mid century modern, contemporary, art deco, minimalist, you name it. You could even create boards for different models or finishes, making it easier for your prospects to make selections, see the potential in their future home, and ultimately, sign a lease or make a purchase.
We are using this tactic on you right now! Blogs are an extremely effective way to connect with your audience, raise brand awareness, and even showcase your expertise. Blog topics can range from the different models of home you offer to the top 10 restaurants in town — prospects and current residents will be happy to stay engaged with you and learn more about what their community and surrounding neighborhood has to offer.
Maybe you don’t have a space to be writing your own blogs quite yet. That’s okay, guest blog spots are just as effective. Ask around the community and see if you can publish an article through a local business, neighborhood blog, or builders association. This kind of exposure will help draw prospects to your property.
9. Teaser Sites
As you are in the beginning stages of your development and you don’t have a lot of information or assets to show off to prospects, it may be helpful to develop a teaser site. Teaser sites will allow you to introduce your project to the public. As you host events, post on social, or even write guest blogs, you’ll have a landing page to direct your target audience toward where they can sign up for a mailing list or VIP list. You have a lot of room for creativity on these sites. It’s a great way to give people a sneak peek into your brand and really show off your projects personality. It’s important that these sites are scalable and can eventually turn into a full-blown website as you finalize more about your project.
10. Signing Bonus
You’ve made it. It’s finally time to start selling or signing and filling up your space. Let’s say you have a couple touring your newest community. They are looking to build a new home, they want space for kids to run around, they want an open concept, maybe they are looking for a short drive to work, but maybe it’s just a little too far from the city — your community checks all the boxes, but they’re still on the fence. That’s when signing bonuses come in handy. In order to seal the deal, you need to pull out that last trick up your sleeve. For this young couple, it would be a huge incentive to offer them something like free Uber for a year. Now they can go out in the city, no matter how far, and know that they can get there and back safely and effectively — oh, and for free!
Remember to curate your signing bonuses to match your target audience. An older couple might not care for free Uber, and a younger couple might not benefit from a membership at the local country club. Knowing your audience is crucial for most, if not all, of these marketing tactics.
~deep breath~ Okay, we just threw a lot at you — but use it! There should be something in that long list of tactics that can get you started on your creative marketing journey. Whether it’s a video series or a giant billboard, a teaser site or an Instagram contest, creative marketing works — we’ve seen it first-hand. As always, if you have any other questions or want to see examples of some of these tactics, peruse our website or reach out to us — we’ve got a lot to share (clearly).
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