Blog Post by Lindsey Imperatore, Director of Marketing at The News Funnel
At The Content Funnel, we love clever marketing campaigns. That’s why are excited to share how Real Estate Marketing Awards (#REMAS) Best Real Estate PR Campaign winner, Pace Advertising, created their winning entry. In a crowded field of top-notch campaigns, Pace Advertising’s submission impressed the judges’ panel. I recently caught up with Randy Kershner, Associate Creative Director of Pace to learn more about their winning PR strategies.
What #REMAS category did you win?
Best Real Estate PR Campaign
In an industry that is slow to innovate, how were you able to break the mold in content marketing and think outside the box?
I’m not sure that we “broke the mold” in content marketing as much as we went back to the basics of storytelling. While so much PR and content in the real estate sector is focused on events and news about a project or development (groundbreakings, grand openings, ribbon cuttings, sales phases, sales success), we let the buyers do the talking in this campaign. We interviewed people who had purchased at the specific community and allowed them to “sell” the community by relating their personal experiences. These unique testimonial stories really resonate with like-minded readers and allow other prospective buyers to relate in a very personal way. Also, by writing our press releases in a story style, the content is more attractive to the media outlets where we distribute the releases, with more of a focus on entertaining and informing readers, as opposed to just promoting a project or event.
Can you tell us about your campaign and what was your goal?
We created this successful PR testimonial campaign for K. Hovnanian’s® Four Seasons at Monmouth Woods, a new 55+ lifestyle community in Howell Township, NJ. Since opening just a little over a year ago, this community has appealed to a target audience that includes a growing number of 55+ buyers from New Jersey, Staten Island and beyond; most of whom are existing homeowners ready to downsize. The community offers attractive single-family homes (including some new designs that have never been offered by the builder in this area before) and a low-maintenance, resort-inspired lifestyle, all in a convenient Monmouth County location close to some of the Jersey Shore’s best beaches.
Our primary goal was to build awareness and interest for the new community and to drive new traffic to the sales center and model homes. In talking with many of the homebuyers, we realized that there was a shared sense of energized excitement and camaraderie among them. They are all at a similar place or stage in life and all felt part of something new and unique moving to this community. They recognized that they were getting in as charter members, in a way – to be among the first to purchase here. Through our campaign, we wanted to convey this excitement to reach our target market of 55+ move-down buyers: other similar adults who were ready to leave their larger homes (with all the necessary upkeep) for a new, low-maintenance lifestyle with resort-like amenities – and with other like-minded neighbors who are all starting out together at the same time, somewhere new.
How were you able to achieve your goal?
So far, we have developed nearly a dozen of these testimonial PR stories for K. Hovnanian’s® Four Seasons at Monmouth Woods, with more in the works. The press releases have proven extremely valuable to the builder. Potential buyers will read them in a newspaper or online and see them more as informative stories, or editorial content, rather than an ad or a sales-driven marketing piece. Buyers are relating to these stories, finding a connection with the featured homeowners, and envisioning themselves living in the new community as a result. Every time one of these stories runs, sales representatives at the community notice an increase in traffic, with visitors and new prospects saying that they read the story and sometimes even showing up with a copy of one of the PR stories in their hands. There has been a sort of snowball effect with this campaign. New buyers are now asking if they can be featured in a story. The builder has created reprints of several of the stories to showcase in the sales center. And the community’s sales representatives are sending us contact information for more and more homeowners, asking us to reach out to them for interviews and more of these testimonial stories.
Was there anything you discovered or learned during this campaign?
I think the campaign reinforced for us the power of good old fashioned storytelling and also how important it is to really listen to our audience. We can read all the facts and marketing details about a new project that a builder provides and listen to what the developer tells us about a given project. But nothing makes the project come alive like hearing real buyers talk about their experience with it: what worked for them, what attracted them to it, why they bought, etc. We don’t always have the chance to talk with and listen to buyers on projects we work on, but when we do, we strike gold.
Who inspires you in content marketing and who do you feel gets it right every time?
There are so many outstanding resources out there today for content marketing in general, and for the real estate sector specifically. Some of the broader content sites I often go to include: Hubspot, Content Marketing Institute, and Copyblogger. I also always enjoy what Barry Feldman and Nick Usborne have to share, and almost always find something valuable or inspiring on 99u. Specifically for the real estate world, you guys at The Content Funnel always nail it! And Inman always publishes informative content on their marketing blog.