Marketing the Right Products – David Twiggs

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I was speaking recently at the American Association of Retirement Communities national conference in Memphis about “Repositioning the Large Scale Community to be Relevant in Today’s Market” and was asked about effective marketing campaigns. Once you understand your market and have positioned your community to authentically serve relevant lifestyle options, there are some excellent media resources out there for marketing your community.    Ideal Living magazine as a great national example and Center for Carolina Living is a regional platform. However, I quickly turned our discussion to the much-overlooked fact that these media outlets can only convey the story you supply. Marketing can never make up for a product problem and many of our communities have a product problem.

 

If we continue to advertise a 25-year-old story, we will not be attractive to the coming markets. If we cannot actually deliver authentic and fulfilling lifestyle options relevant to today’s market, we will simply fall into irrelevance. The things that drew the people who moved to your community in the past do not motivate today’s market. Not only are we experiencing the change from silent generation to boomers, we are dealing with post recession value shifts and fragmented media.

 

Fixing a product problem is about finding the unique lifestyle options you can provide and creating those opportunities. I work in rural destination and resort style communities so I look at what markets I can develop in addition to the country club sports model that the original developer banked on. Notice, I said lifestyles in addition to, not replacing what we have. Nothing wrong with an element of the country club model but it better not be the only product you offer. The golf centric community market is saturated on all levels and price points but it can still be a strong part of your holistic lifestyle options. If a program you offer is no longer relevant, it will die a natural death. Who is building a new shuffleboard stadium? No one, they are  irrelevant. You had better have lifestyle options relevant to the coming market to attract new growth. We should protect the elements of our lifestyle we love and add complimentary lifestyle options that we can authentically provide. Be Unique. Generic and boring are well represented in the market. You are not trying to attract everyone only those who want your unique lifestyle.

 

For Hot Springs Village, I have developed a Master Plan Workbook in which we explore possible new lifestyle possibilities, housing typology, engagement brands and community branding. Notice this is titled a workbook not an engraved in stone plan. This is an ever changing document. We explore many ideas for lifestyle and community improvements. We don’t implement them all. Some fit some do not, but we are not afraid to explore all options and are daily improving our formally dated products. If you have a unique product, marketing is much easier. Getting picked out of a mass of similar communities is difficult and often leads to wasting our limited marketing dollars.

 

You are welcome to look at the current version of my Master Plan Work Book for HSV. Please remember it is an ongoing presentation piece so some details and all proprietary information such as market studies for housing, hotel, commercial and retail have been omitted. Each community is unique. You can’t simply copy someone else’s model. Look at your products, understand your market, and make sure your story is relevant before you invest your marketing dollars.

CLICK HERE FOR A PDF Masterplan Workbook 1221.2014 UPDATE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tjFZlnYuFQ

Accelerating My Social Media Learning Curve

One of my obsessions over the last several years has been seeking ways to maximize the impact of my passions, theories and concepts to create meaningful work. I have always been one to read the books of design thought leaders in efforts to keep on the front of the curve.  In the past 2 years,  this has drawn me into an evermore connected system of blogs, tweets, and photo services,  Seeing how well this information flowed and constantly connected me to new information sources, I took my first steps into the New Media.  This has been daunting to say the least but I think I am getting a handle on it.

I just read New Media for Designers + Builders  (www.nm4db.com.) It’s a new book from Steve Mouzon, architect and author of one of my favorites: The Original Green: Unlocking the Mystery of True Sustainability.  This book breaks from Mouzon’s eclectic discussions of design philosophy and dives directly into the tools we design professionals need to be remarkable in today’s world of new media.  We are deluged with “how to” books on marketing, but to say this is about marketing would not do this work justice.  This is much more a users manual for creative folk like myself that understand their process but are seeking a new perspective on communication and making meaningful impact.

“If you are willing to remake yourself, instead of just your marketing, then these principles can be used to accomplish remarkable things for your business.”

The overriding theme is that the mindset of how we do business must change for design professionals such as architects, planners, and builders.  I would include many more knowledge and creativity based professions as falling into this category; making the information in the book relevant to a much wider audience. The fact is that the environment in which we work has changed, we simply must decide if we will individually adapt to be relevant in this environment.

Unlike many books I have read on how to tap into social media, New Media For Designers + Builders gives a pertinent point of view in a context I understand. Being written from the perspective of a design professional, it speaks directly to real world strategies and applications in my field.   It would also apply to any ideas base organization looking to be effective in communicating their message and being relevant in the marketplace.

Reading this book through to the end takes a tremendous amount of discipline.  I could hardly go a page without finding pertinent information that I could utilize.  The temptation to drill down deep into a subject before finishing the entire book was mighty. This was my first experience with an electronic book so highly interlinked.  The links intuitively pull you deeper into each strategy.  In my case, I spent a day and a half down the blogging rabbit hole to unpack ways to  improve my own blog before moving on to the rest of the book.  Being a digital format book, every strategy, reference, or example is instantly accessible with examples and tips.

As easy as it is to drill for specifics, the real value for me was a guide into a framework or philosophy for the use of all these tools.  Exploring the “Age of the Idea” takes some of the concepts touched on by other forward thinkers such as Seth Godin and focuses them on the design and building professions. I can now see how to take my dabbling with my blog and twitter into a strategy to drive real business.

Having finished reading the book, my time with the book has just begun.  Each media node has a manual that explains how to start, refine and connect the system. I used to be concerned that putting my ideas out for others to see would be the worst possible business decisions. That is an old way of thinking.  I agree with Mouzon’s concepts that “patience, generosity, and connectedness” are valid business virtues for our new economy. With the enormous amount of energy we spend creating our passions, it is a shame if our platforms and practices for communication almost guarantee your voice not being heard.  This book is a manual for taking ideas to the audience where the ideas resonate.  Our business environment has changed, only we can decide how to adapt.  I will be using this book daily as I refine how my message can best be communicated.

I recommend New Media For Designers + Builders to anyone who has considered using the new medias to drive ideas.  In my case, I have been attempting to use social media for several months never realizing that each media (node) can feed the others, multiplying the content and connectivity drastically.  Another great aspect of the book for those of us into socio-spatial design, is a glimpse into the new media systems of some of the top thought leaders in our industry.  I found many ongoing resources that really exemplify generosity as a business virtue.

You can find the book at www.nm4db.com.   Steve Mouzon is an architect, urbanist, author, blogger, and photographer from Miami. He founded the New Urban Guild, which helped foster the Katrina Cottages movement. The Guild hosts Project:SmartDwelling, which works to redefine the house to be much smaller and more sustainable. Steve founded and is a board member of the Guild Foundation; it hosts the Original Green initiative. Steve speaks regularly across the US and abroad on sustainability issues. He blogs on the Original Green Blog and Useful Stuff. He also posts to the Original Green Twitter stream. While looking at Steve’s stuff be sure to explore The Original Green website at www.originalgreen.org.