A glance at the Austin, Texas, skyline shows nearly as many cranes as high-rise buildings. It’s even been joked that the construction crane is the unofficial bird for the city of Austin. With so many new residential, rental, and commercial buildings breaking ground every day right in our backyard (and across the country), it’s more important than ever to schedule your marketing plan alongside your development timeline to ensure alignment and set your brand up for success.
Phase 1: Position Yourself for Success (10–18 Months Prior to Opening)
Think of this phase as laying the groundwork: Architectural plans have been drawn up, and you’ve already broken ground. You’ve probably already started working with an interior design group, as well. This is the perfect time to also start establishing your brand, whether you’re creating a new brand identity from scratch or expanding a nationwide brand into a new market. More than anything, you need to get your name out there — you want passersby to know who you are. In this phase, we recommend you work through a handful of marketing items:
- Perform discovery.
- Determine any PR needs (groundbreaking, ribbon cutting, etc.).
- Establish your name and logo.
- Create a splash page or temporary website for VIPs to start generating leads.
- Consider setting up a temporary leasing space with signage.
- Design fence or construction signage for the site.
In talking with Joanna, this might also be a great time to start working on getting more organic leads. Joanna advises to “establish a strong Google My Business page” and “go ahead and create the social media accounts with a static image. That way [there are] even more ways to promote the product … [while you’re not] paying for the advertising quite yet.”
Phase 2: Show Off Your Best Assets (7–9 Months Prior to Opening)
Once you’ve established your brand identity in Phase 1, you should be well positioned to share more details about your community with your prospects. In this phase, you will hopefully have finalized your interior designs and created some renderings that can help supplement marketing material. You should also have additional details to add to your splash page to create a full website. You’ll want to start your digital advertising strategy, which should include the following:
- A live, permanent website
- Brand awareness and marketing events
- Monthly SEO
- Integrated marketing campaigns (hard hat tours, leasing space grand opening, and more)
- Search campaigns
Phase 3: Make Your Digital Mark (4–6 Months Prior to Opening)
While your community is still under construction, this is your chance to show off your product digitally. You’ve already started launching digital campaigns, but this time period is crucial for really establishing your digital strategy and getting in front of prospects. Hopefully by now you’ve also hired some of your leasing team and, as construction is underway, they can help to create your social media presence and put a face to the new community. You can share regular updates on the progress of the community while also introducing your amazing team — don’t be afraid to show some personality! To sum up, you should do the following in this phase:
- Start social media marketing.
- Establish your social profiles and post consistently.
- Begin reputation monitoring and management.
- Launch ongoing search with display campaigns.
Phase 4: Crunch Time (3 Months Prior to Opening)
Opening day is right around the corner, and this is crunch time. By now you have various areas starting to wrap up, and people can take tours to see their future homes. Be sure you’re staying top of mind with prospects while also establishing your amazing reputation with anyone who has already leased. Unfortunately, this time is always where you might run into snags or see that things might be a bit behind from what you’d expected. Be sure you’re overcommunicating — as a new product in the market, the last thing you want is to have a late move-in and spend the rest of the year digging yourself out of a reputation nightmare. For the most part, people are very understanding as long as they know what’s going on. Important items during this phase are:
- Integrated marketing campaigns (fill-a-unit specials, prize giveaways, etc.)
- Brand awareness and marketing events
- Ongoing social media and search campaigns
- Videos and photo shoot of finalized product
Phase 5: It’s Go Time (Opening Day)
Congratulations! The day has come — you’re open, but that doesn’t mean the job is done. In fact, things are just getting started. In a constantly competitive market, it’s important that residents see some of the unspoken value of living in your community once they’re moved in — think excellent customer service and a place that really feels like home. Keep up your digital marketing efforts to ensure you always have a lead or waitlist. Key items for this phase are:
- Having a grand opening event/leasing party
- Setting a meeting to plan and strategize the next leasing year
- Continuing social media marketing
One of the best ways to ensure your marketing efforts pair well with your development timeline is to establish a strong partnership with your marketing team. At Catalyst, we’ve worked with repeat partners, such as Presidium, for many years, and we get to a point that everything feels like a well-oiled machine and new properties are set up for success from the moment they break ground. Most importantly, keep in mind it’s never too early to start marketing your new development. Contact us today to learn how we can help you get started.