Published on December 8, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaped what “community” looks like for most everyone. With all the time apart, people are craving interaction and new ways to connect. Safety, wellness and connection—as they relate to home and communities—have moved to the forefront as homebuyers reconsider what they now want and need most from their homes and outdoor spaces. Strategic brand stories that speak to these priorities are more likely than ever to resonate with today’s buyer, and to support business objectives as we move into 2021.
Developers have always understood the value of placemaking and lifestyle storytelling. Parks, recreation centers, pool amenities and indoor/outdoor spaces are nothing new. People’s need for connection isn’t new either. But how people gather, how they connect, and how they protect their wellness has shifted during the pandemic. You have more to talk about than you might realize, on topics that people care about right now.
Bike sales continue to climb, with sales surging more than 200% for leisure bikes early in the pandemic. People are finding new groups to connect with using apps like Strava that track metrics and provide community. Sales were up 172% for Peloton earlier this year, with strong adoption of their app that again, provides access to a community of people interested in health and wellness. Does your master-planned community have bike racks, a group that rides together, great spaces for kids to ride? Those are stories, photos or videos worth sharing.
Even as some public trails restricted use during COVID, master plan residents more often have kept access to their community’s outdoor amenities. Are you doing all you can to activate your trail amenities in a socially distanced way? Learning stations or treasure hunts along the trail may be welcome distractions for parents juggling work from home and homeschooling. Virtual walk/run events like November’s Turkey Trots across the country facilitate community and outdoor activity and gained popularity. Maybe that’s something your community can organize, and then talk about? But even a few brilliant photos of people enjoying the trails can go a long way in letting prospective buyers see that your community is a place where they can access beautiful open space right outside their door.
Community parks have always been popular gathering spaces, and ripe for the photo opps, too. If you have an opportunity for a pocket park, or even a small and informal open space where parents might trade off supervising “recess” breaks from homeschooling, these spaces provide value to people right now. Can you thoughtfully adapt anything in the community, or elevate the visibility of these lesser known places where residents can comfortably connect with others in small groups? Be sure your residents and prospective homebuyers alike know about them.
Dogs are having a day. Adoptions are up. Leash sales and pet toy sales are up. Is there a story to tell about the new resident and his dog who frequent the dog park every morning? How about a pet photo contest for the residents that you feature online? Do you have space to add a dog run or outdoor pet washing station? The point is, people care more than ever about dogs, and when you talk about the things they care about, you create opportunities for those emotional connections that nurture people’s experience of your brand. Besides, puppy photos make for pretty irresistible, high-performing content. Connect that cuteness to what people can find in your community, and you’ve struck an emotional chord.
Lifestyle directors across the country have earned their proverbial stripes this year. From pivoting into weekly paint ‘n sips, wine tastings and cooking classes on Zoom, to pop-up drive-in movie theatres and drive-by parades, they continue to find creative ways to keep people connected to their community. While this is important for the current residents, remember these stories help future residents envision the life, friends and connections they can hope to experience here, too. Especially for 55+ active adult communities, helping people make those personal connections, helping them to see they’ll fit in, is critical to a successful home buying journey.
Almost last, but not least, home needs to do more for people now. Besides the usual safe haven, home often now also serves as home office, classroom, gym, spa, movie theatre, restaurant and then some. If your builders have upped their home office offering, let people know about it. Homebuyers are interested in outdoor spaces, backyards, private pools and more in response to the pandemic disruption. Consider how else you or the builders might be talking about the plans in a way that speaks to some of these current motivations.
As you layer in more strategic storytelling, don’t stop there. Track all of your metrics, A|B test, learn what works best and then aim for your next piece of content to improve on those results.
Need help kickstarting your 2021 storytelling strategy? Wick Marketing has 25 years expertise in helping master plan developers and homebuilders craft strategic brand stories that drive business results. If you’d like to schedule a complimentary call to brainstorm some ideas for your brand, please reach out to Barbara Wray at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-479-9834. www.wickmarketing.com