Marketing Insight for Master-Planned Communities

Articles Posted by Lil Miller-Fox

Posts by : Lil Miller-Fox

Lil Miller-Fox
Author / 6 Posts
Elisabeth (Lil) Miller-Fox is a graduate of Quinnipiac University with a degree in English/Journalism and Co-Founder of PrivateCommunities.com.
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Quantcast-ImageQuantcast is a free service that lets you check out the audience, interests, and demographics of visitors to over 100 million websites. “Measure + Advertise” is Quantcast’s tagline.

While the data is not totally accurate just yet, Quantcast is working hard to give advertisers a peek behind the curtains. You can see whether websites are a good fit for your community, vis-à-vis traffic and demographics, before you commit your ad dollars.

Any website that installs the Quantcast tracking code is identified as “quantified”.  The tracking code provides visitor intelligence that Quantcast spins into reports.

For sites that do not have the tracking code, Quantcast uses third-party data, from ISPs and others, to generate estimates.

Here’s the backstory about Quantcast.   Two guys – Konrad Feldman, with a background in financial fraud, and Paul Sutter, an expert at building systems to handle a ton of data, raised $60 million plus to transform the online advertising space.

According to Wikipedia, the firm was founded in 2006 as “The World’s Only Open Internet Ratings Service” that recognizes that reliable data is needed to make the most intelligent online media buys.

Quantcast is free to use.

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Makeover photo - front desk receptionist

In Jupiter, Florida, Admiral’s Cove implemented a noticeable hospitality staff makeover which made its members proud to show off to their friends.

The makeover is a clever marketing idea because property owners/club members are the best source of new referrals for residential club communities.

Why the makeover?

Admiral’s Cove has a large hospitality staff, many of whom are brought in for the season. They also have a discerning membership that expects top level service at the club’s 7 dining venues, golf, tennis, spa and yacht club/marina. Every staff member is well trained, so the next step is outfitting them with both a uniform and knowledge about how to look their professional best at all times.

The community hired image consultant and makeover specialist Susan Bigsby to revamp the staff’s appearance.

Bigsby selected one individual to represent each category of employment at the club, taking before and after photos to illustrate the look that was appropriate for each position. Then the entire club staff was brought together and, visually, they could see exactly what was expected of them from an appearance standpoint. It quickly put all staff on the same page as far as what the organization expected of them, from a grooming standpoint.

Here are some key takeaways:

Tailor every employee

When clothes fit well, it boosts confidence and self-esteem. Bigsby says the most common mistake is that clothes aren’t tailored to fit each staff member.

For women especially, most uniforms are designed to fit more of a straight body and most women’s frames are not straight. Because of that, the uniform often looks tight, sloppy and pulls at the bust line. Therefore, it will never fit well or look nice. Pant length is a common problem that’s easy to solve. Often pants are too long and dragging on the ground because they have never been taped up. Taping is such an easy way to shorten pants to the right length for the wearer and their shoe height.

When you look good you feel good. When you feel like you’re pulled together, your demeanor is altogether different. You’re friendlier, you’re more confident, and you have a little bit more pizzazz.

Be mindful of the fabric content so it’s easy to wear and easy to wash.

Consider the temperature & the position – a rigorous job in a warm climate requires a wicking fabric that absorbs moisture and keeps the employee cool and appearing comfortable.

Black pants are classic and do a good job of concealing any dirt that employees may pick up throughout their work day. Aside from that, the styles and patterns should complement the club’s motif and be consistent with their brand.

Bigsby says for a polished, professional look, you must iron what you’re wearing – especially if your outfit includes a tailored shirt.

Makeover photo - before and after

The transformation of Flavia in housekeeping with a sleek hairstyle and subtle makeup application.

Even the no-iron shirts/blouses need touching up. She adds that a crisp crease down the center front of the pant leg allows the pant to hang from front to back instead of side to side – making the wearer look slimmer.

Pony up

Many grooming guidelines require women to pull back long hair – especially in the food and beverage areas of the club. There are messy ponytails and there are neat & tidy ponytails. Often, women throw their hair back in a wad or hold hair with a ‘scrunchy’ or banana clip.

For a well-groomed ponytail, smooth hair back neatly and wrap hair around the elastic band holding the pony. If scrunchies or banana clips are used, choose a simple hair ornament in black or tortoise shell.

Observations from Susan Bigsby about how a neat, tidy, pressed and well-groomed staff affects the club and their patrons’ experience?

Wrapping the elastic band with your own hair finishes the look.

Wrapping the elastic band with your own hair finishes the look.

“I think it’s a level of respect – respecting where you work, respecting the club members, respecting the members of the community,” Bigsby said.

“I think it speaks to the company’s overall image. People spend a lot of money to live in a residential club community and expect the staff to represent themselves well, regardless of what their position may be.

I think it’s a level of respect – respecting where you work, respecting the club members, respecting the members of the community – and an overall respect for one another as well as the jobs that they hold in-house.”

About Susan Bigsby: Susan Bigsby is an image consultant and makeover specialist residing in Palm Beach County, Florida. Her client roster is extensive and includes governors and their first ladies, television personalities, corporations and private individuals. You can learn more about Bigsby’s work at www.susanbigsby.com

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Excerpt of talk by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for National Association of Realtors (NAR), “Residential Economic Issues & Trends Forum”, NAR Conference & Expo, New Orleans, November 7, 2014

TRANSCRIPT
“Household net worth in America is at an all-time high, by a large margin.

… and, when one looks at the data of who has exposure to stock market wealth, it is only 10% of families in America. Ninety percent of Americans have either little, or no exposure to the stock market. So when the stock market is just rolling, 90% of Americans don’t feel it.

Nonetheless from a business perspective, with increased household net worth it means that vacation home markets should be improving because it’s the top 10% who buy vacation homes.

And also, top 10% are buying more expensive properties, so expensive properties are poised to recover very, very soon.”

 

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Recently, Whit Hazelton – SEO/SEM Manager at PrivateCommunities.com examined dozens of master-planned community websites and observed monthly bounce rates ranging from 29 percent to 58 percent. A typical master-planned community has a Bounce Rate trending close to 40 percent.

Bounce Rate reflects the percentage of visitors who visited just ONE page on your community website before leaving your website completely. It makes no difference if they bounce away fast or remain on a page for 20 minutes.

bounce rate chart

A low bounce rate indicates good user engagement. So when your website is promoted in media with an audience hungry for information about master-planned communities, you’ll have low bounce rates because visitors are engaged and clicking around your website. The same goes for successful Google Adwords and social media campaigns.

Congrats if your community website has a low bounce rate – but take it one step further and look at your “referral traffic” in Google Analytics. Referral traffic shows where your click-through visitors come from. When you know where they come from, you’ll know if they are likely prospects for your community.

Or not.

For example, Mr. Hazelton examined one luxury community that had significant referral traffic with impressively low bounce rates (25% & 31%) from TheKnot and WeddingWire – and, let me tell you, those brides were highly engaged with that community website! But they were the least likely prospects for a second home.

Pay attention to your Bounce Rate, overlaid with Referral Traffic, because it gives you a pretty good indication if marketing efforts are reaching your target audience.

 

 

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Ah, the dreaded LinkedIn photo.  It’s funny how we work so hard to present a great image for our community or clients but often pay little attention to our professional image online.

LinkedIn is where the “brand of you” lives online.  It’s the world’s largest professional network with 84 million users in the US.  And it’s a recruiting powerhouse – whether you’re the recruiter or the recruitee.

As with any brand, the visual image is important.  Here are a few tips we learned as we shifted from snapshots to an organized company image.

Professional Photographer – Find one who has a studio and who also does “glamour” shots.  No kidding about the glamour shots because they work with vain, picky clients and become experts at lighting and pulling out the most attractive side of anyone.

Pick a Style – We opted for B&W photos because we didn’t want to be concerned about color clashes later as new people join the team.  Or, if colors & patterns are out of vogue.

Background – We asked for a flat background and a light halo around the head so there would be a differentiation between a person’s dark hair and the background.  THalo Effecthis is especially helpful when images are downsized to smaller formats. Here was our example, the photographer didn’t get the lighting quite right, but it’s okay.

Pick a Smile – If you have a nice smile, a professional photographer can pull out your natural smile.  It may take a while and a few antics by the photographer like you’re a five year old but, promise, he/she will capture your best self.  A natural smile conveys friendliness, health and approachability.

Turn Into Your Profile – Shift shoulders so they aren’t straight to the camera like a mug shot.  It’s best to orient your body toward your profile, rather than facing away.

Whit 2Whit 1What to Wear – This was the hardest because we are in a fun, lifestyle industry.  In the end, we opted for professional rather than resort attire.  We found that a dark jacket is best for both men & women.  The dark V of the jacket narrows your width so it focuses on your face and you look slimmer. Here’s Whit Hazelton, our SEO/SEM manager, who is super-fit and button-down casual but the dark jacket reined him in better than the white shirt.

Don’t Broadcast Every Change – When you start making a lot of changes to your LinkedIn profile, we recommend that you change your settings so your contacts don’t see every update.  Remember to change your settings back when you are finished.  If you have any questions about changing your settings, just shoot me an email.

Your LinkedIn Profile – There are plenty of tips in books, and online, for maximizing your profile text.  However, all that is easier once your photo is right.  Kind of like that fabulous shot of your community – it’s a lot easier to write text around that.

There are many sides to all of us.  But on LinkedIn – it’s professional.

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For nearly 20 years PrivateCommunities.com has occupied one of the sweetest perches in the master-planned community industry.

On one side, the company is a consumer resource that generates sales leads & website traffic for client communities.  All the while, gathering intelligence about real estate buyers and their pre-purchase behavior.

On the other side, we work with professionals in our industry who are vying for the attention of future buyers. Community Sales & Marketing News is the B2B extension of our relationship with key professionals just like you, at the community level.

We highlight the people, products and companies in our niche and offer practical marketing and sales advice related to master-planned communities – both established and new.

As we inform, our goal is also to create conversations among dynamic and diverse groups of key professionals about what’s working to attract and retain buyer interest.

Real Estate Developers &  their Marketing and Sales Decision-Makers ….  Advertising Executives …. Media Buyers …. Home Builders …. Homeowner Associations …. Realtors

Welcome! Please check in often, comment and contribute. No password required to see what’s working.

Regards,
-Elisabeth (Lil) Miller-Fox
Co-Founder, PrivateCommunities.com

 

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