The #1 Reason Real Estate Marketing Lacks Innovation

Ever wondered why real estate — one of America’s leading industries — lacks marketing innovation, or why new home sales and marketing professionals are so afraid to step outside their comfort zones?
“Hey, did you see that amazing new home builder in AdAge,” said no one ever. 
Well, the crux of the problem is that the real estate industry is light years behind just about every other major industry. And it’s not for a lack of technology, budgets, or smart, creative people.
So what’s the deal?
As an advertising professional who has spent nearly a decade building a thriving and successful marketing firm (often banging my head against a wall through the process), I’ve often contemplated why so many innovative ideas are rejected.
The only plausible answer I could come up with is: risk aversion. The real estate business is all about minimizing risk and limiting exposure. Did you hear that: Limiting exposure. That’s the antithesis of what great marketing should do. And therein lies the problem.
This inclination has stymied the tide of innovation. It has pushed creatives, innovators and big thinkers into a box, rather than challenging them to think bigger and be bolder.
Change seems to take a little longer in the home builder industry but it is possible. As marketing professionals, we must relentlessly pursue ideas that challenge convention and look for like-minded partners looking to lead the charge.
So this is a call to arms. To all the trailblazers, innovators and risk takers: Let’s shake things up. Let’s challenge ourselves and our teams to push the boundaries of marketing greatness. Let’s stop letting risk aversion be our compass and instead start focusing on surprising and delighting consumers.
“OMG. Home builder work is really dominating at this year’s Webbys. Not.”
After all, when it comes to advertising and communications, the biggest risk you can take is taking none at all.

Robert Galletta is managing partner at Blackjet Inc., a Toronto-based, Webby award-winning digital and design agency with extensive real estate experience. The agency’s philosophy is to be fearless; and it challenges both clients and partners to do the same. Blackjet’s work recently won five Gold awards at the 2016 Nationals in Las Vegas.
Welcome  to the Newest SMC Members

Welcome to the Newest SMC Members

Your Home Builders Association of Greenville and Sales and Marketing Council of the Upstate is proud to welcome:
Kelly Backer with Ryan Homes
Lisa Corbin with Ryan Homes
Lauren Hein with Ethan Allen
Barbara Waters with D.R. Horton

Age Clearly Impacts Preferences in Home Size

Age Clearly Impacts Preferences in Home Size

Findings from the latest NAHB study on housing preferences, Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How They Compare to Other Home Buyers, shows there are some similarities and differences in what home buyers of different generations want in terms of square footage and number of bedrooms in a new home.

When asked how much finished space they would like to have, home buyers in general reported wanting a median of 2,020 square feet, about 9% more space than they currently have (1,859 sq. ft.). Age plays a key role in desired home size, however. Buyers in the Millennial and Gen X generations both want homes over 2,300 square feet, whereas Boomers and Seniors would like homes under 1,900 square feet. As the figure below shows, there is a large gap between current and desired home size among the younger cohorts, while Boomers and Seniors either live in their ideal home size already or would like to downsize a bit.

When it comes to the number of bedrooms, about half of all home buyers would like to have three in a new home, while a nontrivial 30 percent would rather have four or more. The two youngest generations have strikingly different preferences when compared to the oldest two: whereas 48 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen X’ers would like to see at least four bedrooms in a new home, that share is only 20 percent among Boomers and Seniors. For these generations, three bedrooms is the way to go, as half or more report that as their first preference.

This blog post is part of a series exploring findings from Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How They Compare to Other Home Buyers, the first of which can be found here. A more complete article on the findings is also available here.

Applying for the Sales and Marketing Council is Easy

Applying for the Sales and Marketing Council is now easier than ever with our new online application! Click here to access the application where you can easily type in your information and then print and send it to the Home Builders Association or save it and email it to

Why should you join the SMC? Read our last blog post to see why the sales skills of those in the housing industry affects the housing market as a whole. Also be sure to visit the SMC web page for testimonials, benefits of membership, and more.

The Importance of Sales and Marketing

The article below details the importance of constantly improving your sales and marketing skills and consistently evaluating the housing market of your area. If these are skills you are looking to improve on, consider joining the Sales and Marketing Council of the Upstate, a council under your Home Builders Association. If you’d like current information on the Greenville housing market, look no further–every year your Home Builders Association of Greenville partners with GGAR and UMLA to host the Housing Market Forecast, where a national economist explains the figures of the current market in Greenville and shares their forecast for the upcoming year. That data is then compiled by your Home Builders Association and the shared with our members. You can find that document here.

Many economists and industry pundits agree that for the foreseeable future, the housing market will continue to improve. But, there’s no doubt that home builders will still have to navigate fierce competition and deal with cautious buyers.

David Levitan, MIRM, CSP, CMP, and CEO of Levitan & Associates, said that although most housing markets are now performing well (compared to recent years), he has been asked to evaluate several communities across the country that are still not performing up to par.

What he found — almost across the board — was home builders and developers who have been doing business in their markets for years without having conducted any market research or developed a marketing strategy.

“The reason for the lack of sales was crystal clear, and not surprisingly, consistent throughout most of these communities,” he said.

Among the greatest offenses:

  • Stale home designs that had not been changed for the past five years or more;
  • Product lines that failed to provide a full spread of designs, styles and pricing;
  • Less-than-ideal, non-competitive locations;
  • Communities built within a short distance of four or more competing builders/developers with almost identical product offerings and more attractive incentives;
  • Sales and marketing staff who had no training and minimal management support or supervision over the years;
  • Outdated advertising, promotional strategies and budgets (e.g., referencing a 10-year-old budget, creating only minor changes to the company website, making feeble attempts at social media).

Because today’s market conditions and buyers are completely different, he said, leaning on the same old strategies has hindered their ability to grow, prosper and be profitable. To get back on track, Levitan recommends the following five steps:

Step 1: Do your research. For every new community you plan to build, analyze the market and determine the local economy and market conditions, examine site conditions, and investigate current and future competition. Doing this type of analysis helps define the playing field, and from there a realistic sales and marketing strategy for success can be developed, Levitan said.

Ask yourself the following questions: What is the quantifiable demand for the location, design and price? What portion of the demand is already being met? What is happening with the resale market – remember it is an integral component of the demand quotient. Where are the holes in the market?

Step 2: Review your own properties, products, company and brand identity. What are the comparative strengths and weaknesses of your location? How does the marketplace perceive your company? What impact do those perceptions have on your ability to do business? Have you created an identifiable unique selling proposition that is meaningful to the consumer? If not, you are simply another seller of the same product, probably offered at similar or higher prices.

Step 3:
Use your research and review or SWOT analysis, to develop housing products that satisfy the needs of the market and are noticeably better in some way than competition.

Step 4: Create and implement a sales and marketing strategy for every new community BEFORE development starts. Use tools that will get your message to your target market in a cost-effective way.

Step 5: Take Step 4 further and create a new sales and marketing strategy that reflects current market conditions for every existing community you have in your portfolio.

While it may take a little time and effort to properly create a development and marketing strategy that will maximize sales and profitability, Levitan believes that the value of doing so is immeasurable.