August 11, 2021
How to Build a Marketing Budget for a Master-Planned Community
Creating a master-planned community marketing budget is a challenging but crucial step to strategically reach and engage the correct target audience. Investing in multiple marketing tactics ultimately offers home builders greater opportunities to receive a higher ROI.
Developers and home builders should create and monitor their marketing budget in order to evaluate the overall ROI based on their marketing strategy and learn where improvements are necessary and possible.
Take a look at our guidelines for what goes into building an effective marketing budget to efficiently advertise for a master-planned community.
Finding the Right Balance
When putting a marketing plan and budget in place for a new master-planned community, it’s crucial to develop an initial foundation to be aware of how much funding should be available for marketing efforts. Experts suggest that home builder budgets for master-planned communities should be determined based on the community’s projected sales volume.
If a master-planned community offers 6,000 homes at an average sale price of $500,000, then the sales volume is projected to be $3 billion. Then, it is recommended that home builders utilize 1% of the estimated sales volume – in this case, $30 million – toward the marketing budget during the buildout of the master-planned community.
When home builders utilize less than 1% of the predicted revenue, this risks underinvesting in the community and missing opportunities for reaching and creating new leads. But if the budget exceeds 1%, this may lead to wasted funds and significant overspending.
Below, we’ve provided a detailed list of the different elements a marketing budget should include for promoting a master-planned community. Each of these marketing tactics is necessary during different phases leading up to and after the community’s opening.
Marketing the master-planned community before construction is complete in preparation for presale events or the community’s grand opening requires stronger prioritization of online strategies. However, the period after the community’s opening and completion of the initial phase of homes and amenities necessitates a greater balance of both traditional and digital strategies tactics for effective marketing.
Elements of Marketing Budget
Effective promotion of an upcoming master-planned community starts with the foundational step of establishing branding. This branding process includes creating identifying designs to be implemented both digitally and in print to represent the community such as a logo, color palette and brand promise. An important step of branding is to create the community story and to identify the target audience to better develop the community’s go to market strategy.
Master-planned communities offer more than just new homes, they provide a unique lifestyle and emotional value to homebuyers. Community branding should effectively communicate the community’s lifestyle value and a clear vision for its residents in a memorable way that stands out to homebuyers.
The home builder’s website or a standalone community website is an important element of homebuyer first impressions when they’re looking into a builder and their master-planned community. To maintain an exceptional online presence, it’s crucial for home builders to both maintain and improve their website continuously. Home builders should always be prepared to distribute the master-planned community marketing budget over the life of the project to facilitate website upgrades in order to ensure the website meets homebuyers’ continued expectations related to videos, renderings, interactive plans and other trendy tools.
While implementing marketing efforts for a master-planned community, lead generation should be a chief priority both leading up to its opening and throughout the life of the community. Home builders and developers should place this objective at the forefront of their marketing by incorporating strong calls to action within their website. This can be done by employing an easily accessible online form that new leads can complete to request information or join the VIP list.
Enhancing website search engine optimization (SEO) is at the core of creating a successful online presence for a master-planned community. Allocating funds toward optimizing SEO enables the website to receive a higher ranking among similar organic search engine results. As a result, this high ranking improves the website’s online visibility and delivers a higher number of qualified leads.
Digital – Typically the master-planned community’s marketing budget is best spent on Facebook and Instagram advertisements. Facebook’s ability to create custom ad audiences and develop highly targeted ads make this platform a powerful tool for attaining qualified leads. Additionally, this type of advertising possesses tracking capabilities that enable home builders to measure and reevaluate advertising strategies to improve audience reach and engagement.
With Google Pay-Per-Click ads, developers and home builders pinpoint specific keywords related to the master-planned community’s homes or location and capitalize on these searches to start driving high traffic to their community’s website. Or home builders can utilize Google Ads to target homebuyers as they are consuming Google products or platforms including YouTube, Google Maps, Google Play apps and more.
The ability to retarget ads to people who have visited the community website via Google PPC, Facebook and other methods provides additional touch points for prospective buyers.
Awareness and new leads can also be generated through Over-the-Top (OTT) advertising platforms that implement ad content through dedicated streaming services like Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast or an internet-connected TV. With high targeting capabilities and measurable tracking, OTT ads reach specific target audiences and provide strategic performance insights.
Audio advertisements on both traditional and digital radio also offer a valuable opportunity for home builders and developers to implement highly targeted ads and effectively garner new leads.
Online publication ads on newspaper or magazine websites are a strategic marketing investment for master-planned developments who utilize these channels to reach a growing audience. Impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, news readership across several demographics is on the rise for both print and digital. This means online publications offer an invaluable placement for master-planned community ads to bolster brand awareness and reach.
Print – Although print advertising lacks the targeting and tracking capabilities of digital advertising, print marketing still provides an important tangible opportunity to enhance brand visibility and build brand recognition.
Being featured in a publication, such as a newspaper or a magazine, targets homebuyers who are more likely to engage with printed materials. To earn positive ROI, it’s important to perform preliminary research to determine which publications reach the correct audience for the master-planned community.
Direct mail ads in the form of a brochure, letter or postcard can directly reach homebuyers within their homes. By utilizing mailed ads, home builders specifically target their audience by location or home type to reach the buyers most likely to be interested in a master-planned community. Direct mail marketing is cost-effective and an easy way to catch attention through a tactile approach.
As cars and drivers increasingly return to the road, billboards are an effective method to reach homebuyers who are on the go. By utilizing billboards, home builders quickly catch homebuyers’ attention with eye-catching imagery and a captivating message or slogan. By providing the opportunity to target areas that offer the best opportunities to reach the intended audience, billboard advertisements offer home builders a strategic, cost-effective way to promote their master-planned communities.
Developing an effective content strategy is important to plan, create and share online materials that represent the master-planned community. This is a significant way to capture attention and create connections with homebuyers. Higher quality and quantity of content are said to be an important factor of success among 72% of marketers. Providing content about the master-planned community provides homebuyers with additional information and insight into the community’s homes, amenities and lifestyle. Content can be shared through a home builder’s website, social media channels, email or printed materials.
Home builders should publish monthly blogs on their website to differentiate their brand and offer homebuyers engaging content. Implementing monthly blogs allows home builders to improve SEO on their website which helps enhance search engine rankings and drives higher traffic. The more blogs are published, the more often the website is crawled by the search engines, thus providing additional ranking opportunities and becoming more visible to the target audience searching for new homes.
Social media is a highly important tool for modern home builders to effectively reach and engage with their target audience in a natural way. Through social media, home builders share interesting, relevant posts and increase connections with homebuyers and other potential leads. By expanding a master-planned community’s presence using social media channels, home builders offer greater insight into the community’s homes and the lifestyle opportunity.
Although developers and home builders often overlook the value of public relations, investing in a strong public relations strategy with a focus on media relations enables home builders and communities to manage their brand image, boost brand awareness and garner new leads. By expanding the master-planned community’s online presence within media that reaches the target audience, home builders enhance brand recognition and increase the likelihood that targeted homebuyers will be interested to learn more and visit the community.
Email marketing is important for home builders promoting master-planned communities because it provides a straightforward way to encourage prospects to join the community’s VIP list, announce the start of sales or offer other relevant updates about the community. This is an effective way to strengthen connections and offer personalized marketing that turns leads into buyers. For home builders considering the value of email marketing, HubSpot research indicates that emails return $38 for every $1 spent, providing a 3,800% ROI.
Delivering renderings and site maps of the master-planned community, as well as professional photography and video, to be shared on the home builder website and social media channels is a crucial way to effectively engage the target audience and communicate the planned design to homebuyers during the construction process. Allowing homebuyers to visualize the streetscape and homes is key to selling them on the vision for the development.
When providing professional imagery to represent the community, it’s important to utilize original photography to communicate the community’s lifestyle and appeal. Using stock photos significantly lessens the impression made on prospective homebuyers looking for genuine insight into what the master-planned community offers.
Original videos also offer an incredibly effective way to engage potential prospects interested in a master-planned community. Providing an overview of the community or an inside look into new homes through the use of video tours that move from room to room throughout the home captures homebuyer attention. Another option is videos that include video montages that are accompanied by lighthearted background music. This offers homebuyers a fun way to take a quick preview of the master-planned community and its beautiful home exteriors and interiors.
As social distancing regulations have led to the decline of in-person visits to decorated model homes in master-planned communities, 3D virtual home tours continue to be on the rise. Virtual tours allow homebuyers to explore an online walkthrough of new homes with comfort and ease. This cutting-edge, interactive experience boosts brand awareness and increases customer engagement with a builder’s online content. Not only do virtual tours save money, but implementing this technology also indicates to homebuyers that the builder keeps up with modern expectations within the new home industry.
Print – As homebuyers are looking for new homes and making decisions, developers and home builders need to provide qualified leads with a variety of high-quality print collateral. Print collateral for a master-planned community include several options:
- Floorplan Imagery/Details
- Community Brochures and Builder Story
- Quick Move In Ready Flyers and Price Sheets
- Warranty Information
- Included Features Sheet
- Community Amenities and Site Plan
Providing print collateral allows communities and home builders to remain top-of-mind for homebuyers as they have visual reminders and tangible representations of the master-planned community. By using high-quality designs and materials, printed collateral helps communicate a master-planned community’s appeal and exceptional quality to homebuyers. Home builders should always have these available at the community sales center and during any promotional events.
Branded Items – Offer potential leads, realtors and new residents of the master-planned community branded gifts such as hats, bags, shirts, umbrellas or other items. This enhances their experience with the master-planned community, leaves a lasting impression and provides an opportunity for homebuyers and homeowners to share their positive experiences with others. Delivering these items as housewarming presents to new homeowners is an important first step to creating a strong connection between builders and homeowners.
Utilizing online listing services is a valuable investment for home builders seeking to advertise their master-planned community. Dedicated to finding qualified homebuyers, listing sites are used to target new leads in the regional area of the master-planned community. Examples of popular home listing services include the following sources:
- BDX- New Home Source
- New Homes Directory
- New Home Guide
A master-planned community’s signage offers the first physical representation of the community’s quality to prospective homebuyers and visitors.
As visitors arrive at the master-planned community, the most important sign they see that indicates the quality of the community is the entrance monument. This sign should be well designed, inviting and memorable to capture the attention of homebuyers at first sight through cohesive design consistent with community branding.
Also important is onsite and offsite directional signage, guiding visitors as they approach the master-planned community and directing them within the community. This wayfinding signage should effectively help visitors navigate the master-planned community with ease. To do so, directional signs should be readable, consistently present and deliver helpful visual cues.
As the sales center is the first place prospective homebuyers arrive at when visiting a master-planned community, it’s vital for this space to be well-designed and offer an inviting atmosphere.
This space should ideally include exciting features including visual displays and digital touch screens that allow visitors to explore elements of the master-planned community. Many community sales offices also feature a topo table that displays a small architectural model of the community’s layout to offer visitors a full vision. It’s important to decorate the office with informational wall displays that share the story of the community and builders in a clear and visually engaging way.
Show off the value of a new master-planned community by hosting community events open to prospective homebuyers and local realtors. Community events are a valuable way to invite potential homebuyers into a master-planned community to experience the lifestyle as well as the beautifully designed homes, amenities and the welcoming streetscape.
Pre-sale and grand opening events are an easy way to directly engage with relevant prospects who have signed up for the community’s VIP list and have already demonstrated strong interest. These events should be promoted beforehand throughout the community website, social media and email newsletter.
When developing a master-planned community marketing budget, an important consideration is the matter of who will be responsible for marketing efforts – whether the work is done in-house or through an agency.
Based on skillset, company vision and the amount of marketing required, the community developer should carefully assess its team’s strengths and weaknesses to determine any limitations that may prevent their ability to implement an effective branding and marketing strategy. In many cases, a developer or home builder may be better served by partnering with a branding and ad agency to handle their marketing efforts to ensure the responsibilities are taken on by subject matter experts within agencies.
However, if marketing efforts are taken care of in-house, this does not mean that the cost of marketing staff is removed from the marketing budget. Instead, percentages of the responsible employees’ salaries based on the amount of time spent on promotional work for the master-planned community should be incorporated into the marketing budget.
Builder-Realtor relationships are a powerful collaboration that should not be underestimated when marketing a master-planned community. Realtors play a significant role in the sales of master-planned communities, and home builders and developers should utilize their master-planned community marketing budget to supplement Realtor outreach and build stronger relationships.
Hosting Realtor events improves Realtor outreach. Through these events, home builders form connections and offer Realtors additional information they can provide to their clients The stronger connections a home builder has with Realtors, the more likely Realtors will be to bring their high-quality clients to the master-planned community. Home builders can host open houses, invite Realtors to meet with the community’s sales team or offer private tours to Realtors to provide further opportunities to offer information.
Another way to strengthen Realtor relationships is by offering gifts or special realtor promotions. By doing so, a builder demonstrates their appreciation for the partnership they’ve formed with a Realtor. This works in the home builder’s favor by reinforcing the connection after a payoff and also encourages the Realtor to continue partnering with the builder to find new homes for their clients.
Other Marketing Investments to Consider
While promoting a master-planned community, there are also other investments and marketing expenses to keep in mind while creating a marketing budget. These additional factors to consider include:
- Design Centers
- Online Sales Counselor Commissions
- Real Estate Agent Commissions
- Decorated Model Home Expenses
We hope these guidelines offer you an efficient start for developing an effective master-planned community marketing budget. Keep an eye out for future blogs that will go into more detail on how to allocate a marketing budget over a 10-year period!
Set the Foundation for Your Master-Planned Community Marketing Strategy with Milesbrand
To create an effective budget and utilize your marketing dollars wisely, your company must implement powerful branding and marketing strategies to promote your master-planned community. We deliver an invaluable branding process that can be utilized to successfully market your master-planned community and introduce it to the right audiences.
At Milesbrand, we provide developers and home builders with exceptional community branding that elevates all of your master-planned community marketing efforts. To get started, contact our team to learn more about our branding and advertising capabilities.