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Marketing Without Shame

by Nic Darling on November 16, 2010 · 8 comments

in Development,Marketing,Video

Every now and then I like to write a quick post about some of the ways in which we market our homes. I know this kind of article is not for everyone, but I hope at least a few of you like them. Those that don’t are free to sit this one out and wait for Chad’s upcoming post on a new low flow shower head. To some that might sound like a joke, but we are actually pretty excited about it.

Most of our marketing to date has been developed in an environment of austerity. The budget for our efforts resembles a teenager’s weekly allowance if that teenager were relatively unliked by his benefactors. Sure, there is occasionally money to do things, and I think we have used it pretty well (postgreenhomes.com). But, for the most part, you could convert our budget to ones, put it in your wallet and still have plenty of room for guitar lesson coupons (reference anyone?).

Fortunately for us, there are plenty of free or relatively inexpensive ways to make a lot of noise these days. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets have given us space to offer useful and interesting (we hope) content. This has, in turn, led to free press exposure and conversations that flow over into other networks.

It also turns out that people like to talk (who knew?). So, we try to give them something to talk about and they often reward us by telling everyone they know. This type of “word-of-mouth” (oh no . . . marketing term) seems to be sparked in two major ways. First, people like to talk about strong technical information or bold provocative ideas that are capable of sparking interesting discussions, or at the very least, making them seem smart, bold and/or provocative. We try to provide this through most of our online content. Second, people like to share examples of other people acting foolishly. Everyone wants to be the source of a laugh, and a good example of ridiculous, potentially embarrassing behavior provides an excellent opportunity to pass one on. This opportunity is something we also occasionally try to provide (with varying success).

Our most recent foray into the latter is our “Special Message to Realtors” series of videos. These are short online videos directed at specific real estate teams with the ostensible goal of introducing our new Avant Garage project. Each video spends a short time speaking about the team in a hyperbolic and somewhat absurd way and follows with a brief intro to the project. The character is a sort of half conceived, exaggeration of myself in a bow tie and hat that barely fits on my gigantic head. The acting is relatively poor. The writing isn’t all that great. But, I might just be making enough of a fool of myself to make these worth sharing. I’ll let you be the judge.

If you can’t see the embedded video, click here to watch the whole series.

While these videos are primarily intended to introduce our project to agents who might bring us buyers, it is possible that they will also find their way to people who have never heard of us. If we, at some point, get the level of absurdity correct, the videos could have another life as a quick shared laugh. This could, in turn, put our work in front of people who would not have otherwise seen it. Some of those people might share enough of a level of interest to stick around, join the deeper conversation and help to strengthen our brand. And, thanks to our willingness to play the fool, these videos are relatively cheap (if not free) to produce.

On a related note, I often say that one of the major attributes Chad and I share is a lack of requisite shame or self consciousness. This, I think, is what allows us to put ourselves in places where the potential for embarrassment is high. I believe that this trait allows us to follow odd marketing paths (see ridiculous, low budget videos) that others might avoid. More importantly, it seems to make it easier to pursue crazy ideas in a very public way, an activity that has often seemed like a mission statement at Postgreen.

So, do you agree that the ability to stick your neck out and risk (or invite) being laughed at can make for better, less expensive marketing? How about for better entrepreneurship in general? Can good, useful content and absurdity share space? Even better, can absurdity be used to deliver useful information? Specifically, what are your thoughts on this video series? Does it have a shot at success on either level?

Let’s talk about it in the comments.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Using Absurdity as a Marketing Tool — 100K House Blog
November 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lavardera November 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Tell us! The videos have been out for a little while – did your target realtors respond?

I really enjoyed these and had a hearty laugh. As you predicted, I shared them with several friends. I encourage you to keep it up, if not for my own selfish enjoyment.

Still working on that reference however, coming up empty..

2 Andrei November 17, 2010 at 12:22 am

First off, great blog. This post definitely hit home for me. We sold our house this past summer relatively quickly–in just a couple of weeks. We worked with a realtor, but were also active in marketing the house through Facebook, Twitter and a blog that gave more details about restoration, renovation, etc.

What was interesting to me, is that when I had our realtor pull a site traffic report (from his site), more than 75% of traffic came from our sources. So…yes, there’s plenty of room for improvement when it comes to typical real estate marketing “strategy.”

And btw, your video is pretty damn amusing.

Thanks, and feel free to check out our construction blog: http://meadowhouse.wordpress.com

-A

3 Shawn Busse November 17, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Nic (and Chad),

I’ve got to say, that while this has some elements of the Old Spice strategy we discussed in our blog (http://www.kinesisinc.com/marketing/old-spice-guy-brings-107-increase-in-sales/) you’ve taken elements of the idea and put a brilliant spin on it.

I’ve always though the real estate/builder industry was stuck in a rut; you guys prove that there’s always room for fresh ideas.

Kudos
Shawn

4 Gayle Fleming, EcoBroker November 19, 2010 at 11:21 am

That was funny. As an EcoBroker certified real estate agent I appreciate all agents who make an effort to guide their clients toward sustainable home choices.

5 Dave Fuller Realtor CSP November 23, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Hello Nic,
Nice work, good concept! How have the results been, if I may ask?
The optimum result is a sale or two, yet, it is the exposure and receptive side of the equation that interests me. The more exposure to potential buyers, buyers agents and others the better chance of finding the right buyer or the right buyer finding you. The more receptive the industry is will help that exposure as well.

How did the teams respond and did they send it further to their suspects, prospects and clients?

Have you thought about doing a video directed to the consumer side that you provide to the Realtor that they can pass on to their leads?

Look to past buyers to identify ‘hot spots’ that other buyers might also be interested in like expected and unexpected benefits to owning a LEED home built by Postgreen.

Dave

6 Moneca Kaiser December 11, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Delightful and a little bit brilliant. So easy to trust what your company is about cause you are putting yourself out there. (And every film really should have an elephant in it it’s just better.) It takes a long time to change culture or it used too… the internet turns us back into a village which gives me hope. Your work inspires mine and my blog http://www.homecologist.com

I am tired of people who care about the world not taking care of ourselves in, as Madonna says this, “material world” it means we are just subsidizing those who just care about profits and rape the planet and community. It’s great to read about how you are approaching marketing and I encourage you to gain this economic power cause we live in an age when money actually does talk and it could do so much good in the world if people who are focussing on a multiple bottom line in their business, people planet and profit start leading the way and we will have a lot more people listening if we have the economic power to speak the language of the times and imagine the world we can build together…

hope this isn’t too long, it’s my first blog comment, so exciting, I love that we can all connect this way, it’s so cool.

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