Do we really need another picture of suited women and men cutting a ribbon or holding a shovel? It’s dated, and it never really made much sense to begin with. After all, are they the ones constructing the building? If so, they’re horribly overdressed. While the time-honored tradition of a groundbreaking ceremony has its place and purpose, it is often given way too much gravitas. Savvy marketers know that the real work begins after the groundbreaking, not leading up to it, especially on projects slated to last months or years until completion.
Here are four ways to break out after groundbreaking and ensure that you maintain attention, interest and relevance until your opening:
- Plan Ahead
When dealing with a multi-million dollar design and construction project, no detail is spared. The same should be true for your marketing plan. While there will be countless hours spent creating messaging for your website or the description of the property itself, be sure to also dedicate time towards planning how to extend, adapt and evolve that messaging over the course of a year to continuously drive leasing and sales. The worst time to plan is in the moment, and if your team is wondering how to respond or react, it’s already too late. Avoid this by developing seasonal campaigns in advance, plotting out their deployment on a calendar and brainstorming certain scenarios (especially worst-case scenarios) that might occur along the way.
- Don’t Just Rely on the Media – BE the Media
There is a big difference between news and advertising, and reporters won’t be too keen on consistently promoting your project over the course of a year. And regardless of how great a PR agency you have, there are only so many times you can appear in traditional media outlets. So how do you stay in the public eye? Instead of relying on reporters or producers to tell your story, start thinking like a reporter or producer yourself. Be a news engine, and plot out stories to appear on your website and social media properties the same way a newsroom would by thinking of different storylines that showcase your project in different ways. You’ll have to get creative to find dozens of angles to fill a year, and this is where a good PR person can help. Remember, don’t just focus on the design, specs and functions of the building, think about the human element as well. By sharing the stories of the people involved in your project, you’re helping humanize the effort.
- Stay Connected
As important as the structure you’re building is the community that you’re building it in. Whether it’s a commercial or a residential property, people need to see value in what you’re creating and bringing to the neighborhood. Keeping abreast of what is happening locally and the issues people care about is a terrific way to build rapport among residents while also tapping a source of ongoing news. (see previous point about being a news engine) For instance, if a nearby park has become dangerous or in need of repair, engaging community leaders in a beautification project might be a good idea. While this isn’t directly related to your business, showing concern for the area you’re building in creates lasting brand loyalty.
- Celebrate Moments & Create Milestones
Why wait for an occasion to happen when you can conjure one in advance? Obvious milestones like groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings and topping-off ceremonies are great times to tout your project, but they are fleeting and far apart. Smart marketers are able to use their owned channels (social media, blog, etc.) to find everyday moments to celebrate, like an employee anniversary, a flashback to an important moment for the company or workers taking part in a silly seasonal holiday like National Pancake Day. Remember, moments and milestones don’t always have to be serious, and it’s good to show a bit of personality in your projects. People want to see the passion behind a project, and sometimes that’s not easily expressed through renderings and blueprints. Try to schedule events and activities over the course of the year that will increase the engagement of employees and the community. (It also might lead to some nice press.)
The A/E/C industry is incredibly competitive, especially when it comes to marketing. But if you stay creative, plan ahead and are willing to (literally) think outside the box, buyers will respond to the extra effort. After all, no one ever has ever chosen a place to live based on the groundbreaking, have they?