The Trends We Are Using at the Big V


Yeah, we create great brand strategies and logos, and we come up with superb names for our clients’ projects. For each of the projects we work on, we strive to create a unique personality – one that will resonate with the target markets we are aiming to entice. We used to call it “marketing journalism” or “selling the truth.” Now, we know it is about selling the value that your clients already have.

A Prussian gentleman once said, “Our most sacred convictions, the unchanging elements in our supreme values, are judgments of our muscles.” I used to use this saying to justify my own dysmorphic view of myself – that is a whole other blog – but my thoughts have changed. I think Nietzsche was talking more broadly about the human need to create values based on our own perceptions of who we think we are.

We tell ourselves stories about what it means to be sexy (like owning a Tom Ford suit, a Luger pistol, and an old racy Aston Martin (all of which I’m working on).) About how we attract potential mates by overpaying for, and displaying things that make us look clever and top of the food chain (like having a MacBook Pro in a Hipster coffee bar). We flock to brands and products that reinforce these stories we seek and create for and of ourselves, and the deep-rooted values we think they reflect and impart. You cynics out there – you’re doing it too, in one way or another.

In real estate marketing, our primary job is to create real estate brands that are congruent with the values our audiences wish to reflect and impart. And we do a damn good job at it.

On the tactical side, we are always looking out for the sharpest and straightest arrows to add to our marketing quiver. We pull out these piercing little points to make our clients’ marketing endeavours – and their projects – locate and penetrate those proverbial bulls’ eyes. We look for highly effective methods of delivering our stories in ways that identify and hit our targets, and make the job of sales easier.

In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, here are some real estate marketing musings that have all the makings of the sleek, golden-tipped arrows you’ll need for 2018.


Can we all stop being so frigging lazy with email campaigns?! At the very least, let’s make them more interesting by adding some photos and assets. Even better, let’s add some interactivity. Here are some of the best ways to incorporate interactivity into your email campaigns:

  • Use real-time marketing
  • Add surveys, polls, and reviews
  • Include videos – everyone loves a vid
  • Add menus for easy navigation
  • Use GIFs instead of pictures

Personalization and Synchronicity

What happens when you get an email that begins with “Hello there!” Instant *delete* – right? Add some personalization to your emails, syncing in as much information as you have about your recipient. The name is a bare minimum. How about a date of the last conversation, or a neighbourhood you know they’re interested in? Keep it personal – and keep them interested.

Remember my name and I will like you; remember my eye colour and birthday, and I will never stray from you. We are using personalization and segmentation tools with our own email blasts, web visits, and content creation. In 2018, it’s so easy.

Kill It with Content

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: pre-selling real estate is all about selling the dream – the golden haloed story about the future.

We’ve been pitched on all manner of new marketing directions. VR kits: from goggle-sized all the way to full headgear virtual reality craziness. AI websites: artificial intelligence that learns how to interface with buyers. Full sales centre facial recognition technology: to ensure your leads are happy during every moment of the purchase journey.

It’s a combination of expensive, nerdy, and not even remotely scalable.

But great content: that is gonna continue to be the way. Video, renderings, Instagram cards, neighbourhood photography, home buying guides, better living journals… whatever the medium, make it relevant to your audience. Our rule is simple: inform them, educate them, and/or entertain them, but always – ALWAYS – be telling a story.

Get Micro

It’s unlikely that Jay-Z or Gisele will endorse you or in any way become a part of your project marketing mix. Meh.

Interestingly, brands that we really fall in love with often use like-minded, on-brand micro-influencers in their brand activations, with significantly more success than mega-influencers. Intuitively, it makes sense. Who really gives a crap if Bono says Ray Bans will get you laid. We all know he’s found what he’s looking for – and that the man has no need for Ray Bans. Who can relate to that?

But what if a normal person, with a normal job, and a normal-ish life, who happens to blog about the local cocktail scene, says, “Come on down to Portfolio for a cocktail event this Friday, and check out the best kitchens in Calgary”? Well, if they have 0–1,000 followers, the rate of engagement averages around 10–15 percent, and for 1,001–4,000 followers it’s about 5–7 percent. Bigger influencers with over 100,000 followers average less than 1 percent engagement. You do the math.

Micro-influencers are often more effective, way cheaper (usually in the hundreds of dollars), and much more localized – just like real estate.

Tap into Life Events

It’s pretty obvious that people will devote a lot of time and research to a new home purchase. This is a huge life event. A full 50 percent of new home buyers start their research 6–12 months in advance. This fact alone should inform your projects marketing phases. Think much earlier awareness campaigns, and long-term retargeting opportunities.

As the old saying goes, things happen in threes: life events and significant moments included. According to Google, people searching real estate listings are 5 times more likely to search about retirement planning, and 4 times more likely to be looking for childcare. These people are going through major life changes, and these events dramatically shift shopping habits and normal brand loyalties.

Here’s another interesting Google nugget: people searching for new homes are 4 times likelier to be searching for interior design or furniture ideas. Lots of opportunities there, too.

We think it makes sense to look for ways to open up associations with like-minded brands and possible purchases. While developers and realtors should certainly care about homebuyers specifically, you should also be thinking about search and content strategies that leverage these trends.

The Lookbook

If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you know I like fashion. I like the parallel to real estate – a pile of commodity materials sold for many times their utility worth, fuelled by our most personal mythologies of desire and selfhood.

This year ima be hustling the lookbook. These collections of well-styled images will creatively tell the story of a project, and of the buyer’s amazingly sexy future life living there, while conveying the essence of the building’s brand.

The best luxury fashion brands are amplifying their bricks-and-mortar experience online, and lookbooks are key to this transition. Alluring photos showing people loving the lifestyle, with a little copy to lubricate the storyline: the secret sauce for a compelling lookbook.


Another little gem of storytelling I’m going to be throwing in front of clients this year is the idea of “fear of missing out” – FOMO, baby. Creating a sense of urgency, and yield management through the fear of loss. Magical!

We don’t even tickle the idea in real estate, other than the old-school (and pretty weak) “create a lineup at the sales centre” trick. Back to our ever-important digital experience: what if you could see how many people were looking at the unit or floor plan you really want?

Methinks people go to real estate websites today and generally think the large-ticket items we sell are stable, and without much velocity. Let’s show them how scarce and limited some or all of your product really is. Picture this: “Oh my god, honey, 157 people have looked at the northwest unit on the 19th floor. Yeah, the one we want with the mountain view. Can you call Melvin the sales guy ASAP?!”

Together with great assets, lookbooks, and compelling content, 2018 just might be the year that real estate marketers close the gap between sales centres and consumer chosen digital experiences. Let’s use some new thinking to innovate around the complex nature of how our home buyers purchase.

Life Continues to Be Tremendous

2017 was a year that brought a glimmer of hope to a dark-souled, stoic young calf like me (segment: Gen X):

  • Infant mortality rates continue to fall, death at the hands of another human are slim (in Canada), and a horrible demise via small virus or bacterium is minuscule.
  • It seems like for the first time, the glass ceiling of sexual inequality, abuse, and bullshit has had the guts ripped out of it with #metoo. Scumbags of the world, be scared. Be very scared.
  • Inequality between the wealthiest and poorest nations has continued to decline.
  • The economy is humming along nicely in both Canada and the USA.
  • Alien life is out there (I just read this and am convinced little green men must be buzzing around at the speed of light… I mean, two billion habitable planets in our galaxy alone??)
  • Annnnd, America is being made great again. (Or something?)

In 2018, hug your kids a bit more, help an old person lug their groceries to their car, tell the people you care about that you love them, and let Verv help you try out some of the above trends on your amazing new real estate project.

Life is a helluva story.