The thing about homebuilding is many CEOs come from construction and often struggle with marketing. They know 2x4s, not KPIs. But everything I know about marketing came from Knoodle’s first client, Fulton Homes. And 24 years later, Fulton Homes remains our biggest client and our biggest advocate.
Fulton Homes CEO Doug Fulton didn’t come from homebuilding. His career started in retail. While he didn’t know construction when he began to work for the new family business as a Marketing Director when I met him in 1991, he knew how to generate sales, move merchandise and pivot when the buyers wanted something he wasn’t offering. He was looking to brand Fulton Homes, connect with the buyers and sell the communities he built, not just the individual homes. And this was the beginning of what cemented a good marketing strategy for Fulton and for Knoodle.
Over time, the Fulton Homes brand found its niche and differentiator in the marketplace. It evolved from shared master plans with other homebuilders to exclusive Fulton Homes communities that ARE different from competitors. They have more dramatic entrances, gathering spots, resort-style amenities, lush, mature landscaping and multiple floor plans. In addition, they have thousands of ways to personalize the home with the help of a 12,000 square foot design center and a team of interior designers.
I am still CEO of this Phoenix marketing company and I love working with those in construction and real estate. So often, these companies are born out of family businesses with a rich history that becomes the fabric of their communities. They tend to be traditional, patriotic individuals who want to give their buyers a piece of the American dream. And while I may not be able to take on another single family home builder in the Phoenix market, I am in love with the category and freely go to any other market.
Home building continues to influence Knoodle’s work, lately with video.
Video has become one of the biggest tools in homebuilding today. With 97% of buyers between the ages of 24 and 57 beginning their search for a home online, (according to the National Association of Realtors), video has become crucial. A well-produced video connects the buyer to a home, or in some cases, a homebuilder, through emotion. This year, in particular, we found new ways to drive business to the communities with the use of video.
- Does your community have a story? Start with a documentary.
The new Fulton Homes neighborhood, Barney Farms in Queen Creek, had a story. Two important East Valley families with a robust history, came together to make this 12,293-acre community a reality. The Fulton family and the Barney Family. Both families are well known for their philanthropy and deep roots in the area. The documentary featured interviews from prominent family members as well as extensive footage of the community, showing off the many amenities including the deep water lake. We ran it in the local movie theater- two seven minute segments- that ended up sending potential buyers directly to the community. The documentary also lives on the Fulton Homes website on the Barney Farms community page.
- Incorporate lifestyle into your video
We have done video for years – drone photos, animation and informative videos. This year we incorporated people into the messaging to better illustrate the experience of living in a Fulton Homes community. We did these “Experience” videos in :60, :30 and :10 versions for use on television and social media for Barney Farms, Promenade, Escalante and Cooley Station communities.
- Show off amenities
In order to differentiate Fulton Homes from other homebuilders we wanted to draw attention to the resort style amenities that now grace every Fulton Homes community. These include aquatic centers, basketball courts, pickleball, bocce ball, playgrounds and walking trails. At Barney Farms this also includes a deep water lake – perfect for kayaking and outdoor picnics.
- Demonstrate options and personalization
We currently have a video series underway which further tells the story of the difference between Fulton Homes and the other builders. Many builders are reducing the ability to personalize homes and downsizing their design centers and buyers’ ability to choose the items in their homes. This represents an opportunity for Fulton Homes to shine. According to our research, those looking to buy a home in the next year are between the ages of 21 and 44. The power of personalization is big with millennials on everything from phones to homes.
- Reduced MLS inventory creates opportunities for homebuilders
With less than a two-month supply on MLS in the Phoenix market, some are realizing that new homes are a great option for a quick move in and personalization without fighting through the process of offers. Maricopa County is the number one destination to move to in the U.S. right now. There aren’t many resale homes available and not everyone wants to live in apartments and condo, particularly if they have families and pets. This messaging is hitting all of our videos and ads for the rest of the year.
There you have it. At Knoodle, our work to impact our client’s sales has an equal impact on our agency and shapes our constantly evolving approach to marketing.
About the author: Rosaria Cain is CEO of Knoodle, a marketing firm. While she oversees all company operations, she handles cause marketing promotions personally. She has taught marketing, is former president of the National Association of Women Business Owners and consults with businesses on the viability of cause marketing and other strategies.