If last year has taught us anything at all, it’s that sometimes extraordinary events can spring seemingly out of nowhere and knock us off course. Here, Rare Breed outlines why now isn’t the time for taking a chance on marketing your development – and what you can do to avoid it.

An Ideal Home survey from a few years ago suggested that it took the average UK house-hunter just eight minutes to decide to buy a house – incredible considering this is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make in our lives.

In reality though, with desk research forming such a huge part of the house-hunting process, it’s possible to check out every minute detail online – from the precise dimensions of the place itself to snooping on the neighbours’ Facebook page for signs of raucous parties.

So by the time we commit to a viewing, we already have the facts and figures; all we need to establish now is whether it feels right.

The whole process is, of course, a good deal harder for anyone involved in selling a brand new development. After all, how do you create the all-important emotional response with little more than a building site, a floor plan and a brochure?

The answer is to create a compelling idea for your development that helps people envisage what life might be like if they move in – but with stiff competition and market uncertainty, what are the best tactics for ensuring your development stands out from the crowd?

Set a marketing objective

All too often, branding and communications for a new development is treated like a hoop to be jumped through – a necessity rather than a real opportunity to make a commercial difference to the launch.

The starting point for this is to set clear objectives for what you want your marketing materials to achieve. What are the key messages you need your buyers to remember? What is your biggest obstacle to success?

The right partner will always help you to define this. Because, frankly, without an objective, even the smallest investment in marketing materials will be a shot in the dark. You’ve come this far – now’s not the time for playing a Chance card with your brand. After all, it’s not Monopoly money.

Focus on the Big Idea

From here, it’s about identifying and defining a stand-out idea that will deliver on your goals. Creating emotional connection with your potential buyers and maximising competitive advantage is always going to be more convincing if your brief focuses around identifying the strategic idea or a strong narrative that encapsulates what makes your development unique.

Avoid humdrum logos by embracing an identity that tells a compelling story to buyers and investors alike – maybe about the heritage of the site itself, the sustainability credentials of the build, or its proximity to a local attraction.

Channelling the agent’s knowledge of the local area, competition and target demographic is vital to really pin down the ‘Who, What, Why and When’ of taking the development to market – and ensures that you’re equipping them with the right tools for the job of selling your homes as swiftly as possible.

Embrace the local community

For off-plan purchases, communications necessarily focus less on what the property looks like and more on what the area is going to offer your buyers.

This is the time to really embrace the local community so that you can bring to life all its character and charm in the collateral you produce. Get to know the hottest spots for a night out, a lazy weekend breakfast or a delicious takeaway at the end of a busy week; find out about the local heroes – the beloved greengrocers that’s been around for decades, the mechanic who goes the extra mile or the after-school centre that’s a lifeline for working parents.

A shout out for local businesses, community groups or other facilities can give a real boost to an area, at the same time as helping buyers get a great feel for what it’s like to live there. And if there’s been any local resistance during the planning stages, it can also provide welcome reassurance for the doubters.

Pick your channels

Lastly, we’re big believers that you don’t have to have a huge marketing budget to get real creative impact for your development. Tapping into your target market will not only lead to the big idea – but also to an understanding of the best place to put it.

The channels that hit the spot with first-time buyers, for instance, might be quite different from those aimed at families or down-sizers or high-flying professionals. Understand your buyers (and any other relevant interested parties – parents chipping in with a deposit, investors etc.) and focus your energies on what will really hit the spot for them.