Re: Seeking Marketing Advice
From: Craig Ragland (craigraglandgmail.com)
Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2007 21:45:25 -0700 (PDT)
Mary, WiseAcres is great - I really enjoyed meeting with you folks when you
hosted the NICA meetings a few years ago. It would be great if some of you
would come participate in NICA events... we missed you at our annual Summer
Gathering of a couple of weekends ago - it was a wonderful event out at the
Goodenough Community retreat center Sahale.

STEP 1
Help your community get over the confusion on whether or not WiseAcres is a
cohousing community. You look like one, smell like one, and, I believe, meet
all six of the criteria published by Coho/US (described here on the IC Wiki,
also see the link to what is NOT COHOUSING):

http://wiki.ic.org/wiki/Six_defining_characteristics_of_cohousing

You are a cohousing community, even though the development of WiseAcres
preceeded the initial 1990s growth spurt of the cohousing movement.
Actually, quite of few of us in the PNW are cohousing variants in a variety
of ways, e.g. Sharingwood coho (lot model, with no common house for years),
Songaia coho (conversion from an "intentional community" with a common house
for 10 years before units were buit), Maxwelton Creek Cohousing (8 wildly
different custom Whidbey Island homes on 20 acres of land), Winslow Coho
(one of the few coho cooperatives), etc.

STEP 2
Make it clear on your website that you are cohousing... MANY people believe
they know what cohousing is and find it of much more interest than other
forms of community, which they are generally confused about.

STEP 3
Add more about your community to your website - perhaps its just exposing
some of the private content (behind your member "wall") to the public? Or,
it may be posting photos, maps, content about your vision, life together,
etc. - just check out other cohousing websites.

For many of us cohousers, our websites were core outreach vehicles, enabling
prospective members to discover us. About half of Songaia's 13 family
members first learned about us via the web. And that was pre-2000, when the
web was much less commonly used.

STEP 4
Develop your free online presence on other highly related websites. One of
your other members asked me to list the home on the NICA (Northwest
Intentional Community Association) website on our "Communities Seeking
Members" page and here 'tis:

http://www.ic.org/nica/seeking.htm
(by the way, there's a link to their website and the house for sale on this
page)


That's an OK place for a listing, but as I told that person, the NICA site
gets a small fraction of the traffic (albeit highly targeted) that either
the FIC or Coho/US directory receives.... which brings us to an inconvenient
truth:

I'm afraid that your Communities Directory listing:

http://directory.ic.org/records/?action=view&record_id=6352
(by the way, there's a link to their website and the house for sale on this
page)

is just awful.

Very few people will ever find your listing because your record lacks any
search criteria - except your name and location. And even fewer would follow
the link to visit your website... (and, as mentioned in STEP 2and listings
like yours are not even included in the Cohousing Directory:

http://directory.cohousing.org

To appear in the cohousing directory, you need to post enough information
publicly about yourself so that our directory editors actually believe that
you are a real cohousing community... see this IC Wiki page for more on that
and how to get in the cohousing directory:

http://wiki.ic.org/wiki/Communities_Directories

This page also includes some other directories that might also apply to your
community... are you also an Ecovillage? Songaia decided that it isn't
really one (at least not yet). However, there are plenty of all types of
communities that claim that title, including the classic "egalitarian"
community Twin Oaks!!!

For many cohousing communities, the two Directory listings are the largest
single source of web traffic from people who don't already know about you...
and it costs you nothing, other than the time to build out a decent listing
- really just a few hours.

I've lovingly crafted Songaia's listing (which appears in both directories)
for several years now. So here's a pretty well developed listing (in the
Coho/US version) for contrast with yours:

http://directory.cohousing.org/us_list/?action=view&page=view&record_id=1533

STEP 5
With a house at that price point, it would also be really smart to pay for
online classified ads on both the Coho/US site and the FIC site. They both
offer incredible values compared to almost any other advertising venues
(just check out the price for a one day listing in the Seattle Times). You
might also consider Google Adwords - but you really NEED a decent
destination page.

STEP 6
Get over the "we only communicate about ourselves when we have something to
sell" mentality. You really need a persistent presence and need to take
names... You need to let people give you their email addresses from your
homepage. Anyone who goes to Songaia's homepage:

http://www.songaia.com

can scroll to the bottom of the page and subscribe to our Songaia
Announcements list. Its a really low volume list and they can very easily
unsubscribe whenever they want. It was core to filling the last 4 rentals
that came up at Songaia. In the case of one rental, the owner got a response
from the person that rented from us 2 hours after I sent out the
announcement. We've actually had great luck getting influential people in
the communities movement tracking us and passing information on to their
friends and family.

STEP 7
Network with others of us in the movement... we had 5-6 community seekers at
the last NICA meeting - one couple (with money) has visited a bunch of
cohousing communities in the NW, but hasn't found one that has units for
sale that they like. Maybe they would have visited Wise Acres if you had
been there to tell people about your community's rare opening.

The Northwest and the Mid-atlantic (MAC) are two of the few regions with
active regional groups. Its sometimes surprising how few people living in
community, who spend lots of time reading and writing about community (on
this listserv, for example) actually come to workshops or retreats or
presentations or gatherings to network and share with others who are also
living lives in community. Most of these events are very low cost and we
consistently get great feedback about them.

STEP 8
Post questions like you did to lists like this one - but include links to
your directory listings (after you build them out) and your website (after
you built it out).

I don't really have many other highly relevant community listservs to point
you at... but if you discover them, please help grow the movement by posting
them to the IC wiki here:

http://wiki.ic.org/wiki/Email-based_lists

P.S. Here's the IC Wiki listing on this Listserv:

http://wiki.ic.org/wiki/Cohousing-L

Good luck!
Craig Ragland
Songaia Cohousing
Coho/US Board Member

----------------

From: "mary rain" <maryrain [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: [C-L]_ Seeking Marketing Advice
To: cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org
Cc: info [at] wise-acres.org
Message-ID: <BAY120-F24DDF0965A06FDC0523000DCF40 [at] phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed

Wise-Acres Cooperative is a small intentional community (9 households) in
Indianola, WA that infrequently has opportunities to join.  The last time a
house sold here was four years ago! In fact, in our 15 year existence, there
have been only 4 sales in total. We do maintain a strong and positive
presence in the greater area, but Indianola is a rather small, waterfront
town, so word does not seem to travel far.  Does anyone have advice for
effective advertising/marketing venues, communication networks, etc... to
reach folks who are interested in being an active participant in our
cohousing community and would love to move to Indianola, WA? We currently
have an opening, and are wishing we had built a mailing list when the need
was not imminent.  Thanks!

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