Best Places to Advertise for New Members
From: Pam Rank (pamrankfresnocohousing.org)
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2008 15:26:23 -0800 (PST)
Greetings!

I am currently working with the fresno group to help sell the balance of their 
homes & so I thought I'd share some of the things we are working on. 
First, nothing is moving for us. We've had some good prospects but it appears 
everyone is hunkering down & waiting to see what will happen next with the 
economy. However we still get a good number of persons stopping by, checking 
our website & contacting our 800# with interest, given this I can say with 
confidence that our efforts are being noticed & I believe as soon as public 
perception changes a bit - we'll sell.

So, here is what we are doing: We have placed advertising locally, and receive 
most of our Open House visits from either drive by interest or because of the 
newspaper listing. This is a fairly inexpensive option. Open House is held 
every Sunday from 1-3 & we have both a salesperson & homeowners on site to 
assist with tours. We also keep a sign in sheet at the open house to capture 
names & e-addresses so that we can connect with the guest within a couple of 
days after their visit to asses real interest. An e-invite is sent regularly to 
our database through Constant Contact $30. per month to invite folks to the 
Open House, share a pertinent article or an event. We try to do these weekly - 
but sometimes it's once or twice a month. 

We get ourselves in the news - fortunately as a new & only development in the 
area this has been fairly easy - But you have to keep finding a story to pitch 
- when we win an award, a press release goes out, we schedule an onsite event, 
press release, create a story about the pets of the community - send it to the 
local shelter newsletter... whatever, it takes constant thinking about "what's 
news" and get it out there. Actually I find this to be the fun part of the job. 
Our group is scheduled to appear on a local radio show this Thursday & we just 
appeared in a half hour local show just about us. All FREE & great advertising. 

We created a blog - Rick Mockler pitched this idea & I thought it was great so 
easily set one up (free again) through Blogger & right now we're encouraging 
the community to use it - kind of a day to day what's going on in community - 
then we'll have a link from our site to it so folks that find their way to the 
website have reason to stick around a bit. I also grab every opportunity to 
blog on every local forum possible to keep our name in people's minds.

Which brings me to the website - we're revamping ours a bit - we noted that 
while MOST of our web visits came from the cohousing.org ad (really cheap) 
folks were only spending about 66 seconds on our site & accessing 3 pages - so 
- we need to spend a bit of time revising this a bit to keep folks there - A 
couple of additions will be the blog & photos of the interiors of homes - a 
video walk through with a communtiy member talking about the green features - 
and more photos of activities and events in community. (Again, free).

In addition to all of this - we take out a classified with UU - I think this is 
best - it also gives us an online ad, an ad with the local Sierra Club, an ad 
in the local wellness magazine & we utilize the local organic vegetable 
delivery company as a vehicle for the occasional event flyer - 

So.... back to nothing is selling - here's where we are - the community has 
done a great job of creating a database of interested persons since the 
beginning of the project with notes on contact dates & where the person is in 
their decision making. Since we know that decision to join cohousing is a 
decision made with much thought - we are going to work from a strategy of 
creating a "must have" situation for interested persons. We have created our 
top 15 persons that have shown interest & are actively inviting them to 
community dinners and events. From talking with several of our homeowners with 
varying financial situations the unifying thread seems to be that it became a 
"Must Have" - they simply needed to find a way to make it work because they 
absolutely wanted to live in this environment.  

So - while all of the advertising efforts are very very very important I think 
the other part of this is creating a sincere connection between interested 
folks and the community so that they begin to ask the important "How Can I" 
questions. 

Anyways - that's my two cents.

Pam Rank
Fresno Cohousing / marketing & sales coordinator

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

From: Sharon Villines <sharon [at] sharonvillines.com>
Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 8:49 PM
To: Cohousing-L Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Best Places to Advertise for New Members 

On Dec 1, 2008, at 8:21 PM, Craig Ragland wrote:

> add a lot more to this after talking with about 30 people about how
> they are marketing their forming groups.

What forming groups are doing doesn't provide information about what 
gets a group to sold out and moved in. I think a better source of 
information on advertising is to find out where the people who 
currently live in cohousing heard about cohousing, what propelled them 
to take the next step of attending a meeting, and what helped them 
commit.

There are millions of opportunities to advertise, some relatively 
inexpensive and some very expensive. If groups can focus their efforts 
on the few venues that are most productive it would save a lot of time 
and money.

Learning about groups over the internet is quite likely to be more 
prevalent in 2008 than it was in 1998 but was that information in an 
ad or in the Cohousing Directory? From a link on a blog? Or the result 
of a search on cohousing and the name of a town or state? There is no 
money required to make a group visible on the internet.

What kind of people does a Google ad bring in? How many move in and 
stay?

Like the very expensive Utne Reader ad that produced many queries but 
no takers, there are a lot of "great ideas" out there. Which ones 
worked?

Sharon
----
Sharon Villines
Building Community in Coops, Condos, Cohousing, and Other New 
Neighborhoods
http://www.buildingcommunity.info

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