Re: Marketing efforts that worked well?
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2014 05:45:56 -0700 (PDT)
Hello Carolyn —

Congrats your cohousing community initiative in Iowa!  I’m a veteran of RAGBRAI 
(annual mega-big bicycle tour that crosses the state West to East) so I have a 
fondness for Iowa and the very friendly folks who live in this lovely state.

I understand from your email that you are submitting your site plan to the 
zoning commission — a real milestone — but you have only about one-third the 
number of household of the total needed?

A lot of questions.

It’s not clear to me what you are asking in your email.

Are you asking this list for additional marketing strategies?
It looks as if you are employing an array of marketing and outreach avenues.  
Are you asking for review of the strategies you are currently using?  Do you 
know which of your strategies is producing the most conversions to membership?  
How did the members you currently have find you?

What is your marketing time frame?  By when do you need ____number of 
households to proceed to the next level.

What do you think the barriers are for joining your group?
House prices?
Time line to completion?

Who handles inquiries?
Who handles follow up? 

And on and on and on …

A couple of observations about this email.   You mention you have a website but 
you don’t have a link to it in your email that I found.  I could search for it 
but I’m not so inclined to spend my time doing that this morning. Did you just 
lose a potential member?   In sales — which is what you’re in — the easier you 
make it for people to find you — the better.  My second observation is there is 
no signature block.  In the signature block for every single member of your 
group for every single email (except business/work of course) should be some 
tag line about your community, phone, email and web contact information.

Marketing is part science and mostly art.  Everyone in your group is a walking, 
talking, living, breathing invitation to others to join the group.  Does 
everyone in the group have that as their “mission?”

Much luck to you and your group, Carolyn.  I’d be interested in knowing how 
well the NPR ads have paid off for you.  BTW - didn’t even touch social 
marketing — I assume you are doing the FB, Twitter thing?


Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church VA

On Jun 29, 2014, at 11:30 PM, Carolyn Dyer <cdyer1621 [at]> wrote:

> Iowa City Cohousing, which is in the process of submitting our site plan to
> the city planning and zoning commission and has about one-third of the
> needed member households, regularly asks folks who express and interest in
> us how they learned about us.  Most often people mention  an announcement
> on Iowa Public Radio.  We have done them 3 or 4 times and they are repeated
> about 10 times over a couple of weeks.  Expensive, but a good audience.
> We hold informational meetings 2 times a month and post posters in area
> businesses and libraries.  We have put ads in the programs of the city's
> summer arts festival, the program of a performing arts center, and notices
> in all the online calendars of events we can find and qualify for. Word of
> mouth is important, too.
> We hold a "Friends of Iowa City Cohousing" meetings once a month at which
> we have a speaker on a topic of interest to us that  we hope other people
> who will find interesting and then learn about us in the process.  Examples
> of topics include: natural play areas, a project in which an area town is
> putting the whole community on a solar grid, edible landscapes, how to  get
> funds for a down payment from a home equity loan or second mortgage, and
> sustainable storm water management.
> We have developed an email mailing list of about 200 people who have
> expressed even the slightest interest, and we notify people about every
> event.
> We also have field trips open to anyone on our mailing list--to many
> different small houses, places using different kinds of heating and cooling
> systems, a salvage barn, IKEA to see kitchen layouts, to another cohousing
> community, etc.  The field trips are fun, and  people get to know  us on
> the sometimes long rides and meals we share along the way. People have
> joined right after one or another of our field trips. In my view, all these
> things add up.  As time goes on, more and more people are familiar with us
> and an ad or poster or announcement finally strikes a chord and moves a
> person to attend an informational meeting. and follow up.  Our website
> contains a great deal of information about us, our values, our site, etc.
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