Marketing online Re: recognizing time versus financial investment in early days
From: Mariana Almeida (
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:17:14 -0700 (PDT)
On the subject of reaching digitally oriented folks - 
I've been doing marketing for a new app for home winemakers. It's a new product 
segment - so there aren't people searching for this product either on Google or 
in the app store. This is similar to the cohousing market in that many people 
want community but aren't aware such a thing exists.
What has been successful for us is advertising on Facebook. You need 1) an ad 
and 2) somewhere to point to ad to, like a landing page or website (here's the 
one for the app: You set 
the budget and you can "throttle it" so that you don't spend more than what you 
Then you target your ad very specifically based on your hypothesis of who is 
your target demographic.For example, women aged 50-60, who live in a metro 
area. Or "urban farmers" who belong to a Such and Such Facebook group. 

I'm happy to consult with folks who want take this approach. It's quite 
effective and not that hard.
Mariana AlmeidaBerkeley Cohousing

On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 4:39:50 AM PDT, Kathryn McCamant <kmccamant [at]> wrote:

RE: Marketing

With all due respect, Sharon, I think you’re experience in marketing cohousing 
was at a different time in the very strong Washington DC market. I too had the 
experience of thinking it was easy to market cohousing, selling out numerous 
projects before construction with relatively little effort. But that was not 
the experience in much of the rest of the country. Jim Leach in Colorado always 
told me the biggest issue with cohousing was marketing, how deep is the 
cohousing market really? Then the country suffered the housing bust of 2008-9, 
and I have found it to be much more challenging to find our committed buyers 
ever since, especially getting buyers to commit $$ to a project in the early 
stages. Add to that the fact that younger generations seek their housing in 
different ways than we did, much more digitally than flyers on bulletin boards. 
In fact, I think us “old timers” talking about how easy it was to market our 
communities has been a real disservice to new groups who feel like they are 
failing because people aren’t flocking to join them. 

I think this is one of the issues for the cohousing market. We expect people to 
“get it” with very little effort our on part. For an example, Shelly Parks who 
is a student in my 500 Communities class, says in her old job marketing more 
traditional senior housing developments she had a staff of 5 that was expected 
to make 20 “voice contacts” EVERY DAY! Following up with people.  I agree with 
you that personal networks are a great place to start, but most groups quickly 
run thru those and then need to really market their projects.  I think there is 
an ever evolving need to study what are the best practices for marketing 
cohousing and where should a group spend their marketing money (and yes, they 
need to spend money!), to get the biggest impact for their dollars. Different 
approaches make sense at different times in the development of the project, and 
different markets react differently. We’ve found placing spots on public radio 
to be pricy, but very effective. 

If we are going to grow the cohousing market, we need to mature our approach 
and be willing to spend money on marketing like the rest of the housing market 
does. Otherwise, we have a very limited market of “hard core communitarians.”  
And yes, I think it is important to grow the cohousing market because it is one 
of the ways we can “save the world” with great environmental and social 
sustainability.  Heaven knows, people living alone in their single family homes 
and apartments watching TV news isn’t going to take us in a healthier 


Kathryn McCamant, President
CoHousing Solutions

241B Commercial Street 

Nevada City, CA 95959

T.530.478.1970  C.916.798.4755

On 6/12/17, 9:14 PM, "Cohousing-L on behalf of Sharon Villines" 
< [at] on 
behalf of sharon [at]> wrote:

    > On Jun 12, 2017, at 11:05 AM, Michelle Keiserman <msmakman1 [at]> wrote:
    > We are a group of five enthusiastic households who want to bring cohousing
    > to Nevada.  Four of us are investing both the time and money ($2500 each 
    > far) for initial marketing to attract more members.  
    The first concern is spending money on marketing. I think few cohousing 
communities will say that marketing in the traditional sense placing ads or 
hiring consultants was profitable. One group, for example, bought an ad in the 
Utne Reader because a marketing consultant said that magazine’s profile matched 
the characteristics of cohousers. They got hundreds of responses and not one 
taker. It was a waste of time to just respond.
    Personal contact, flyers in health food stores, chiropractor’s offices, 
Unitarian Churches, Reform Synagogues, etc. have been much more productive. An 
ad on CohoUSA is different because that is your target market.
    > One individual has
    > invested that amount but does not have the time to dig in and help us get
    > the work done.  While we recognize the value each of us brings to this
    > effort, we are wondering if other communities have accounted in some way
    > for the time/effort invested in the early days. We are familiar with the
    > benefits of making an early financial commitment, but what if you've made
    > both and some other members cannot?
    I think most communities don’t and they should. Start out with levels of 
promise to households who are engaged and those who are not engaged. “Engaged” 
needn’t be measured, but if a household says from the beginning we have money 
but no time, clearly they are in a different level of commitment than those who 
are contributing both financially and working as well. Make room for everyone 
but balance the levels of privilege given to each.
    Begin accounting from the beginning. If the first households are investing 
$2,500, later joiners should contribute equal amounts or the first contributors 
receive greater discounts on their homes. One way or another, things need to 
feel balanced when you move in. And people who join later should recognize the 
importance of the contributions of the first members.
    Build a priority list of first to choose a house/unit based on commitments. 
This encourages people to join early on rather than sitting aside and watching.
    And: Everyone has 24 hours in a day. No one has more than anyone else. The 
issue is how each person prioritizes their time. There are temporary periods of 
overload with a new baby or caring for an aging parent, but people have to make 
room for building community now just as you will need them to build community 
after you move in. It won’t appear full blown when the last box is unpacked.
    Sharon Villines
    Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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