“Most people do not truly understand marketing… many confuse it with advertising/promotion. In actuality advertising, promotion, social marketing, direct mail, public relations and most other commonly used definitions of marketing are all forms of promotion. Promotion is only one of four pillars of a marketing strategy.” – Phil Lemler on Marketing HSV
Building the marketing strategy starts by accurately defining the product and target market.
If we are spending dollars to attempt to attract consumers who are less likely to buy our product (or in our case, move to the Village), we are not maximizing our marketing investment. And, we are spending money that could be used to target potential property owners who are most likely to move here. Every dollar wasted is irretrievable! For example, it is not that millennials or families with children are not interested in living in HSV (or that we don’t want them here), it is just that with a fixed marketing budget we need to focus our dollars on the “most likely” candidates who might be interested in living here. And that, in most peoples’ opinions (and the national statistics support this), is retirees. Money spent on marketing to millennials/Gen Xers is an inefficient waste of money. The CMP proposes to spend 40% of our marketing budget on the wrong market… this creates a plan that can never succeed!
Deciding what kind of community we are and who is most likely to want to live here is the first critical step to any marketing plan. On a limited budget we cannot target everyone… we must have a focused approach!
In marketing terms, the more we can differentiate our Village from other similar ones, the more effectively we can market the Village, and the more successful we will be.
Companies, big and small, seek to differentiate their products from the competition. Chick fil A did this in the chicken sandwich market. Blue Buffalo did this in the pet food market. One of the best examples is when 7 Up became the “uncola” to compete in the soft drink marketplace. They all do this because they can be more successful by separating their products in the consumer’s mind (marketing is mostly psychological). They promote what makes them different as a “benefit” to their potential consumers. Otherwise, all products tend to be perceived as the same. Pay close attention to product advertising… their goals are to manage the “perception” of their products.
If we examine HSV, and our product’s position in the marketplace, we can see the opportunities. If we market ourselves as an active lifestyle community, we will be competing with active lifestyle communities all over the U.S. and there are many! By differentiating ourselves as an active lifestyle “retirement” community, we begin to differentiate ourselves from some of these other competing communities. By further differentiating our product to an active lifestyle community with a substantial golf element, we further define our product into a very unique and desirable target market. We are unique in that we are the only active lifestyle retirement community in America with nine (9) championship golf courses. This takes us from a marketing environment where we are competing with hundreds of other communities to one where we are the only one. We become a big fish in a small pond versus a small one in a big pond!
We cannot afford to waste money!
HSV should concentrate its marketing and advertising dollars on retirees who like golf. This does not suggest we should not highlight all of the other HSV benefits in our marketing message, but we should focus on retirement and golf. With a limited marketing and advertising budget, this gives us the best “bang for our buck”. We can then structure an advertising/promotional program that communicates to retiree/potential retirees who golf.
The biggest mistake made in marketing, is marketing to ourselves. In other words, “we came here for the trails” … so let’s advertise our trails. We should not rely on our own personal reasons for coming here (when creating our marketing platform) and we should develop a message (and marketing strategy) that is likely to attract the most people for our marketing/advertising investment. One that takes advantage of, and highlights, the benefits that makes our village unique.
Advertising through Oak Lawn, “explore the village” packages, local/regional magazines, active lifestyle/leisure conventions/shows and most of the other marketing/advertising efforts we have tried are fatally flawed and a general waste, or certainly misuse, of advertising dollars. Our lack of growth has been because of poor marketing models and a general misunderstanding of marketing itself. And, the results speak for themselves!
As products/companies mature, the market becomes more mature and it becomes more challenging to attract customers, primarily because successful products bring more competition. Years ago, HSV brought people here with mass advertising but today, there are more retirement communities and options. We now need to become an excellent marketing organization. It is similar to Apple releasing the iphone… it was much easier to sell in its earlier stages but now, Samsung, LG and others are all in the market. Apple now has a more challenging marketing environment.
Excellent marketing comes from building the right marketing foundation (the right product and the right target market). Just as a house will never be right without a level foundation, our Village will continue to struggle without the proper marketing foundation. You can look at our recent marketing history and see why we have failed!
This all relatively simple, if we get our marketing right. We can increase home building here, improve property values, enhance our infrastructure and solve our financial problems … without increases in POA fees!
I am happy to answer any questions or provide/share details regarding my marketing background. Please send questions to: