Sell the Culture. Not the Features.

Consumers today are savvier and more demanding than they’ve ever been. They don’t just want something that simply checks all the boxes, they want to be a part of something greater. Something that reflects their tastes, their values and their aesthetic sensibilities. Consumers want this reflected in all facets of their life: their choice of a home or an apartment; in their choice of office space and the company for which they work; they want it in their food choices and how it’s grown, procured and transported; they want it in their choice of beverage; and where they meet their friends. We’re all motivated by different drivers, but we are all much more aware of how those drivers cause others to perceive us than previous generations. It’s time to sell the culture, not the features.

Previously, seeking a standout residence, whether it be a home or an apartment, wasn’t of primary importance to all but the very few. Previous generations either lived in a ranch house in suburbia, or a condo or apartment in the city. And the residence was more a reflection of what you could comfortably afford. Rather than be enticed by a $150,000 car, you drove an American or Japanese brand that was much like the others on the road. Even our in-home entertainment was unilaterally the same, whereas now you can choose to have an immersive experience or one that mimics the clarity and sound quality of a theater. There wasn’t a concern for organic or genetically modified food or even sourcing where the food was grown. You weren’t defined by what you drank, but rather enjoyed the same beer or soda as your peers.

So how does this translate into selling your company’s services or products today? Your office space or condos?

It’s time to sell the culture

To be successful, it is important to understand that consumers are aware that most all of their purchases say something about them to their peers. Therefore, you must develop a culture around your product and a brand that can translate into a story. We all want to be associated with a high degree of quality – but how does that figure into your product’s culture?

Rather than simply listing the amenities of your condominium development, for instance, develop a personality for the community that differentiates it from others in the market. Because, more likely than not, the competition has a very similar set. Make it innovative and something that has an element with which your target buyer will identify. And translate that story in the media and via the mediums that your buyers view, read and find entertaining. Translate it into the furniture, finishes and technology. It can all be vastly different from competitors, becoming something memorable and genuine.

Many of us join clubs and organizations that invariably say something about us. While they don’t define us, they do tell bit of the story of who we are and what we enjoy doing – whether it’s tennis, golf, sailing, swimming, art or embracing philanthropic cause. Regardless of the focus, bringing passion and a sense of identity to the marketing equation will raise the bar on the competition for whatever you’re selling – be it residential, hospitality, professional services, or a consumer product.

When you see the new Masarati commercials, you’re not focused on the luxurious interior or even, perhaps, its performance – as there are quite a few performance vehicles on the market with a smaller price point. But consumers are focused on what driving that car says about them. Same with driving a Tesla. It’s also a luxury vehicle, but by choosing a Tesla, they’re also making a statement that they enjoy a well-engineered and well-designed car, but are also motivated by their environmental footprint.

A condominium or apartment development can be the same. Bring out the culture of the environment you’re creating, which isn’t a sum of its amenities, but a greater sum that says something about the residents who choose to live there. What story can be conveyed? Is it that residents like the newest in eco-environments? Or is it more a story about influence and prestige? And how is that translated into a definitive brand? Is that story compelling to the targeted demographic and its market – and how best to convey it?

Today, there are so many more vehicles with which to tell your story; broadcast, online, search, print, social, video, etc. One tactic with which we have found great success is producing 2 – 3 minute ‘film shorts’. These allow you to tell your story visually and literally, building it around the culture being created. The film is long enough to convey a message, and short enough to keep attention and spur imagination.

For residential specifically, we’ve also discovered that while electronic brochures and information is necessary, having a printed piece that conveys the quality and the story continues to be important. The paper, the size and the visuals all convey the story to your audience – and allows them to become part of the marketing mix as they share information and the materials with others. When the brochure delivers a story or culture with which they identify, it becomes a brag book. And the development will become the topic of conversations. And that’s when you become a success.

When the culture is genuine; when the story line you’ve created is being absorbed and shared; when others want to be a part of something that special, that innovative, and that limited. Because there’s always a limit on what’s available. And if it’s put together creatively and with a unified voice, the product won’t be on the market for long!