Monday, April 7, 2008

The Road to Nothing

I was driving home from work tonight, as I normally do, thinking about the day that I had. As I do day in and day out, I drove past a new housing development that is being built just a mile or so from my house. For years, planners and developers had talked of 5000 homes to be built on an enormous tract of land in the Southwest suburb of Richmond, VA.

They've recently begun work on constructing the walls that will grace the entrance outside of this new subdivision; grand masonry designed to get the attention of those that drive by, inviting prospective buyers to take a look beyond the walls. New flags wave at passers-by touting the great ammentities that await those willing to take the plunge and invest.

Today I decided to take a quick detour and see what the fuss was about. As I drove in I was impressed by the smooth, freshly painted asphalt road that lead up to...nothing.

Nada. Zero. Zilch.

Ok, well a sales trailer. But really, there was nothing.

Problem is, the housing market is in the dump, and this neighborhood is among a number of new developments in our area starving for folks willing to fork over a small fortune for new construction.

Think about being a home developer for a moment. Your job is to tie up huge amounts of cash in land for years, hoping to suck out what you can once you drop a house on it and sell it. I thought, sadly, what it must be like to be the marketing group for that developer doing everything they can to get someone to buy a house.

The recent activity at the entrance is obvious. They need buyers. They got my attention to come in, but did not deliver on the "promise" made at the curb. Perhaps they could have waited a bit to have a few models built, but then again the market is down, so any attention is good attention, right?


As marketers, it is our duty to provide sustained value to customers for the products or services we sell. Getting customers interested in what we sell is a matter of leveraging consumer insight, market conditions and trends, and creating the channel for which to communicate. If you do it right, and mix in a little bit of gut and experience, it should be pretty easy. Delivering on the promise, enabling a conversation about it, and sustaining interest of what you bring to market - now that's the hard part.

What do you think? Share a comment.

'Til next time!



Doug Meacham said...

Great example and message, Todd and congratulations on the launch of your blog.

Anonymous said...

They're having a lot of the same issues up here in Pennsylvania.

There are some construction companies in our township that have struggled to finish off their developments. In fact, the final lot was bought in a new neighborhood down the street from us. It took the developers over two years to finally finish selling off this development.

Other new developments that were due to start construction last year haven't even broke ground yet for fear of losing money, so they're sitting on the land with hopes of moving it or biding their time until the market heats up again.

It's pretty scary.