Industry Marketing Analysis: Home Developers 

“Home is where my habits have a habitat.”  

Homebuilding may have been one of the earliest activities humans have done, going back even farther than writing. This quote by American singer-songwriter Fiona Apple is one of an easy hundred thousand about the power, value, and importance of ‘a place to hang your hat.’  

As the Canadian population continues to grow, the number of roofs over our heads grows as well. But the last two years have presented a new series of challenges for home builders and developers, and the adaptation is likely not done yet: the next few years may present even greater challenges for the housing market. 

 

COVID-19 and the Alberta Housing Market 

The start of the pandemic marked the lowest gains in five years for housing starts; only $11.7 billion went through in April 2020. The subsequent return rally was quick, however, with May 2020’s total investment topping $14 billion. Since then, a steady rise above $19.6 billion has been enjoyed as late as April of 2021, but the moves are beginning to cool once again 

A major reason for the increased prices through the second quarter comes back to increased costs for materials, including lumber. But increased demand played a role as well; demand climbed for more living space in the wake of lockdowns across Canada. In fact, communities like Ottawa reported the largest annual growth of new housing prices in February, at an incredible 9.5% in just one year. 

This is not so in Alberta, though. Calgary saw the new housing price index drop by 1.1% from February to August 2020, and among 27 census metropolitan areas it was hit hardest of all, while others experienced growth. Other resource-driven communities saw the same trend, like Edmonton (-0.31%) and Regina (-0.96%). Saskatoon saw a modest rise of .10% and Vancouver jumped by 2.35% in the same period.   

Even as prices fell, construction costs for residential buildings rose at an unheard-of pace in Calgary of 31.4%. This combination doesn’t bode well for the housing market – but even so, the foundation for growth is there, compared to last year. The year-over-year increase of single-detached units is 40% for urban housing starts as of July 2021. Business is available, but tenuous.  

Further, the number of rentals available hasn’t been this high in nearly 25 years, adding another layer of competition to a saturated market.  

 

Fundamentals of the Canadian Housing Market 

From the chart here on alberta.ca, we see a significant return to housing starts action since the start of the COVID pandemic:  

Further, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation foresees steady growth in housing prices to close 2021, before rising interest rates slow housing activity for 2022-23. The Calgary Real Estate Board even tracked July numbers as the “best on record”. 

However, the industry is largely fueled by a high quantity of smaller-scale establishments, which service their specific geographic markets – which means it’s challenging to capture significant market share (IBISWorld, 2018). In a competitive market, it’s important for potential clients to see your company as a preferred choice. That, in turn, takes a compelling brand and a clear value proposition.   

Right now presents a great opportunity for brand awareness campaigns to elevate your image, especially given the present state of the market. If the CMHC is right and housing starts dip in the coming years, it’s simply good business to position your company for maximum returns.  

 

Reaching your Ceiling 

So, the industry is packed with competition: what can you do to rise above it? The first step will involve meeting with your team to establish and refine what you’re most proud to offer potential customers. Next, it’s time to upgrade your marketing activities to tell that story at every opportunity. 

 

Build the framework of your brand

The first step is to establish the brand from which the rest of your marketing material will bloom. For more on the importance of brand, see Rebrand Wins & Fails: The Right Way to Evolve a Brand.  

 

Shout it from the rooftops

In today’s world, there are many ways to get the message across. Social media platforms and traditional advertising methods present their own strengths, weaknesses, and demographics, and making sure you’re marketing to the right people is critical for defining your success. You and your team have a story; it might seem boring to the person living it, but someone else is always interested.  

 

Infuse the brand in everything you do

Having your information out there isn’t enough – a strong digital presence makes a world of difference. If you’re participating in social media, a constant and significant presence that aligns with pre-determined brand messaging is going to be critical to your success.  

Is a new build finished? Are you proud of it? Did a teammate achieve a new certification or ticket? It all adds to your story, builds familiarity and social proof, and strengthens your image.  

Marketing is by no means a catch-all solution, but as we head into potentially uncertain times, it’s an important component to future success. For a customized solution that identifies the best way to tell your story at the world, remember that the team at William Joseph is here to help!  

How to Celebrate Wins as a Company

So, you’ve set up your business’s social media accounts. You’ve invested in winning digital and traditional ads. You’ve spent hours trying to make your products and services accessible and clear – but even so, there’s still something missing. This can quickly become an obstacle, because studies show that people who are thinking about a new purchase want to research the company they’re buying from and form a strong connection with them.

Now, as millennials and Gen Z hold more and more influence, successful companies are adapting to the factors that matter most to these younger generations. For many, it’s not just about what companies sell. It’s about how the companies act, the values they maintain, and the culture they create. All of this adds up to a whole brand experience, which matters just as much – and for some, even more – than traditional marketing routes.

Important milestones, showing off your company’s culture, and being honest about philanthropy and successes should be a key part of your marketing strategy. Here are some ways to showcase those wins, the right way.

 

Celebrating Company Culture and Milestones

A great company culture is more than a monthly team lunch and some generic gift cards at the holidays. It involves getting to know each other, encouraging success, and making communications personal and profound. It takes more effort, but the rewards are immense.

When you have an amazing team that really connects, you’ll want to tell the world about it. This not only improves morale around the office, but it also shows current and prospective customers that your people are reliable and engaged. It shows that you value your employees and care about their success within your organization, which translates to a better perception of your business by those outside of it.

Remember that younger generations are putting more and more stock in how a company treats their employees, away from the PR campaigns and curated social posts. Highlighting the personalities and people behind your brand adds a personal touch, in a world of faceless tech giants and ever-increasing online capabilities. Showcasing the actual humans behind your company’s policies and practices gives personality, credibility, and authenticity to your brand.

In turn, this contributes to long-term company success, enabling milestones of growth or longevity – 1000 customers, 10 years in business, and so on. Look at these as ways for your whole network to celebrate, because they all helped make it happen, inside your organization and beyond its walls. Bring everyone in with spotlight posts, special sales, unique event branding, and more. Use your imagination, and as long as you keep it authentic, it will become one more part of your overall story.

 

How to Use Case Studies and Successes

Proven examples of your work will go a long way when attracting new customers – and you should be able to celebrate innovative, clever solutions to past problems you have encountered in your operations. Case studies and glowing reviews show off your expertise and reliability, while emphasizing your approach to creating solutions as well.

New customers and clients can envision their own successes by using your case studies as a metric. They also act as appreciation for your current client base, keeping them engaged and returning to your business for future endeavours.

 

What is Corporate Philanthropy?

Nurture the relationships within your community by contributing to its wellbeing. When you do, get comfortable talking about it! Get your current and new customers involved, too – as you position your brand as an industry leader and community pillar, it will keep your name top of mind and inspire others to follow suit. The benefits go beyond the organizations or people you are directly impacting; giving back can foster feelings of good will and trust towards you and your operations, too.

When it comes to chatting up your own accomplishments, it may seem like you are simply bragging for the sake of it. But look at it from an external perspective: your company culture is great, your employees are awesome, and your capabilities are always on the rise.

Don’t be afraid to show off your creativity and style, involve new voices and perspectives, and broaden your brand’s horizons. And don’t forget, if you need help – WJ is here! Our teams are ready to help you make the most out of your stories, and get your wins out in front of the world.

The Rise of the Virtual Meeting

With many organizations forced to go remote in 2020 (including us!), traditional meetings have been quickly swapped for a virtual meeting. And if it feels as though the shift happened overnight – it’s because it nearly did. In just one month, the video-conferencing app Zoom saw a spike of 728% in first-time app downloads. Society may have embraced the move to online workspaces, but virtual meetings are still completely new territory to many of us. If you’re suddenly navigating the world of online video conferencing, we’ve broken down some best practices and resources to help with the transition.

 

Choosing a Platform

First, ask yourself a few key questions to get a better idea of which meeting platform will best serve your needs. What is the nature of your meeting? Who is your audience? What is your budget? Your answers will help you choose between such options as social media live streaming, larger webinar platforms, or more basic video apps for one-on-one meetings.

Social Media

Each of the major social media platforms offers a live video function – a great tool for engaging with a large audience or making a company announcement. The built-in comment ability is perfect for Q&As and tutorials when you would like your audience’s input. Facebook and Instagram have the most user-friendly live video capabilities, while Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube need some extra set up. (But if the majority of your audience engages on these apps, it is worth filling out an application or downloading a third-party app to be able to use its live video feature! Read more about that here).

Webinars

“Webinar” is just another word for a virtual conference or event. Typically used for presentations, staff meetings, and other larger-group settings, a webinar platform can be particularly useful if you have a mailing list of people to whom you’d like to send a meeting invite and link. Some great webinar apps include:

  • Zoom Webinar
  • GoToMeeting
  • BlueJeans
  • Google Meet
  • WebEx
  • GotoWebinar

Each of these apps are compatible with mobile, laptop, and desktop, but the first four are better equipped for mobile than the last two.

One-on-Ones 

Unfortunately, gone are the days we can meet up for a quick coffee or a sit-down lunch with our clients and colleagues – at least for the time being. Instead, take your one-on-one meetings online with any of these free, easy-to-use apps for mobile or desktop:

  • Microsoft Teams (At least one person must have an Office 365 subscription)
  • Zoom
  • JoinMe (free trial)
  • Google Meet

 

Online meetings are now the glue that holds many remote teams and businesses together. Embrace them!

Running an Effective Virtual Meeting

If you are hosting a virtual meeting, preparing beforehand will help your meeting run more smoothly. It all comes down to keeping your audience engaged and focused. Here are some best practices you can implement:

Do Some Prep Work

Let your participants know of any “rules” or etiquette before your meeting starts; these may include dress code, muting microphones, or requiring the camera to be on.

Create an outline or agenda – just as you would for a normal meeting – and distribute in advance to help your audience follow along.

Have any relevant documents or website pulled up on your desktop if you choose to screen-share.

During the Meeting

Remember to introduce everyone in the meeting who has not previously met.

Give time before or after the meeting for casual conversation (don’t forget that meetings foster human connection, especially during this difficult time).

Be as interactive with participants as possible – ask questions and encourage input. This can help everyone feel like they are contributing.

Follow Up

Set a timeline for the next meeting and create an invite within 48 hours if possible.

Gather feedback from your attendees! Inquire as to what they thought worked or didn’t work, and implement some of their suggestions in the next meeting.

 

More Quick Tips!

  • Don’t post your Zoom meeting link publicly – you’ll risk strangers “Zoom-bombing” your meeting. Set and distribute a password only to invited/confirmed attendees.
  • Choose a platform that functions on all devices – for example, FaceTime only works on Apple products, and not everyone has a Skype login
  • If you want your audience’s full attention, choose a platform with a recording option and send them the video afterward, instead of them taking notes

 

Online meetings are now the glue that holds many remote teams and businesses together. Embrace them! They’re likely here to stay. Many statistics show that working from home leads to increased productivity, higher job satisfaction, and money saved. Learning how to host virtual meetings is sure to serve you in your current and future career plans.