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.

Make an Impact with Corporate Philanthropy

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” Charles Dickens

Corporate giving is a year-round activity, but with the holidays upon us, it’s an apt time for all business owners and executives to reflect on their philanthropic efforts.

There are several ways for a company to act philanthropically, it can offer contributions to non-profits directly, fundraise on their behalf, match employee donations, begin a charitable foundation itself, provide free or reduced-fee services, volunteer its employees’ time, and many others. Most large corporations have outstanding corporate giving and community support programs: Google has given local non-profits in the San Francisco Bay Area over $60 million since 2012; Microsoft matches employee donations to charitable organizations, and has helped employees raise over $1 billion; and Deloitte has undertaken more than 1,000 pro bono projects, logging more than 340,000 hours towards these projects.

It’s important to point out that you need not be an industry giant like the above companies to support your community and make a difference in the world. Nearly all our clients, many regional leaders in their industries, such as PBA Land & Development, Wiegers Financial & Benefits, and Loraas Disposal Services, have incredible philanthropic efforts. We ourselves offered over 500 hours of sponsored consulting work to non-profits and entrepreneurs, and we’re but a team of 15. Even small companies and entrepreneurs can give back to their communities in a big way.

Why do companies do this? There are three main reasons companies give back:

  • Moral: Because they have a duty to do good
  • License to Operate: To gain permission from community to be in business
  • Reputation: To improve their image

Yes, two of those reasons appear less than altruistic, but giving is always a complicated combination of true altruism, personal gratification, and self-promotion. Giving can still be mainly altruistic, even though there are indirect rewards. Companies should not perform a pure cost-benefit analysis to factor in lost wages, gained publicity, tax-deductions, and goodwill, and so on before supporting a cause, because giving must be authentic. People will see through it otherwise. If a company gives the bare-minimum level of support and then craftily tries to promote itself, the public, partners, and employees will see through it. Make sure you are authentically trying to make a difference, and don’t be surprised or feel guilty if you benefit indirectly.

So, what are these indirect benefits?

  • Become more involved in the community
  • Form new connections and partnerships
  • Unify your team
  • Establish and solidify corporate culture
  • Improved employee morale
  • Make your community a better place to work and live
  • Earn the respect of your employees and clients
  • Publicity
  • That warm glow you get from giving

To make the biggest impact with corporate giving, companies must align it with their strategy, from an enterprise, human resources, and marketing perspective. You cannot just give a hand out to whoever asks or expect your staff to volunteer haphazardly. Determine which causes align with your brand and values, detail clear criteria for which ones you will support, plan for your staff and partners to fundraise or volunteer together, and infuse your communications with non-promotional messages about the causes you support and your actions to support them. Philanthropy that aligns with a company’s strategy is natural and authentic.

When your philanthropic initiatives are natural and authentic, it makes marketing them easy. You can share images and videos of your team at events; engage with causes you support on social media; hold a fundraiser in your name; or run a social media charity campaign to leverage your audience for good. Getting out in the community is its own form of marketing. If your culture is in-line with your brand, as it should, then your employees’ interactions at these events will promote what makes your company special.

So, whether you’re big or small, and whether you donate, volunteer, or campaign, give this season and all the others. You’ll do good and in doing good find you and your partners have done well.