Leading with authenticity has always been a hallmark of successful marketing and that has never been more true than in my work with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Green Team. Our brokerage joined the brand in July of 2022 and since then has focused on a rebranding and awareness effort to make the most of our affiliation.
As a well-known and respected brokerage in the area, we turned to community activation events. Our main office is located in the Village of Warwick, N.Y., the central hub to the larger town of Warwick. Our community is home to many wineries and family farms; our annual Applefest in October draws more than 30,000 people from far and wide. People who live in Warwick are very involved in supporting the needs of its residents.
When I first moved to Warwick in 2014, I volunteered with the local Parents Group, the VFW, and the humane society and chaired Warwick Playground Dreams, a three-year fundraising effort to build a new playground. When COVID hit and many local businesses were in danger of going out of business, I organized the Warwick Relief Market, a year-long raffle campaign that raised money to keep our business owners in the business.
When I joined Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Green Team as Marketing Director a year and a half ago, I knew focusing on community events was a great way to draw off of the momentum I had gained in my own volunteer efforts in the community.
Make a Big Splash
Our first event after joining the brand, “Furever Homes for Pets,” was held in October, the week after Applefest, when there was still a lot of tourist traffic visiting nearby orchards and wineries. We set up shop on Railroad Avenue, a hotspot in Warwick and near the downtown farmers’ market. We provided pet portraits for a $30 donation to the local humane society. People had to register, providing their email and social media tags. Valentine Home Builders created and donated a small house as a backdrop, which we dressed up with some hay bales, fall decor, and branded pumpkins. A photographer from Home Tour Vision donated his services. We also offered free face painting for the kids with a suggested donation to the humane society and a local pet trainer, Maddie Schloika, brought her Bernese Mountain dog, Sven, who entertained the crowd with tricks. We gave away goodie bags with pet treats, green pet bandanas and business cards (of course!).
We used a surround sound marketing approach to promote the event. Starting a month in advance, we added information to our website, posted content on our Facebook page, advertised in the local newspapers, and offered pre-registration via a special text code. We created branded emails to send to our database as well as flyers that agents could use in their direct marketing efforts. The entire event was branded with a specially created logo that was similar to the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate logo.
Keep it Going
We received a lot of web traffic and social media engagement leading up to and following the event, which we kept going with an online “Cutest Pet” contest. All pet portraits taken during the event were posted to our Facebook page and we invited people to vote for their favorites. We promoted the content on our website and on our social platforms. Local businesses donated prizes for the three cutest pets. More than 100 shares from the contest further extended the engagement from the pet portrait campaign, which lasted for several months following the event.
Leverage Holidays to the Hilt
With Halloween around the corner, we continued the momentum and launched a haunted house campaign featuring agents from across the Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate network. Starting the week before Halloween, we posted a daily account of “Haunted Homes: Tales From a Realtor.” The posts linked to articles hosted on our website in the News and Advice tab and generated additional web traffic.
Following Halloween, we pivoted to the winter holidays with the creation of our Holiday Lights Tour, which featured an interactive map of homes with festive light displays. A specialized microsite that we hosted on our company site allowed us to list “lit” homes and provide directions from home to home. Users would click on a home, then select another home to find the best route to their next desired location.
In addition to generating a lot of website traffic, this campaign was extensively shared on many Facebook parents’ groups, and we had numerous requests from homeowners to be added to the map!
High Impact Doesn’t Mean High Cost
None of these efforts required much funding. We spent in a total of about $800 for the humane society fundraiser; most of our hard costs were donated. The branded microsite for the Holiday Lights Tour cost $100 for two months of hosting. The biggest investment on our part was time – time to be creative and come up with ideas, time to well plan them and time to promote them.
This series of community-connected events worked well because they authentically tied into our brokerage’s long-standing commitment to our community, aligned perfectly with the lifestyle component of the Better Homes and Gardens brand, and deeply resonated with the family-oriented and civic-minded town. The results speak for themselves: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Green Team was top of mind in our community from the beginning of September through the end of the year.
Nicole McCormick, Marketing Director Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Green Team