Brochures have always been a staple of the real estate development industry. No one could launch a sales campaign or open a registration event without one. Some developers felt they needed several brochures. Others felt a single and simple brochure would suffice. But I’ve never met a real estate developer who didn’t believe a brochure was a necessary piece in a marketing campaign. I wonder if that’s still true today?
Today, we know that no one is going to buy real estate without first visiting the website for the project. Project websites need to be loaded with far more information than we’ve ever provided to prospects in the past. Plus, the information has to be changed, and made fresh and interesting on a regular basis. In fact, at my company, we see the website as the primary communication tool, the information hub that drives the whole campaign, and we refresh the information by way of blog posts and new content weekly, to keep prospects coming back over and over again. In many ways, the website now has the role in the marketing campaign that we used to assign to the brochure. It is the central pivot point around which all other efforts revolve.
So what about the brochure? What role does it play anymore when the website is telling all the stories?
My personal opinion is that a brochure still has a vital role, but it’s different than what it used to be. Brochures are the tangible evidence of what a project can mean to a buyer. It’s the piece of the marketing campaign that sits on the coffee table, and gets picked up again and again. It’s a kind of touchstone for what the purchase could and should represent to the life of the prospect. Once the prospect becomes a buyer, it is the physical manifestation of what they have bought while they wait for the day they take possession. This means the contents of the brochure should be rethought, to make sure it is doing this primary job.
Brochures have always been the place where we list the features and amenities. We show the view shots, and the interior and exterior renderings. Floor plans are included, generally, and sometimes they end up tucked in a back pocket along with pricing sheets. All that should still be there, as well as on the website, but today we need to make sure the brochure includes much more.
The more is the intangible stuff. The who, what, why, when and where of the project – from an emotional, psychological and spiritual perspective.
Some of this might be communicated through design; the choice of papers and font and binding and printing techniques can tell you a lot about what the project will end up feeling like once it is ready for you to move in.
The stories in the brochure can also help you understand the tribe you have joined by buying into this particular development. Stories would be about the neighbours, the history of the site and the long-term plans for the community. Stories about what a lazy Sunday will be like once you are living there, and about the people you will meet, walking down the street.
The best brochures give you the facts, and the fancy; the steak and the sizzle. They are like novels that transport you to another place and time – the moment when the investment you have made in a new home is a reality. The moment when you are living the life that is, at the time of the purchase, a whisper of a promise.
Brochures bring the future to life. If you are planning to use a brochure as a tool in your marketing campaign, make sure they are doing the job they are best suited for.
David Allison, Author and Partner at Braun/Allison Inc.
David Allison is a partner at Braun/Allison Inc.; a Vancouver-based company that provides creative services for residential and resort real estate developers. His book, Sell The Truth, is available for free here. You can connect to him on LinkedIn , follow him on Twitter @BAdavid and read his blog, One Brand Clapping here.