Unleashing the power of place. A ten-part framework.
The ten dimensions we consider to give places context, meaning and emotional power to maximize awareness and drive interest.
Our company brands, markets and advertises places of one kind or another. Whether its tourism, hospitality or real estate based, we’ve worked on everything from urban towers and resort getaways to master-planned communities and mixed-use development, along with an assortment of cities, vacation destinations, and entertainment venues.
Sometimes the place already exists, sometimes it’s in a state of transition. Frequently, in the case of real estate, it hasn’t been created yet. In each case, we’re confronted with the question “how do we bring this place to life? Make it seem unique, vivid, relevant?”
Buyer insights, lifestyle trends, the competitive set and market conditions all figure into the equation, but knowing how to describe and express the place itself in a precise, evocative way is essential for maximizing awareness and driving interest.
Here are ten dimensions we consider to give places context, meaning and emotional power:
1. What surrounds it?
Easy to come and go? Attractive setting, sense of arrival? Close to things that matter? Frequently it’s not just what’s “on property” but the destination around it that determines its value. How do you make the most of the location? Call attention to key benefits?
2. What’s the big deal?
What do you lead with – that first impression that creates curiosity and interest? How do you make sure it’s the right thing, said the right way? If you can’t capture someone’s attention in a second or two, everything else is academic. And determining that one thing takes more than intuition. It takes an understanding of what motivates the target market.
3. How do you frame up the offering?
What does it consist of? How do you prioritize what’s important, noteworthy? Where are the opportunities to differentiate? And how do you cover all the bases in a way that’s both concise and engaging? It’s harder than you think to do both at the same time.
4. What’s on our to-do list?
What are the activities and experiences you can claim? Can they deliver a bandwidth or niche need that stands apart? This requires a bit of imagination. It needs to get beyond the most obvious stuff and into more proprietary territory. Versions of things that are unique and ownable.
5. What’s our style?
What is it about the lay of the land, the landscape, the architecture, the décor, the overall design language that creates a particular kind of vibe? And how can it be communicated with just the right attitude? This is the spice that gets layered on top of all the ingredients. In the crafted, tribal, curated world we inhabit today, getting this part right is crucial. And again, it’s not just a general kind of flavor and attitude, it’s a distinct sensibility available nowhere else.
6. Can we involve the senses?
How do fragrances, sound, textures, color, light and tactile sensations create an immersive experience? And what are the emotional states that connect to those sensations? The more we can suggest a fully-formed ambiance, the easier it is for prospects to see themselves – feel themselves – in the midst of experiences no one else can claim.
7. What stories can we tell?
What’s the history behind the place? Interesting roots? Notable people involved? Surprising facts, anecdotes. Places – new and old – can become fascinating when you understand the bigger picture and celebrate the details. Sure, facts are helpful, but stories in the form of short narratives, interviews, videos and interesting asides create the kind of humanity, rapport and insight that drive desire.
8. Is there a higher purpose?
Sometimes there’s something beyond the face value offering that deserves to be known. Giving back, filling a need, pursuing a calling. Are there intentions, consequences, opportunities, programs that suggest a more altruistic aim? Increasingly, consumers want to align with companies that do good, and think above and beyond business as usual.
9. Who are our kindred spirits?
Who will we attract? What defines them? And how do we move quickly from presenting as the purveyor to having the right group of users, bloggers, contributors, and enthusiasts share on our behalf. Far more credible and persuasive. At the end of the day, a place is defined by those who are attracted to it.
10. How do we create rapport?
Marketing has migrated from staging to sharing to experiencing, and nowhere is that trend more applicable than with places. We all want to have the most palpable “being there” experience before we show up, and after we’ve left. Places – and experiences in places – are among the most frequently shared content in social media. How can our place deliver an interactive, sharable experience before it even exists? Or, if it’s an established place, how can we create a sense of discovery through on-line or real world encounters?
People choose places for the same two reasons they choose each other – compatibility and chemistry. Or, put another way, “What do I think?” together with “How do I feel?”
Not surprisingly, feelings tend to exert the deepest, strongest influence.
Our job as marketers and communicators is to make sure both the practical and the poetic parts of the equation are fully understood and experienced.
If we can accomplish that, we have performed a valuable service not only for our client, but for the consumer, as well.
[Craig Fuller is co-founder and owner of Greenhaus. He’s hoping boring places— and boring marketing—are finally going out of style.]