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Marketing Without Shame

by Nic Darling last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:35 AM
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by Nic Darling last modified Nov 16, 2010

Every now and then I like to write a quick post about some of the ways in which we market our homes. I know this kind of article is not for everyone, but I hope at least a few of you like them. Those that don’t are free to sit this one out and wait [...]



Every now and then I like to write a quick post about some of the ways in which we market our homes. I know this kind of article is not for everyone, but I hope at least a few of you like them. Those that don’t are free to sit this one out and wait for Chad’s upcoming post on a new low flow shower head. To some that might sound like a joke, but we are actually pretty excited about it.

Most of our marketing to date has been developed in an environment of austerity. The budget for our efforts resembles a teenager’s weekly allowance if that teenager were relatively unliked by his benefactors. Sure, there is occasionally money to do things, and I think we have used it pretty well ( But, for the most part, you could convert our budget to ones, put it in your wallet and still have plenty of room for guitar lesson coupons (reference anyone?).

Fortunately for us, there are plenty of free or relatively inexpensive ways to make a lot of noise these days. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets have given us space to offer useful and interesting (we hope) content. This has, in turn, led to free press exposure and conversations that flow over into other networks.

It also turns out that people like to talk (who knew?). So, we try to give them something to talk about and they often reward us by telling everyone they know. This type of “word-of-mouth” (oh no . . . marketing term) seems to be sparked in two major ways. First, people like to talk about strong technical information or bold provocative ideas that are capable of sparking interesting discussions, or at the very least, making them seem smart, bold and/or provocative. We try to provide this through most of our online content. Second, people like to share examples of other people acting foolishly. Everyone wants to be the source of a laugh, and a good example of ridiculous, potentially embarrassing behavior provides an excellent opportunity to pass one on. This opportunity is something we also occasionally try to provide (with varying success).

Our most recent foray into the latter is our “Special Message to Realtors” series of videos. These are short online videos directed at specific real estate teams with the ostensible goal of introducing our new Avant Garage project. Each video spends a short time speaking about the team in a hyperbolic and somewhat absurd way and follows with a brief intro to the project. The character is a sort of half conceived, exaggeration of myself in a bow tie and hat that barely fits on my gigantic head. The acting is relatively poor. The writing isn’t all that great. But, I might just be making enough of a fool of myself to make these worth sharing. I’ll let you be the judge.

If you can’t see the embedded video, click here to watch the whole series.

While these videos are primarily intended to introduce our project to agents who might bring us buyers, it is possible that they will also find their way to people who have never heard of us. If we, at some point, get the level of absurdity correct, the videos could have another life as a quick shared laugh. This could, in turn, put our work in front of people who would not have otherwise seen it. Some of those people might share enough of a level of interest to stick around, join the deeper conversation and help to strengthen our brand. And, thanks to our willingness to play the fool, these videos are relatively cheap (if not free) to produce.

On a related note, I often say that one of the major attributes Chad and I share is a lack of requisite shame or self consciousness. This, I think, is what allows us to put ourselves in places where the potential for embarrassment is high. I believe that this trait allows us to follow odd marketing paths (see ridiculous, low budget videos) that others might avoid. More importantly, it seems to make it easier to pursue crazy ideas in a very public way, an activity that has often seemed like a mission statement at Postgreen.

So, do you agree that the ability to stick your neck out and risk (or invite) being laughed at can make for better, less expensive marketing? How about for better entrepreneurship in general? Can good, useful content and absurdity share space? Even better, can absurdity be used to deliver useful information? Specifically, what are your thoughts on this video series? Does it have a shot at success on either level?

Let’s talk about it in the comments.



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"I'm looking for housing that is affordable, and modern. I know there must be innovative, well-designed housing out there. I just can't seem to find it!" —Tracey R., from the Dwell discussion board


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