Mixed-use real estate developments have never been more popular because of the proven success that can arise out of combining housing, retail and office space. But they can be a challenge to market. There are often at least three distinct audiences: people who want to buy or rent a home that checks all of their boxes; shoppers who may already have a lot of choices; and business owners who must balance providing amenities with the price-per-square-foot of their office space.
The good news is it’s not impossible to market a mixed-use development well. And there are many examples of real estate companies that have succeeded. So what are the secrets to success? Here are three tactics:
1. Be less literal with words and images. Instead of having intensely detailed marketing collateral developed for each type of space, consider approaching the project holistically so that the whole is more appealing than its parts. Think about a higher-level message that could appeal to all of the audiences. For example, at Assembly Row (the site of a former Edsel assembly plant) in Somerville, Mass., Federal Realty chose to use the word “Assemble” or “Assembly” as a key verb or noun in its messaging, while also serving as a double entendre that all of these uses are being assembled together for the greater good. Creating films or renderings is another way to be less literal. They can be evocative about a vision or a general location, without getting caught up in the details of what an office, apartment or storefront will look like, while providing overarching branding for the site.
2. Develop an App. Think about your poor salespeople! You have brokers trying to lease office, retail and rentals – or maybe even selling condos. Do they all know the big picture story? Each target will want to know: who is going to work/sleep/shop here? An app allows for salespeople to toggle through various stories, renderings, concepts, floor plans, providing that finer-grained detail when necessary, but also packaged in a way that connects the dots and shows the multiple layers of collateral. Having something tangible is always important in a sale.
3. Don’t ignore the actual site, even if it’s a dirt pile. That may sound scary, but getting potential customers comfortable with a place is often the first step in making them want to go more often. Even before you break ground, this approach builds momentum through branded events such as food truck festivals, movie nights, concerts or art shows – it is essential when you have the challenge of trying to reposition an area in addition to marketing mixed-used projects.