By Sarah Ballantyne

The show home is probably the biggest investment in promotion a house builder makes at a new development. But this astonishing lead-generating machine is worth every penny as it just keeps delivering the property marketing message.

Getting out to look around our client Merchant Homes’ latest show home is one of my favourite parts of the job. I always pick up a few interiors tips – but it’s knowing that I’ll be able to use property PR to deliver real results for them out of their investment that gives me the thrill.

Every aspect of a show home is carefully considered to deliver the maximum impact, with the aim of turning visitors into buyers.

Who that buyer will be sits at the centre of the complex design process that goes into developing the style of the show home – is this a starter home or a family home, what do they aspire to?

Highlight and focus

Typically, the sales and marketing directors will have a brief for the designer which outlines the look and feel they are striving to achieve and the aspects they want to highlight and focus on.

You might think when you visit the show home that the designer has had free reign. However, interior designers work closely with the sales and marketing team on their design story and have the markers laid down for them before they get the begin decorating the show home.

The very location of the development is also a huge consideration. There are big differences in what buyers look for in a show home – particularly in different areas of the country where style and taste differs.

They’ll also take account of the immediate surroundings and the history of the area. For example, Merchant Homes’ Kirn Gardens development in Gourock, Inverclyde, sits by the Firth of Clyde therefore the interior design of the show apartment boasts a coastal theme.

Once the interior designer’s ideas have been turned into reality, it acts as a fantastic tool to the marketing and property PR advisors’ arsenal.

The launch of a show home is hugely important to a new development. It’s selling a lifestyle to people who want to buy a new home.

It lets readers and prospective buyers see a house style as more than a collection of rooms. People can more easily imagine themselves living there and, once they pay a visit, they can touch it and feel it. It makes the selling process much easier.

The opening of Merchant Homes’ show house at Kirn Gardens achieved the kind of coverage we always aim for.

Raise awareness

The Sunday Times, the Sunday Mail and the Daily Record all featured interior shots that really helped raise awareness of the new development, which is tucked away and might not be obvious to people unfamiliar with the area.

When we launch a show home, we’re targeting coverage in the property sections of newspapers and homes and interiors magazines and websites. Getting that picture featured allows us to say where the development is and set the price points for properties there. It sets buyers’ expectations.

We want to see those glossy photos used in papers and online to get the right people out to visit the show home so they can get a real feel for the product.

Visitors might have no intention of buying a house at that site – they may just be there to pick up ideas for their own homes or have an eye on an upcoming development – but it makes them aware of the Merchant House brand and, when it comes time to move, they will perhaps consider another Merchant House development elsewhere.

By getting people along to the show homes, we also help the developer build up its mailing list, giving them more direct marketing opportunities. People who sign-up are engaged in the brand, they’ve been tempted to look once and perhaps they can be tempted to buy.

But the launch isn’t the end of the marketing opportunity the show home represents to the public relations team. It is a real resource for the duration of the property communications campaign, with much of that stemming from the photos taken after its completion.

After the launch, I like to drip-feed the best of those pictures to the press at key points in the life of the development – for example, a sales landmark, work starting on phase two of the development, the last few homes remaining …

Journalists love the new

Having fresh images means you have multiple attempts at getting publicity in the media for the development. The hits might not be as big, but a strong image ensures they keep coming. Journalists always want something new, something different.

The show home is a huge investment in the site’s marketing by the developer, so it’s important to get the maximum ROI. Putting careful judgment of when to go hunting for press at the heart of the property marketing strategy helps deliver that.

And if there is a development that either doesn’t have a show home, or doesn’t have one yet, those images from the same house style elsewhere give would-be buyers an inkling what to expect.

The show home is a big investment – but the return on that investment is well worth it.

We understand the demands of the property industry. To discover how we can help your brand harness the power of online, call us now on 0800 612 9890.