Earlier this month, I wrote about Connecting vs. Capturing to grow your customer base...essentially, talking to the interested few instead of hoping to net a few of the masses. I came across this excellent example on Seth's blog which was sent in by Chris of Glass House Denver.
1. We placed a site sign at the construction site directing people to a website (not the one that exists now).
2. At that site, we ran a short slideshow of what I would call benefit pictures - no renderings of a pool, just a guy sitting by a pool.
3. Once the slideshow ended, we offered people a chance to "get on the list" for more information.
4. When we had permission from these people, we began updating them on our progress once a month, including revealing in more detail each feature of the building.
5. By the time we began the next step, over 5,000 people (I can't remember the exact number) had signed up (85% saying they were recommended by a friend.)
6. About 500 of those people had come by our office and REALLY expressed interest/granted permission.
7. We had about 45 cocktail parties for those people, about 15 at a time, at a restaurant in our neighborhood. In essence, we invited them in for drinks. We brought no collateral. No models. Instead, we just spent time with them. Answered their questions. Filled them in on the details that mattered to them.
8. Then we created a private website for those people who had expressed interest answering the most common questions we had heard in our cocktail parties.
9. From there, using a system that met some pretty stringent real estate law requirements, we offered those people who had expressed the most interest in Glass House an opportunity to purchase.
10. We're moving the first people in and are completely bought out - 389 residences before the completion of construction in a market that is decidedly not booming. (Don't get me wrong, this was a good building priced well in a great location. But, our marketing was the x factor in making it work.)
If you're thinking of opening a hotel, restaurant or anything for that matter...you would do well to incorporate the permission and relationship building tactics from this model into your pre-opening approach. Or, if you're just trying to jump start your business, perhaps for a traditionally off-period, consider how much more effective building a relationship with a small group of interested people (your current customers) might be as opposed to attracting new ones.
I found a bonus when I went to the Glass House Denver website...notice how they aren't concerned about telling you everything about themselves on the first page. This is a further testament to the connecting approach...it's obvious they're expecting people they already know or those who already have a pretty good idea what's going on inside.
If you are opening a hotel, this