Mailers Highlight Condo's South Beach Facelift

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Hoping to shed its image as one of the older establishments on Miami's South Beach, the Roney Palace Oceanfront Condominium used a direct mail campaign last month to reposition itself to a younger market.


After identifying that 25 percent of its buyers come from the Northeast, Roney Palace sent three pieces to 50,000 people from that region, with each piece going out five days apart. The campaign has generated a 1 percent response rate so far.


Those targeted were ages 35 to 55 with annual incomes of more than $250,000 living in a home with a market value of more than $400,000.


"In real estate marketing, frequency is very important," said Jeff Fagan, marketing director at Roney Palace. "We really wanted to build some interest in our project with the first two pieces and then provide them with the final offer."


Recipients received all three pieces regardless of whether they responded to the first mailing.


"We had to market a number of different aspects of our condominium to them so it was important that they saw everything we had to offer," he said.


Bruce Green, vice president of sales and marketing at Roney Palace, said the multiple mailings were designed to wear down people's resistance.


"People may throw out the first two pieces without really looking at them," he said. "But if they have seen our name two times by the time they get the third one, we are hoping they will say to themselves, 'What are these guys up to, and why did they mail me three pieces?' At this point, the third one will be hard to ignore, and they will most likely take a look inside."


There are 600 condominium units, 450 of which have been sold. Fagan said Roney Palace expects to sell the remaining 150 within 18 months, which would total nearly $60 million. It was only selling around $8 million to $10 million worth of condominiums a year prior to the repositioning effort that started six months ago.


Fagan said the previous condominium package was not in step with the South Beach culture. The idea behind the campaign was to show the changes the condo has made and how it now can provide more of what the potential South Beach buyer is looking for.


"We had to reposition ourselves because the product wasn't selling the way the developer desired," Fagan said. "By mailing three separate mailings, we have the opportunity to highlight and give the proper amount of time to each of the features we want to discuss."


Marc USA, Miami, developed the marketing collateral for the campaign, which cost $125,000. All three pieces were self-mailers. The first two measured 5 by 5 inches.


The first piece focused on the condominium's oceanfront location. The second discussed the loft-type apartments available. The inside of the second piece read: "Ever fantasize about living in an oceanfront loft in the heart of South Beach?"


The third mailing, which had foldouts and measured 5 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches, summed up the theme of the campaign and included an electronic key card. This was part of a promotion in which recipients could stay at a studio or a one-bedroom suite.


"We wanted to create a try-before-you-buy offer with the piece," Fagan said. "We are not marketing a place that is still under construction. We have places that are ready to be lived in, and that is one of the key advantages we have."


The call to action on all of the pieces was a telephone number and a Web address.


The mailers did not target people looking to relocate. They went to people looking to buy a second home to vacation in.


"We don't know for sure that these people want to buy a second home," he said. "But our research has shown that people in this income bracket have the propensity and ability to do so if they wish."


Fagan said he thought this was a good time to begin a major marketing effort despite the economy because the Miami and South Beach real estate market has maintained its strength in the past year and a half and because the No. 1 stated desire of the baby boom generation is to own a second home.


"Our location is more inclined to people who are looking for a place they can come to a few times a year on vacation or for the weekend," he said. "We were not really focusing on people who are looking to relocate altogether."


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