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Investing in professional development and continuing education is critical for professionals who want to enhance their skills. It’s also a necessity for better client service. This belief reminds me of a favorite and well-known quotation from poet William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” To me, this quotation captures that education isn’t static. It’s not something that stops when school ends. Education is a life-long effort and one that requires ongoing work. As professionals, we have a variety of professional development and educational opportunities available to us, especially in the form of professional certifications. Whether working at an agency and serving clients externally or in-house and collaborating with internal stakeholders, professional certifications showcase your commitment to your profession and demonstrate that you continue to hone and refine your craft, which in turn benefits internal and external clients.

Negotiation is a valuable business and communication skill for any professional. Negotiating with someone else doesn’t just happen in an office or a boardroom sitting across a table from someone else. We are constantly negotiating as we navigate our daily lives at work and home. Sure, different situations require distinct negotiation and communication tactics and the stakes vary widely from one negotiation to the next, but the core principles of the best negotiators stay the same. That’s one of the key lessons learned last week at the annual conference of the Society of Marketing Professional Services’ Virginia Chapter. There were a number of insightful presentations with great takeaways, but the one that stood out the most was “The Cartography of Negotiation” by Scott Wayne of The Frontier Project. Scott outlined tools and tips to enhance your negotiating skills. Here are my three biggest lessons:

It’s only February and 2017 has already been a wild year for marketing professionals! From fake news to ongoing disruptions in how people consume information, the communications landscape remains challenging. Despite the many hurdles, opportunities abound and there are exciting new ways to reach your target audience in an engaging manner. But, what really works and how do you manage it?

The multifamily market has been hot for a number of years and often the bright-spot in new home construction and development. However, prominent multifamily leaders expressed concern that a slowdown, albeit temporary, is on the horizon. Andrew attended several seminars with leading multifamily voices and here are some of the top highlights:

If there was one big take-away from the International Builders’ Show earlier this month it was that the industry is bullish on the 55+ housing market. However, some of those reasons behind that enthusiasm may come as a surprise. Mike attended several seminars and participated in a tour of two major 55+ housing projects in Orlando. Here are some of the major points from those experiences:

The residential construction and new home market continues its rebound from the housing crisis. There were a number of new home design trends, including the role of technology and ways in which it’s becoming integrated into more home functions. Although these trends are important, we wanted to focus on the most significant macro forces shaping the industry.

Last week, Orlando became the hub of the home design and residential real estate industry. The National Association of Home Builder’s annual joint convention — in conjunction with the national association of the kitchen and bath industry — attracted over 80,000 attendees to the Orange County Convention Center. This year’s International Builders’ Show highlighted the latest in new home design and development. Although the building sector is in the midst of a nice upswing, there remains a great deal of disruption, primarily from demographic shifts and new technology that impacts how homes are built and bought. The International Builders’ Show offered a week of education sessions, networking, and a sneak peak at the latest home design and construction trends. The show offered a great deal of insights for any professional or company connected to the new home, multifamily, and 55+ sectors. Here are our top five takeaways from the show:

pohMore and more home buyers are using the Internet and social media to help them make decisions throughout the buying process. Looking for new ways to connect with buyers, home builders and even new home developer should take advantage of the most popular visual social platform: Instagram. With more than 500 million users and 40 billion pictures that have been shared to date on Instagram, homebuilders and developers can use the platform to promote your homes, expertise, and brand online!

Here are four ways to leverage Instagram right away:

newsWhen the term crisis is used, one thinks almost immediately of a negative situation or scenario. An oil spill, fraud, and internal scandals are all good examples of crises. As many PR and communications professionals understand, a crisis calls for a specific and unique plan. Whether in the pre-crisis, crisis, or post-crisis phase, there are targeted strategies that organizations rely on. The Institute for Public Relations has one of the best primers on crisis management and communications available.  The strategies and tactics outlined are based on best practices and thorough research. However, I don’t believe they’re limited to traditional crisis situations. In fact, any time your organization has a highly public project, especially if it involves local officials, you should leverage lessons from crisis communications. This is especially true in terms of real estate PR.

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HHHunt Communities Snow Day Photo Contest. (Photo courtesy of Carmen Doherty Photography)

More and more home buyers are using the Internet and social media to help them make decisions throughout the buying process. Many brands, including homebuilders, have trouble coming up with fresh, innovative, and authentic content to incorporate into their social media strategies to entice those potential buyers. However, there’s a simple and effective way to gain great content that comes straight from your target demographic. That’s where social media contests come into play!