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Bridgewater Pointe Condos Client Success Story

on December 27, 2010

The Willard Companies and Prudential Waterfront Properties: Bridgewater Pointe

The Willard Companies – a pioneering and highly reputable building, real estate and residential development company at Smith Mountain Lake (SML), Virginia – was approached by BB&T, a financial institution based in Winston-Salem, NC and the Atlas Companies (BB&T’s bank owned real estate division) to take over marketing of Bridgewater Pointe, a distressed 48-unit waterfront condominium complex. While researching the history of Bridgewater Pointe, The Willard Companies discovered that the perception towards the project was poor, influenced by negative media coverage of the original developer’s inability to continue meeting financial obligations resulting in foreclosure. Unfamiliar with marketing real estate developments in such a state of failure, The Willard Companies first considered an auction format, which is a process of offering real estate for bid. Further research revealed that similar auctions held locally failed to bring in an influx of buyers to sell bank owned properties. In addition, The Willard Companies decided a traditional auction platform lacked the urgency and aggressiveness needed to obtain the desired results. Instead, The Willard Companies and Prudential Waterfront Properties turned to a unique, custom designed method that would draw attention with its originality and create buying urgency – a competitive lottery drawing. Area sales data from the past 10 years revealed a geographic trend of potential buyers, which was used in planning and campaign execution.

Due to a continued downturn in the local and national real estate market and a number of legal problems related to the foreclosure, The Willard Companies, along with its subsidiary real estate company, Prudential Waterfront Properties, faced many challenges. BB&T set forth a sales goal of generating 24 contracts (50%) of the condo project. The Willard Companies and Prudential Waterfront Properties decided to use a “lottery” format to encourage high-volume sales at Bridgewater Pointe by creating a small window of opportunity for buyers to invest in waterfront condominiums reduced in price by 60 percent. To be eligible for the drawing, interested buyers were required to make reservations within a limited time frame. To make the lottery sale successful, The Willard Companies and Prudential Waterfront Properties called upon its long-time advertising partner, GO Agency, to develop a multi-media public relations and marketing campaign with a budget of $XXX,XXX. The goals of the campaign were to raise awareness of and excitement for the lottery drawing event, launch the campaign by the lake’s Memorial Day season kickoff, capitalize on The Willard Companies’ long-standing reputation in the Smith Mountain Lake community, and generate an influx of reservations to meet the sales goal. The campaign would start by Memorial Day weekend and run through the drawing event date of June 27.

Working under a tight two-week deadline, The Willard Companies and GO Agency quickly generated a strategic and compelling collection of public relations and promotional materials. To encourage a positive local attitude toward the property, a series of press releases were sent to 25 regional media channels establishing The Willard Companies’ total support of the property’s sale. Communicating the approval of one of the community’s most respected companies was an essential aspect of the project. Real estate trade writers throughout Southwest Virginia were also pitched. Social media outreach included use of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blog posts. Advertising included $XX,XXX spent in print media (Washington Post, Raleigh News & Observer & Virginian Pilot to name a few), $XX,XXX in collateral and direct mail, $XX,XXX in billboards and signage, $XX,XXX in television (network and cable), $XX,XXX in radio spots, $XX,XXX on Facebook and Google Pay Per Click ads and $XX,XXX in advertising agency fees. All deliverables communicated an urgent message to seize the lottery buy opportunity, unprecedented in the SML community. All materials described the substantial price reduction coupled with the attractive benefits of owning a Bridgewater Pointe condominium.

The campaign far exceeded every expectation. Nearly all regional print and electronic media resulted in positive coverage, including front page exposure in The Roanoke Times, Smith Mountain Eagle, Franklin News- Post as well as multiple broadcast features on WDBJ7, WSLS10, WSET13 and FOX21/27 news. Coverage resulted in more than 1,472,000 online impressions. In addition, all materials were delivered on time and within budget. Over the three week period beginning Saturday, June 5 through Saturday, June 26, Prudential Waterfront Properties accepted 721 contract reservations that were entered into a drawing held on Sunday, June 27. More than 300 people attended the drawing event. Within 2 ½ hours, all 48 condos were under contract with a scheduled 30-day closing. As of September 20, 42 units have officially closed. Further proof of the campaign’s success can be measured in the chart below by the number of unique visitors to the Bridgewater Pointe landing page on the Prudential Waterfront Properties website. The website’s bandwidth limitations had to be increased in order to accommodate the high volume of traffic. Success of the campaign has since resulted in The Willard Companies and Prudential Waterfront Properties again partnering with BB&T and the Atlas Companies to market a second distressed community, Emerald Bay, using the same public relations model.


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