Monday Mornings with Madison


When the economy heads downhill, some people come up with creative ideas to get ahead. One such idea came from Michael Crews Development, a housing developer based in southern California, where home sales are down dramatically and the towns are littered with foreclosure signs. Michael Crews recently finished a large luxury development in San Pasqual Valley and now they had to sell all those houses. So here’s the deal they came up with: Buy one, get one free!

If you buy one of their $1.6 million luxury gated-estate homes in northern San Diego County, the company will toss in a new townhouse in nearby Escondido valued at $400,000. You can use the second house as a rental investment; you can set up your parents or children there; you can sell the unit and pocket the profit.
From the developer’s point of view, the deal makes a lot of sense, since the $1.6 million house couldn’t sell for more than $1.3 million in today’s market, and the $400,000 townhouse couldn’t sell for more than $300,000. And that’s if they even attract serious interest—obviously these homes have some liabilities that are slowing their sales. If the company manages to sell two houses for $1.6 million, they will have come out ahead very nicely. Perhaps the greatest value, though, comes from the free publicity Michael Crews got from their 2-for-1 offer, with both Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times writing up the deal.

This is a good example of how to turn negative facts — a poor economy, slow-selling houses — into a positive sales maneuver. Let’s take a closer look of what Michael Crews did.

  • The company knew that even though the San Diego-area real estate market is down significantly, there are still buyers looking for a good deal.
  • They knew that since so many properties are now available, sellers have to come up with something distinctive to break through the clutter of options.
  • The company looked at how other industries attract clients and considered how to apply some of these tactics to their own marketing and sales challenges.
  • They took a chance.

We all come up with creative ideas but most of the time we ignore them. This is because we don’t trust our own creativity enough to take a chance on our ideas. If we fail to test them, there’s no risk of failure. But then there’s nothing for us to learn from, and there’s also no chance of success for us to benefit from.

The saying goes that there are a thousand ways to make thousand bucks. But to get access to all those ideas, you need to open up your mind. Go to a trade show for an industry that’s completely unrelated to your own. Wander around and study how these companies market their products or services. Ask yourself how you could apply some of those novel approaches to your own business.

“It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong than to be always right by having no ideas at all.”  Edward De Bono

© 2008 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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