How to Build Your Brand Before You Build Your New Home Community

When your homes are finally built, you’ll be established—and ready to sell to familiar buyers

By Barry Zoeller

As the largest and one of the oldest stretches of private land in California, Tejon Ranch remains essentially unchanged since its formation under a Mexican Land Grant in 1843. The vast majority of its terrain is protected open space and wildlife habitat filled with mountain peaks, rolling hills, spectacular valleys and canyons, ancient oak trees, and crisp, clean mountain air. The 270,000-acre ranch spans across Los Angeles and Kern counties and is the largest single piece of private property in the state. Located just 60 miles from the Los Angeles metropolitan area, it offers a rare haven from the frenetic and often chaotic nature of modern urban existence.

Tejon Ranch will soon be offering thousands of people the chance to live and experience the beauty of the land, all while maintaining the legacy and uniqueness that make the ranch so special. This opportunity is found in the three master-planned communities Tejon Ranch is in the various stages of planning and developing: Grapevine, Centennial, and Mountain Village at Tejon Ranch. These developments will encompass approximately 28,000 acres along the Interstate 5 corridor, while 240,000 acres, or 90% of Tejon Ranch, will be protected open space.

Located just 60 miles from the Los Angeles metropolitan area, it offers a rare haven from the frenetic and often chaotic nature of modern urban existence.

While each community is in a different stage of planning or development, it is important for us to set the stage before we have property to sell. We have developed a strategic plan to promote the ranch, build the brand, and increase awareness and anticipation with potential future buyers. This being the first community development to occur on the ranch, it’s important to lay the groundwork now. This strategy gets people engaged and excited before actual opportunities to purchase a home arise. When homes are available, they will be ready to buy.

We’ve been amplifying our brand and promoting the ranch and its amenities by deploying four different strategies, which involve social media, storytelling, events, and new programs.

The vast majority of its terrain is protected open space and wildlife habitat filled with mountain peaks, rolling hills, spectacular valleys and canyons, ancient oak trees, and crisp, clean mountain air.

1. Provide opportunities to access surrounding amenities
Whether you’re building a new neighborhood or an entire master-planned community, you need to provide today’s buyers with outdoor amenities like hiking trails and access to paths and close by nature. Successful builders and developers have attracted new buyers by making these amenities available to the public before homes are built.

We have made much of Tejon Ranch available for exploring through our Explorer Membership program, which was launched last year. This strategy helps promote the possibilities of Tejon Ranch, provide new ways to amplify the Tejon Ranch brand, and share the story of the land and legacy. Members of the Explorer program experience the rolling hills and pristine valleys that were first viewed hundreds of years ago while enjoying a wealth of outdoor activities before communities are built and homes are available.

The Explorer Membership provides access to approximately 25,000 acres in one of the most scenic southern portions of the ranch. Members enjoy mountain biking, hiking, picnicking, wildlife and landscape photography, SUV trail driving, overnight camping, star-gazing, and horseback riding at Tejon’s Equestrian Center. Members who want to spend more than a day at the Ranch have access to cabins and lodges within the Explorer area as well as dry camping in designated areas. It’s a smart way to let buyer demographics we’re trying to reach experience the ranch first-hand and inspire these potential future residents to live here.

Our historic legacy and thousands of acres of land provide us with a tremendous wellspring of stories to tell potential homebuyers.

2. Tell your location’s unique story
Creating deep, engaging content before you start promoting your new home communities allows you to speak more about the kinds of experiences and lifestyles buyers can enjoy.

Our historic legacy and thousands of acres of land provide us with a tremendous wellspring of stories to tell potential homebuyers. Each piece of content we create, whether it’s a tweet or a 30-minute podcast, has a meaningful message for our audience: Tejon Ranch is a unique and special place — one of the few remaining large swaths of land in California, land that has remained virtually untouched for decades — and will soon be accessible to homebuyers who will appreciate its quality and uniqueness.

3. Use social media to spread your message
A social media campaign is imperative to amplifying your brand and increasing awareness. Don’t make your social content corporate-speak; instead, engage and communicate with your followers in a way that’s authentic to your brand and, most importantly, always be transparent.

We employ Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to help tell the Tejon Ranch story. Using content we’ve created (including video and blogs) as well as content created specifically for social media (including daily inspirations, event promotion, and exploring all the Ranch has to offer), social media is an important component of our campaign. We create compelling content daily that engages and resonates with our audience, from almost 15,000 followers on Facebook to almost 2,000 on Twitter.

The Equestrian Center remains a busy place, with its ideal climate for all events and riding disciplines and ample stall space for events, overnight camping, access to cattle for cutting and roping events, English show jumps, jump field, trail rides, and unlimited equestrian possibilities.

4. Host events to pique interest
Just as outdoor amenities attract new buyers, hosting events in the location of a future community helps increase awareness and drive buyer interest. Hosting events also lets you forge strategic partnerships with local and regional organizations, influencers, and businesses.

Our partnerships have provided for some interesting, fun, and popular events of all sizes, from small, intimate gatherings to large-scale events that hosted hundreds of participants. One event featured a small group of foodies who were treated to a series of multi-course outdoor brunches and dinners with award-winning, Los Angeles-based chef Celestino Drago. We’ve also hosted corporate events for Porsche and Land Rover and, more recently, hosted the Tejon Ranch Trail Half Marathon and 10K that opened up a portion of the ranch to runners of all ages and attracted hundreds of athletes. Meanwhile, our Equestrian Center remains a busy place, with its ideal climate for all events and riding disciplines and ample stall space for events, overnight camping, access to cattle for cutting and roping events, English show jumps, jump field, trail rides, and unlimited equestrian possibilities.

Planned communities take years, even decades, to develop and build. Though it might seem early to start promoting your unbuilt communities, by telling your story and creating compelling content now, buyers will be aware of your project and ready and inspired to invest when it opens.

Barry Zoeller is Vice President, Corporate Communications & Investor Relations at Tejon Ranch. He may be reached at www.tejonranch.com.

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