Raffling off a car is among a variety of sales incentives gaining popularity among builders, but the pool usually is limited to recent home buyers, not prospects. Not so for The Corky McMillin Cos. and its half dozen communities in San Diego County. The company decided to give away three new Volkswagen Beetle convertibles to attract prospective buyers to its beachfront community of Ravinia at Calaveras Hills in Carlsbad, Calif. The idea quickly spread across other McMillin projects in the area.

“The Beetle's broad appeal suited the range of potential buyers for the various housing options we have in the area,” says Liz Ramirez, the company's marketing vice president. “It was a chance to do something fun and different to generate sales traffic.”

CAR CRAZY: Katherine Elder (left) is one of three lucky winners of a VW Beetle convertible. The  cars were raffled off by The Corky McMillin Cos. this past summer  to generate sales traffic in six of the builder's San Diego communities.
CAR CRAZY: Katherine Elder (left) is one of three lucky winners of a VW Beetle convertible. The cars were raffled off by The Corky McMillin Cos. this past summer to generate sales traffic in six of the builder's San Diego communities.

To perhaps enable McMillin to score some additional sales, the trio of winners each had the option of taking the car or putting its value (about $25,000) toward the purchase of a new home, though no one has taken the bait so far. Nonetheless, more than 1,000 prospects across six projects entered the drawing, filling out a sales registration card. The information provided the builder with an updated prospect list for announcing new phases and end-of-sale deals.

A radio buy and a full-page ad in the real estate section of the local newspaper, plus point-of-entry signage and a Beetle at every sales center, helped build awareness of the six-week campaign.

CAMPAIGN DETAILS Program: Car giveaway; Builder/Developer: The Corky McMillin Cos., San Diego; Advertising agency: Julia Sims Public Relations, San Diego; Cost: $100,000 (for three vehicles, advertising, and promotion)

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Diego, CA.