By BUILDER Magazine Staff. Though ranked as one of the best communities in the South by Living Southern Style magazine, Stonehouse was experiencing slow sales. Brokers weren't participating in community sales that targeted locals as well as Mid-Atlantic active adults. Moreover, brokers and buyers perceived the Toano, Va., community as too far away from the rest of the developed area that includes Williamsburg, says marketing director Amy Tharrington. To gain broker participation and overcome the "too far away" perception, Tharrington's firm, Maximum Design & Advertising, staged a lavish broker picnic.

On the $20 per person menu were such items as mesquite-grilled rack of lamb and artichoke hearts. Dessert was a "strawberry tree"; diners plucked the strawberries and dipped them in chocolate. Beverages included beer and wine. Of 400 brokers invited, 387 came.

They saw for themselves that Stonehouse is only minutes from Williamsburg, Va., and has such benefits as an activities director.

Post picnic, results came quickly. Stonehouse received more than 100 follow-up calls and e-mails. Lackluster sales began to march along at a steady nine units per month.

Eat it up: Of 400 brokers invited, 387 attended the Stonehouse Community's Picnic in the Park broker promotion.

Campaign Details

Program: Broker promotion; Project: Stonehouse, Toano, Va.; Builder/Developer: Dominion Lands Inc., Richmond, Va.; Price: $211,000; Size: 585 homes on 800 acres; Ad agency: Maximum Design & Advertising, Wilmington, N.C.; Media budget: $20 per person for 400 people