AS IF INTRODUCING A SINGLE-family detached loft concept to exurbia wasn't daring enough for Cornerstone Homes of Longmont, Colo., director of product development Paul Thedos took an equally innovative approach to marketing the project. Rather than spread his marketing dollars across multiple media (especially daily newspaper ads), he negotiated with the publisher of the local Homes & Land magazine to create a freestanding, full-color, eight-page insert that ran for 12 months—and also served as a separate sales and direct mail piece while driving prospects to the project's Web site.

Using color renderings to showcase the lofts during development, then reprinted with photos of the completed models six months later, the insert received the attention Thedos hoped it would. “It was overkill on purpose,” he says of the piece. “We could have told the story in two or three pages, but doing it this way made us look like a big player right away” and helped avoid competition with larger builders in other media.

MESSAGE CENTER: A monthly insert in a real estate magazine drove Web and real traffic to Cornerstone's outpost of loft homes.
MESSAGE CENTER: A monthly insert in a real estate magazine drove Web and real traffic to Cornerstone's outpost of loft homes.

The buzz about the lofts spread internationally through the Internet and the press; more important, it inspired prospects and Realtors to travel to the hinterlands of Frederick, Colo., to tour five models and two spec homes. “People came because of the product, not the location,” he says, bucking conventional real estate wisdom. Thedos also tracked a significant amount of Internet traffic as prospects investigated the loft concept before making the drive.

Cornerstone has since sold all seven initial homes and has three presales on the books, with an option to develop up to 45 homes on the parcel. “We're letting [sales] find its own way,” Thedos says, noting that the buzz he created has caused other builders, albeit with more conventional products, to develop nearby.

CAMPAIGN DETAILS Program: Freestanding magazine insert for Ironworks Lofts, Frederick, Colo.; Developer: Blackfoot, Frederick; Builder: Cornerstone Homes, Longmont, Colo.; Architect: Terra Verde Architects, Aspen, Colo.; Cost: $5,000 per month