We recently stepped back from business-as-usual and compared our values to our actions to see how well they were aligned. One area that came under scrutiny was advertising. We asked "are we spending our money in a way that enhances the experience of our clients and improves the communities in which they live?" After all, our clients are who we serve, shouldn't our advertising somehow work with them and for them?
We were the first custom builder to advertise in the local design magazines, the first to advertise on WBUR, and the first to tap into many other channels. When we started, we saw an opportunity to introduce clients to the fabulous work being done by the talented architects in the area, and to educate clients about a new generation of builders that were introducing sophisticated management practices to a traditionally "builder with a pick-up truck" industry.
As time passed, however, competitors followed our lead and the tone in the market shifted away from informing and educating clients toward targeting clients. Rather than target clients, we want to contribute to the community. We are trying a new approach and have stopped advertising in some places. We diverted the money we saved to activities that enhance our community and reinforce our values. We still advertise on WBUR and in some of the magazines, but we are more aware of the opportunity these channels provide us to give back to the community. A quick example: in 2013 we used our drive-time spot on WBUR to promote the MIT Sustainability Summit. The number of people registering for the Summit spiked during those two weeks and more people participated in the important sustainability discussions as a result.