The Art of Reputation Building: A House Builder’s Success.

October 25, 2023

How Campbell Buchanan George revamped their image and gained market status with a brand transformation, a stunning website, and lifestyle-focused content marketing.

Author | Paul Skuse, Oakfield Design & Creation

Do your buyers fully know you? Do they fully trust you?

By this I mean, do they truly understand the quality of your homes, what sets you, and your schemes apart?

Can they quickly and easily obtain a clear and full picture of the quality of the specifications you offer?

Can they instantly access the portfolio of your previous developments showcased in a way that paints the picture of the standards you hold yourself to?

We see our clients faced with a challenge that’s all too familiar – being virtually unknown to their prospects.

Everyone starts at your website. And yet, too often, we see developers’ websites that consist of just a few pages of non-inspiring images, and more often than we’d ever want to see, just a home page professing “under construction”.

What message does this tell your buyers? They are quite correct to assume that if you can’t even manage to build a website successfully, how will you approach building their home?

After all, how we do one thing is often how we do everything! And in this current climate that’s not the reputation you want.

So, what are the key ingredients needed to transform how your company and homes are portrayed in the marketplace? How do you build that trust and confidence in your prospects and buyers, immediately?

We recently took a high-end house builder through this process, of repositioning themselves in the marketplace and the region.

Campbell Buchanan George build some of the finest homes in Cambridgeshire and the surrounding areas, but one look at their previous website and you would never have known this. So, we began the process of building a brand, position and website that reflected and showcased the incredible quality of their homes.

The transformation commenced with the creation of a stylishly designed website, aimed at inspiring prospects, buyers, and landowners alike. This was complemented by expertly choreographed photography, which put the spotlight on the exceptional craftsmanship of their past and current developments. We were also commissioned to film and produce two remarkable show home films, inviting viewers to experience the luxury and comfort of their current schemes.

And at the heart of the project, we meticulously crafted every word and image, instilling the essence of their homes and their unwavering commitment to quality.

To now maintain and amplify this newfound reputation, we have launched an ongoing content marketing strategy. This strategy revolves around showcasing current developments and giving a sneak peek into upcoming projects all wrapped within a lifestyle theme. We are consistently engaging and informing their audiences of prospects and buyers with these lifestyle-focused articles distributed via email and various high-performing social platforms.

The results are undeniable – a brand once obscure has become synonymous with excellence, leaving stakeholders, team members, prospects, buyers and even local landowners with the lasting impression, “Campbell Buchanan George build truly beautiful homes, the best available in the area.”

See the case study here or visit


How to get ahead of the competition in a tough property market.

September 21, 2023

Pre-marketing isn’t just about attracting potential buyers; it’s about nurturing relationships that will lead to successful sales as soon as you launch.

Author | Paul Skuse, Oakfield Design & Creation

Pre-marketing isn’t just about attracting potential buyers; it’s about nurturing relationships that will lead to successful sales as soon as you launch.

In today’s tougher property market, staying ahead is essential. Pre-marketing your upcoming property developments four to six months in advance not only generates interest and anticipation but also boosts your SEO and drives sales as your scheme is already ranked on page one of Google when your sales launch begins.

The SEO Power of Pre-Marketing: Beating the Competition in a Tough Market

In the fast-paced world of property development, timing is everything. In today’s challenging market, where competition for buyers is fiercer than ever, staying ahead of the game is essential. You’ve invested substantial resources in crafting exceptional properties that deserve the spotlight. But have you considered the remarkable benefits of pre-marketing your upcoming properties six months before they’re ready for reservations and purchases? Not only can this strategy generate interest and anticipation, but it can also supercharge your SEO efforts and create a powerful momentum that drives sales once your properties are ready to reserve.

In this article, I’ll delve into the advantages of this approach and how it can transform your property development sales.

1. SEO Supremacy: Planting the Seeds for Rankings
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t an instant success; it’s a long-term game that rewards consistency and quality. By starting your marketing efforts four to six months ahead of time, you’re essentially planting the seeds for strong SEO rankings.

Here’s how:

Content Generation: Pre-marketing allows you to create a wealth of high-quality content. From blog posts and articles to property descriptions and neighbourhood guides, you can craft a comprehensive library of SEO-rich material that Google loves. So, when it’s time to reserve and sell, your scheme is already on page one.

Keyword Dominance: With a longer runway, you can identify and target the most lucrative keywords for your properties. You have time to optimise your content and website to rank prominently for these keywords, ensuring you’re visible when potential buyers start searching.

Backlink Building: Building authoritative backlinks takes time. By initiating your marketing efforts early, you can organically attract backlinks from relevant sources, further boosting your SEO credibility.

Social Signals: Social media shares and engagement play a significant role in SEO. A six-month pre-marketing strategy gives you ample time to build a strong social presence and generate social signals that indicate your property’s relevance and popularity exactly where your buyers are looking.

2. Building Anticipation and Demand
Imagine this scenario: You unveil your scheme with a big splash six months before it’s ready for reservations. What happens? You create anticipation and excitement, start collecting future buyers’ contact details setting the stage for high demand once the properties are available.

Here’s how this works:

Exclusive Previews: Offer exclusive glimpses of your upcoming properties, showcasing their unique features and designs. Create a sense of exclusivity and desirability that motivates potential buyers to wait eagerly for the launch.

Early Bird Incentives: Provide incentives for early interest, such as priority reservations or special pricing. This not only incentivises potential buyers to engage but also creates a sense of urgency.

Engaging Teasers: Use teaser campaigns to maintain interest and engagement. Share regular updates about the development’s progress, sneak peeks of the neighbourhood, and engaging stories about the design process.

Email Lists: Build a robust email list during your pre-marketing phase. These subscribers are your warmest leads, ready to convert as soon as reservations open.

3. Leveraging Local SEO for Neighbourhood Dominance
Local SEO is pivotal for property developers. When potential buyers search for properties in a specific location, you want your developments to be front and centre. Here’s how pre-marketing supports local SEO dominance:

Location-Centric Content: Craft content that spotlights the area, nearby bars, restaurants, coffee shops, schools, parks, and lifestyle features. Google favours content that provides valuable information about the local area.

Google My Business: Claim and optimise your Google My Business listing well in advance. Fill it with rich details about your upcoming development, complete with high-quality images and reviews as they start coming in.

Local Citations: During your pre-marketing phase, ensure your business is listed accurately across local directories and review sites. Consistency in NAP (Name, Address, Phone) information is key.

Community Engagement: Engage with the local community through events, partnerships, or sponsorships. This not only builds goodwill but also increases your local visibility.

4. Nurturing Relationships for Sales Success
Pre-marketing isn’t just about attracting potential buyers; it’s about nurturing relationships that lead to successful sales. Here’s how this strategy supports relationship-building:

Lead Generation: Use your pre-marketing efforts to generate a pool of interested leads. These leads are in various stages of readiness to purchase, and your ongoing engagement can nurture them towards conversion.

Educational Content: Provide valuable content that helps potential buyers make informed decisions. Address common questions, concerns, and considerations related to property purchases.

Personalisation: Tailor your communications to individual preferences and needs. Segment your leads and provide them with personalised information and offers.

Feedback Loops: Encourage feedback and engagement. Use surveys, polls, and direct communication to understand what potential buyers are looking for and how you can meet their needs.

In conclusion, pre-marketing your upcoming properties up to six months in advance isn’t just a strategy; it’s a potent formula for SEO success and sales momentum. By leveraging this approach, you can lay the groundwork for Google page one rankings, build anticipation, and nurture relationships that lead to thriving sales. It’s not just about being ready for the market; it’s about dominating it.

So, why wait? Start your pre-marketing journey today. Complete the fields below or call me, Paul Skuse on 0117 959 6444.


The Property Bubble hasn’t burst but has certainly deflated.

July 24, 2023

So now is the time to sharpen the marketing toolkit.

Author | Paul Skuse, Oakfield Design & Creation

So now is the time to sharpen the marketing toolkit.

At a time when marketing properties off-plan has become, or should I say – returned to – a considered, sometimes relentless, often challenging, but ultimately rewarding and successful pursuit, the overall strategies that worked for the past three years are by no means obsolete, but now only part of the equation.

The way many things were done pre-pandemic still hold true today, but the world has moved on apace. Social media and content marketing have advanced significantly as marketing tools as our “buyers’ eyeballs” have been moved away from Rightmove as the only way to successfully market developments.

Animated CGI films, live streaming or pre-recorded Insta Reels and YouTube Shorts have become ubiquitous. LinkedIn (who is still trying to work out what it is I feel) is now playing host to agents advertising the latest developments in our feeds daily.

Pinterest won’t be far behind and Meta’s Threads will certainly pull eyeballs away from Twitter as it continues its take-off.

But the foundational marketing elements are also still as powerful (and now often even more powerful than before) as tools that get the right message across in the right way at the right time.

Tools that cut through the noise and filler, tools that actually capture attention and offer value.

Emailing the database was and is still a massively powerful tool. MailChimp and other email apps give us the insight, the hard facts we need about viewing, opening and click through rates. We see exactly what our audience is interested in, how they follow the links from their inbox to our websites and how many times. This information is priceless and when known and followed up on, often leads to engagement and ultimately to sales.

Only 3% of our databases are actively looking to purchase at any time. By seeing who this 3% is we turn marketing into sales effortlessly.

Website strategy and content, for both humans and Google consumption, landing pages, key messaging, clear calls-to-action, banner advertising, print advertising (in certain locations and when key for certain demographics) all still work. They just need to be part of the overall planned strategy, not “I tried that once and it didn’t work so I won’t try again” excuse.

Slow Release Not Fire Hosing

A constant stream of fresh CGI imagery (both animated fly-through and films as well as still imagery) and messaging is required, rolled out over weeks and months, not all thrown on to Rightmove at launch. A slower release of fresh imagery to keep the buyers interested and engaged. We’re still looking at the same budget and number of images here, just released across time not all at once.

Printed brochures are making a return. Yes, analogue is making a return in some parts. We are finding on certain schemes buyers are asking sales agents for a printed copy to take away and peruse as a key component in the customer buying journey. Short run printing is the new long run.

Website organic ranking through the clever use of copy and content – not just throwing words out – is still paramount. This needs strategising months in advance before the scheme launch so that Google has had the time to index and rank in time for the marketing phase. This, alongside Google Ads at the launch phase work hand in hand to drive the right traffic to client’s websites at the right time.

That traffic is the 3%!

What is required is a joined-up marketing strategy, to pull all these strands together, not a scattergun approach.

What is required is a way to analyse the outputs and to understand what is working and what isn’t. What is needed is a clear understanding of the way marketing has evolved.

What is required is to shout louder, more often, for longer… but in the right places at the right times.

We call it “squeezing the lemon”. Creating and getting as much use from the same budget, from all content, created across all platforms but in a clear, determined and coherent way.

Get in touch if you’d like find out more about how to create and run a content marketing strategy that gets returns in this new challenging climate.


Rather than fighting the planning system there’s a way to manage and accelerate the system

July 5, 2023

How CGI images are playing an important role in achieving positive planning decisions across a wide range of urban and rural developments.

Author | Paul Skuse, Oakfield Design & Creation

“Planning is broken.”

This is a statement we hear most weeks from our clients, not always in such polite language.

And while a fix to the entire system is not an easy task – almost impossible according to some, we can use specific tools to accelerate the process and facilitate a positive decision with the town and district planning offices.

One important tool is incorporating high-end CGI images that showcase the proposed scheme into the planning application itself, helping the planning officers to fully understand the development in full context.

More and more, we see our images playing an important role in achieving positive decisions across a wide range of urban and rural developments.

Perception is everything.

Imagine you’re a planning officer, faced with the usual submission containing a set of architects simply drawn elevations and site plans amongst a host of other information and being asked to imagine exactly how this scheme will look, in terms of both design and in context within its environment.

It’s like asking someone to fully understand how a landscape looks based purely on supplying them with an OS map.

Not easy… at best. Ponderous, non-useful and not in the best interests of the viewer.

Now imagine supplying this same person with a 3D aerial image across that same landscape from Google Earth.

Now they understand what they are seeing, all ambiguity is gone.

In planning, a huge hurdle in the process is immediately taken away with CGI imagery.

A great development design is showcased and now fully understood. Officers and residents at public consultations are given peace of mind – ahhh, so this scheme won’t be another faceless, homogenous parcel of boring boxes. This design and configuration will be attractive, will fit in with – and often enhance what has already been built in the immediate area.

Submission at the planning stage is actually marketing. Painting the picture, telling the story, giving a true indication of the design and how it fits into the vernacular and location, offering peace of mind to all.

Marketing to help all parties fully understand – and be able to buy into – the great design of the homes, the entire developments and commercial schemes that are been offered.

For our clients the return on investment is huge and like never before, speed of consent has become even more critical to both developers and the councillors alike.

All parties need these applications to go through as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Rather than fighting the system it’s now a case of working to help manage and accelerate the system with a tool that has proven time and time again to get positive outcomes and results.

What Logo Identity Works Best For Property Development

June 14, 2023

We explain why creating the right brand is a careful balance of strategy and logic blended with artistry.

Author | Paul Skuse, Oakfield Design & Creation

We explain why creating the right brand is a careful balance of strategy and logic blended with artistry.

In a recent branding strategy meeting for a new development I was asked a common question.

“Is a geometric logo, similar to those I generally see out in the marketplace, the best option or should we look for something different?”

To which I answered, “yes.”

And “yes.”

When it comes to creating a brand identity, the correct personality for a scheme, sometimes a geometric style icon above the name is the best option. This tried and tested method has proved very successful over the years for housing developments and because of this, developers now recognise the style as a safe and established method for building a scheme’s brand.

Then again, sometimes playing with the typography itself can be a more attractive option. A clever use of the typeface or internal styling within this font can be very impactful.

And then at other times, the cleanest, simplest style of brand identity can actually be strongest route. This ‘logotype’ format showcases just the name in a classic or contemporary type style. By stripping away any icons or other graphics we can create a strong, solid brand identity with a no-nonsense appeal.

But sometimes going ‘off-piste’ can be the most fun and most impactful for a development’s branding.

By creating an identity that buyers wouldn’t expect, yet fits perfectly with the scheme and location itself, we allow the development to stand out from the competition in the marketplace and create genuine differentiation.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ style when it comes to creating the right brand identity for a development. Consideration of the buyer demographics and the architectural style of the scheme should be brought into the creative process.

The branding needs to also match and reflect the personality of the area in which the scheme is located, whether it’s an urban or countryside location. Are we portraying an idyllic setting of somewhere being gentrified?

All of these moving parts need to be brought into the equation when asking ourselves what will actually work best. By marrying things together to create the perfect brief we then have the options in front of us that allow the right branding to match each development.

Resonance is key. Instant resonance.

Creating the right brand is a careful balance of strategy and logic blended with artistry. When this is adhered to the creative works at every level allowing the scheme to capture the attention of the audience within that first 0.3 second window when the ‘yes, this is for me’ decision, made subconsciously, in the buyers’ mind is made.

No pressure there then!

Speed Now Packs A Bigger Punch for CGI Films

May 23, 2023

The days of long, languid CGI FILMS are gone, being replaced with short, snappy sequences that mirror the social media demand for disruption of the viewer’s eyeline.

Author | Paul Skuse, Oakfield Design & Creation

In an arms race for cut-through, CGI sequences are getting shorter and faster as attention spans become even shorter still.

Those of a certain vintage will remember the epic fight scene in Rocky IV between Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago, still classed as the finest fight scene ever filmed and directed.

Sylvester Stallone recently went back into the editing studio to re-cut this entire scene from the movie for the modern viewer, as the original sequences from 1985 are, in his words, “just too damned slow and cumbersome for today’s world.”

We’ve witnessed the exact same shift in viewing tolerances with our recent CGI film sequences. But instead of a 35-year change in the process, we’ve seen the attention span of our viewers plummet in the last five years.

The excerpt shown here is just a small part of the opening sequence from a 2018 urban apartment scheme in Birmingham and explores how we would now look to re-cut this original sequence from 27 seconds to 8 seconds just to hold the viewers’ attention.

That’s a reduction to a third of the time, in just five years!

Basically, we’re moving from CGI film production to film trailers.

The days of long, languid shots and smooth tracking pans are gone. We’re replacing these tools with short, snappy sequences that mirror the social media (and I include LinkedIn in this) demand for disruption of the viewer’s eyeline, to cut through the vast amount of content being pumped out.

It’s an arms race. Our CGI sequences are getting shorter as attention spans become even shorter still.

How far this particular trend will extend will be interesting to see, but I believe we have a little way to go before we reach the cut off point. As long as we ease back well before we reach the realm of ‘Blipverts’ (one to three second advertising segments) or perhaps the trend will buck as we sprint towards a saturation point of the content we’re all willing to consume.

One thing is for sure though, the next stages will need to be faster and faster as we scroll quicker and quicker.

Zen And The Art of Floor Plan Design

April 25, 2023

The evolution of interior design is proving to be very appealing and successful, but are your floor plans following this same clean design style?

Author | Paul Skuse, Oakfield Design & Creation

Interior design for property development has seen a recent move from the popular “Soft-Scandi” approach and is now referencing terms such as Japandi (a combination of Scandinavian functionality with Japanese rustic minimalism) with following the lines of minimalist, uncluttered, design – maximising space and light.

This evolution of interior spaces is proving to be very appealing and successful, but are your floor plans following this same clean and orderly design style?

We recently “inherited” some previously designed floor plans as we were commissioned to take over the branding, design and marketing for a contemporary residential scheme and were amazed at the level of information that was loaded into the existing marketing floor plans that we were supplied.

The herringbone timber flooring to the ground floor and carpets to the upper levels were shown in full graphic illustration, confusing the potential buyer’s eye and detracting from what our plans are really wanting to portray – space and light.

Often, in the marketplace, we see plans that are a level better than this “load everything into the plans including the kitchen sink (although we advocate adding the sink and hob positions to our plans as an important addition!)” but are still too cramped and infilled with heavy colours or dark tints.

When it comes to creating marketing plans for houses (and apartments) that work at an optimal level that are informative and easy to understand, I’m from the Zen-like school of thinking.

Clean, crisp and simple. White space, minimal furniture clearly giving a sense of perspective of each room’s size. Light grey or light colour tints for the exterior and stud walls. A super-light tint surrounding the plans to accentuate the white space of the floor plans themselves.

Dims should be listed alongside, not placed inside the plans themselves. We also like to add small arrows to our plans to show the exact position the dimensions are measured from, especially with rooms that have a dog-leg design layout.

And finally, although of primary importance, size matters. Too often we see a three-storey, five bed home with its floor plans all squeezed onto a single page. We’re selling square footage here so look to keep one or a max of two plans side by side on a full page, allowing our buyers to really study the architectural and interior design and understand the flow of the rooms and entire home.

By showing less we can actually show more and give our viewers a much better understanding and representation of the homes we’re marketing to them.

Apartment full-floor and individual plans follow this same set of principals but also have their own additional idiosyncrasies which I’ll discuss in a later article.

How Decreasing Light Can Help Increase Desirability

April 3, 2023

Although they always look stunning in the sunshine, not every property development marketing CGI image or film needs to be lit as if it’s noon and a beautiful sunny July day.

Author | Paul Skuse, Oakfield Design & Creation

Although they always look stunning in the sunshine, not every property development marketing CGI image or film needs to be lit as if it’s noon and a beautiful sunny July day.

Yes, using gorgeous sunny conditions when creating house type or street scene exteriors and interior room sets works perfectly in showcasing a space or elevation and illustrating the desirability of certain spaces.

But sometimes the room or setting can be enhanced by moving away from the norm and showcasing with lower light levels or in some cases even night-time.

Bedrooms are a great first example. We spend almost our entire time in bedrooms when light levels are lowest. They are our sanctuary, a quiet place and when dressed and lit in such a way we can really portray the ambience and tranquillity of these spaces. We’re selling the lifestyle not just the room, painting a picture and an even more realistic understanding of the homes we’re marketing off-plan.

We can bring the same desirability to other living spaces also. Sometimes a cityscape view from an urban apartment’s living space can be more attractive at night. By moving from a cool urban vibe by day, to a calm sophisticated space by night, we can exhibit the best of a city location to hook into our demographic’s aspirational lifestyle.

Interior lighting has such an effect on our environments, sometimes even from the outside. At Charterhouse Yard we wanted to showcase how the timber slatted exterior window features enhanced the architecture as the sun dropped in the sky and day turned to dusk.

By taking the time to really focus on each room or elevation in detail there are times when we can use low light to really highlight a space to maximise its desirability in the viewers mind and drive enquiries.

The Effectiveness of Opening Doors in Property Development Marketing

March 23, 2023

Have you ever stopped to consider how important doors are in the effectiveness of property development marketing?

Author | Paul Skuse, Oakfield Design & Creation

Have you ever stopped to consider how important doors are in the effectiveness of property development marketing?

I can guess that’s not a question you’re asked very often.

In this age of the social media arms-race everybody is employing the technique of “disrupting the eye” as the only way to cut through the sheer weight of content now on view. Just take a look at your Pinterest feed, it seems that every third placeholder these days is a ‘fast-moving action’ advert. As annoying as this tactic is, it’s works. It’s the same with Facebook or Twitter feeds and LinkedIn posts.

Including this one.

Well, if you can’t beat them…..

But and this is an important but, we’re not just blatantly advertising here with CGI films. We’re showcasing added features and benefits that potential buyers could well miss if we stayed with static images or static room sets.

We’re allowing viewers (your buyers) to make a more informed decision.

By catching attention with opening doors, we can take the viewer into key rooms, or often more importantly, out through one space into the next to illustrate how the architecture and interior design has been designed to add flow to a room.

This is especially important when showcasing modern family living with large kitchen/dining/living spaces. By opening the large bi-fold or patio door sets the viewer is immediately drawn to the spacious garden or courtyard, or often with apartments schemes, the city or countryside views on offer with certain units.

It’s also a clever way to showcase how natural light will move through a room. By utilising our software to accurately move the light cast from the sun across an animated CGI room set on a specific calendar day (almost always mid-summer!) we can accurately depict exactly how the fenestration will allow light into an interior space.

Doors are an integral part of the marketing process. By showcasing them in an attractive and considered way we can help your potential buyers make the decision to reserve early, off-plan, with confidence and enable them to guarantee their preferred view or that south facing plot.

As always, we’re using strategies and techniques that allow buyers to reserve with both excitement and peace of mind in equal measure by making the off-plan purchasing experience as informative and enjoyable as possible, opening the door to more and quicker sales.

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that pun!