Redfin Now Orange County Advertising Campaign

Attracting homeowners in Orange County to Redfin Now via a new marketing campaign

Redfin · Engineering + Product Internship · Summer 2018 · Design, Advertising, Marketing

Intro

During my summer internship at Redfin, I was a part of a small team working to grow an exciting new product offering called Redfin Now. Although my formal role was a software engineering intern, my passion for the business and design sides of product development led me to explore product management at the company. Being a part of a startup-esque environment made me feel more passionate about the product, eventually resulting in me designing an advertisement concept for it.

What is Redfin?

Redfin’s website puts it oh-so-eloquently:

Redfin is a customer-first real estate brokerage that represents people buying and selling homes. Founded and run by technologists, Redfin has a team of experienced, full-service real estate agents who are advocates, not salespeople, earning customer-satisfaction bonuses, not commissions.

What is Redfin Now?

As a fairly new team/project, Redfin Now doesn’t have the same beautifully-written description, so I’ll try my best here:

Redfin Now is a service that takes the hassle out of selling a home. Instead of enduring the inevitable efforts involved in selling a home the traditional way (prepping, listing, and closing), homeowners can receive a top all-cash offer to sell directly to Redfin and later close within days of entering their address online.

As of June 2018, Redfin Now was only available in select markets in Southern California. With plans to expand into Orange County, I was inspired to think of design ideas that would help Redfin Now attract more customers and effectively compete in this new pivotal market.

Inspiration & Goal

I ran across a subway (train system, not sandwich chain) ad online and it looked super cool, so I decided to make one just for fun. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what the ad would be about. Upon thinking about my team at work, I realized that advertising could be integral to the success of Redfin Now as a key player in the Orange County real estate market. So I decided to make an Orange County subway ad for Redfin Now.

But wait a minute, I’ve heard that Los Angeles public transport is pretty bad. If this was representative of the Orange County subway system as a whole, this would be a pretty ineffective advertisement. However, if a significant amount of people within our target market frequented the subway, an ad in this spot would definitely be useful. After doing some cursory research into subway rider demographics, I learned that on average, people who rode the subway tended to be economically active, educated, working people between the ages of 25 and 54, from a wide variety of household sizes. In other words, a sizable portion of subway riders could be homeowners.

Given that many of Redfin Now’s past customers had been “move-up buyers” — people who want to sell their home and use the resultant money to buy a better home — the subway ridership fell closely within our target market. At the same time, many folks with cars in the Orange County area use them instead of public transport, so targeting these individuals with advertising would also be beneficial. After processing these insights, my project goal became clear: Design an ad concept for Orange County billboards, subway stations, and bus stops, specifically targeting move-up buyers.

Design

The essence of Redfin Now is in simplicity. Selling through Redfin Now saves homeowners time (days/a couple weeks instead of months), money (no repair costs, mortgage payments, etc.), and overall convenience and comfort. This results in a hassle-free user experience. Users can choose when to move, which is especially important for move-up buyers, who have a flexible way to buy their next dream home. I thought I could simplify this into just a couple steps:

  1. Homeowner decides to sell home
  2. Homeowner chooses to use Redfin Now service, sells home to Redfin
  3. Homeowner buys new home and moves

Since potential move-up buyers might not have necessarily decided to sell their home but rather have been thinking about it in the back of their minds, I wanted to make an ad that would focus on steps 2 and step 3, and perhaps inspire the homeowner to take action (motivating the decision in step 1).

After some iteration, I made this general ad design in Photoshop:

In order to get the above result, I had to make various conscious design decisions:

  1. Message: I wanted to show how simple it could be for homeowners to sell their home and buy that next dream home that they’ve been craving. This meant presenting the Redfin Now process as simply selling your home directly to Redfin quickly and conveniently, then buying the next home.
  2. Photo: I wanted a photo of a beautiful yet humble home. The modern home pictured is not totally out-of-reach for working folks in Orange County. This particular image provided a blend of luxury (hence a dream home) and familiarity (many California homes have pools, and this one isn’t too excessive or gaudy).
  3. Font Weight/Colors: I wanted the emphasis to be not on our product, but on the customer. Although I used the Redfin brand font (Libre Franklin) for all of the text, I mixed up the weights to emphasize Step 2. I made Step 1 (the Redfin Now part) dark gray and turquoise (matching the Redfin Now brand colors) and Step 2 (the more important part of the customer buying the dream home) red. Given the mutualistic relationship between Redfin Now and the Redfin brokerage (with listing and buying agents), I thought using a red hue similar to the Redfin red was a good way to both attract more attention and subtly associate the buying a new home part with Redfin. Still, I kept the call-to-action as the Redfin Now turquoise.
  4. Font Size: I kept the number of words/text to a minimum, and made sure all text was large and clearly readable, since the ad would need to quickly grab and maintain attention from busy people in low-attention-span environments during commutes and events at subway stations and roads.

I think this was a solid design, and got really positive feedback from my team’s product manager when I showed it to him.

Results

I applied the above design to mockups for subway stations, bus stops, and billboards — I was pretty happy with the results, since this was my first time doing this kind of broad ad concept. See them in the Gallery below.

Learnings

Since external advertising wasn’t really on the short-term roadmap at the time and the fact that the Redfin website serves as a great customer referral source already, this design remained a (useful) concept. For me though, the fun was in the combination of design and business; iterating through the design process was a worthwhile experience, as I learned how to apply information about the business (target market, demographics, etc.) in order to effectively reach new customers.

After receiving some feedback on my process from Don, my product manager, I learned that my perception of a move-up buyer mindset was a bit flawed.

The first step isn’t that you want to sell your house. It’s actually deciding that you want another home (or found your dream home). At that point, you’re trying to figure out how you can get that dream home. Selling is probably a necessary step, so then your mind will switch to “how do I sell my house?” “How much can I get for my house?”

I didn’t realize that the first step is actually deciding to get a new home, then selling in order to better afford the new home. After these decisions, the move-up buyer’s mindset would shift focus to getting the maximum amount of money from selling their home; perhaps our advertising would need to focus on the top-offer that we give homeowners. This becomes especially important given that since our current stage focuses on growth, not profitability, these top-offers are actually top-notch.

Overall, although this wasn’t a formal part of my internship, playing around with some marketing and designing an ad was definitely a worthwhile and enjoyable learning experience!

Gallery

Subway

Billboard

Bus Stop