By Maggie FitzRoy, Contributing Writer
After more than 20 years in the marketing and public relations business, Maxine McBride has honed a thorough understanding of the building and real estate industries.
Her Jacksonville-based firm Clockwork Marketing serves a variety of businesses and industries, but she started the company to provide services to builders and developers.
Today, more than 60 percent of her client base is real estate-related, including residential and commercial builders, contractors and real estate firms.
McBride says every market is different and that “with real estate, no one size fits all.”
She understands that for builders and developers, “Realtors are their number one customer, or they should be, because they can bring the people in.”
And, McBride says, while she and her staff realize what builders and developers need is traffic to their websites, “What they really need is traffic in people walking into their door — their model homes.”
Which she and her staff strive to drive.
“We love what we do and we’re really good at it,” McBride says of the staff of eight, including herself.
“We have a lot of expertise in real estate,” she says, and clients “get the whole team working for them.”
McBride, who grew up in Bradenton, started the company in Sarasota in 1993.
She and her husband, a developer, had just returned from a two-year stint in England, where she’d worked for an advertising firm that specialized in real estate.
She chose the name “Clockwork” because she has always been an organized person, one who is very structured with budgets and the timing of projects.
McBride started the company to provide marketing services to builders and developers who didn’t have the in-house capacity to get their marketing taken care of, which she says the firm continues to do, because in the industry, “internal marketing departments tend to be small, with big jobs.”
When McBride and her husband moved to Jacksonville five years after her company launched, she brought the business with her, while keeping a small office in the Sarasota area.
She and her staff work with construction companies of all sizes, from very small to regional and national.
They do public relations work, from news releases to feature articles to pitching stories to media outlets. They also create content for print and online that can be translated in a lot of ways.
That is because people consume information in so many different ways today, McBride says. And because every real estate market is different.
“A marketing plan for Ponte Vedra would be very different from one of the new communities off (County Road) 210. With different markets you have to pay attention in a hyperlocal way,” she said.
Research is critical, McBride says. “I like to focus on the research and develop marketing that supports the research.”
Because Clockwork also has clients in Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville and Sarasota, she is aware of how those markets differ from the ones in Jacksonville.
Northeast Florida does not have a large number of international buyers, according to research generated by the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors.
“But in Sarasota, you’ve got to pay attention to the international market and also the snowbird market,” she says.
McBride studies newspaper subscriptions for various ZIP codes, gleaning insight into where people get their information.
For example, in Sarasota, which has a large snowbird population, newspaper sales tend to go up when snowbirds are in town, which is when real estate advertising needs to increase.
In Jacksonville, however, which does not have a large snowbird population, “consistency is really key,” McBride says.
It’s really hard to be successful when putting money in and out of advertising. People don’t buy houses every day, so “you’ve got to be consistent. It’s a long-term decision.”
In addition, McBride said, the JAX Chamber does an excellent job of bringing businesses to town, which has a huge impact on the real estate market.
Paying attention to the relocation piece is important for Realtors, who need to be experts on new or soon-to-be-developed communities.
Throughout the recession, Clockwork Marketing was able to maintain its real estate-based clients and McBride did not have to reduce her staff.
Employees just had to come up with different strategies, such as helping developers reposition projects.
Linda Sherrer, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty, says her agency had to make changes to their budget during those “ugly years” of the downturn.
But the brokerage’s long-term relationship with Clockwork Marketing “was one expense we did not trim,” she said.
“I have been in the business 35 years and have worked with a lot of good people, but Maxine and her firm are remarkable,” Sherrer says. “They are professional. They go the extra distance, the entire team. It starts at the top, you can tell.”
Interior designer Judith Sisler Johnston, a 12-year client of Clockwork Marketing, agrees.
She met McBride through the Northeast Florida Builders Association and came to admire her involvement with nonprofits and her volunteer work.
“She is a great networking influence in the industry,” Sisler Johnston says. “Hardworking, committed, very results oriented. She does an exceptional job for the building industry.”