Neighboring Grand Teton National Park and close to downtown Jackson, the Jackson Hole Ranch is a refuge for people and wildlife with 233-acres featuring two homes, a diversity of waterscapes — including the Snake River — and Teton views.
This is a story of how I got this ranch covered in countless media outlets with my marketing efforts that reinforced the property and how my sphere of influence and networking got the ranch under contract in nine days.
Before we can get into the success of this listing, I have to start at the beginning of how it all started.
The listing: Jackson Hole Ranch, $35M
Jackson Hole Ranch wasn’t looking for its next owner, but its next steward. Bill and Sandy Givens spent three decades buying critical wildlife habitat adjacent to Grand Teton National Park for the purpose of protecting it under conservation easements.
The Givens family eventually amassed 233 acres and protected 96 percent from future development through conservation easements. The easements allowed for an additional 18,262 square feet of buildings to be constructed on the ranch.
One of my reasonable first thoughts was that there was a very limited amount of land you could build on relative to the acreage.
An additional hurdle was that a river — the Snake — runs through the ranch and makes accessing a significant portion of it only possible by using a drift boat. You could look at a map of the property and see it was big, but on the ground, it was difficult to understand its vastness.
Finally, the ranch’s main and guest houses were of a past period and were built in service to the landscape rather than to maximize the property’s stunning views of the Tetons and Gros Ventre Mountains. When I saw these, I imagined buyers being slowed down by the houses. How some might just want a solution and not a renovation project.
I heard other agents talk about carving up the ranch and selling the parcels individually because of the conservation easements, but I saw them as a positive. It’s thanks to the easements that the views, habitat and landscape of the ranch are protected for perpetuity. It’s a national park to call home.
I focused my marketing efforts on highlighting the extraordinary experiences possible because of the ranch’s wilderness and wildlife.
The strategy: Media engagement
As a natural storyteller — with experience as an advertising and media executive and a professional photographer and videographer — I spent hours at Jackson Hole Ranch to reinforce the ranch’s marketing narrative. I experienced it in different seasons and at different times of the day (and night). I think I may have visited parts of the property that the sellers never did.
I personally feel the obligation when listing a property to not disgrace it by skimping on doing my homework. The property deserves to be showcased for all of its key attributes: historical, cultural, physical and ecological. This helps prospective buyers identify with the property and recognize whether they would make a great steward for it going forward.
It’s such a privilege to own a property like the Jackson Hole Ranch, and my goal was to ensure the marketing and positioning of the property worked to identify the right buyer.
My main marketing strategy was on the benefits of the conservation easements. It’s because so much of the property is protected that it is the “American Serengeti.” A herd of 600 elk and a pair of nesting bald eagles live on it, and Sandhill cranes migrate through during their mating season.
My days at the ranch were not merely about learning, but also imagery; I took thousands of photos and hours of video of wildlife and also took advantage of the recreational opportunities possible on such a large tract of land. I captured models horseback riding, fly fishing, cross-country skiing and hiking on the property.
In the winter, I shoveled snow off the largest pond and held an ice skating party. In late spring, I crafted a safari-style canvas wall tent and had lunches, bonfires and cocktail hours there. Calling on my creative background, I edited my images and video footage into a 7-minute promotional video.
Buyers intrigued enough by the video and associated print and online materials — produced by myself directing a creative team that included a writer, stylist and an art designer — to want to see the property in person were able to get a nature tour with a stop at a safari tent, not just a listing presentation.
It wasn’t typical at all — we used binoculars, waders and ATVs, and I brought my own drift boat to get buyers across the Snake River to experience the portion of the ranch that is otherwise inaccessible.
The result: Closed in 39 days
Media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Insider and Robb Report responded to the story I offered and ran their own stories. In total, the property appeared in 15 online, offline and social outlets that together had a reach of 625 million people.
Even though the media interest was amazing, that’s not where the buyer came from. The buyer found the property because of me and Live Water’s global network of more than 42,000 buyer prospects and real estate professionals. As soon as I listed the ranch, we shared it via a marketing email, and an industry professional had an immediate fit with a buyer.
Relationships are everything in real estate. I have worked hard to earn a reputation of being an expert on Jackson Hole and its real estate market. Combining this with the sphere of influence Live Water has in the recreational ranch and estate market is powerful.
Although the buyer didn’t come from the media coverage, the attention was still important. The media presence reinforced the property’s value. It also brought in several backup buyers. It’s never guaranteed that the first buyer will work. It’s essential to have other interested buyers.
The initial buyer did work, though. Jackson Hole Ranch was under contract in nine days and closed in 39 days, and the Givens family was thrilled.
The buyer insisted that the safari tent I crafted at Picnic Point be included in the sale. That’s proof that my storytelling approach works. Every detail of showcasing a property is important to enable it to be seen in the best light and find that emotional resonance with a buyer.