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How To Market Your Urban Ideas

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

6 methods for the next time you’re in that economic planning meeting

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Planning happens in a series of meetings. How you approach these meetings can make or break your idea.

You didn’t think you’re in sales and marketing. But you are.

You say all the smart things you can think of. A common strategy. It might work. It might not.

The problem is you’re not competing to be the smartest person in the room. You’re competing for attention. When the meeting is over will anyone remember?

To Sell Is Human

Six ways

Daniel Pink, author of, “To Sell Is Human” lays out his six ways to build a memorable pitch:

  1. The one-word pitch. Describe your idea in one word.

  2. The question pitch. Frame your idea with a question.

  3. The rhyming pitch. Describe your idea with a rhyme.

  4. The subject line pitch. If you were to write an email about your idea what would the subject line be?

  5. The Twitter pitch. Describe your idea in 280 characters or less.

  6. The Pixar pitch. This is the longest form. Tell a story using the Pixar framework. Once upon a time____. Every day____. One day____. Because of that, _____.Because of that_____. Until finally ____.

How to use

With your next meeting in mind, what is the most important idea that you intend to convey?

Is that you want to eliminate parking requirements? Do you need a specific development in your community? Traffic calming? Affordable housing?

Whatever the idea, take the 6 pitches and treat them as a creative playbook to evolve your thinking.

An example

What if our idea is that we want more developer diversity in our community. We want different size developers. We want developers from different backgrounds. We want developers that reflect our community and build community.

One word

Incremental — This word is unique. More likely used in the software world than in the real estate and urban planning world. It also starts to imply how you might do this. Small. One step at a time.


How might we make development easier for those who don’t have experience developing? Framing questions with, “how might we…” at the beginning is a great opened end tactic. It leads others to contribute to the dialogue. Asking about making development more accessible will start creative thinking.


Human scale will prevail. Paired with the word incremental, this rhyme hints at another possible solution and opens the door to conversation about why some neighborhoods have “that feeling” and others don’t.

Subject line

Next steps for increasing developer diversity in our community. This is the subject line you send as the follow-up to the meeting. What did you hear (see below) and summarize under that subject line.


Increase developer diversity in our community so we can: can build wealth in our community, avoid mass decline, and improve affordability. Human scale will prevail! (164 characters).


Once upon a time, there was a community that was growing slowly but surely. Every day the same ol’ developers would come in with the same ideas. One day, someone who had never developed real estate before came into the office. Because of that, the community worked together to guide them through the difficult-to-navigate process. Because of that, a project that no current developer wanted to do, got underway. Until finally…

I’ll let you write the happy ending.

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