Builder Marketing Opportunities Are Online – Your Shrinking Audience – Your Growing Opportunity

In new home marketing beware the urge to repeat the proven, regardless of past results. The temptation to continue doing what worked before is nearly irresistible. Whether it’s using your ‘go to’ fishing lure, driving the same route you’re used to driving, or repeating the same series of lucky steps to ensure your luck hunting white tail deer; people have a tendency to stick to the tried and true. Why do some religious systems hold on to traditions and practices that feel so outdated and have no relevance to people today? It’s time to change the way you market new homes.

Builders are no different! Why do we continue to use marketing methods like bulk direct mail that have a dependable failure rate of 99%? Why are we satisfied that our sales team has a failure rate of 95% when it comes to closing sales? Why do we accept that our sales teams generally only follow up with 35%-40% (if your lucky) of the hard-earned traffic you paid dearly for? Why? The Internet beckons for your attention with incredible new opportunities. Are you interested?

There’s an entirely new day upon us. New home marketing has changed so radically that many builders only recognize that their results have faltered, few understand why. What happened? What changed? What do we do now?

Marketing is Changing

I believe the foundational premise behind most marketing has changed! We’ve spent decades crafting messages to deliver to our prospects. Those methods are known as outbound marketing. But guess what, your prospects aren’t listening… unless they want to. We’ve been relying on the interruptive model of marketing, only using mediums we have grown accustomed to: television, direct mail, print, radio, etc. We ask questions like, “How can we make enough noise to be heard?” “What time do we run the ad to best reach our target audience?” “Should we run in the Washington Post?” All legitimate questions, but not always the correct ones. You’re determined to convince prospective buyers to choose your homes. Your marketing is like mining for gold – the assumption is that if you move enough dirt, you’ll find some gold. Makes sense, right?

In this present day of new home marketing, I believe your challenge is to bring the prospective customers to your message, not the opposite. That’s known as inbound marketing. Buyers have many choices and oh do they choose. They have time, information, easy and quick access, and variety on their side. They no longer have a great deal of tolerance for our marketing preference to intrude into their lives. I call it selective marketing and simply stated it means the customer chooses the marketing stimulus they want, when they want it, and how they want it. According to onlinevideowatch.com, the average YouTube user watches around 50 videos a month. According to Chad Hurley, YouTube CEO and co-founder, “YouTube’s short-form and low-quality, audience-generated videos are attracting about 20 million unique visitors a month. The average video length viewed is 2 1/2 minutes long.”

Today, consumers choose you… or not.

The prevalence of the Internet over the last ten years took many builders by surprise. Even today, many don’t have websites, let alone take advantage of the many other new forms of marketing opportunity: social media, blogging, portals, search engine optimization (SEO), social media optimization (SMO), e-mailing, online PR, listing sites and broad based sales sites like Craig’s list. Be careful though, the Internet is not an advertising medium in the same sense as the Washington Post or Time Magazine. Actually, when it comes to reaching mass markets in an intrusive manner, the Internet is really bad. But that’s not the best way to use the Internet. That’s like using a GPS system to find something in a city your not familiar with without an address. Like the Internet, GPS systems are much more efficient and capable of finding a needle in a haystack, but only if you know your needle.

Is it time to dump the tried and true marketing methods?

The challenge, as stated in the opening paragraph, is to know when to walk away from the accepted, occasionally proven, traditional marketing methods, and when to run. I once heard a story about a woman who always cut the ends off her roasts before she cooked them. Someone asked her why she did it. “I’m not sure, my mom always did it so I do it,” she replied. Her curiosity piqued, the woman called her mother and asked, “why did you always cut the end off a big roast before cooking it, mom?” Her reply, “my pan was too small.”

Resist the temptation to repeat what you’ve always done because you’ve always done it.

Last summer, a client hired me to write copy for a series of 60-second radio spots we purchased for a three-month, multi-media campaign we were kicking off in July. My initial reaction was the tried and true: get a stopwatch and craft the copy. Done! But then it occurred to me that maybe the 60-second spot was a bad idea. “Why not convert three months of 60-second commercials with lots of fluff into three months worth of 10-second commercials that hit the point, fast, furious, way more often, and dead-on target… wham bam! I did it; I broke the mold and did it differently. You can too. And it worked!

Just a few crazy thoughts: How about we build the homes our customers’ want, not the ones we want our customers to want? Let’s make our websites a dynamic experience of design, involvement and creativity. If I can go to BMW’s website and build my Beamer with up to 130,000,000 possibilities, why can’t we do it for prospective homebuyers? How about we create a cooperative venture in a new community and allow the homebuyers to become creatively and financially involved and throw in some sweat equity at the same time. Do you think their level of participation and buy-in would go up? Let’s offer to list our potential buyer’s house – the one they need to sell – on our website.

The Internet has opened up new worlds to us. But they’re smaller, more focused, and less tolerant of marketing advances than ever. What do we do? How do we capitalize on this monumental opportunity? The advent of television opened advertising and marketing up to the masses in ways that up until then were impossible. The Internet has introduced us to micro-opportunities that we’ve yet to know how to reach. But, we must not only reach them, we must know what they want, how they want it, and how they want the good news delivered.

Here’s an example of the power of the Internet reaching micro-opportunities. In June of 2007, Neal Schon (Guitarist for the popular rock band Journey) was searching for a replacement for the bands singer, Steve Perry. He was watching videos and viewed a video of the band The Zoo on YouTube. The lead singer, Arnel Pineda, immediately enthralled Schon and he sent Pineda an email for an audition. Arnel Pineda thought it was a joke and consequently ignored the inquiry. It wasn’t a joke! Arnel Pineda debuted as the lead singer of Journey on Feb. 21, 2008. The rest is history.

When you understand the nearly unlimited marketing power of the Internet and begin leveraging it to your company’s value; you will open up a can of marketing whoopee that you will never want to close. The Internet holds the key to recovering the market you’ve lost. Yes, your audience is shrinking, but your opportunity is growing leaps and bounds.

Tips For Selecting the Best Custom Home Builder

If you’re in the market for a new home and you want to build “from scratch,” this can be a daunting prospect — but you can do it. There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to build your house and customize it to your needs, instead of building a “prefab” home or buying a preowned home.

Contact your local Home builders Association

The first thing you need to do is to find the local Home builders Association in your area. From them, you can get a list of builders in your area that construct new homes. You can also look through the real estate section in your area (either online or through your newspaper) to see who is building what and where. This can help you find out which companies are building what types of homes, so that you can choose a builder who specializes in a type of home you want. Take a look through these listings and know them down by the type of house you want and then find homes in your price range.

Contact your real estate agent

Your real estate agent can also point you in the right direction of someone who can build your home for you. Your real estate agent should not be the ONLY point of reference you have when you’re looking for a builder, but it can help you narrow down your choices.

Ask friends and relatives in your area

If you know someone who has a house in your area that you just adore (and you want one similar to it), you can ask who built it, as well as other specifications such as price, reliability of the builder, and so on. If the homeowner has a home similar to the one you want and they’re really happy with the price, quality, workmanship, and so on, it’s a good bet that you’ll luck out if you hire the same builder.

Going online for homework, too

Although it’s not the only way you should get your information, it’s a good idea to check each of your prospective builders out by going to sites like the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) and checking out a particular company’s background. You don’t want to be left with a substandard, unfinished, or unsatisfactory house because you hired the wrong company.

Narrowing down your choices

Once you’ve got a list of custom home builders in your area, contact each of them and ask them to give you the addresses of some of the homes they have recently built. If homeowners are willing, builders may also be willing to you the names and addresses of those homeowners. You can simply drive by these homes, introduce yourself (or call first, which is a good idea if you want to be polite), and say you’re considering hiring this particular home builder to build a home for you. Most homeowners are happy to recommend a home builder they’ve been pleased with — and most are also happy to give you an earful if they’re not happy with what they got, such that they will warn you away a particular builder.

One last point: Make sure you also ask these homeowners how responsive their builder was to problems that occurred after the home was built. Most reputable home builders will provide a warranty with their work, and will also be happy to fix small, unforeseen problems that crop up after construction is complete quickly; when homeowners are satisfied with the particular construction company, you know you’ve probably got a winner.

Finding the Ideal Home Builder – 5 Tips for Success

As the real estate market cools, individuals and families considering buying a new home must evaluate many factors. Every search of homes for sale has common elements: location, proximity to good schools and employment, area attractions and distance to family and friends. Some evaluating the market may wish for an older home while others who want to buy a new house prefer the modern amenities common to most new homes offered by various new home builders.

It is a buyer’s market and every new home builder is competing for a shrinking pool of customers. Every home buyer is unique yet each will come across dozens of names when researching the homebuilder industry. The competition is fierce and home builders are outdoing each other with incentives and freebies all designed to bring new home buyers into the sales office. The potential new home buyer is advised to look underneath the noisy sales pitches and marketing efforts and evaluate new home builders based on competence, relevance to individual needs and reputation.

This article will offer 5 tips for success for finding the ideal home builder.

1. Solicit Referrals from Family and Friends
Your friends and family know you best. If they have bought a new home from a homebuilder, ask them how they found the home builder and who they recommend (and indeed, who they would avoid). If you have been inside their home, ask yourself if you like it and ask them if they are having problems. Remember, a referral from friends and family is more valuable than one from a stranger – or a marketing pitch.

2. Research Area Home Builders
87% of future home buyers begin their search online for the simple reason that, because a new home purchase is the biggest purchase of a lifetime, it is best to know your options. But there are a lot of new home builders out there. In busy markets like North Carolina, there are literally dozens all competing for business. Visit their websites. If they invest in a good website with valuable information, it shows they care about demonstrating professionalism and integrity. If they speak to your needs (upmarket, first time home buyer, large family, etc.), it suggests they have worked with people like you. If a website is all glitz and little substance, do not call. If the site has valuable information, interactive floor plans, new house plans, sample photos and the functionality to print plans and brochures, this demonstrates competence. So if you like the site – and like the information it contains – sign up for information. You may be given special promotions and will be the first to hear of new offerings.

3. Research the Experience of Previous Customers
It is extremely unlikely that you will be the first person to buy a home from a prospective homebuilder. Because the internet offers such a diversity of voices and opinions, if you do not know anyone who has worked with a considered homebuilder before, see what the online community has to say about the home builder. Some homebuilders have inspired such contempt that websites exist to showcase reasons to avoid them while others have created incredible loyalty. A little research may save you hours of pain and thousands of dollars.

4. Tour Model Homes and Ask Questions
When a home builder unveils a community of new homes for sale, there will be a model home open for public tours. Take one. Some “tip of the iceberg” questions to ask include: How often will access to the new home be given during building; Are there any fees required that need to be paid upon closing; How many times has a given plan been built; Is there a premium on the home site; What will be built on adjoining properties; What are area zoning laws; and How is code-compliance guaranteed?

5. Read the Paperwork
The new home purchase is a major decision so take the time to read all documents thoroughly. If something is unclear, ask questions. Everybody says “read the fine print” but in this case, perhaps more than any other, this is crucial.

* You may republish this article provided you retain the active hyperlinks below. Copyright 2006, Robert O’Shaughnessy.

* Written on behalf of New Home Builder Orleans Homes

House Plans in 3D – A Market Strategy For Home Builders and Residential Developers

With the economy still forecast to be gloomy and an uncertain road ahead, many residential developments and their builders have put the brakes on new construction projects. For builders and developers in the speculative home building market the strategies for earning a living from what they do best and remaining solvent while doing so are limited and challenging.

Many have resorted to building smaller homes using value engineered construction plans, emphasizing quality not quantity. Much more effort has gone into making a home energy-efficient and utilizing the latest green technologies available today. Also, more affordable homes are being built using less expensive, more standardized materials.

Builders have sharpened their pencils to shrink profit margins, incorporated more productive methods to reduce operating costs and upgraded to the latest technologies to streamline project efficiency. Some have even regrouped, combining resources and developing partnerships with others in their field.

But cost saving tactics can only go so far, especially with bank financing for builders and developers remaining problematic. Creative, private financing has been the alternative for some, however, that is not without its own drawbacks. High interest rates and larger upfront contributing costs required of builders and developers can significantly eat into profit margins.

Many home building companies realizing that future success will depend not only on fresh business practices and sleeker operational models that continually produce less expensive, noticeably better homes are now innovating; stressing more creative approaches to buyer’s needs. The option of marketing their speculative homes via 3D virtual house plans is fast becoming the preferred innovative sales tool.

Today’s buyers want things their way. And they expect a say in what they get. For example, many are more interested in practical and reasonably attractive function than simply fancy form. Small efficient floor plans with flexible space are more relevant than grandiose entrances with huge staircases. Instead of guessing what to build and hoping they will come, listen to prospective homeowners, and give them a chance to personalize each project.

That is why many open-minded builders, thinking outside the box, have been pre-selling semi-customized versions of model homes, through computer modeling of 3D house plans. By providing several base floor plans with full computer generated 3D color views of both the interior and exterior of the proposed new home plan, builders and developers are able to market their projects with the least amount of upfront costs and preparations.

This relatively inexpensive, cost-effective market strategy is a win-win situation worth considering. Builders don’t have to spend a dime in advance on home construction materials or labor costs without knowing the end results. Their sales team and physical presence can be significantly reduced – think virtual office. Actual site visits to model homes would not be encumbered by bad weather or scheduling hassles. Virtual tours would be available on the company website featuring all 3D imagery of the home plans and accompanied by detailed lot information, pricing options and customizations or upgrades.

For a buyer, who can now “shop” from the convenience of his or her home, an initial “walk-through” doesn’t waste either party’s time. With virtual 3D modeling of floor plans future homeowners can see what the proposed residence will look like and get a good impression of spatial relationships within the layout. They can view color options and material choices with respect to exterior siding, trim details and interior finishes.

Buyers still crave customized spaces that look and feel more like unique personal expressions. Starting from the pre-designed computer generated floor plans; buyers would be able to interact with pre-packaged upgrades, color and material choices and other customizable options. All material and finish details such as lighting, fixtures, hardware, appliances, flooring, paint color and exterior siding can then easily be selected and pre-priced. Contracts could be finalized with the least amount of effort.

The marketing strategy of pre-selling new home construction with 3D house plans is an effective method not only for large developments but is especially beneficial for small builders with very little capital and no sales team. A number of our small builder clients with one or two building lots in their inventory have chosen to pre-sell with 3D house plans rather than start risky construction projects on speculation. The money invested in architectural design work pales in comparison to the financing of building construction. And the peace of mind gained from knowing that the project is paid for works wonders on reducing job stress.

Marketing speculative home construction through pre-designed customizable house plans and computer generated 3D modeling is fast becoming the new norm. We have seen this trend both locally and nationwide where future homeowners have a say in the design and construction of their new home and builders have found a new niche for maintaining a profitable business.