January 26 2009

Are your sales people network ready?

What would you say if someone with a video camera came up to you and asked for a 30 second pitch on your company or new home community?

That's exactly what I did on the exhibitor floor at the 2009 International Builder Show (IBS).  I was roaming the floor looking for interesting companies.  Then I would ask people if they wanted to get some air time while contributing to my video blog.  My video blog is something I’m having fun with and at the same time I’m exploring ways to make my blog more interesting and captivating...or at least original.  

Here are the questions I came up with to stimulate participation:

  1. Why do builders need to use your product or service?
  2. What are you doing to generate leads in this economy?
  3. What’s one fun thing you’re doing while in Vegas?

I realized almost immediately the importance of a sales person’s readiness to give a 30 second company pitch.  Of course it got me thinking about what I would say if someone with a video camera came up to me and asked ‘why do homebuilders need to use New Homes Directory.com?’  I would not have been prepared for a 30 second pitch at the time of this ideation.

We all know that in advertising, we have literally seconds to capture the attention of our audience.  The same also goes for networking.  You attend a networking event, meet people, and you have only a few moments to share about your company.  Will you be captivating and original or will you deliver the same ole, same ole?

I had dinner plans with Jeff Shore that night and planned on telling him about my video blogging ideas.  I knew he would ask what my 30-second pitch was so I had to prepare before dinner.

Here’s what I came up with.

All builders need traffic.  New Homes Directory.com drives A-list traffic to homebuilders.  Every day thousands of consumers search Google, Yahoo!, and MSN for new homes.  These are the consumers on New Homes Directory.com.  When a homebuilder community is listed on New Homes Directory.com, those consumers can find your homes.  If not, you’re missing out on a segment of some of the most qualified home shoppers there are today.

Boom! There it is.  Let me know what you think of my 30-second pitch. Can I do better?  Am I missing any critical elements of the perfect 30-second pitch?

And tell me if both you and your sales agents are prepared for the quick pitch of your company or new home community.

Check out the pitches from the following people.  And by the way, you guys who participated in my video blog are awesome.  Your companies are lucky to have you represent them.  

Companies that could not get air time due to corporate restrains are Bank of America, Wells Fargo Mortgage, 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty (they actually kicked me out of their booth), and Ford to name just a few. They may need to rethink their policies in the near future.  The west is wild again.

Krisann Parker - Brown with Heatilator and HeatGlo

 
Brennen McLean with Lasso Data Systems Inc.
 
 
Mark Frederick with Homes.com
 
 
Michael Loughery with CertainTeed
 

I know you may be thinking...what about the other questions.  Stay tuned.  I'll post them soon.

Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com


January 12 2009

Want sex? Start with a dialogue.

The same goes for sales.

Sex and Home Sales – The Same?

Can selling a home be compared to sex?  I believe so.  If you think this analogy is off base, think of this: sex is asking someone to share something deeply personal, a part of themselves.  Not much is more personal than asking someone for their life savings, credit history, and commitment that could last forever.   Not too far off base.

Most adults, if not familiar with sex, are at least familiar with the idea.  And it doesn’t take an idiot to know that you just don’t go up to a person and ask for it.  So why do companies employ the same tactics with their consumers?  With no knowledge of a new consumer, why do sales professionals launch right into the close of the sale?

Consumers feel the same discomfort with the hard sell as they would if someone just came up and asked for sex.  Just ask any person that has answered the call of a telemarketer.  How would you feel if someone you didn’t know just came up and asked you for sex? (And by the way if you do want it I am going to need a $3000 check as a good faith deposit!)  Most would think the person asking is a disgusting pig.  Do you not think that consumers have the same opinion of hard selling sales people?  They do.  We all do.

Sex starts with a dialogue – so do sales.  If you’re not interested in a two-way dialogue with your consumers, you are no different from that guy in the bar looking to pick up chicks to take home for the one-nighter.

While courting, advertising our positive attributes is a must.  Advertising and Marketing is a must in life. In friendships, dating, and marriage, we must give the other person a reason for the relationship.  In business, as in relationships, we must give consumers a reason to consume.  So we advertise and we market.

If your marketing efforts were compared to a dating, how would your consumers describe your company as a date?

Are you the bar hopping slimeball, just looking to hook up that night?
This is the company or sales person that gives the hard sell.  They care only about getting the check.  They typically don’t work at a dialogue, don’t follow up, and don’t attempt to nurture a relationship.  This company or sales person cares nothing about the consumer, just the check.  

Would they describe you as an egotistical pig or chauvinist?  A person that is too full of themselves to notice anything about their date?   This is the company or sales person that thinks their service or product is so superior that nothing needs improvement (just look at all the awards we’ve won!)– the consumer is lucky even to have a chance to purchase. They never ask what the consumer wants and they don’t listen to consumer feedback.  This company or sales person thinks they know everything.  They know exactly what the consumer wants and needs, without ever having to ask the consumer.  They are God’s gift to consumers.  So they think.

Would they describe you as the person who slept with them, then never called?
This is the company or sales person that got the sale but never follows up with any type of communication.  It’s like the consumer never existed.  No thank you.  No additional email campaigns. No nothing.

Are you the two-timer, or (gasp!) three, four, five-timer?  Now that you have them on the hook, they are having a relationship - if it can be called that – with your answering machine.  This is the company that is only concerned about the next sale.  They got your sale, but the next sale is more important.  With this company, customer service is a train wreck.  They route your call to another country and you can’t understand a thing they are saying. They keep you on hold for over 10 minutes. The incompetent first line ‘customer service representative’ then proceeds to transfer you to the next incompetent ‘customer service rep’.  If you’re lucky enough not to have your call dropped and have to start the suicidal process all over again, you end up explaining your problem to three different levels of incompetents, only to end up leaving a message for seemingly the only person in the world that can solve your problem.  And of course, you will not get a call or email back in this lifetime.

Oh yes, as consumers, we love to feel like yesterdays buyer.  Not.

Are you a cheat?  This is the company that promises, gets the sale, but then doesn’t fulfill their promise.  Sure, they promise and vow to be there; that they will close your mortgage loan on time; that they will fix your warranty items; one size fits all- only to completely disregard their initial promise.  There are few worse feelings as a consumer than the feeling of betrayal.  

Are you the old guy in the club?  This is the company or sales person that hasn’t changed a thing in forever.  He thinks the comb over (poorly designed website and living sign advertising) goes unnoticed.  The comb over fools no one but you. The comb over (and that half-asleep kid on the corner with headphones and your sign) isn’t selling anything. It’s a deception that makes you think you look good.  To add insult to injury, his marketing message (pick up line) is cheesy, stale, outdated, and brazenly ineffective.

ARE YOU THE ONE THEY ARE ATTRACTED TO?  They know that even though you’re not perfect you are HUMAN.  You try hard and you admit and apologize when you’re wrong.  This is the company that identifies consumer needs and provides the solution.  This company wants a long-term relationship and so they communicate regularly and openly; they deliver desired content regularly; they are not afraid of admitting mistakes and righting wrongs.  Wow.  Show me the bed and here is my good faith deposit, you’re not a cop, are you?

In case you're not sure of some of the descriptions above, here are a couple of links that might help:) disgusting pig; the old guy in the club.

Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com


January 11 2009

NHD Stats Live and Google Analytics - Litmus Test

I've written this blog post as a way to show definatively the LIVE and accurate status of the New Homes Directory.com (NHD) stats reporting system because we have had Google Analytics discrepancies.

NHD Live Stats uses a simple database script that counts each time a user clicks on a community link. When a click occurs, 1 is added to the existing number of clicks in the database for that community.  The best way to see how the stats work is by doing the following, what I call, litmus test.

New Homes Directory Stats and Google Analytics Litmus Test

The purpose of this litmus test is to resolve the discrepancy between the number of clicks NHD reports compared to the number of referrals Google Analytics reports.

Browser Window 1 - Open the NewHomesDirectory.com page where one of your communities are listed. For the sake of this test, we'll call the community, Community X.  Community X represents the community we will be referring to during this litmus test.

Browser Window 2 - Login to NHD's Live Stats and find the report that shows the number of current click thrus for Community X. Note the number of clicks for Community X.

Browser Window 3 - Login to Google Analytics and find the report that shows the number of referrals for Community X. Note the number of referrals for Community X.

Go to the NewHomesDirectory.com page where Community X is and click on the community link.

Refresh the NHD report page.  The number of clicks for Community X will increase by one.

Refresh the Google Analytics referring report page.  You will notice that the report will not change.

The purpose of this litmus test is to show that the number of clicks reported by NHD are correct and the number of referrals that GA displays is incorrect.

There are solutions to increase the reporting accuracy of Google Analytics, however, it is also important to understand that the stats NHD delivers each month to clients are completely accurate.

Sincerely,

Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com


January 11 2009

Google Analytics Discrepancy Solutions

Hi All,
 
I have completed my initials tests of what is called Google Analytics “Campaigns” and the tests were positive.  Google Analytics recorded 7 visits from us clicking the link I asked y’all to click yesterday which is a far cry from the normal “0” clickthroughs Google Analytics usually reports.  This solution may not be 100%, but it will be a lot closer than what we see now.
 
So, the solution to our Google Analytics “issues”?  Please ask customers if they use Google Analytics for their stat tracking.  If they do, we will send them a “White Sheet” that I will be creating to send to them, and also let them know that our clickthroughs will be tracked inside what is known as “Campaigns” under “Traffic Sources”.  We will then need to take the URL’s that they send to us and customize them with the Google Analytics URL Tool located here:
 
http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55578&ctx=sibling
 
For the website URL, please put in the URL that the customer gives you.
 
For the campaign source, please put in newhomesdirectory.  This is how the customer knows that the clicks come from us.
 
For the campaign medium, please use cpc to indicate that this is a cost per click.  If it’s just a standard, non-cpc account, just put in listing.
 
For the campaign content, I would recommend using the community name (with no spaces or funky characters) so that the customer may be able to tell what community a particular click is for, but you may leave this blank if you prefer.  If you put in information in this field, they can see a breakdown of their different communities under “Ad Versions” under traffic sources.  This is great for any customer that has several communities as they can see a breakdown of clicks coming to their website at the community level.
 
Finally, for the campaign name, please use newhomesdirectory_listings.
 
Once you have all of the above fields set, press “Generate URL”.  Copy and paste the new URL into the URL field in the admin on the NHD.com site and then save the changes.
 
It takes up to 24 hours for Google Analytics to start showing clickthroughs.
 
And please let the customer know that this will NOT work 100%.  There are always people that have Javascript turned off or other glitches in the machine that might not allow a particular click to register, but this solution will get us MUCH closer to where we SHOULD be.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Example:

?utm_source=newhomesdirectory&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=COMMUNITYNAME&utm_campaign=newhomesdirectory_listings
 
? first for links without tags
& first for links with tags
 
The community name goes where it says Community name

--------------------------------------------------------------
 
Thank you, and please let me know if you have any questions regarding any of this.  Personally, I plan on sleeping MUCH better tonight after figuring this out.

Mike Sipes - Dark Lord of IT
New Homes Directory.com


January 11 2009

Google Analytics Discrepancies - Updated March 2010

This blog post addresses the discrepancies that are occuring between the number of clicks New Homes Directory.com is reporting as compared to the number of clicks Google Analytics (GA) is reporting in the referrers report. I completely understand your need to explain the discrepancies betweenthe traffic NHD is recording and the traffic Google Analytics isshowing so I have talked to several other people and researched the topic on the web.

It has been our experience that GA is signifantly under reporting referring clicks from web sources other than Google Adwords.  After having more research done on GA, it appears NHD is not alone when it comes to GA under reporting traffic from all outside referring sites. 

Below are a few comments from people using PPC ads on Facebook. 

Here are some additional complaints and links to their discussions.

-------------------------------------------------------
 
http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google+Analytics/thread?tid=6ac8dffef5a484f1&hl=en
 
The clicks I pay for from Facebook don't match the recorded hits from Facebook on my google analytics.  For example on the 6th of April I paid for 49 clicks directly to my site but my google analytics package only received 8 hits from Facebook.  

The tracking code is correct on each page as it records a couple of hits per page so not sure why they are so different.  Any help would be appreciated?

-------------------------------------------------------
 
http://www.webmasterworld.com/analytics/3613628.htm
 
I recently purchased some advertising on facebook. I got a fair amount of clickthroughs, about the same I get a day from adwords. however when I go to check my analytics stats the next day, I see no mention of these visitors in analytics. I am certain the ad was set up properly. Any thoughts?

-------------------------------------------------------
 
http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google+Analytics/thread?tid=3c60ac1fe6a36c65&hl=en

Hi all,
we've been running multiple facebook ad campaigns with much success lately. According to facebook ad reporting, we get anywhere between 300 and 400 clicks per day per ad. However, when I go to GA for that target site (where the ads send people to) the traffic source (facebook.com) indicates that there were between 5 and 7 visits for any given day. How come this discrepancy? Any ideas? Have you experienced the same issue?

Regards,
Gustavo

-------------------------------------------------------

Additionally, I found a great third party blog post about the reliability of Google Analytics (GA).  Notice the blog post was posted August of 2006.  There are currently 75 replies – the last comment being posted February of 2009.  There are hundreds of web pages that support the unreliability of GA, particularly as it pertains to UNDER reporting traffic.  While we are always trying to find a solution, we are currently writing an official statement for all of our GA using builder clients.  It will include a reference to this blog post.

This recently has become a major topic of discussion with several builder clients because of our PPC fee model along with the increasing popularity of GA.  Because Google has become one of the most popular brands in this country, it almost goes without saying that Google could be inaccurate.

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/how-reliable-is-google-analytics

In a nutshell, GA can not be relied on for an accurate measure of referring traffic.

There are, however, things you can do to increase the accuracy of Google Analytics but it may not improve to 100%.

MARCH 2010 Google Analytics Discrepancy UPDATE

I've been doing some Google AdWords campaigns and found it interesting that Google Analytics is even under-reporting Google AdWords. The image below shows a three day Google AdWord campaign. It shows a total of 28 clicks.

This image is of my Google Analytics.  It shows a total of only 20 referring clicks from my Google AdWord campaign. In this short two day campaign, Google Analytics is already under-reporting by 29%. 

 

Please, don't get me wrong.  I love Google Analytics and I think GA is so good for our industry. It's just very important that we all understand that the numbers are not 100% accurate. It's no big deal, we just need to know.

Sincerely,

Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com

 

January 11 2009

NHD Stats Live Instructions

All New Homes Directory.com clients receive a username and password for which they can login and view their click stats live on the NHD site.

  1. Go to > login.newhomesdirectory.com/administrator
  2. Enter your username
  3. Enter your password
  4. Click the Reports tab
  5. Click the Live Stats link
  6. Click the + by your company name
  7. Another folder will appear just below the main folder
  8. Highlight that division or company folder that just expanded
  9. Click the blue View Stats Detail button at the bottom right of the screen
  10. Expand the communities by clicking the + sign

There you have it. You can change the dates and download the report to a Word document by clicking the Word icon.

If you don't have a username and password, please call our office at 866-540-6607 and we will get you set up right away.

Sincerely,

Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com


January 10 2009

NHD Buzz Hits 600 And Is Found For 4418 Search Terms

Consumers can't find you if you're not out there.  At 5:35p (PST) on Friday, January 9, 2009, only 206 short days after its release, the 600th press release was added to NHD Buzz.  218 Buzz publisher stories have been viewed 2,842,525 times!  NHD Buzz continues to prove that it is one of the best home builder resources for reputation management and driving traffic to builder stories and websites.

Here's Barbara Rossoll adding a Buzz story for an NHD client.  This was the 600th Buzz story.


NHD Buzz web stats for the month of December 2009 revealed that buzz stories were found for 4418 different search phrases.  You can download the search phrase list here BuzzPhrases12-08.xls (79.00 kb).  A few notable search phrases include:

pardee homes
k hovnanian homes
mbk homes
mattamy homes orlando
mattamy homes arizona
mattamy homes usa
mattamy homes charlotte
mccaffrey homes
american west homes
d r horton homes california
kovach marketing
otay ranch company
bank lofts san pedro
opera lofts
roosevelt collection
chicago luxury penthouses
condominium in riverdale
urban living downtown chicago
new model homes
condos in dc below 250
houses for sale at lake hills reserve riverside ca
ryland model homes tampa fl

NHD Buzz is the building industry's premier new homes press release website.

Keep On Buzzin' baby!

Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com


January 1 2009

Strategic Niching for 2009

It’s 5:27am on Dec. 31st; I’ve been up since 4:12am.  I’m getting ready for our 2009 company kickoff event.  An idea – concept – whatever you want to call it has been rattling around in my head for several weeks.  The concept is niching.  As I write down the word ‘niching’, my MS Word is giving it a red underline, which means I have misspelled a word.  So I right click on niching to find alternative spellings and Word offers ‘Inching’ and ‘Nicking’.  So I do the next logical thing to make sure I don’t look careless or incompetent in this blog post - I Google it.  Much to my relief, I did not spell niching wrong. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/niching, defines niching, a transitive verb, as “to place in a niche”. So I right click on niching and add the word to my Word dictionary.

The Internet is the medium that first opened my eyes to the strategic niching concept.  Strategic niching is placing your ads where your audience is looking. The success I had differentiating myself by using the Internet when I was a rookie real estate agent showed me that by being an expert on a small and underserved topic, I could make a very good living. 

There is ever growing evidence that, more than ever, strategic niching is critical to a successful business strategy.  On TV, my Direct TV channels, not including the duplicate HD channels (which are also growing), range from 2 to 879. Then the channels begin at 9560 (XM for Business) and go to 9926 (on demand games).  The Internet has grown to over 100 billion web pages with several million added daily.  

It was only 30 years ago that my TV options were ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and maybe one other channel.  Now the channels are approaching 1000 and it looks like there is a foundation to support up to 10,000 in the future.  Can you imagine the marketing challenges of 10,000 TV channels?  We’ll come back to this at a later date.

Media today is completely different.  And yet how different is the way in which we reach out (market) to consumers?  Technology has taken us from 5 options on the TV and maybe a few more options on the radio to literally billions of options when you account for all media.  And of course, the Internet accounts for the vast majority of those options.

The overwhelming numbers of options aside, as marketing professionals, what we need to wake up to is that the massive increase in options is not because of technology.  It’s because of consumer demand.  Technology is only the vehicle.  Consumers dictate what stays in the marketplace, and niche options are what consumers demand.  

There is a reason that mass media is failing.  It’s because of niche markets.  There is no more ‘one size fits all’.  You can’t be all things to all people.  Mass media, aka broadcast media, worked great when there were only a handful of options.  You have a product, you advertise on one of three TV channels, or the only newspaper in the city, and voila – more customers.

The world of advertising is not the same today. Consumers are not the same today.  The clutter is growing exponentially to a point where we can’t put order to all the chaos and so we block it out.  Until we want something that is.  When we want something, we go hunting for it.  Maybe we look for it on the Home Garden TV channel; maybe we look for it in Bon Appétit magazine; maybe we look for it through typing in a phrase into that magic Google search box. 

Mass media (TV, Radio, Billboards, Newspapers), for many companies, has become the equivalent of the ‘Hail Mary’ in football.  You send everyone deep, and throw up a prayer.  You literally just chuck the ball downfield with the hopes that chance may smile upon you and bring you the points you need.  That’s what you’re doing by putting up a billboard, or advertising in the newspaper.  You know there’s a potential of reaching thousands or maybe millions of consumers, but it’s a long shot.  On top of that, just like the ‘Hail Mary’, you know you can’t count on it working the vast majority of the time.  Yet so many continue to spend the sick amount of money broadcast media charges.  Stop doing what doesn’t work.

The ‘West Coast Offense’ in football is arguably the most effective offensive strategy in recent football’s history.  Given birth by one of the greatest NFL coaches to ever coach the game, Bill Walsh (80’s SF 49’ers), theorized that short incremental pass plays would create opportunities for receivers to run the ball for additional yards after the catch (YAC).  Prior to the West Coast Offense, teams would either run the ball, or throw the ball down field.  Today the ‘West Coast Offense’ may be the most popular offense in football.

Consumers want what they want, when they want it, where they want it.  Anything else is an unwanted interruption.  Not sure you’re on board?  How many of you enjoy being called by a telemarketer?  Zero. Why do we not like it?  They may have something of benefit to you.  It’s the interruption.  It’s impolite - it’s unthoughtful - it’s uncouth.   We don’t trust someone barging in on us, getting all up in our grill, and self promoting.  

It’s the same for TV, radio, and the Internet.  TV commercials are times for using the restroom, getting a snack, or hitting the fast forward button on our TiVo.  No one goes to the radio looking for anything but music.  O.K. maybe you like the morning show, but if you weren’t driving to or from work, you probably wouldn’t be listening to it at all.  A recent Internet study by Starcom USA and comScore showed that the vast majority of Internet users do NOT click on the banner ads.

Strategic niching is the new way to plan your marketing tactics.  Getting in the niche space where your consumers are looking is the strategy you need to employ.  It’s ironic that professional marketers have always believed in target audience, and yet at the same time believe that more is always better, compared to a smaller, more quality audience.  It goes back to the hope of the ‘Hail Mary’.  Today, the two rarely overlap.

Strategic niching is reaching consumers that are ready to buy, or are planning to buy, regardless of how small the number.  Is being in front of thousands or millions of consumers who could care less about your product really that important?  It is time to cut the umbilical cord of the false sense of hope that mass media promises.  It is time marketing professionals stop fearing the change from the old ways of mass media.  Just because others you know are still doing it doesn’t mean you should be doing it.  Can you hear your mother saying right now, ‘if your friend jumped off the bridge, would you do it?’  

The trends are clear.  Consumer preferences are clear.  Performance metrics are clear.  Media niches work best.  Find the media niches and give consumers what they want.  You will make your consumers happy while at the same time producing some of the most effective marketing possible.

Finally, a caution I bring to you all.  If you deploy the same in your face, interruption marketing, in these niches – especially social media niches – while at the same time, not giving consumers what they want, you will cause the same ambivalence and numbness that consumers have grown accustomed to with mass media.  Don’t use mass media techniques in the new media – they won’t work.

Old media is mass media.  New media is niche media.  Old media is a one-way street.  New media is a two-way street.  Old media is shouting.  New media is conversation.  Let’s all join the conversation.

Jim Adams - CEO

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The New Homes Directory.com Corporate blog began in 2008, due to the increasing difficulty of keeping both our company personnel as well as our client base up to date with both site and product enhancements. Read more...

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