June 19 2009

The Consequences Of I Don't Know

“I don’t know”.  “There’s nothing I can do”.  Does anything make you more frustrated as a consumer, than when you have a problem with a company and they respond with “I don’t know” or “There’s nothing I can do”?

I was recently couldn’t check in on one of my Southwest Airlines flights.  I had no idea why.  I asked the attendant at the counter. “I don’t know why” was the reply.  I called the 800 number; again, “I don’t know why” was the reply.  I asked to speak with a supervisor.  Their reply was not only “I don’t know”, it also included “there is nothing I can do”.  I spoke with two supervisors – same answers.  I politely pressed them into giving me a non-published customer care number.  I did finally get someone who found out that I was on the Southwest Airlines terrorist watch list. I’m off now.

How backwards is that? I spend thousands of dollars on Southwest airfare each year, and they’re response is “there’s nothing I can do to solve your problem”?  I was ready to change carriers.

We’ve all been there - companies making it hard for us to give them our money.  Are you kidding me?

As consumers, we hear this all too often - so often that we’ve gotten used to it.  Those two phrases have quietly infiltrated our society and have become an acceptable standard that is slowly ebbing away our standards, our brands, and our profits. We’re so numb to it, we often times don’t even know it has permeated our souls.

If you’re in new home sales, “I don’t know” and “there’s nothing I can do” will put you on your company’s ‘Next To Be Let Go’ list.  

If you don’t know, you can’t help; if you don’t know, you can’t meet the need; if you don’t know, you can’t solve the problem; if you don’t know, you can’t relieve the pain; if you don’t know, you can’t produce.

The essence of selling is meshing solution with need.  The art of selling is getting to the need.  

What is that consumer really looking for?  Why are they there?

Everyone visiting a physical sales office today has already seen your homes online.  They are already familiar with your product.  But why did they take the time, get into their car, spent $10+ in gas, and visit you?

Are they really just looking?  Or are they looking for a home with a garage in a safe neighborhood because where they live now, their midnight blue ’69 Camero keeps getting broken into?

Are they really just looking?  Or are they looking to be as close as possible to their parents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease?

So often a consumer walks into our sales office and the first thing out of our mouth is “let me know if there is anything I can help you with”.  Another popular sales technique is to immediately barrage the consumer with all the fantastic features of the new home and the new home community.  

The goal of each new home sales person is to find out why that consumer is in that particular sales office.  This is called qualifying the consumer.  We’ve been spoiled.  For the past several years, qualifying the consumer meant “can they qualify for the loan?”  That’s not selling.  That’s riding the wave of insane consumer demand.  That may have been acceptable then, but it’s not now.

Consumers today have serious and legitimate needs.  With the housing market being as competitive as it is, we’ve got to find out what they are REALLY looking for - what’s most important to them.  

When a consumer walks into a sales office, how are they qualifying that home?  If you know that, you’re in.

But if we don’t ask, it’s impossible to know.  That’s the bottom line.

The number one trait in a successful sales agent today is asking the right questions in order to get to the core of why that consumer is in that sales office.

Sure, energy is important; sure a professional appearance is important; sure knowledge about the product and services are important.  But if you don’t get to the crux of why that consumer is in that model home, you will not know where they are in the sales cycle and you will not know how best to meet their needs.

As sales people, let’s surgically remove the lackluster standards of “I don’t know” and “there’s nothing I can do” from our lives.  

Consumers want their needs met.  They’re willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for it.  Don’t fool yourself.  They want to tell you.  Be a great sales person and make it easy for them to tell you.  Let’s say to ourselves, “I don’t know now, but I will politely inquire until I do know”.

Tip: a simple opening question.

"So what has you out shopping for a new home?", or even more simply, "Why are you thinking about buying a new home?" (Questions compliments of Jeff Shore)

If they say, “I’m just looking”, like many do, it’s time to get creative and keep asking.  They are not just looking.

Politely inquire until you know.

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


December 21 2008

Pardee Homes Boosts Reputation By Using NHD Buzz

In June of 2008 Sarah Cook and I met with Jessica Heinz of Pardee Homes to pitch a new application we were developing for builders.  The essence of the application was a press release website for home builders to promote their companies, their communities, and the marketing professionals of those companies.  With free sign up, and unlimited press release postings, these stories would be found on Google searches that would contribute to the builders online reputation.

We've seen the negative reputation builders can have because of negative consumer testimonials found through Google searches for builder company names.  If you are not familiar with what can happen, read When Consumers Attack.

On July 7, 2008 Jessica Heinz posted three press releases to NHD Buzz.  Today a Google search for Pardee Homes displays the Buzz story entitled Pardee Homes Nationally Honored at 2008 IBS in the number 7 position. 

Pardee Homes Buzz

 

In addition, a Google search for Jessica Heinz displays Jessica Heinz Press Releases on NHD Buzz in the number 6 position.

 

Jessica Heinz Buzz

It's all playing out just like we envisioned.  Jessica is filling up the first page of results with positive stories about Pardee Homes while at the same time she is filling up the first page of results with great PR about herself as a professional.  In short, Jessica is successfully marketing both Pardee Homes and herself as a professional in the new frontier of marketing.  Great job Jessica, keep it up.


Still not sure how easy it is?  Read Builders Reach More Consumers By Using NHDBuzz.com.  All you have to do is post your builder and community stories and NHD Buzz takes care of the rest.

Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com

 

December 13 2008

Space Optimization - The New Marketing Frontier

Wikipedia defines search engine optimization (SEO) as the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.  SEO has been vital to online marketing since the beginning of the Internet.  Millions of consumers search the Internet every day.  Getting your website found for relevant consumer search terms is the single most powerful way to influence your target audience and to be viewed as an authority on that particular subject.  SEO has historically focused on consumer product search terms like ‘San Diego Real Estate’ or ‘New Homes San Diego’.  Consumer search terms like these are extremely competitive because as home builders, we all know that being found for those terms (our target audience) will lead to sales.
 
Until recently, we really never paid any mind to the Google search results for our company name.  Company name search results were never really competitive and being found for our company name was easy because we were the only ones that cared to be found for that name.
 
Social media has changed all that.  In the old days (3 years ago), publishing to the web was difficult.  You had to know HTML, how to use HTML editors, how to buy a domain name, how to point that domain name to a web server, and how to FTP your HTML to the web.  Confusing - I know.  Today publishing to the web is easy.  You don’t need to know HTML, using an HTML editor is as easy as using Microsoft Word, you don’t need to buy a domain name, and you don’t need to FTP anything.  
Most Internet publishers don’t get their own website, they simply post comments and opinions on either community groups or blogging sites.  These sites are typically free to use, have simple built in HTML editors and all you have to do is press save and your content is live on the web.  
 
Social media has made everyone a publisher!  Now anyone can talk publicly about whatever they want.  Guess what they are talking about?  YOU.  They are talking about your products and they are talking about your company.  Consequently a Google search that only returned your company website for a search for your company name, 3 years ago, is now returning results of conversations consumers are having about your company.
 
As consumers, we all want to be heard by the companies we buy from, especially if we are unsatisfied.  So if consumers don’t feel like the company is listening, they want to tell someone else.  How they hit those non-listening companies the hardest is by telling other consumers about their bad experience.  
 
Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful marketing there is.  Consumers trust other consumers much more than they trust the companies themselves.  This is why reviews on sites like eBay and Hotels.com are so popular.
 
One of the revolutions social media has brought about is space optimization.  Space optimization is the next evolution of search engine optimization.  Where SEO is about being found IN ONE of the top ten results, space optimization is about being found IN ALL top ten results (or at least multiple spots).  The blog post, When Consumers Attack, is a prime example of why companies need to add space optimization to their online marketing agenda.  This is as vital as SEO itself.
 
Today we Google everything.  If we don’t know something, we Google it.  If we want to research a product, we Google it.  If we want to research a company, we Google it.  If a consumer Google’s your company, what will they find in addition to your company website (please say your company is found number one for your company name)?  Good stuff?  Bad stuff?  Anything?  Companies have to be concern about what is being displayed in that ‘top ten’ space.  Your company reputation is riding on those results.  If negative consumer stories are displayed in that space, that will affect your reputation.  If good consumer stories are displayed in that space, that will also affect your reputation - but in a good way.
 
Space optimization is the most powerful way to influence consumer perception when your company’s reputation is involved.  Space optimization is no joke.  Look again at When Consumers Attack.
 
Consumers are more sophisticated than they have ever been before. It only stands to reason that marketing will need to be more sophisticated than it has ever before.  Space optimization is one of marketing’s next levels of sophistication.  
 
Setting up a community website is the most effective way to both give consumers a place to talk as well as give the company a place to listen. Caution, if companies don’t give consumers a place to be heard, consumers will find their own places.  
 
Let’s not let sites like ConsumerComplaints.com and RipOffReport.com be the only consumer comments in our company space.  Let’s give consumers a place to share their positive experiences as well.  This is space optimization.  Where search engine optimization is optimizing your company’s website on Google, space optimization is optimizing your company’s reputation on Google.  
 
Take action with your company’s reputation.  If you don’t others will do it for you and chances are it won’t be pretty.
 
Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com


December 10 2008

Builders Reach More Consumers By Using NHDBuzz.com

As of today, NHD Buzz, the building industry's press release website, has 523 press releases from 180 publishers and those press releases have been viewed 2,197,973 times. I just reviewed the web server stats. What I found was that NHD Buzz stories have been found and visited for over 970 different consumer search phrases.  View all the Buzz search phrases for November 2008 BuzzStats11-08.xls (77.00 kb). Just a few notable search phrases include:

mattamy homes orlando
k hovnanian homes
mbk homes
dr horton southern california
brookfield homes green
how to write a new hire press release
ryland homes new york ny
centex condominiums
ryland homes 2008 incentives
teramachi homes los angeles
unique penthouses
ashton woods homes orlando fl
skyline condominiums boston ma
You buzz publishers should be lifted up and proud of yourselves.  It takes time to write these stories.  It takes time to get them on the buzz.  You are benefiting your companies, your communities, and yourselves as professionals.  Your stories are on the Internet and they are being found by your consumers.  This is part of the new marketing frontier.  
Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com

July 23 2008

Industry Professionals Embrace NHD Buzz

NHDBuzz.com, the home building industry’s only dedicated press release media site has been widely embraced by industry professionals with over 120 press releases submitted by over 70 professionals in the first 30 days.  This free application is driving builder information deeper into the Internet and stories are now found on Google, Google News, Yahoo!, Yahoo! News, and a multitude of additional Internet portals.

Two top Buzz publishers, j. simms agency, a San Diego based PR company, and Larry Vershel Communications, a Florida based communications firm, are already experiencing the power of NHD Buzz.  In a Google search for 'j. simms agency',  the 3rd organic search result is the NHD Buzz page representing the press releases of the j. simms agency.  Similarly a Google search for 'Larry Vershel Communications' returns the NHD Buzz page representing the press releases for Larry Vershel Communications in the number 5 organic spot, and a number 4 spot on a Live.com / MSN search.

"NHD Buzz is one of the most powerful tools the building industry has for Internet Marketing and Reputation Management", says Jim Adams, CEO and Chief Evangelist for New Homes Directory.com. "We are inviting all industry professionals to participate in getting their company and community information out to the world.  As a Sales and Marketing professional, this is one of the best things you can do for your company, your communities, and yourself as a professional."


June 17 2008

NHD Buzz Unleashed

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 marks the date New Homes Directory.com unveils and unleashes NHDBuzz.com, the building industry's premier Press Release and Public Relations Internet media.  “Today’s social media has broadened the PR and online marketing frontier and we want to provide a simple means by which building industry professionals can get out their information”, says Jim Adams, CEO of NewHomesDirectory.com.

NHD Buzz is a new home community and real estate media center that puts the control in the hands of industry professionals.  Sign up and logging in is easy and takes about 1 minute. After that you are buzzing away.  The premise behind NHD Buzz is allowing industry professionals the opportunity to promote their properties on the Internet without the limitations of cost or relying on others. Everyone can do it themselves and take control of the flow of information displayed on the Internet.  "This is a great opportunity for builders to manage their reputation online,” says Barbara Rossoll, VP of Sales & Marketing for NewHomesDirectory.com.  NHD Buzz is the building industry's answer for reputation management online.

The press releases on NHD Buzz are fed into Google, Google News, Google Blogs, Yahoo!, Yahoo! News, MSN, Ask, and several other Internet Media portals.  NHD Buzz provides the building industry another Internet Media solution crafted for new home builders.

NHD Buzz is still in Beta so if anyone has any issues please call the NewHomesDirectory.com support number at 951-894-6621.

Jim Adams
CEO - New Homes Directory.com

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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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