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."


July 18 2008

California First For Green Standards

(07-18) 04:00 PDT Sacramento - --

California on Thursday became the first state in the nation to approve green building standards to cut energy and water usage, a move that officials say will help the state meet its ambitious goals to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan, adopted by the California Building Standards Commission, requires that all new construction - from commercial buildings to homes, schools and hospitals - reduce energy usage by 15 percent, water use by 20 percent and water for landscaping by 50 percent. A voluntary form of the code is scheduled to kick in on July 1, 2009.

"There is no statewide standard in the nation such as our green building standard," said commission chairwoman Rosario Marin. "In fact, we're the first one in the world, and we anticipate others to follow us."

The rules do not specify how to make the reductions, but ideas range from installing energy-efficient appliances and increasing natural lighting to using low-flow toilets and planting drought-resistant vegetation. The code will be voluntary while the commission works on a mandatory regulation, which the panel hopes to have in place by end of 2010 or beginning of 2011, Marin said.

Environmental groups and the California Building Industry Association applauded the 11-member commission's 10-0 vote Thursday to approve the standards as a good first step.

Making buildings more efficient will be an important piece in helping California meet its ambitious goal under AB32, a landmark law to fight global warming by reducing the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

Carbon emissions related to buildings - everything from lighting to heating water - represent about 25 percent of the state's total greenhouse gas emissions, second only to the transportation sector, according to the California Air Resources Board.

"The new standard is a huge step in greening our state and greening our nation," Marin said.

The commission's action came after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation last year that would have instituted a green building code for the state, arguing that the commission, not the Legislature, should draw up the regulation.

The governor, who signed AB32 into law two years ago, on Thursday applauded the panel's decision.

"By adopting this first-in-the-nation statewide green building code, California is again leading the way to fight climate change and protect the environment," Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

The statewide building code will not prevent cities and counties from enacting their own green codes with reductions that are stricter than the state rules, state officials said. San Francisco is considering a green building code, and Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente announced Thursday he is crafting a similar plan.

The state commission, in a move to appease local governments, made changes to ensure that the new state code would be a minimum standard, not a maximum, Marin said.

"What we have is the floor, not a ceiling," she said.

Craig Noble, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, said he was "encouraged that the commission made some amendments to strengthen the new standards. ... This is a good first step, a solid foothold to build upon a new mandatory code later."

John Frith, vice president of the California Building Industry Association, called the new code a "cost-effective yet meaningful way" of making green buildings widespread across the state.

"What we did not want to see is a huge increase in the number of more extreme and more costly programs," he said, adding that giving builders the flexibility to choose how to reduce energy and water consumption will be helpful to his industry and consumers.

But the debate over the state's green building code is far from over as the commission plans to come up with a new mandatory standard.

Environmental groups are calling for clearer language in the state building code that would allow cities and counties to enact more-stringent standards. There is also debate over whether the building code should specify what materials builders should use, such as wood, said Nick Zigelbaum, energy policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

If the ultimate goal is to help save the environment, he said, the state should prohibit builders from using wood from trees that are harvested in ways that harm the environment, such as timber companies' practice of converting natural forests into industrial plantations.

Green standard
Reducing energy use (15 percent goal): Energy Star-certified appliances; elevators and escalators that move only when passengers are present; buildings cooled by roofing materials that reflect sunlight.

Reducing water use (20 percent goal): Low-flow toilets; waterless urinals.

E-mail Matthew Yi at myi@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle


July 11 2008

GBI Partners with New Homes Directory

GREEN BUILDING INITIATIVE™ PARTNERS WITH NEWHOMESDIRECTORY.COM
-- Partnership Provides Easy Access to New Green Home Listings; Green Building Education --

Murrieta, CA (July 11, 2008) - Today the Green Building Initiative (GBI), a not-for-profit education and marketing initiative dedicated to accelerating the adoption of green building practices, announced a new partnership with New Homes Directory .com, an online listing service for new homes and communities.

Through this new partnership, GBI is offering Home Builder Association members within its network free listings for new green homes on the NewHomesDirectory.com site, which is searched by thousands of home buyers every day. The site will also include information on the benefits of green homes, including energy savings, links to green tax credit resources, and improved indoor air quality.

“We’re thrilled to partner with NewHomesDirectory.com and bring a great resource for builders to help showcase their sustainable homes,” said Ward Hubbell, president of the GBI. “Resources like NewHomesDirectory.com are critical to help spur the demand for green homes, as well as help educate prospective buyers about the benefits of green homes.”

“We want to contribute what we can to incentivize builders to move forward with building green,” said Jim Adams, CEO of NewHomesDirectory.com. “That’s why we’re excited to partner with the GBI, as well as their local home builder association partners, to give consumers a central listing location for green homes in their area.”

For more information about the GBI or the partnership with NewHomesDirectory.com, visit www.thegbi.org or www.newhomesdirectory.com.

ABOUT THE GREEN BUILDING INITIATIVE: The mission of the Green Building Initiative is to accelerate the adoption of building practices that result in energy-efficient, healthier and environmentally sustainable buildings by promoting credible and practical green building approaches. A not-for-profit education initiative, the GBI is supported by a broad cross section of organizations and individuals with an interest in residential and commercial construction. For more information on the Green Building Initiative, please visit www.thegbi.org.

ABOUT NEWHOMESDIRECTORY.COM:New Homes Directory.com is a leading Internet listing service for new home builders, delivering thousands of home buying prospects to builders every day. A pioneer of new home marketing on the Internet, New Homes Directory.com is part of a comprehensive new home network that includes NHDBuzz.com, the Internet's first Home Building Industry only press release and public relations web media source.


July 7 2008

NewHomesDirectory.com Testimonials

What Builders Are Saying About Us

 

"NewHomesDirectory.com is a dynamic and user-friendly site that allows home buyers to pin-point the home they are looking for based on price, region, builder and/or type of home in a very short period of time"
Sara B. Vaught
Marketing Manager
D.R. Horton Homes
 
 
 
"NewHomesDirectory.com is a vital part of my marketing plan. It is a truly cost effective way to reach our target buyers through the Internet. I will continue to use NewHomesDirectory.com on all of my new home communities."
Erin Riley
Marketing Director
Rilington Communities
 

 
 
"NewHomesDirectory.com is a spectacular solution and resource for our interactive business needs. Their customer service is prompt and always helpful at a moments notice..."Because Results Matter" can be proven by simply performing a new home search in Google, their site shows up!"
Anthony Banuelos
Internet Marketing Manager
K. Hovnanian Homes
 

 
 
"NewHomesDirectory.com is so easy to navigate and doesn't have all the clutter of other industry websites. We love it!"
Lynnae Clore
Sales Communication Coordinator
Shea Homes – Arizona
 

 
"The leads we receive from NewHomesDirectory.com are serious buyers and we have seen our web traffic increase significantly."
Liz Barela-Ramirez
VP Marketing
The Corky McMillan Companies
 
 
 
"We were blown away by the great response our client got on their website from the web traffic generated by NewHomesDirectory.com...The beauty is the simplicity of the site and the incredible value you get for minimal cost. We recommend NewHomesDirectory.com to every one of our clients."
Tim Rockwood
Vice President
PMA Advertising
 
 
“The easy navigation through NewHomesDirectory.com as well as the presence they have over their competitors when you search for New Homes in Phoenix  on Google or Yahoo keeps us wanting to do business with them!” 
Valli Van Dam
New Home Information Manager
Beazer Homes
 

 
 
"We have seen amazing results with Newhomesdirectory.com.  We have tried many different on line advertising resources, and nothing drives traffic to our website as well as Newhomesdirectory.com!  Ponderosa Homes is a raving fan!"
Cindy Douglas
VP Sales and Marketing
Ponderosa Homes
 

 
 
A significant amount of our Internet traffic comes from NewHomesDirectory.com. The site is effective, user-friendly, and consistently well-ranked on search engines. With today's web-savvy homebuyers, NewHomesDirectory.com is definitely one of the best values we have found for our advertising dollars.
Dawn Berry
Marketing Director
Michael Crews Development
 

July 5 2008

Eyes of the World

With the proliferation of blogging, social media sites, and millions of consumers publishing to the web, commerce is more exposed than any time prior.  In the old days (prior to the mid 2000’s) if consumers had issues with products or services, they reported their issues to the company and that’s pretty much where it ended.  Today, reporting the issue to the company is just the beginning.  Consumers have millions of places on the web to voice their opinions that will be seen by hundreds, thousands, and millions.  Publishing comments to the web ranges from comments to someone’s blog to consumer review sites, all the way to getting a domain and publishing a full blown website.  It’s all just so easy now.

With the eyes of the world peering deeper into business processes, procedures, and products, top executives are faced with the challenge of their lives;  to give educated and empowered consumers a reason to hand over their hard earned money and then be satisfied with their decision.

Consumer motivation really is at the core of commerce.  That is why we manufacture products and that is why we provide services.  It is why we develop marketing strategies, and why we engineer customer service programs; to motivate consumers to purchase our products and services.

With our businesses laid bare to the eyes of the world, what are qualities consumers are looking for? 

MAKE MY LIFE BETTER

First and foremost, consumers buy products and services that make their lives better. From the toothpaste that keeps our teeth clean, to the lawn mover that keeps our grass looking respectable.  From the laptop that lets us work in all kinds of environments, to the software application that streamlines our business processes.  We all want our lives, both personal and professional, to be better (better can mean a lot of things). 

I always want the cost early in the presentation.  No matter what it is, cost is always one of the first things I want to know.  When looking at a product or a service, I always know what the value of filling the gap (my need) is.  Ironically, the price, large or small is of little consequence.  Price is all relative.  I have spent $30,000 dollars, felt like I was getting a great deal, and would have done it again and again.  I have also spent $30.00, felt like I was getting ripped off, and would never do it again. 

SOLVE PROBLEMS

This is really a subset of ‘Make My Life Better.’  Consumers buy things and they have problems with those things.  When I call up a company with a problem, I want that problem to be solved.  It is an inherent expectation in the ‘money for product/service’ agreement.  Don’t make me wait for 20 minutes to be heard, tell me you’ll take my number and call me back, converse with a powerless and incompetent representative who could care less, or converse with someone I can’t understand.  The more difficult a business makes it for a consumer, the greater chance that consumer will go find another company to give their money to.

Bottom line is that if the product of service delivers something greater than the cost, we are doing business.  That’s why we need to…

LISTEN TO THE CONSUMER

We are all in business because of consumer spending.  We are all in business because at some point we have a product or service that fills that ‘Make My Life Better’ gap.  But then something happens. We take that consumer for granted and many times display a persona that makes it seem like the consumer is lucky to have us.  Wrong Mister! (link to play sound byte) The consumer gives us life and the consumer sustains our lives as businesses.  The top ten signs you don’t really want to listen to your consumers:

10. There is no contact phone number on the website; only a contact form.
9.   Your contact number goes to a voice mail box.
8.   Your voice mail message goes unreturned.
7.   Consumers wait, on hold, for over 10 minutes. (I’m looking at my watch at 5)
6.   The customer support person says someone will return your call…and they don’t.
5.   You request to speak to a supervisor but that supervisor is never available.
4.   Support emails are unanswered and unreturned.
3.   Executives are untouchable and unreachable by phone or email.
2.   You outsource your service and support to people half way around the world, working the graveyard shift, and can barely understand or be understood.
1.   The support person makes you feel like you are a complete inconvenience and could really care less if your problem gets solved.  They appear to hate their job so much, they can’t wait to get home and drown their depression in an entire bottle of cheap whiskey.

DO WHAT YOU SAY

I would say that 90% of businesses I come across are extremely guilty of not following through with what they say they will do.  Doing what you say is the most fundamental psychological aspect of the consumer / vendor relationship.  Trust is the core by which we all judge relationships on.  We use trust as a measuring device for our relationships with our family members, for our relationship with our spouse, for our relationships with our friends, and for our relationships with our co-workers.  It’s only natural that consumers use trust as the primary measuring device for relationships with businesses.

Consumers want to trust that the products they buy are going to work as described and that they are not going to break one day after the warranty is up.  Consumers want to trust that the service paid for will actually be performed.  Consumers want to trust that when a company representative says they will call you back on this day, at this time, that is what actually happens.  We all know that rarely happens.  Consumers want to trust that when a company representative says they will take care of this or that problem, they actually take care of the problem.  This most likely is ringing true for everyone reading this.  This rings true for me all the time. 

Trust is a powerful psychological element that can have far reaching affects both positive and negative.  On the one hand if a consumer doesn’t trust a business, they and ten of their friends most likely will not engage that business on any level.  On the other hand if a consumer trusts a business, it’s amazing how much slack the consumer gives to the business.  In a trusting relationship even mistakes are opportunities to strengthen the consumer / business relationship.

I’m not sure of other top executives but I’m listening to how the climate of commerce is evolving and other business chiefs would do well to do the same.  Business is not what it used to be.  Today, anyone can create, market, and sell a product and service.  Smaller companies already have the reputation of being responsive, flexible, and adaptive.  Bigger companies have the reputation of not listening, not caring, and not being able to make a decision without multiple layers of red tape and months of meetings and discussions.  This is part of why big companies are gobbling up small companies. Because with all their personnel and with all their money, they can’t perform like companies 1/10th their size.

THE SOLUTION

Everything comes from the top.  Top executives are responsible for the entire culture of the company.  If company representatives regularly appear uncaring when they answer the phone, it is the fault of the executives.  If a company is light on marketing and heavy on bean counting, that is the executive.  If a company is slow to adapt Internet Technologies, that is the fault of the company chief. 

Bottom line is if it is important to the CEO, it will be important to the company.  This is a huge responsibility and takes an extraordinary commitment.  I respect all who attempt this endeavor.  At the same time, I believe the CEO position is evolving into a position much like professional athletes.  Professional athletes are under incredible scrutiny because the world is watching and judging.  Blogging and social media is just the tip of the iceberg.  The more eyes watching, judging, and publishing about our business, the greater the heat will become.  It is time for Senior Executives to rise up, fully engage business transparency, and become better leaders.

There are a multitude of leadership qualities important to business but if business leaders would prioritize: Making Consumer Lives Better, Solve Consumer Problems, Listening to Consumers, and Following Through with Your Words, any business would have a better chance at success.

Jim Adams
CEO
New Homes Directory .com


July 4 2008

Happy 232nd Birthday America

11 years ago on July 3rd at 6am I was on CQ duty in the barracks of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.  It was the first opportunity for my psychological operations class to leave the base since I had arrived.  It was also the first and four day weekend of the training period. 

Around 7a I stepped out in front the of the barracks to see most of the soldiers piling into cars and cabs to take advantage of much surprised four day pass, making their way to Myrtle Beach for the weekend.  Was I one of them? O heavens no. I had much greater plans that needed tending to.  Are you kidding? Four days of no drill sergeants telling me what to do and when to do it?  I had been making my plans since I’d heard of the four day weekend and I was anxiously anticipating the next 24 hours.  My plans?  A 20 mile ruck march with triple digit poundage in the trunk.  HooRah!  I had mapped out 20 miles and change, around the base and had gathered 2, 25-pound dumbbells to augment the contents of my ruck sack. 

As I watched the soldiers prepare for four days of abusing their bodies, I looked with mild disgust because what soldier would choose four days of partying over a twenty mile ruck march?  Pathetic, I know.  As of 8a that day, July 3rd, I was flying solo on this training mission.  However, throughout the day, another soldier committed to join the fun.  As of 8p that night my ruck was fully packed and I was taking pot shots at the three sissy soldiers choosing to stay in the barracks instead of joining us for an all-nighter. The plan was to leave at 11p because July at Ft. Bragg is hot and humid.  I believe I had begun growing gills that summer.  By 10:30p I had beat down and guilted two of the remaining three soldiers into going on the ruck. No one wants to be a sissy, neither did these two.  The last soldier was off the hook because someone had to stay for CQ duty.

At 11p, dressed in P.T. gear and rucks a loaded, four of us took off on our planned route.  Rucking out of the base, people in cars passing us by yelled things like ‘psychos’, ‘idiots’, and ‘hard core crazies’.  We screamed back. Pu***es.  Apparently the young soldiers hadn’t come across too many other soldiers obsessed with preparing to protect this country.

Glow sticks tied around our rucks and pounding water, we made it to mile 16 and stopped for a rest and to change our socks.  I remember it to be around 4a.  The route I chose circled and put the 16 mile mark about ¼ mile down the road from our barracks.  All three other soldiers were begging to just take it on home.  I admit, it was tempting…if you were a sissy.  I told them they could limp on in but I was making the entire 20 mile route.  After all, if you’re not going all the way, why go at all?  My favorite famous quote.  They elected to not be in the sissy crowd who stopped four miles short.  They also knew they would not hear the end of it and I would tease them until the day we parted ways.  All four of us did kick out the last four miles and it was a bitch.  Every muscle I could identify was screaming in pain. 

We arrived back at the barracks just after 6a.  Needless to say, I disrobed and hit the sack.  Sleeping was extremely difficult.  The sun had begun its rise, my body couldn’t relax and in pain I hadn’t felt before, and to top it off, breakfast opened at 8a and closed at 10a. I did not want to miss breakfast.  Good times…good times.

That summer, I finished with the highest P.T. score of my class (93 push ups, 87 sit ups, and 12:11 – 2 mile run), the distinguished honor graduate award(never scoring below 95 on any test or quiz).  Several months later I begged my way into Ft. Benning and became a super duper paratrooper. What’s the lesson?  That complete obsession directed down the path of achievement produces psychotic and extreme behaviors, and if you’re lucky, success.

I can assure you the same obsession has gone into New Homes Directory.com, NHD Buzz, and the coming apps to make up the New Homes Directory.com network of home building industry tools.  Stay tuned for more industry changing applications.


July 1 2008

Sins of Social Media

Commerce has officially entered the age of social media. For the last 5-10 years websites have been the big thing.  It used to be that if a business didn't have a website, that business was on the fast track to extinction.  Today the landscape has again morphed into what we used to know as the wild wild west.  You no longer have to be an IT professional to publish information to the web.  All you need is a free account to Blogger or open source blogging software and you are tearing up the web, pushing information to the entire world.

Social media is all about sharing, collaboration, and communication. At no other time in our existence has there been the ability for any individual to disseminate information to the entire world.  The power of information is transferring at break-neck speeds from the traditional media giants to anyone who has something to say.  Learning to harness the chaos of this type of media while at the same time, maximizing the opportunity of this type of media has been a challenge. Below are five fantastic examples of how not to embrace social media.  These examples are compliments of Joseph Jaffe, President and Chief Interruptor of crayon, a new marketing company.

  • Faking (Sprint): The phone company released ads in
    which the CEO offered an email address, giving the opportunity for
    communication. Instead, a corporate shill auto-responder emails back.
  • Manipulating (Sony): The maker of the PSP created
    a fake blog and attempted to manipulate the conversation. They ended up
    garnering a deserved “golden poop” award.
  • Controlling (T-Mobile): The phone company sent
    cease and desist letters to a popular blog for using a color they claim
    to have trademarked. The blogosphere revolted and T-mobile missed a
    chance to meaningfully engage with its customers.
  • Dominating (Target): A blogger was ignored by the
    retail giant because they felt she didn’t have the clout of traditional
    media outlets. After the blogger gained more and more attention, Target
    claimed that their continued silence was based on a lack of adequate
    staff.
  • Avoiding (Starbucks): The coffee giant already
    felt a squeeze from its consumer base, but avoided a fan’s desire to
    visit every store was passed on. The only response to the fan was one
    of suspicion.

DJ Francis, another writer and online marketer added to the above sins of social media:

  • Greediness (AP): The Associated Press recently pushed for restrictions on the amount of their content bloggers could cite. In the era of Google juice, link love, and a wealth of online information, the AP chose the path of restriction, as though this greediness would result in keeping all of the information under their roof. It took only 24 hours for the back-peddling to begin and it now appears that they will wisely drop the call for restrictions. They had the opportunity to engage their readership, even empower the bloggers and other outlets who were distributing their content free of charge, but they trotted out the lawyers instead.
  • Cowardice (Dunkin’ Donuts and Heinz): Dunkin’ Donuts pulled a series of ads after political partisans attacked spokeswoman Rachael Ray’s scarf for looking like a terrorist’s (yes, you read that correctly - a terrorist scarf). Likewise, Heinz pulled an ad deemed by the small-minded to be “unsuitable for children” because the on-running joke throughout the ad ends with two men kissing (cripes, the explanation sounds racier than the actual spot). Instead of giving their customers some credit or engaging in a conversation about the merits of their arguments (or the absurdity of their opponent’s), both companies caved. A conversation was passed up in favor of tucking tail and running.

In these cases, the blunder is not that the company was lacked business acumen (a nice word for stupidity). The blunder is that they failed to engage at a critical moment with an active community that supported them. They refused to join the conversation and suffered the consequences of empowered individuals. My advice to businesses is that if you set up any type of social media, you had better be ready to embrace the chaos of the new frontier.  The chaos of the new frontier is simply any user publishing their responses both positive and negative.  Deploying social media is not for the faint of heart. Be ready to embrace consumer truths about your product and business because if you give them a chance, they will let you and the entire world know what they think.  

 We embrace positive responses with pride and want the world to see how satisfied our customers are, but how do you deal with negative responses? Sonia Simone has written a fantastic article entitled "What Do You Do When the Conversation Gets Ugly"? Here are her bullet points, but I recommend reading the entire article.

  • Stay dispassionate
  • Get up and take a walk
  • State your position
  • Don't retreat behind corporate language
  • Be succinct
  • Don't have two conversations
  • Expect some four-letter language
  • This, too shall pass

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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