March 13 2015

Quick Tips for Home Builder Marketing and the 2015 Home Buying Season

Home Builder Marketing

As home buyers begin to search for new homes online to prepare for the home buying season this summer, it is important to have your marketing ready for action. Now is the time to capture your spring leads before your competitors do.  Here are some quick and easy tips for making your home builder marketing ready for spring.

Knowledge is Power:

Not only will great content on your site help with your internal SEO, it is also an import tool for showing your homebuilder expertise to potential home buyers. Using blogs, email campaigns and social media are simple ways to show off your knowledge on home building and design. This includes creating a weekly blog post and promoting it on your social media profiles and email campaigns.

Make sure your blog posts are not self-promoting, but informational to home buyers. Create topics that answer home buyers questions like, “When is a Great Time to Buy a Home?” or “How to Start the Home Buying Process”. When you promote the blog within social media and your emails, show just an excerpt of the post with a link to your website. This will increase traffic to your homebuilder website and hopefully some home buyer shopping as well!

Capture and Use Your Leads:

Capturing leads from your website and having a CRM system in place to make sure your sales team is in constant contact with those leads is a must.

Catching leads can be done in several easy ways, with the most simple being the “interest list” or “contact us” form on your community landing pages. Note: always make sure to test that your lead forms are working properly, especially heading into the home buying season.

Another fun way to gain leads is to offer prizes or contest (a great blog post and social media topic as well). Home buyers on your site may be more willing to give out their contact information for a contest or prize giveaway.

Now that you have your leads, it is important to utilize them. Have a CRM system in place, as well as a sales follow up process ready. There are some great home builder CRM systems out there, for example, Lasso Data Systems, which allow you and your sales team to easily manage your leads.

Make sure your sales team is well trained and in constant contact with potential home buyers by phone calls AND emails. A good rule of thumb is to always follow up a phone call with an email or vice versa.

Warning: Your Website MUST Be Mobile Friendly!!

While 90% of home buyers begin their search for a new home online, tablets and smart phones have started leading in device searches. Because of this, home builders have started to integrate a mobile friendly website as a user friendly interface. BUT on April 21, 2015, Google will be releasing an algorithm update, known as “Mobilegeddon”. This update will hurt any home buyer’s website search rankings that are not mobile friendly!

User-Friendly Home Builder Website:

Here is another area that will not only help your SEO, but may increase your leads as well. Make sure your website is easy to use for home buyers. Many times the builder is used to their website and finds it easy to navigate; however the home buyer may beg to differ. Ask a family or friend to explore your website and get their input.


April 26 2010

Blogging And Homebuilding - It's Only A Matter Of Time

Blogging has been a hot topic within the homebuilding industry for several reasons.  A few of those reasons include:

  • Companies are tentative to let employees free in an open and public space.
  • Blogging is a marketing force multiplier. The more employees blogging, the more Internet exposure that company gets.
  • Blogging keeps a website fresh.  All to often a consumer perception is that 'the lights are on, but no one is home', because the website rarely gets fresh content.
  • Blogging freshness contributes strongly to the search engine optimization of a home builder's website.

It seems that as an industry, many have acknowledged the benefits of blogging but where do we get the extra resources?  It takes extra time and extra people to implement a successful blogging strategy.

But it's only a matter of time before blogging becomes common place within the confines of home builder websites. In February 2010, the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that Internet users ages 18 - 29 were about one-third more likely to say they blogged than those 30 and older. Check out these graphs from eMarketer.

Blog reader stats - blog writer stats March 2010

The most interesting part comes from the second graph - the reasons for blogging.  As home builders, we've got to hone in on the preferences brought on by technology.  It's not just that younger people are more technology savvy, it's that technology is playing a large part in shaping consumer preferences.  Young people adapt to technology because 1., they aren't set in their ways; and 2. because they have more time to experiment with new technologies.

Younger people tend to like blogging - just look at the image below.

 

Why bloggers blog

The bottom line is that blogging works in the home building industry and that it is an inevitability of marketing and connection in today's world of commerce.  The quicker we can adapt, the better off our companies will be.

Jim Adams - CEO


December 16 2008

Successful Blogging Must Haves

1. You must have an audience

You must have a current audience or you must have an audience in mind. 
a. If you have an audience already such as consumers interested in your new home community, you’ve got a great start. 
b. If you don’t have an audience, you should have one in mind.  Begin by writing to the audience you have in mind, then contact them, let them know about the blog post you wrote, and then ask them to make a comment.

2. You must have information the audience wants, needs, or information that will benefit them.

If you want to gain and maintain readership, you must give the audience a reason to read your blog.  If the information doesn’t benefit me in anyway, why would I read it?  Just because you write doesn’t mean people will read.  Success is not an accident.
3. You must have information that your audience can’t get anywhere else. 
a. Company executives should be blogging.  Readers want to hear information directly from the decision making source.  We want the inside scoop.  Information from third party sources are less powerful because we don’t always know if that information is accurate or if we can rely on that information.  But we know that if the information is coming from the one in charge then there is substance; information we can bank on and make decisions based on that information.
b. Community sales people should be blogging.  A community sales person is the builder representative for that community.  They are the authority.  There are so many things consumers want to know and be kept up to date on concern the home, their community, and their builder, both before and after the purchase.  Blogging keeps consumers engaged in your brand.
4. Your information must be timely. 
Your audience should get the information first from you.  If they get the information from somewhere else first, your blog loses that exclusive ‘juice’ it should have to keep your readership coming back.

5. Your information must be real.

I like the word authentic.  I see so many blogs that are sterile in both the tone and the information.  To make a connection with people, give them real information, not the corporate yada yada yada.

6. Your blog must have a tone of one PERSON to another PERSON. 

The personal touch in the writing style is what separates blogs from news stories or press releases.    Blogs don’t just report the news or dispense information.  Blogs are person to person(s) communication.  It’s this person to person tone that brings about an emotional connection between the blogger and the audience.

7. Your blog must allow comments. 

Comments are what validates a blog.  Comments show there is a conversation going on.  Comments show involvement.  Comments show that people are interacting.  No comments say 'No one is listening'.  I do think it wise to set the blog settings where you have to approve all comments before they are displayed but you must allow comments.  Comments are what complete the circle of communication.  Allowing a comment is the listening portion of the conversation.  If you don’t listen, then you’re back to traditional one-way, in your face, marketing.

8. You must allow both positive and negative comments. 

I know this is one of the greatest fears in blogging.  ‘Aren’t we setting ourselves up for disaster?’  It’s a valid question.  No, you are not setting yourself up for disaster.  You’re setting yourself up to be a hero.  Many times, negative comments come from people that don’t feel listened to or cared for.  Since comments are the essence of listening, the feeling of not being listened to greatly disappears.  However, you must realize there will be negative opinions of consumers in all business.  Negative comments validate the authenticity of the blog.  Negative comments give you an opportunity to show you care and that you have nothing to hide.  Negative comments and the response to them is the transparency that drives consumers to trust and become emotionally involved with our companies and products.

9. You must respond to the comments. 

Whether responding in a general sense to several comments at once or specific comments, you must respond to continue the conversation.
a. If the consumer comments are neutral to positive, maybe just a ‘thank you for contributing your comments’ are in order.  Maybe you add something to the comments made that furthers the information in the original blog post.  Blogs are conversations.  If someone engages you in a conversation, continue the conversation until it ceases of its own volition...or momentum.
b. If the consumer comments are negative, this is your chance to shine.  Address the negative comment.  Address it and show you care about that person.  It may be as thorough as a full solution or as minimal as a simple validation.  In any case, show both the consumer with the negative comment and the world in large that you and your company address negative feedback.  When other readers read the blog post, the negative feedback from a consumer, and they read your response, it creates trust in the reader.  It says that ‘if the company/person cares enough to address that consumers beef, then the company/person will care about me and any negative issues I might have down the line also.’  Always address negative comments.  Never do the ‘no comment’ thing.  No comment says “I hear you, but I don’t care.”


The future of new home marketing is one where all sales people are bloggers. 

The future of new home marketing is one where all new home community websites have some form of consumer dialogue whether it be blogs, online community groups, or simply a Facebook page.

Social media, with connections in mind, produces stronger buyer to seller connections, a more effective and efficient way of maintaining those buyer-seller relationships, and effective dialogue marketing.  Social media marketing is the new marketing. 

We need to begin figuring out how to make social media marketing work for us. 

We need to begin training our current people in the art of successful social media marketing.

We need to begin looking for marketing professionals that know how to implement and execute successful social media marketing.

Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com


November 25 2008

Does Blogging Work In The Building Industry?

We've heard the social media buzz for a while now.  We know the new Gen Y demographic is one of our largest ever and they have embraced social media.  What we have not heard a lot of is how, specifically, do we make social media work for our company.  So here is a specific example of how a divisional marketing professional is successfully using blogging and another social media site.

Jonathan Torres of D.R. Horton Tampa has a division blog.  Kudos to both Jonathan and D.R. Horton for letting this official or unofficial pilot exist.  So, is it working?  I say we let Jonathan comment on the challenges and successes.  I would however like to comment on the Internet Marketing impact the blog is having.  First, the D.R. Horton Tampa Blog has received credible press and recognition from Big Builder Online and from New Homes Directory just for being one of the only, if not the only publicly traded home builder to be actively blogging.  Secondly, you may or may not know that Google has a rapidly increasing interest in blogs.  For the past several months, Google has been including a link called 'Blog Results' into many its search results pages. 

1. Google Search for 'DR Horton'.

I did a Google search this morning for 'DR Horton', found and clicked the 'Blog Results'.  Low and behold what did I find?  The D.R. Horton Tampa blog as the first result. 

2. Google Blog Search for 'DR Horton'.

This is not the only influential item I found.  I also did a Google search for 'DR Horton Tampa'.  I found two powerful examples of Internet marketing that completely validate the Internet benefits of using social media as a major part of a marketing strategy.  The first example I found was that the D.R. Horton Tampa blog was the 9th result for the search (DR Horton Tampa).  The second example I found as the 10th result was a news release posted by Jonathan on NHDBuzz.com, the building industry's press release website.

3.  Google Search for 'DR Horton Tampa'.

Due to Jonathan's social media efforts, he single handedly has secured 2 out of 10 positions on the FIRST page of a Google search!   The first page of a Google search is the most powerful marketing real estate anyone can have.  It is the beach front property of the Internet. Most of us know the negative things that can appear in a Google search for a builder name.  Jonathan's use of social media, blogging and another social media site NHD Buzz, has ensured that the results page for D.R. Horton Tampa is filling up with positive influence.

Social media has made everyone a publisher and ensures everyone has a voice on the Internet.  We all need to understand that we no longer have complete control over our messages and our reputation is now being influenced heavily by our consumers.  The best that we can do now is to engage the social media space knowing that we can better connect with our consumers and we can proactively influence what our consumers see on the Internet.

Congratulations Jonathan!  You are helping poise D.R. Horton to positively influence your consumers in the social space.  I only hope that D.R. Horton corporate is watching, listening, and evaluating the results of your social media efforts.   Please let us know some of your challenges and successes.

If any of you know of other builders blogging, please share them with us in the comments below.  If you are a builder blogging, please share with us your challenges and successes.

Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes Directory.com

 


November 14 2008

BIS Show 2008 Video Blog

I spoke with Mike Lyon, author of 'Browsers To Buyers' yesterday and during our conversation he threw out the idea of doing a video blog at the IBS in Las Vegas in January.  I thought it was a fresh idea so I thought I'd give it a whirl.  Here's to you Mike.  

Attendance at the BIS Show, as you might imagine, was leaner compared to past years and the economic and housing news didn’t contribute much to enhancing our optimism.  Times are tough now in California and everyone here feels it.  Spending is down and consumer confidence is low, low.

A bright spot in the conference was the Sales & Marketing Roundtable yesterday (Thursday, Nov. 13th).  This was the first ever BIS Roundtable session.  The Roundtables were dynamic sessions covering a range of topics that are at the forefront of discussions in today’s market.  

I was both an attendee and a moderator along with Cindy Douglas, V.P. of Sales & Marketing - MIRM, from Ponderosa Homes. Ponderosa Homes builds in both Northern California and Southern California. Attendees were encouraged to engage the moderators as well as other attendees in close, interactive discussions relevant to their businesses.  We all had the opportunity to ask questions and share personal experiences in a network setting.

I felt that everyone in the Sales & Marketing roundtable was energized by the fact that we all seemed to connect on several topics.   My feeling is that housing professionals need to feel connected to others facing the same challenges because together, we feel we can survive this market.  Together, we can do it.

Watch a few of those who responded to the roundtable.   I know it's raw, but that's life. Thank you Bobbie, Cindy, and Christy for being brave enough to comment on video. Here is the YouTube video. Make sure to click the 'Watch in high quality' link for the good stuff.

Jim Adams - CEO - New Homes Directory.com


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