Web Marketing for 2011 and Beyond

 The Changing Face of Builder Marketing

With more and more people starting their home buying search on the Web, builders and Realtors alike are trying to play catch up with how consumers research and shop for homes today. Lisa Dilts, Vice President of RLCCO in Orlando, presented buying trends of consumers to our local Home Builders Association Sales & Marketing Council on Thursday, June 25. Not surprisingly, the Internet was the top source for home buyers across all age groups, even the coveted Baby Boomer generation. 

 Perhaps prompted by Dilts’ presentation, our local Home Builders Association’s Sales & Marketing Council has been discussing in our LinkedIn group how online marketing is changing the face of marketing for builders. But if you think that just the builders are affected, think again. eMarketer.com reported earlier this year that 87% of consumers begin their shopping experience online for LOCAL products. Sadly enough, only 44% of local shops have websites.

Here is a list of many of our suggested strategies that Builders and all business owners and marketers should integrate into their overall marketing plans:

 1. Be Resourceful.
Become that "go to" person when it comes to housing and buying a home (or any industry that you work in). Blogging about hot topics of interest to your prospects is the leading way to become the expert. Examples: Energy Efficient products - show how homeowners can get a tax credit for more energy efficient products. The goal is to up-sell them, but you are first showing them why through the tax credits.

2. Stay Top-of-Mind with eNewsletters.
This has been a lost art, because too many people make it all about them and nothing at all about the prospect or customer. If it's a prospect eNewsletter, then send them info about the community and region. The best thing to include is info about the local sports teams and events. I know someone who did a "Wish You Were Here" campaign and for 3 months they took photos of owners enjoying themselves in the community AND around town - local sporting events, school events, community events - and put them on postcards with the "Wish You Were Here" message. Both the digital and print campaigns generated a big spike in response rates.

 If your prospects are from up North, then top off the community news with some “soft sell” information like including information on warm Florida activities which reminds them of the warm (winter) weather here. Be sure to include photos of the "cool" community amenities like a large, sparkling blue pool.

3. Send Out Cards. (Or another personal greeting card sending company)
Cool tool to keep track of important dates and to send personalized greeting cards. It is best to do this for HOT prospects only, because postage can get costly; although sending direct mail can be much more expensive. Ask Sara Rivers, SMC chair at Volusia about this...very cool and inexpensive.

 4. Owning a feature.
Sure every builder offers it, but if you are the one to promote it, it's yours. Force everyone else to become the "oh yes, me too" builder.

5. Alerts
Twitter accounts for the company announcing new openings, congratulating the latest buyer, special incentives offered.

6. Social Networking.
LinkedIn, Facebook and other networking pages devoted to the company.

7a. Reach Out and Touch Someone.
Sales agents "farm" their neighborhood for referrals by knocking on doors, and visiting with their past buyers. 


7b. Add Referrals to Your Campaigns.
When you build referral and recommendation lists, be sure to include them in your advertising campaigns, incorporating these into your social media strategies. Why?  

  • Recommendations from family and friends rank above all other consumer touch points according to ZenithOptimedia.com (AdAge, April, 2008.) 
  •  Social media users are more likely to buy through a recommended source from “people like me,” according to (Edelman Trust Barometer, November 2007) and three times more likely to trust their peers' opinions over advertising when making purchase decisions. ("Social Networking Sites: Defining Advertising Opportunities in a Competitive Landscape," JupiterResearch, March 2007)
  •  According to a global Nielsen survey of 26,486 Internet users in 47 markets, consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising among 78% of the study's respondents. (Nielsen, "Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool", October 2007)

Video referrals (no more than 1-1 ½ minutes in length – 15 to 20 seconds per customer), work best with younger target demographics. Thank you MTV and YouTube! 

6 (Revisited). Turn Your Raving Fans into Evangelists.

When you start a social network, you need to give up control of that network; otherwise no one will ever visit your social networking site except for your company employees and vendors.

One way to keep content fresh and positive is to enlist those individuals who gave you the best, glowing referrals because they are passionate for your company. You can assign limited access to these fans into unpaid, but highly appreciated commentators. Stay-at-home moms might welcome an opportunity to stay (or get) connected to the community. Besides, statistics don’t lie. The Trust in Advertising survey of 26,000+ found that Consumer Recommendations are the most credible form of advertising. ("Social Media Marketing: The Right Strategy for Tough Economic Times" Awareness, 2008)


There are many more strategies you can incorporate into your overall marketing plan. I welcome others to comment on what they have learned – whether it be a tough lesson learned or a great success. Do Share, especially if you are a professional social media expert! A reader might just become your next customer!

Want to stay updated with all the new strategies as they are added to our HBA Sales & Marketing Council? Sign up for Web Resource’s eNewsletter today! You will receive weekly eNewsletter that helps you to market yourself work better online. 

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