Ready Your Company Now for Housing’s Eventual Recovery
By Rich Carlson, CAASH, MIRM, CMP, Carlson Communications
The housing market will return eventually. Now, eventually may take some time to get here, but whether you are a developer, builder, architect, remodeler or supplier working in the industry, you should begin taking steps to prepare for housing’s eventual recovery.
Doing so now will give you a jump-start on your competition. It might even help you fine tune your company while riding out the downturn.
As a starting point, assess your company’s marketing readiness in the following three areas:
- Marketing Analysis
Have you conducted a marketing analysis of your business or community to determine what elements of your sales and marketing presentations need improvement?
If you’re a builder, are you offering designs that today’s buyers want? If your community is already underway, is it well maintained, does it look active?
- Marketing Materials
Are your marketing materials current and coordinated?
As you analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your business, look carefully at each component of your marketing communications to ensure that there is continuity in your messages. Here are several pointers:
- Marketing Plan ― If you don’t have a marketing plan, prepare one. This should include a media schedule, budget and a monthly action plan to ensure that your marketing is tied to your monthly or quarterly sales goals.
- Branding — Do your company’s or community’s logo and related marketing materials reflect the message and image you want to reinforce in your market?
- On-Site Presentation — Be sure that every prospect’s visit to your community is an emotionally uplifting and memorable experience. Every detail is important to create a strong first impression. Landscaping, signage and models have to be perfect.
- Web Presence ― Many prospective buyers visit you on the Web before they visit your sales office, so make sure your Web site is effective.
Maximize your Web site’s placement on the search engines; make sure your site is well designed, engaging and easy to navigate; include contact information on every Web page; and keep it fresh and up-to-date. Also, include a call to action — you don’t just want visitors to your Web site, you want them to contact you for community information and to make an appointment to visit your sales office.
- Collateral Material ― Your collateral material should reinforce the theme of your community and be a strong reminder of why prospects should visit your community and want to live there.
- Model Merchandising ― Do your models look fresh and new? Don’t just decorate your model homes, merchandise them.
- Sales Center Displays ― Your sales center displays should reinforce your community’s theme and company brand.
- Advertising ― While other builders are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the market to return, advertise and get your name out in the market. Advertising now will get you noticed, enable you to stand apart from your competition and help you establish your company as a leader in your marketplace.
- Internet Marketing ― E-mail blasts, banner and tile ads on high-traffic media Web sites and pay-per-click ads can be effective ways to reach prospective buyers in today’s market.
- Sales Training ― Invest the time and money to ensure that your sales team is well trained and motivated. Help them improve their presentation and closing techniques. After all, they are an invaluable part of your marketing and sales program.
- Evaluate Your Programs
Continuously evaluate every element of your marketing program to determine what’s working best and make adjustments as necessary.
Don’t wait till the market returns to get your company ready. Get ready now so you can take full advantage of the good times when they eventually arrive.
Rich Carlson, CAASH, MIRM, CMP, is president of Carlson Communications, a national marketing firm that specializes in marketing communications for new residential properties. Based in Northborough, Mass., Carlson is a frequent speaker at NAHB conventions and assists builders in their marketing through workshops and consultation. For more information, e-mail Carlson, call him at 877-393-9922, or www.carlcomm.com.