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Adapt Your Marketing Strategies to the New Reality

As sales professionals, the best way for us to adjust to the new market realities is to return to basics. Unfortunately, the basics need to be applied in a known environment in order to achieve expected results and the environment in which we work sometimes changes faster than we can react.

That leaves us with one of two choices. Either we can hunker down and ride out the storm, or we can revise our business plan and plow ahead

I have chosen the second option and I suggest that you choose it, too.

Homes Are Selling

Regardless of the situation in which you find yourself and the condition of your market, homes are being sold. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe recently predicted that 364,000 new homes will be sold this year and, next year, another 539,000 new homes will be sold.

While those numbers are nothing like what we enjoyed during the boom years, we need to remember that companies around the country are going to build those homes — and that new homes salespeople are going to sell them.

Why can’t one of them be you?

What Prospective Buyers Want

Consumers seeking new homes know that it’s a buyers’ market and many still want all the bells and whistles. But, in today’s market, they don't believe they should pay for these extras.

The wise builder sees this and realizes that, to deliver what buyers want, he has to give them value. Rather than give potential customers everything, he determines what will keep them from looking elsewhere by asking the following questions:

  • What items are important to customers?
  • What items are they willing to give up?
  • What items can he offer that will set him apart from the competition?

Differentiating your product from the competition creates a niche and helps minimize competitive pressure.

Keep in mind, however, that the downward pressure on home prices has changed your competition. You probably now are competing against what were initially higher-priced homes that have been reduced to the point where they are now competitively priced with your homes.

This makes understanding your customer's  wants and desires more important than ever.

Communicate With Your Customers

In order to understand what your customers want, you have to communicate with them. In the past, most builders relied on direct marketing, but that has become more expensive and many builders have dropped or trimmed their direct marketing.

What should not be dropped is a builder's Web site, so look for other alternatives to drive traffic to your Web site. E-mail programs ande builders association promotional programs and other cooperative marketing efforts can all drive traffic to your Web site at more modest costs.

Generate Your Own Traffic

Prospecting has become a way of life again. Customers are out there, but they are reluctant, even afraid, to get in the game. You need to contact them and make them aware of the advantages of new-home ownership.

The $8,000 federal tax credit available to first-time home buyers is a great way to get your foot in the door. NAHB’s Web site, www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com, offers a wealth of information to answer consumer questions about this tax credit.

Use this as an opportunity to get in front of religious groups, civic organizations, trade associations or social clubs to answer questions about the tax credit and how you can help them get it.

Another way to get the attention of prospective customers is to let your current home owners use your facilities to hold welcoming parties and other social gatherings that they would normally hold at their homes. Not only do they have more room for their events, their friends get to enjoy your facilities, which increases awareness of your community and company.

Marketing Relies on the Strength of Your Sales Team

Finally, we have to invest in our people.

It has always been the responsibility of the business owner to train his sales team, and now it is more important than ever. As the market has changed, most of us have not provided our salespeople with the tools they need to effectively operate in it.

While some salespeople can adjust to the new realities on their own, most will need help to get the proper skills to make the necessary changes.

To wrap up, adapting your marketing strategies can be done using these basic steps:

  • Adjust your offer to the needs of your consumer.
  • Analyze your competition and adjust to how it has changed.
  • Communicate with your customer, but concentrate on finding the more efficient alternatives.
  • Generate your own traffic and prospects because people are afraid to make a decision.
  • Train your people to sell in the current market.

We became complacent about the basics while working the go-go market when everything was booming. Now we are paying the price. We can sit back and ride out the tough market, or we can return to the basics and get to work.

Hal Von Nessen, MIRM, is president of Resh Marketing Consultants, Inc., a new-home marketing firm based in Columbia, S.C. Von Nessen is a past president of the Institute of Residential Marketing (IRM) and writes and teaches IRM courses across the country. For more information, e-mail Von Nessen, call him at 803-798-0009 x210 or visit the Resh Marketing Consultants Web site at www.resh.com.

This article originally appeared on the NAHB Sales and Marketing Channel.

Tax Credit Web Site Looks at Opportunity of a Lifetime

Builders and other industry professionals can help spur home sales by referring prospective first-time home buyers to www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com. The NAHB Web site provides detailed information on the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers included in the economic stimulus legislation signed into law by President Obama.

Consumers can use the Web site to find information on the tax credit – including a detailed question and answer section. It also includes information about other housing-related and small business measures in the legislation and a number of home-buying resources for consumers.

Spanish Version Also Available Online

A Spanish version of this increasingly popular Web site is also available to provide detailed information on the tax credit to Spanish-speaking first-time home buyers.

Industry professionals are encouraged to highlight either tax credit Web site when marketing to their potential first-time home buyer market.

‘ValueMatch Selling for Home Builders’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

ValueMatch Selling for Home Builders,” available through BuilderBooks.com, presents a selling process that focuses on selling feelings and appealing to prospective buyers’ emotional need to buy a new home in today’s market rather than product.

Learn how to build rapport with prospective home buyers, meet their needs, make powerful presentations that are focused on their values and go for the close.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

Subscribe to Sales + Marketing Ideas Magazine for Cutting-Edge Information

For additional cutting-edge sales and marketing information, subscribe to NAHB’s Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine (www.smimagazine.com). 

Click here to learn about membership benefits of the National Sales and Marketing Council and the Institute of Residential Marketing.


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