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Members of the Institute of Residential Marketing (IRM), the education branch of NAHB’s National Sales and Marketing Council (NSMC), will offer builders free new-home sales and marketing advice at the NAHB International Builders’ Show next month in Orlando.
IRM members will offer their advice at the Ask a Sales and Marketing Professional booth located at Member Advantage Headquarters in the Hall B lobby of the Orange County Convention Center. The booth will be open during IBS exhibit hours on Jan. 12-15.
They will focus on 10 specific service disciplines — market research and opportunity assessment; site selection; product definition; pricing strategy; branding; model homes; advertising; Internet marketing (including social media); sales team management (including selection, training and outside agency use); and customer service — but will be available to answer any questions about sales and marketing.
“Right now, and for the last couple of years, our skill set as marketing and sales experts is exactly what many builders have needed to survive and return to prosperity,” said Bill Webb, MIRM, of Amelia Island, Fla., who organized the booth and free service. “It has long bothered me that, from my perspective, the relationship between NAHB builder members and associate members in sales and marketing has not seemed to be as close as it could be.”
The booth was launched at the 2010 IBS after Webb brought his concerns about the disconnect he saw between builders and sales and marketing professionals to current NAHB Second Vice Chairman Barry Rutenberg.
Once Rutenberg helped secure booth space on the exhibit floor in Las Vegas, 50 NSMC and IRM members volunteered to staff more than 25 90-minute shifts over the four days of the show.
“Our biggest problem at IBS in Las Vegas turned out to be convincing builders that they could ask their questions without fear of being embarrassed,” Webb said. “Leading up to Orlando, it’s important for builders to understand that there are no stupid questions except those not asked.”
“It is our pleasure, our joy, even, to render whatever useful service we can to the people who want it,” he added.
Those staffing the booth next month will all be accredited Masters in Residential Marketing (MIRM), one of the most intensive designations offered by NAHB.
Last year, Gaye Orr, MIRM, owner of Coldwell Banker Advantage New Homes in Raleigh, N.C., and a past IRM chair, helped a father-daughter builder team that needed advice on the marketing of their community and home listings. They told Orr that they had listed their homes with a general real estate agency that did not know how to market or sell these properties appropriately.
Orr counseled them about what to look for when choosing an outside agency and advised them on other alternatives to market and sell their homes more successfully.
Webb pointed to Orr’s assistance as one of the best examples of advice given at the booth last year, “because so many small-volume and custom builders list their homes with an outside agency.”
“There is almost nothing in common between general real estate resales and new-home sales,” Webb said. “Builders who list need to know the difference between general and new-home sales agents so they can find competent help.”
The Ask a Sales and Marketing Pro booth is available free to all builders attending the Builders’ Show next month. NSMC and IRM members will give the advice without obligation or financial commitment.
According to Webb, the short-term goal for the booth is to help builders survive this emergency in the housing industry and return to prosperity. The long-term goals include re-emphasizing the value of NAHB membership and building a better bridge of understanding and respect between builder members of NAHB and the professional corps of marketing and sales experts.
After the 2010 IBS, the NSMC formed an NAHB working group to develop and implement plans to meet these goals.
“We have a very active group of markets and builders working to bring our two constituencies together. Our working group builder members are even taking the lead in spreading the word about our offer of service this year,” Webb said.
For more information, e-mail Joseph McGaw at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8693.