Go Back to Basics: Take the Time to Relearn Your Market
Most of us don’t think about the basics anymore. We passed the basics years ago and have moved on.
We know the markets we work in and what to do to make our communities successful. We operate in our “comfort zone.”
But what would happen if we went back to the basics every time we started a new project.
For each new project, you have to conduct research like you have never been in the area before.
I am not talking about statistics. Everyone knows you have to know your competition, what floor plans they are building, their pricing, any incentives, etc.
If you have been in this business for any length of time and you have not been doing market research, you have been very lucky. I am talking about determining what marketing opportunities are out there and finding out what works.
Who Are Your Buyers?
Researching the population is one of the first things you need to do when you go to a new area.
It sounds simple, but I would bet most of the marketing people, once they’ve worked in an area for awhile, research the market again to see what might have changed.
Who are your buyers, where are they coming from, are they local or transferring? Who are the major employers and where are they located? Has there been a shift in the ethnic make-up of the community?
The answers to these questions are important in order to effectively target the right buyer for the communities you are marketing. And, over time, the answers to these questions have probably changed.
Think about it. If your market is shifting from a transferee market to more local, move-up buyers, what is your resale market like?
The local buyers most likely will have a house to sell before they can buy in your community. Is there anything you can do to help them move their existing home?
What about the employers in your area? Are they consolidating or downsizing?
A lot of times when large companies “downsize,” those people go out and start up smaller companies. We have seen a lot of that in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina where I work.
Many areas are seeing a shift in the ethnicity of their communities. If that is the case, finding out how to reach these new groups is very important.
My challenge when starting a program for a small regional builder from another market was how to reach what was fast becoming a purely military market of buyers.
As a group, these prospects have very specific spending habits and patterns, so much so that the merchants and real estate agents in the area do their heaviest advertising around military paydays.
Also, the choice of a big purchase by this buying group boiled down to either a car or a house. My challenge was to convince these prospects to buy a house. It also helped that the builder had a relationship with a local real estate company and worked with them to create a referral program for move-up buyers in that market.
What Are Your Local Advertising Opportunities?
Just about every real estate agent knows which publications work best in their market, but have you looked at them lately?
Do you know their distribution rates? Who are their other advertisers? What additional opportunities are available through the Internet? What are other builders in the market doing — and is it working?
Also, have you explored any non-traditional ways to reach your target buyers?
As we all know, the Internet has become an integral part of any successful marketing campaign. Research has told us that the majority of buyers start their home search on the Internet. They don’t tend to buy through the Internet, but they do use the Web as part of their elimination process.
Even with the impact of the Internet growing in real estate, don’t overlook your traditional print publications. Just make sure you have their current readership statistics.
The publications look at them regularly, just like we look at traffic counts. So ask for them, study them and compare them.
Wouldn’t it be helpful to know which of the major publications in your area has the highest distribution to the human resources departments of the major employers? You may not be able to reach the people individually, but you could advertise in the publication handed out to potential employees moving to the area.
Likewise, if your market has a growing Hispanic population, you will need to know the best Hispanic publications in your area.
Another thing to look into is additional opportunities for Internet advertising. Most publications also have Web sites. If you are advertising in the publication, do you have an opportunity to advertise on the Web site? Again, you will want to know the statistics on the site.
Finally, for my project, when looking at how to reach my military audience, I found a company that sold advertising on delivery trucks that made 90% of their deliveries on base. I was able to put information, including our Web site, on the two side panels and on the back of these delivery trucks.
Your Market Has Changed
Like it or not, no matter where you are, your market has changed and new home sales and marketing have changed with it.
Take the time to relearn your market. The more knowledgeable you are, the more successful you can be.
I also believe everyone should step out of their comfort zones if given the opportunity.
I had a great learning experience by taking a risk and trying something new when I started a sales program for a regional builder.
Not only do you give yourself the chance to build on what you know, you may gain knowledge and learn new methods. And if you’re not careful, you may learn something about yourself in the process.
Gaye Burwell Orr, MIRM, is vice president and partner of Coldwell Banker Advantage New Homes, a full-service new home sales and marketing company in Raleigh, N.C. She has been working with builders and developers in the greater Raleigh area for more than 25 years and is a past chairman of the NAHB’s National Sales and Marketing Council and the current president of the Institute of Residential Marketing. For more information, e-mail Orr, call her at 919-460-6880 or visit www.advantagenewhomes.com/homepage.asp.
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.
“The new tax credit provides a great opportunity for first-time home buyers,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson. “Combined with today’s near record low interest rates, the large selection of homes on the market and very competitive pricing, the tax credit should provide the extra incentive needed to get prospective buyers who have been sitting on the fence into the market.”
Industry professionals are encouraged to highlight the 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.