The Official Online Weekly Newspaper of NAHB
The last in a series about marketing and social media.
No comprehensive marketing and social media plan would be complete — or effective — without strong media and referral strategies. Social media may be transforming marketing, but every marketing strategy should be built upon a strong, solid foundation.
All too often, builders tell me that traditional media are of no value to them. My natural reaction to such a statement is to wince because for years I’ve seen the power of the media to emotionally connect with home buyers and motivate them to take action.
After doing some research on the “death” of traditional media, here’s what I know to be true today:
Television, Print and Radio Are Still Relevant to Affluent Buyers
While Internet and social media use keeps increasing, affluent buyers — even affluent millennials — still remain heavily engaged with traditional media and advertising.
Yes, affluent millennials watch less local news, talk shows and nature programming, but they still watch about as much television as their elder counterparts do. According to the Ipsos Mendelsohn survey of affluent Americans, millennials pay more attention to television ads than does the broader population as a whole.
In addition, a study by the Affinity media research firm found that magazine readership among millennials is about equal to the broader population's as well.
So, affluent buyers pay attention to traditional media.
Positive News: The Worst of Traditional Media's Die-off Has Ended
According to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, weekday newspaper circulation contracted by 5% in 2010, which is about half the loss of the year before. The decline in newspaper advertising revenue in 2010 also slowed — to 6.3% over 2009, when revenue dropped by 26%.
While the decline in newspaper advertising slowed last year, revenue actually increased in cable news, network television and local news outlets, according to the Pew study. Radio revenue ticked up 6% in 2010, following an 18% drop in 2009, and magazine ad revenue remained flat after a 26% drop the year before.
Some 74% of Americans watch local TV newscasts or visit local TV news websites at least once a week, far more than the other news media, the Pew study found.
The study also found that newspapers and newspaper websites are the leading — or in a tie as the leading — source people rely on most for 11 of the 16 key topics examined, including such civic-oriented topics as local government, taxes and zoning. 70% of adults read a newspaper in print or online each week.
Consumers perceive traditional advertising as more informative, entertaining and necessary than online advertising.
Of more than 1,200 people surveyed for ad:tech London by Zussi Research, 69% said traditional advertising was relevant to them, compared with 45% who said online advertising was more relevant. In addition, the gap favoring traditional advertising widened to 81% versus 51% among TV’s target audience of 25 to 34 year olds.
Rather than dying off, these findings suggest that the traditional media may actually be on the rebound.
So what’s a builder to do?
While there are many compelling reasons to include traditional media, builders still must weigh those against their biggest impediment — cost. Because traditional media rely on a broad reach, they are expensive to deliver.
The good news is that all traditional media offer digital options that tie directly to their most loyal, core audiences at a fraction of the cost. So the first thing builders need to do is determine what they want to achieve with all their media choices.
Effective Strategies Typically Are Integrated Ones
If the budget allows, a strong mix of traditional and social media is more effective than a marketing strategy with a singular focus. Traditional media deliver brand awareness and create preferences by creating emotional connections with targeted audiences, while online media are best used to help people find what they’re looking for and take action.
With limited budgets, the big question for builders often is which comes first when developing and implementing an advertising strategy — traditional or online media?
For me, traditional media advertising is much more elegant, persuasive and less intrusive than most digital applications. Personally, every time I’m interrupted online by a pop-up or banner ad with incessant movement, my opinion of those brands — and my desire to click on their ads — decreases.
Traditional media offer a wide array of additional choices, depending upon goals and budget considerations.
To help plan an effective media strategy, study the following broad overview of traditional media strengths and weaknesses to help determine which elements to include.
Develop a Strong Referral Strategy
A strong referral program is one of the most cost-effective strategies for driving qualified traffic and increasing sales because it’s always easier to sell to someone who has been referred by a satisfied customer or trusted friend than it is to sell to a first-time visitor with no prior relationship.
A strong referral program should be at the core of every builder marketing plan — but it’s often overlooked.
Research by Avid Ratings found that referrals are twice as likely to produce a sale over marketed prospects. And, according to Woodland O’Brien Scott, one of home building’s leading customer satisfaction firms, some leading home builders generate as much as 50% of their sales through referrals.
Successful referral strategies focus on recruiting satisfied customers as a highly effective source of quality leads. This is an ongoing process based on soliciting customer satisfaction feedback through regularly administered surveys.
Then, once your most satisfied customers have been identified, you can target them with incentives for referring friends and family.
You can generally offer two types of incentives — one to the referring source, your most satisfied customer; the other to the referred source.
Many states no longer allow direct monetary compensation as a referral incentive to someone not directly involved in the purchase, so you may need to get creative. One proven, effective and appreciated tactic has been to make a donation in the name of the referring source to the charity of their choice.
You can, however, offered the referred source a reward for purchasing. Consider offering something related to the new-home purchase as a reward, such as a $1,500 credit at the design center.
Social Media = Referrals
In a very real sense, your social marketing strategy is really a referral strategy. After all, the essence of social media is friends rating and recommending things to other friends.
It works so well because people are connected and sharing more than ever in history. And since 90% of people trust recommendations from people they know, they are more willing to take action on those recommendations.
As a business strategy, social media are used to tap into this powerful trend by mobilizing people to share recommendations with friends resulting in new customers, positive brand awareness and new customer insights.
The social media strategy dovetails perfectly with the overall referral strategy to produce a synergistic approach to generating qualified traffic and increasing sales.
Summing Up Marketing Plan Priorities
Social media and online marketing will continue to revolutionize marketing. Here are a few key things to consider when creating your next marketing plan:
A Digital Strategy
Yes, the social media are essential to any overall marketing plan, but it shouldn’t be the entire plan. Internet marketing begins with a well-optimized website and requires a number of online marketing tactics to achieve superior results.
A Realtor Strategy
Realtors have never been more important to builders than they are today, but their role has changed. Builders need to be educated and build lasting relationships with Realtors, who will then understand, trust and be willing to endorse the builder brand.
A Media Strategy
The best strategies are typically integrated ones. If the budget allows, the ideal mix should include the impact of traditional media with one-to-one search, social media and mobile channels to achieve the best of all worlds.
Traditional media deliver brand awareness and create preferences by creating emotional connections with targeted audiences. Online media is best used to help people find what they are looking for and take action, and a strong media mix is more effective than a singularly focused strategy.
A Referral Strategy
A strong referral program is one of the most cost-effective strategies for driving qualified traffic and increasing sales. Cultivating referrals should be at the core of every builder marketing plan.
A comprehensive marketing plan takes time, dedication and qualified professionals to create each of the strategies described. But builders who take the time to think through this process should see increased lead generation, capture and sales as a result.
David Miles will be discussing this topic during the 2012 NAHB International Builders' Show in Orlando beginning at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Sales Central in West 311 E.
David Miles is president of Miles BrandDNA, a Denver-based real estate branding and communications firm. During his career, which spans more than three decades, Miles has worked with such leading real estate brands as Disney, Hines, Orco (the largest developer in Europe), Newland Communities, General Growth Partners, Pulte Homes, Centex Homes, Shea Homes, David Weekly Homes, John Wieland Homes, The Seaside Institute and the Urban Land Institute of Colorado. He has won numerous local, national and international creative awards, including 92 Gold Nationals and more than 500 Silvers. For more information, visit www.milesdna.com; or email Miles, or call him at 303-880-2531.
“Social Media for Home Builders 2.0: It’s Easier Than You Think,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, demonstrates the power of social media through case studies and online outlets created specifically for the home building industry.
The publication explains how builder can use social media sites to build their brand, engage new and existing consumers, manage their online reputation and sell more homes.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.
“Think Sold! Creating Home Sales in Any Market,” available at NAHB BuilderBooks, is a practical, how-to guide for developing the self-awareness, knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the competitive field of new home sales.
The book covers everything from the home buying process and new home financing to strategies for making better sales presentations and sizing up the competition. It teaches readers how to overcome customers’ concerns and provides specific examples of how to explain the benefits of new home features in customer-friendly language.
“Think Sold” provides insights on how to approach sales and life from a position of optimism that will create successful outcomes; how to improve upon potential customer prospecting and follow-up skills; and how to communicate effectively with various types of buyers and learn how to adjust communication strategies to increase rapport and alignment with buyers’ motives.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.
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