Friday, July 22, 2011

Personalization: Reframing the Home Purchase Decision-Making Process

Builder Radio offers a great set of resources for new home sales/marketing professionals ranging from Podcasts to Webinars to an audio/visual library...all oriented towards "Helping Builders Sell More Homes."  We suggest dropping by http://www.builderradio.com/ and taking a look at what is offered.

Let your buyers take the floorplan and...make it their own!
Recently, Jane Meagher with Success Strategies participated in a Builder Radio Podcast titled, Making Personalization Part of the Sales Process.  She highlighted a key sales concept: today's consumer likes to have control over purchases and that desire offers homebuilders a unique advantage compared to used, foreclosed and spec homes: the ability to personalize the purchase.

Jane suggests that salespeople ask probing questions designed to get prospective buyers to "dream the dream" and talk about their preferred lifestyle.  This process allows the buyer to reframe their decision-making process and, she says, drives the buyer to ask, "Why settle? Maybe I can get what I want, even if it costs a little more."

That question allows the builder to differentiate the new home from other homesfor sale-- since their purchase must be considered "as is."  Sure, after the purchase the buyer can tear up the carpet, add granite but..not today.

And, here's where an interactive touchscreen system can be an effective sales tool, as well.  Buyers can mix and match structural options, see the results and print out their uniquely designed floorplan.  No more standard brochures with arrows, lines and cross-outs! They can add/remove furniture and mark-up the floorplan, as well.  Change the wall between kitchen and family room to a pony wall; mark-up the kitchen to add a center island, make the base floorplan their home.

Robert Musa talks more about the value of interactive touchscreens in the sales process in his book, Creating Customers with Interactive Digital Signage.  It's available through BuilderRadio.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Your prospect's first visit: is it really a "be back"?

Beth Bliffen, a new homes sales/marketing professional based in Southern California, has a great blog on the value of Real Estate Staging.  She talks about packaging vacant standing inventory homes to your targeted market.

What jumped out in a recent blog, however, was this sentence, "Today's buyer can be considered a "be back" on their first visit... if you realize over 90% of homebuyers will have seen your homes online."

Going beyond the static...engaging your prospect
How have you modified your sales and marketing program as a result of that statistic?  Many people "shop" online, for example, but "buy" in a bricks-and-mortar location after having the opportunity to "try on" the actual clothes, shoes, whatever.

If you're selling new homes, for example, this statistic can signal that your sales approach needs to be modified as does your marketing collateral.  It might not be enough, for example, to provide static sitemap and floorplan displays -- your prospect has already seen those online. 

Good sales people ask questions and position inventory in relationship to the responses.  The "gourmet" kitchen meets a specific need, for example, and the "den in lieu of 4th bedroom" accommodates someone who works from home. 

An interactive touchscreen facilitates the same process...responding to a prospect's criteria (e.g., let's look at all 4 bedroom homes--for the 3 kids-- with a lower level master--have an early riser-- and den--who works remote)...and there's an inventory home available, now!  Plus, you're able, via the interactive presentation, to bring the neigborhood to life -- schools, shopping/dining, recreation.

Today's visitor doesn't need an introduction to your community; they know the basics (that is, they've already shopped online) and now they're ready to drill down and find out the details to determine if there's a fit and make a buying decision!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

68% of Millennials Ask Friends Before Choosing a Restaurant

And, what you might ask, does that stat have to do with CPS, software or just about anything other than a sociology study?

Creatively describing what's in the neighborhood!

Plenty, according to Matt Carmichael and E.J. Schultz in an AdAge article published on June 29, 2011.  These shoppers have shopping and buying habits that differ from those of the "boomer" generation.  Asked to identify key shopping criteria, millenials significantly favored locations identified as providing online ordering systems, creative ideas and/or recipes, enjoyable shopping experiences and functioning as a good corporate citizen.

And, they use technology to gather opinions -- as well as provide direction, suggestions and recommendations.

An AdAge reader, George Lamountain, commented by mentioning that a 20010 McKinsey & Company study suggested: personal recommendations were the only form of communications that influenced consumers at all three stages of the decision-making process: evaluation, consideration and purchase.  And...it appears that millennials place even more importance on recommendations.

How does your sales/marketing program harness this information?  We talk about the value of an interactive touchscreen presentation as it engages shoppers, encourages interaction and provides information in a creative, consumer-friendly manner.  As Lamountain notes, generating conversations is hard work, but for those willing to invest the time and energy, it can reap tremendous rewards...and recommendations. 

How about garnering recommendations at the Point of Sale?  Incorporating Facebook, Twitter and other social media at your location (whether bricks & mortar or online) are ways to encourage recommendations..what else do you suggest or use?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Remember the Say Hello! to a Lifestyle blog?

That blog was only a few days ago so...hopefully, you remember it! Optionally, you can scroll down and read it!

Whole Foods: Using technology to establish a connection
A key thought, based on reading The Power of the Post-Recession Consumer, is the change in behavior known as the Spend Shift as today's consumer looks for a lifestyle more oriented towards community, connection and quality

If you think about today's retailer line-up, Whole Foods has to be near the top of a list of retailers well situated for this Spend Shift.  Take a look at their website, http://www.wholefoods.com/, and you'll see stores offering community Open Mic nights so local musicians have a performance venue (complete with coffee and wine-bar) -- as well as offers to local farmers to investigate selling their quality, locally grown crops. 

We might argue Whole Foods takes connection to a new level, too.  Their new Customer Comment Boards are designed so shoppers can ask questions, post comments, recommend products and thank employees.  They've always had some sort of communications board -- for flyers, sale brochures and the like.  Now, they're using technology -- an  interactive touchscreen system --  to continue to establish connections!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Redefining Creative ....

Read another great AdAge blog article about a month behind, It's Not the Size, It's How You Use It, by Rob Gatto. Too cute, isn't it?

But, he had some interesting points centered around the idea that brute-force messaging isn't effective.

Engaging Your Consumer...Not Yelling a Message!
Well...what is meaningful for a consumer?  Gatto suggests interactive experiences are what people prefer.  That's the type of messaging that reflects the way consumers live today: social, mobile, participatory, fun...and smart. 

And, that means dynamically created, personalized, requiring action on the part of the consumer.  Touchscreens do those things as they actively engage consumers.  Touchscreens ask questions; wait for responses; allow shoppers to make selections; offer a way to annotate floorplans, maps, drawings.  They narrowcast (they're not yelling the same message to everyone, in other words). 

It's not just delivering an impression...today's creative has to make an impression.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Say Hello! to a lifestyle focused on community, connection, quality...

Finally had a chance to read The Power of the Post-Recession Consumer, by John Gerzema and Michael D'Antonio, found at http://www.strategy-business.com/.

The article noted that the perceived change in consumer attitudes (e.g., a return to "old fashioned" values to build lives of purpose and connection) isn't a fad or whim -- or even relatively new.  Although the "Great Recession" has some influence, the authors suggest there's more to this "Spend Shift" movement and that it is here to stay.

Brand Attributes: Kindness and Empathy (up 391%)
How does this relate to your marketing program?  Or, interactive touchscreens for that matter?

This Spend Shift movement reflects an interest in products and brands seen as "friendly", "high quality", and "socially responsible" (as contrasted with "exclusive", for example). These brand attributes highlight what people are defining and desiring in today's consumer marketplace.

Does your marketing program recognize this message?  The Spend Shift movement will create opportunities for those organizations reflecting these "new" (or, perhaps more accurately said, newly expressed) values.

Interactive touchscreens not only allow you to engage your prospects..you're able to ask questions, seek feedback and provide value-added information.  Each of those activities let your consumers know that your brand is focused on creating a connection.  Add in the desire for a more creative lifestyle and one that is socially responsible and... your ability to provide an interactive experience with "green" features such as "print on demand" and e-brochures not only provides cost-savings but actually enhances your brand as it provides you with an  opportunity to meet today's consumer expectations.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Celebrating.. our Nation's History this Weekend

America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Words by Katharine Lee Bates

Friday, July 1, 2011

Today's 55+ Market: How to get this new generation to move?

Boyce Thompson blogs on Builder and highlighted the size of today's senior housing market in Seniors Housing: Looking for New Business Models.  Every 7-8 seconds..a boomer turns 65 and starts to make decisions about where and how they will spend the rest of their lives.

Thompson suggests the question for builders is: "What will it take to get this new generation to move?"

How to get this new 55+ generation to move? Lifestyle marketing is key!
There's a lot involved in that question as lifespans are longer, current home equity has been depleted, family roles are changing and the like.  But, everyone  agrees on one thing: Seniors want plenty of things to do.

As you evaluate your 55+ marketing plans, are you considering today's 55+ buyer's interest in technology and how that can shape your lifestyle presentations? Interactive touchscreen systems sell lifestyle and today's 55+ home shopper is comfortable using technology to browse and purchase.  Did you know the fastest growing demographic on Facebook? Women over 55!

We'll be blogging more about the interactive touchscreen value proposition for the 55+ market moving forward ... and keep in mind that helicopter kids can be just as focused as helicopter parents!