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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Construction Technology: Providing the Extra Edge

What does an automated construction scheduling system offer a homebuilder? Are construction managers getting extra value from smart phones and tablets on the job site?
FieldCollaborateMobileTools for more effective field personnel

Of course, there are the basics: consistent scheduling and tracking, notifications to subcontractors, management reporting, automated payment notifications, punch lists, safety assessments.  Those are the factual aspects of an automated system.

Then, there are the impacts of the process: more effective field personnel (as they're not spending so much time talking when technology can notify, remind and cajole), more efficient subcontractors (because they know when to arrive, what to do and when schedules are changed), decreased cycle times, increased carry rates, fewer dry runs.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Where are you? Employee-Focused Sales vs. Leave Me Alone, I'm Shopping

Thought provoking article in a Wall Street Journal article regarding retail marketing; you can view it here.

The author, Elizabeth Holmes, describes a new shopping paradigm for Clinique, as an example of the changes underway in retail.  Most women can relate to "old school" cosmetic shopping: almost everything was behind glass and available only with a salesperson's assistance.  Prices were invisible.  Product demos were generally limited to those provided by a Clinique consultant.
Open Selling: your buyers are actively engaged with your product!

Now, Clinique is moving to an "open sell" environment.  Items are out front and available for testing.  One-on-one selling is going away -- and it's not because Clinique is trying to economize.  They're also adding "experiential" components such as iPads and other self-service capabilities.

"Open selling" recognizes shoppers want to shop in different ways.  And, Clinique reports the new strategy has increased sales in many locations -- some in the double-digits. 

How does your sales/leasing office respond to the desire to "shop in different ways"?  In previous blogs, we've talked about "narrowcasting" -- the opposite of traditional news and information broadcasting as the seller allows prospects to determine what they want to view in order to influence the purchase decision.

Interactive touchscreens hit both of these points -- shoppers can "pull" information of interest and shop at their own speed.  Want to find out about local schools?  The information is there!  Interested in the local arts scene?  That's available, too!  Over 55 and want to shop in a quiet location at your own speed?  Try our bar height touchpads!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Understanding your target audience: women as "relaters"

There's a current line of thinking suggesting that, regardless of the product (consumer electronics, cars, new homes), more and more women are now playing a primary role in the decision-making purchase process.

What does this emerging role have to do with your marketing approach and style?  If you've always marketed to what might be categorized as a "female audience," you might argue...not much.

Here's a relatable story: complete with best dish to try!
However, all sorts of other bits of marketing data are emerging, as well: women are the "most" connected audience (throw out your preconceived "geek" ideas!).  That fact alone might suggest modifying your marketing approach: more mobile, less print; more Facebook, fewer mailers.

In addition, a series of recent studies suggest women see information, products and even themselves in terms of how they relate to others.  Women, in other words, feel more comfortable responding to marketing messages that tell relevant stories.  And, the studies suggest the story's details matter as much as the outcome.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gen Y and Housing..beyond Tech to Location!

Gen Y, Echo Boomer, Millennial...regardless of label, we're looking at z population demographic whose members were born between the late 70's and early 2000's.

Much has been written regarding their approach to just about everything: technology, shopping, relationships, family.

Of course, they're more tech-savvy (although many "connected consumers" aren't part of this demographic). A current term is "digital native" (as compared to digital immigrant, for example).

As a result, according to a J Turner Research Study, What Do Residents Want? Trends in Resident Technology and Communication Preferences (read it here), Gen Y members shop using smart phones, laptops and tablets.  And, they use these devices when searching for a home, as well.  In fact, it might be noted that the younger the prospect, the more likely they will use social media and the internet to search

What's nearby? Try highlighting the neighborhood!
We'd suggest "test driving" your marketing processes on some of these devices; how do you measure up?

What has also been found when analyzing housing "hot buttons" for this group is: Gen Y housing wants/needs aren't that different from previous generationsBuilder, in a 9/25/12 article, suggests "satisfying the needs of those prospects still seems to be an exercise driven by community location and service reputation."

Location trumps design and amenities and McDonald states "location, efficiency and adaptability" as critical decision points.

Monday, January 6, 2014

What To Do to Get More Customers?

Traditionally, salespeople would answer this question by saying: have a good product, put together a great marketing program, cold call get the idea!  All over the place, in other words.

Leo Widrich, in a BufferApp blog available here, suggests we need to spend time understanding how our customers think -- and increased sales will result.
SalesTouch: Light Up Their Brain..and Go Green, too!

He talks about 10 things you can apply today to get more customers; we've narrowed his list down to 3:

(1) Use Urgency the Smart Way -- creating a sense of urgency or scarcity is known to drive up sales (think: iPad, Elmo, Wii). 

What Howard Leventhal suggests is critical: people tend to block out urgent messages if they aren't given information on how to followup!

There's a message for every builder: put your CRM to use! That means schedule follow-up activities for your agents (emails, phone call reminders, hard copy mailings) -- whether agent-generated or automatic. 

(2) Make Their Brains Light Up 'Instantly" -- It's your brain's frontal cortex that is highly active when we think about waiting for something.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Builders, Co-op Agents: Reaching the Asian Community

We've all been reading about our ever-increasing diverse population; but, have you considered there's a diverse homebuyer demographic, as well?

Were you able to attend the recent REALTORS Conference & Expo? 

Jim Park, President of the Asian Real Estate Association of America, noted that, when hearing people talk about diversity, the Asian community is frequently missed.  He comments, "The last category usually is 'other.' Well, the 'other' community has a lot of people in it."
Reach out to your co-op agent team

17.3 million people in the US are of East and South Asian descent, according to the 2010 US Census.

And, according to Park, Asian-Americans are a great target market for home sales.  Household income is higher than other households and...they prefer buying new homes! Park notes, "Asian-Americans are more likely to live in non-Asian communities."

As a homebuilder, how does your marketing respond to this information? We'd like to suggest a couple of ways: use CRM to help manage your prospects and, more importantly, utilize your co-op agent team to reach out to this community.

Co-op agents often specialize in specific markets -- ranging from relocations to 55+ to Asian-Americans.  They consistently work with their target market and become known in their community as a reliable agent.