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Friday, April 29, 2016

Social Media Marketing & Homebuilders: Turn the Funnel Upside Down

Spencer Powell had a great article in TMRDirect highlighting why social media works for homebuilders; you can read it here.

Social Media Turns the Marketing Funnel Sideways!
Powell suggests social media is somewhat of a game-changer in the marketing world. Previously, the traditional marketing funnel described client acquisition, conversion and retention.

Today, Powell suggests there has been a pivot to focusing on retention.  Social media has created a process for consumers to interact with a company's media platforms and obtain as well as spread information through digital word of mouth.

It used to be that word of mouth engagement was a slow, individualized process -- and it utilized traditional media (newspapers, magazines, broadcasting) as well as actual conversation!

Today, builders are able to effectively start a conversation and disseminate information using visuals in social media.  Some of the more popular uses -- in addition to images of your homes (inside and out!) include:
  • Post Community Updates  -- Your home shoppers want information so let them know about Grand Openings, community activities, Phase Openings.
    • You might see a "Check Out My New Home" image in return!
  • Highlight Neighborhood Events -- Sharing information about the local area gives a sense of the area -- which is key to purchase decisions.
    • Should encourage local area businesses to get involved with your community!
  • Give a "Behind the Scenes" Tour -- Here's another way to showcase your homes as well as the building process.
    • Showcase a Field Manager providing a walkthrough!
Social Media Wall Starts the Conversation!
Take a look at CPS' Social Media Wall bringing social media platforms inside the sales and information center.  Your home shoppers have a single location to check out recent posts & Tweets as well as traditional marketing images and copy -- and add their own.  They're now part of your conversation!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Builder Sales Offices and the Ever-Changing Consumer Landscape

Generally, we focus on the new home sales, marketing and construction management landscape. Today we're adding a bit of a more "retail" experience focus kicking-off with a recent Jane Meagher (she's with Success Strategies) comment,

In 2016, builders need to think like retailers selling new homes,                                                     rather than construction companies building homes they then sell.

Are you starting to think like a retailer?
 Meagher continues,

Let's strategically focus on influencing our all smart retailers do.

Couple those thoughts with recent  Doug Stephens (he's known as a retail and consumer futurist) comments. Stephens analyzes trends -- financial, media, demographic, technology -- in order to provide insight into consumer and brand relationships.  

Stephens was asked, in a recent Retail Customer Experience interview, how to describe today's consumer and what is the top expectation in a retail transaction (remember: home builders are being encouraged to think like retailers!).

Try taking your immersive tools out!
Stephens suggests that, regardless of age, geography or economic strata, consumers are empowered.  And, it's not just technology doing the empowering, it's what he labels an unprecedented level of access to choice and information. 

One final thought, for today's blog, is Stephen's idea that consumer's expectations depend on what they're buying.  Stephens breaks the purchase experience into two categories: 
  • fast, easy and frictionless (you might think website or fast food here) 
  • exclusive, personalized and immersive (sales offices and design centers should be here)

Meagher mentions further, We need to thrill and delight our buyers with their (options) selections experiences.  

Would you consider evaluating your sales office experience in light of these thoughts?  Stephens says many organizations are intellectually aware of the need to change but plagued by process inertia. CPS can help you look at exciting, innovative and effective consumer engagement tools -- from interactive touchscreens to social media walls to tablet experiences.  You can adapt, innovate and keep in sync with today's changing consumer objectives!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

More on Toughest Job in Homebuilding

Scott Sedam's had some really great articles recently in Pro Builder; they include discussions on the current trade shortage (as in skilled trade personnel) and 12 fallacies held by many home builders (such as Design Centers are always a source of profit).

Toughest Job in a Builder's Organization?
 His most recent article, What's the Toughest Job in Home Building? is thought provoking as it reviews a typical builder's organization to develop a response.  Everyone, it seems, thinks their role is critical, "If you don't have lots, you can't build and you can't sell (and, parenthetically, there's no need for a warranty department, either!)" or "If we don't get the money lined up, nothing happens. Dead in the water."

All of those arguments, of course, have some validity. And, suggests Sedam, it could well be the warranty/customer service group that has the toughest job.  Generally, Sedam points out, this team gets little support and even less respect but has a significant impact on customer satisfaction.  And, there's Facebook and all sorts of other social media outlets ready and waiting to hear about the things that went wrong!

Sedam continues to run through the various builder departments: operations, purchasing/estimating, administrative support, even sales -- and for various reasons.  Each department's argument, of course, has merit.
Getting Everyone on the Same Page!

However, the most telling response might be the one from Eric Tiffin, "The toughest job in home building is getting everyone on the same page."

Have you had a chance to take a look at Troy Warr and Noelle Tarabulski's IBS 2016 presentation, Are the Best Builders the Best Schedulers? There's a copy here.

One concept made it's way throughout the presentation, Accountability, Accuracy and Consistency. Everyone in a builder's organization needs to have a single source of information -- and that is critical to getting everyone on the same page. 

CPS' FieldCollaborate offers construction scheduling tools (including reporting) as well as a web Portal for internal staff and vendors.  If anyone needs to know whether or not the flooring vendor completed the hardwood installation in Lot 26's kitchen, there's a single source to answer the question.  Whether you're in the accounting, operations or the sales department -- or you're the flooring vendor -- there's one source for the answer. That process goes a long way to getting everyone on the same page!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

More on Spring '16 Home Sales: Is a Reality Check Needed

Super interesting BuilderOnLine article recently by John McManus, Spring 2016 Pain Points -- with some good commentary afterwards, as well.
SalesTouch: delivering your value proposition message

McManus asks, As a builder, what's your biggest worry in Spring 2016?  And, he offers 4 possible answers: Lots, Labor, Lending, Demand. He suggests most builders would answer: demand.

But, he asks: is that really the case? There's been demand since early 2014; although, he argues, in only certain market segments. If those segments were your segments: all good!

Some builders focused their efforts (throughout the organization) on lower margin product and they've been able to find and satisfy demand at the entry level. It isn't, McManus suggests, going to be that straightforward for others to successfully satisfy the lower margin market.

Where is your organization in terms of meeting demand this year? There can be internal constraints (organization, product, execution, profitability) as well as externals such as interest rates, consumer credit scores and area-specific economic issues (such as those currently impacting oil/gas-centric areas).
SalesTouch Mobile: Enhancing every consumer touch point

And, McManus suggests, not only do you need product that meets your buyer audience but your buyer expects you'll deliver on a promise to help him/her improve their own value as a resident.  

Where are you? Is the Spring 2016 the market of 2014 or 2015?  Or, are your revamping how to interact internally and externally with the home buyer? How are you telling your story -- and is it delivering on your unique value proposition?

Take a look at SalesTouch -- we think CPS can help you effectively deliver information -- product, location, design, function and features -- in a focused manner designed so your home shopper gains confidence in your ability to deliver the value proposition.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spring Home Sales Look Promising: Are You Ready?

Signs of Spring are all around us: budding flowers, pollen everywhere, gorgeous sunsets!

And, the signs for a great new home Spring selling season are here, as well.  BuilderOnline recently highlighted's economist, Jonathan Smoke's market take: a strengthening economy, increased consumer confidence, low new and resale home inventories and increased consumer purchasing interest.

Are you prepared for Spring's uptick?
Almost all new home sales are local; how are things in your area? If you're in Boston, Madison, Rochester, Minn or Durham, NC...they should be great as inventory is so low that the median inventory age dropped by an entire month!

The news, in other words, is very encouraging for a great Spring season -- are you prepared to take advantage of this terrific market?

I'm ready, you might say; but are you really?  Amy O'Connor, with Shore Consulting, suggests taking a look at 5 "must haves" for the Spring selling season -- and the first is sales momentum. You can check out the other four here.

Amy suggests you need to start strong -- meaning get organized and be fully ready to snag the early Spring sales.

Are your marketing materials up-to-snuff?  Do you have enough of them?  How about your CRM?  Do you have your purchase agreement documents available for quick and accurate preparation?  Have you looked into DocuSign as a way to quickly generate your entire purchase agreement package for across the web signing?

CPS can help with your CRM needs: we had a client, years ago, who said it used to take him about 3 hours to fully prepare a purchase agreement package and that had been reduced to about 30 minutes using CPS CRM's fully automated purchase agreement prep process.  We can get you up and running with an automated process using your documents in less than 1 week!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Home Builders and Social Media: It's All About Visual

A recent BuilderOnLine article by Jennifer Goodman interviewed Woody Stoudemire, president of X-Factor Web Marketing, to discuss the value of social media for home builders.

One of the more interesting comments Stoudemire made was, "Home building is a visual business, so social media platforms are all good forums for showcasing homes inside and out."

CPS' Social Media Wall: Finalist, 2016 Best of IBS
Social media isn't only about communicating the visual elements provided by a new home, however. Stoudemire suggests using social media gives home builders a platform to suggest they're more than bricks and mortar -- they're what he calls "progressive thinkers."

And, social media provides a unique method for communicating a company's culture and personality, as well.  Most homebuying, after all, is local -- and that makes Facebook an important marketing tool, too.

Many builders have long focused on providing gorgeous visual marketing tools -- terrific exterior and interior product photography is a hallmark of many.  The same photos are perfect for Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz.

Why not incorporate social media outlets such as Twitter and Instagram with traditional marketing copy and creative by using CPS' Social Media Wall?

You're no longer broadcasting marketing messages -- you're using the visual to encourage conversation! Millennials are just beginning to enter the new home market and one shopper notes,

         "The most convincing advertising of all is seeing your own friends buying
      wearing and using the product.  We engage with our peers through social media, 
           I've bought countless items because of what I've seen on Instagram alone."

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Get Proactive: Bring Your Interactive Tools to Your Buyers

Have you ever thought to yourself: is my sales office the only place  for me to meet home shoppers and sell new homes?

Take Your Marketing Tools & Meet Your Buyers 
Sales cultures are changing, it seems.  If you've looked for a new car recently, it isn't that unusual for the dealer to bring a car to you to test drive and, hopefully, purchase.  There are all sorts of "trunk" operations that bring clothes out to individuals and groups to try on and, hopefully, purchase, as well.

Everyone's busy; there's always a lot going on in people's lives.  Depending on customers driving out to you might seem a bit old school!

Take a look at MAG Builders' idea to get proactive and bring marketing tools outside the sales office to their home shoppers. They grabbed their 46" SalesTouch system (which included a movable stand) and took it to the Denver Home Show to meet potential home buyers and show their available floor plans and lots!

The Home Show reaction? MAG representatives "were so swamped with interest there was hardly a minute to take pictures!"
Take Your Interactive Tools Out of the Box!!

What about heading out to your local co-op broker's office and taking an iPad or two with you?  Co-op agents need to sell homes -- and you can stand out by providing unique, easy-to-use and effective marketing tools to them.

Take the agents on an interactive virtual tour of the surrounding area highlighting schools, shopping, dining and recreation -- they will see something new, even if they live in the immediate area.

Show off your interactive floor plans along with the ability to drag 'n drop furniture into the plan -- and email a couple of brochures while you're at it.

Think outside your sales office box; take the product out and meet buyers where they are!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How Do You Define Content Marketing?

What do you think?

Marketing is telling the world you're a rock star.

Content marketing is showing your audience you live their life!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Steps to Building Brand Loyalty

Remember clienteling? That's the blending of digital and physical worlds in order to maximize your customer's buying journey. Check out an earlier Blog for more details here.

Whole Foods blends digital and physical with a Customer Comment Board 
Without an exceptional customer experience, Chad Hendren suggests, it is very difficult to create brand loyalty.

Think about even the simplest exceptional experiences you've encountered: the Costco sample tasting stations, Nordstrom's "anytime" return policy, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car's willingness to pick you up at home. There's no doubt you'll compare your next purchase experience at a similar business to what you've already experienced and consider as an example of great customer service.

A well-known rule of thumb is it costs 5 times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Why not focus marketing time and effort on building loyalty by creating amazing experiences with your current customers?

Do you shop at Whole Foods Market?  Have you ever asked a Team Member for help locating something? They'll walk you across the store to locate the requested item!

Think about that customer journey -- and the amazing customer service you just experienced -- and you recognize they're extending that one-on-one experience with an omnichannel customer service platform.

Whole Foods has placed interactive touchscreen-based Customer Comment Boards in their stores so shoppers can submit comments, make requests, watch video, check the latest store specials, view Twitter feeds -- and thank Team Members!  It's a seamless, end-to-end customer experience.  Store Management can extend the proactive customer service by reaching out with an email regarding the shopper comment or Thank You.

Retail Customer Experience suggests that going omnichannel -- bringing multiple channels together, makes it possible to exceed customer expectations with experiences focused on customer needs.  CPS offers interactive Comment Boards --  contact us to determine if proactive customer service can help increase your brand loyalty!