Sales & Marketing
It’s Time to Get Social
BAM Builder Advertising and Marketing Inc.
John Amardeil, President
Depending on whom you ask, 75 to 90+ per cent of homebuyers begin their search online. Now, many builders think a website is enough to make themselves visible online; they are not certain they should engage in social media. Our experience shows they should. Here’s why:
First, builders active on social media stand out more than those who aren’t. This is especially true when they target younger, first-time buyers (who typically use social media).
Second, homeowners appreciate a sense of community. For example, some of our clients’ Facebook pages remain active after all homes are sold, with neighbours communicating with each other and the builder.
Third, as social media integrates with search engine results, builders with vibrant social media communities are more likely to get their name up on the first page of relevant Google searches.
It’s this simple: Buyers want open relationships with builders. Single-sided advertising cannot offer that, but social media conveys trust and allows engagement. Does this mean builders who embrace social media are guaranteed to get business? Not really. Does it mean they can use social media to create an experience that helps bring buyers in, making them more likely to refer friends and family?
Differentiate with Decorative Upgrades
Schlage Lock – Ingersoll Rand Residential Security
Sam Russo, Marketing and Business Development Manager
Not all buyers are in the custom home market and not all builders offer custom homes. Nevertheless, the majority of today’s new home buyers are becoming increasingly design savvy and are looking for builders to offer a custom look with products that reflect individual style and tastes. This growing trend is an excellent opportunity for builders to offer value added customized upgrades; it’s a simple way to differentiate one builder from another and also help differentiate new homes constructed by the same builder within the same project. Who wants a house filled with “upgrade features” that look identical to their neighbours’?
Decorative hardware— including door locks, kitchen and bath and lighting—allow builders, designers and home buyers to create a coordinated design style that matches the full décor of the new home. Hardware upgrades are common and expected by home buyers. However progressive, design-oriented, builders can go beyond upgrades and meet home buyers’ growing desire for unique customization and design choices. For example, door locks are now available that offer endless possibilities with mix and match decorative trim options to create a unique designer door look on a very affordable budget.
Builders that offer home buyers this type of opportunity are offering a different experience to the home buyer and are going beyond simply offering “standard” upgrades.
Getting in the Design Driver Seat: Five Significant Trends
Tim Bailey, General Manager
Each year, AVID Ratings conducts its North American Design Driver study to shed some light on the home features that buyers desire most—and least. Now in its fifth year, the study explores everything from “green” features and exterior materials to fixtures and community amenities. For 2011, the study revealed several shifting trends in Canadian home buyer desires, suggesting that builders need to seriously evaluate several aspects of home construction and neighbourhood development they may have previously ignored.
The “2011 AVID Design Driver Report” was released at the International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida, and the research shows five significant trends. These overall trends can be summarized as: energy efficiency is essential; spaces are more important than rooms; small is the new big; the kitchen is still king; and density is driving design innovation. The highest-rated home design elements include: energy-efficient features; walk-in closets and linen closets; large kitchen and kitchen island; double-car garage; and large windows.
Canadian home buyers have undergone a “reset” in their preferences and priorities during the economic roller coaster of recent years. Home builders must account for these changing design drivers to be successful in plan development and marketing. Understanding what features to invest in, and what features to divest of, will help drive profitability by increasing market appeal and reducing unnecessary costs.
The Mobile Storm is Coming
James Christensen, President and CEO
We can all agree, the Internet changed how we do things and email changed how we communicate. Today, we have our corporate websites polished up and our smart phones feeding us emails wherever we go. Now, we need to get ready for mobile devices to change what we thought we had figured out.
At first, email replaced mail and that was great, but when e-mail started to reach our cell phones, it created a communication revolution. Mail became instant; you could get and read it anywhere. Companies figured this out and now marketing, sales offers, and news can be sent out with immediate results. More recently, social media tools have made these communications even more focused.
A subtle but significant change is now upon us: mobile Internet access. The handheld revolution we have seen to date has been about users receiving information anywhere. We are headed for users looking up information anywhere they want as tablets and smartphones take over.
So be prepared to bring real time information to your customers and prospects. After all, they can now look up the competition’s information or product details while they are in your showroom. Make sure your sales team has the right information or, better yet, has the same mobile tools in their hands. In 2012, it’s time to get mobile ready.
Building a Brand
J Forrest Group
Jason Forrest, Chief Sales Officer
Just like in the U.S., the Canadian home building industry goes through cycles. In 2004, many American builders had gotten a bit lazy. They got used to folks lining up outside their doors to contract on a home. When the shift happened, and the supply began to outweigh the demand, the most successful builders were those that didn’t allow themselves to get too comfortable in the boom. They set themselves apart with unique selling messages and a strong brand in the eyes of the consumer.
To be ahead of the game, builders should determine their three key selling messages—the qualities that separate them from everybody else. In order to create a unique experience for the customer, builders should also provide new home sales training that teaches employees to communicate the builder’s messaging and branding to each prospect.
But don’t stop at sales professionals. Since the brand in the eyes of a customer is defined when the employee and customer touch, this training should include ANY employee that has contact with the customer (loan officer, superintendents, design team, etc.)
Take a lesson from your neighbours to the south—in order to be successful in any market, builders must find a way to stand out in every market.
Building an Online Image
Postech Metal Foundations
Matthew Barrington, Sales & Marketing
The key to success is to be present; present online that is. Now more than ever, people browse online before actually buying something of interest, a contractor or a renovator—even a house. Yes, word of mouth is important, possibly one of the most important marketing strategies for builders and renovators, but without a proper website and presence online your prospective customer won’t be able to really grasp what you can do for them.
Being “online” is no longer reserved to big corporations or big budgets. Setting up a showcase page can be really easy and costs next to nothing. This will allow you a platform to display some of your best work. What image, if any, are you projecting to your community and the outside world when they try to look you up? Are annoyed customers writing negative comments about you online? Google yourself and see what’s out there. You may be surprised at who or what pops up. Word of mouth may get them to inquire about you, but that’s as far as it will get you. Your website now needs to entice them into finding out more. Remember, if you can’t find yourself easily, how can your customers?
Industry Leaders Speak 2011