By now, we’ve all heard about the death of newspapers as a marketing medium (although I strongly disagree with the term “death” since I believe print will play a decent role for advertisers for at least five more years and then will play more of a specific role reaching certain demographics) and the power of the internet to cost-effectively reach customers. While there certainly has been a large shift in ad dollars to the web (we’ve seen excellent results from banner ads, etc.), we must recognize that web marketing by itself poses the same problems as utilizing any other medium exclusively. The point here is to mix the media — but make them work together.
If you want proof that TV can generate response, take a look at our effort for 1555 South Wabash in Chicago (1555 South Wabash Chicago ). While we didn’t produce the site itself (one look and you’ll see why I wrote that), we did insert the TV spot we produced. You see, print was ineffective, especially when the cost was considered. Web banners helped, but unless the banners were geotargeted, we saw a lot of waste in impressions and clicks. So for this community in the south loop area, we produced and ran a tv spot on cable TV in the areas surrounding the community. That spot ended with a special domain name used to track the results (you could only know about the web address if you saw the TV spot). This was the step approach: see TV spot. Go online to website. Schedule appointment. Receive confirmation. Visit sales office.
We budgeted a modest amount that included everything — production, media and the website, and have just ended the flight. Despite the short run, this was more effective than anything else done for the community since the Grand Opening.
Key to this approach was the web site which is really a landing page ( http://www.1555wabashchicago.com/ ). While it is all trackable, the most important element was the appointment scheduler. We knew that anyone looking at the TV spot who wanted information would visit our website. But we didn’t just want them to visit — we wanted them to come in. That’s where the appointment scheduler comes in. But we also wanted their name and info for our eblasts, just so we could stay in touch.
You see, the easier we can make it for people to fulfill our goal (in this case, schedule an appointment), the more likely it is that we’ll get people to work with us. The site was intentionally sparse — no floorplans, no area amenities, etc. since the key points were covered in the TV spot. But what happened? The first days the site was live and the TV spots ran, two appointments were made. What’s even more impressive was that the domain recorded more traffic in the first two weeks than the main website itself had in the three months before the spot ran. All for about half the cost.
So if you’re looking to focus exclusively on internet marketing, beware. You’ll be missing a lot of your market that simply won’t catch your online messages.
I like the idea of an appointment calendar on a properties website. It is my opnion that the more engaging a website the more likely the user will come in to investigate the property. To be able to get them to commit to coming in is the most important decision we need them to make. The whole idea of the sales process hinges with the comfort that the buyers have in making decisions. To create a way for the first decision to be made in a state of comfort is the best way to get them comfortable with making the buying decision.
One thought I have had on websites……I was wondering if there is a way to incorporate the abilty for a user to try out furniture on floorplans. For example, they can click on a scale model of a typical couch and move it over to the floorplan they are most interested in. They can choose the layout of the furniture and change it to fit their mood. The idea is to get them thinking of how their furniture would fit in a particular unit. As a former salesperson I know how that action, the placing of their furniture, is the first sign of someone who will sign a contract.
We produced a furniture arranger for one client a few years back and ran into some problems — not from the site, but from the usage. We must remember that the purpose of the site, especially when it pertains to real estate, is to get the web viewer into the sales office so that the sales person can work his/her magic. When we added a furniture arranger to the site, we noticed that many people were using it, but weren’t coming in. Further research showed that they saw the arranger as a way to see whether their furniture would “fit”. While it’s certainly possible for all to fit, normally some things won’t make it to a new house.
Our feeling was that new home buyers needed to first visit the site to fall in love emotionally with all that was there — a specific lot and it’s viewes, the neighborhood, the home itself. Then once the family was in love with the home, with the salesperson’s help, they could play with the furniture arranger. This way, they would have enough reasons (from their own emotions) to overcome any objections to furniture. So the furniture arranger played a role only after the potential buyers liked what they saw. Then it was a helpful tool, rather than a tool to rule out our client.
Remember, people don’t buy homes that will fit their furniture (although that’s a goal). They want many other things first. So if they find a home that fits what they really want, then they will find a way to make their own furniture fit — or at least prepare themselves that they will need to replace items.