FloorPop  - Interactive Marketing Best Practices for Homebuilders, February 7, 2007
Vol. 7, Issue 11: Copyright (C) 2006 Blair Kuhnen.  All rights reserved.

FloorPop FloorPop (Flr-pop) n. 1. The home buyer who visits a Builder's community and writes a contract for sale the same day. 2. The sound made by a salesperson clicking their heels high in the air and returning to the floor after a prospect signs a contract the day they first meet.

Video Online for Real Estate Going Mainstream

Announcement:

For those of you who are not aware, I have left Crozier & Henderson and am presently consulting with homebuilders. The focus of my consulting work is helping builders make their marketing investment more effective.

If you want me to help YOU get industry leading results from your online marketing, give me a call at 866-923-4026. I would love to talk about it!

Video Online for Real Estate Going Mainstream

Video is expanding on the Web at a tremendous pace. It's not just for music videos and testimonials anymore. A few months ago I wrote about video on demand in "Selling lifestyle - when the structure is secondary," (see http://www.floorpop.com/Floorpop110106.html). While I no longer am directly involved in video production, I am a huge believer in the power of video online to drive action. This month I share with you current thinking from Web video experts and application examples in the real estate sector.

Video on demand (VOD) is probably the application that I am most excited about. I spoke with Tom Bevins, SVP at Crozier & Henderson / HotOn! Homes to get his views on why builders are choosing video for their websites. "As the market has shifted it has gotten more competitive and builders are trying to connect better with homebuyers." says Bevins.

You may remember Bevins from his guest article for FloorPop last year, "Video on the Web: Generating Results," (see http://www.floorpop.com/Floorpop050306.html).

Why Video?

According to Bevins, "The Web is a multi-media destination. People expect more. This [video] is how homebuyers expect to receive information. There are some things you can do with video that you can't do with anything else, such as testimonials, such as lifestyle choices, such as demonstrating what your life is going to be like in this home and this community."

Builders do sell much more than four walls and a roof. What they are really packaging is a lifestyle for homebuyers. I find it interesting that builders will spend millions in land development, years of entitlement hearings, and carefully plan amenities, but seem almost reluctant to leverage these differentiators in their marketing.

How does it sell more homes?

When I speak with a builder about any new technology, it always comes down to one thing, "How will it help me sell new homes?"

According to Bevins, "VOD sells more homes because it represents the real product the builders are selling. When people understand the lifestyle that comes packaged with the house, as only video on demand can do, they arrive at a community and have already made decisions about it. They are more qualified. It more puts them further down the buying cycle, compared to someone who has not seen the lifestyle and amenities available to those who would like to live in this community."

Another way it helps sell new homes is the wide distribution it gets. Lots of home shoppers have the opportunity to see your video. You can always post your video content on your website or on Youtube.com, but new home portals are also getting on the band wagon. According to Brad Smith, Director of Rich Media for Builder Homesite, Inc. "This year New Homesource will add a video link icon to every community page."

Other compelling reasons for video online are demographic shifts toward Generation X and consumer preferences. According to Smith, "Video is something that we are used to. It's going to do what print and photos can't accomplish."

The Web is a multi-media environment. That comment is not meant as an excuse for you to use Flash animation on your homepage because it looks cool, but it is a reason to consider video, when rich media is a better way to communicate your message. According to Smith, "You have to hit the customer on every level."

Video Online for Real Estate

Here are just a few examples of how video is being used in real estate today. It is still leading edge for builders. I anticipate a faster pick up of this technology in 2007 driven by its unique capability to convey lifestyle, emotion, and a higher level of trust.

Here are some of the more innovative uses of the technology in real estate today:

Customer testimonials from Morrison Homes

Other than the repurposing of TV content for the web, Morrison was the first builder I saw using video online. This application for video testimonials is compelling.

Video on demand segment from Centex Homes

Centex has been doing this for a while and several other builders are adding video to their websites. With similar links coming online with portals, this category will take off.

Video sales presentation Podcast from Taylor Woodrow

Taylor Woodrow is way out there with videos you can download as a podcast. Here I am skeptical. While there may be some real estate agents who may want to see a short video on a particular spec home, I am not sure this use is going to live up to the hype.

Corporate recruiting video from Centex Homes

For a major builder like Centex, I think this is a very smart piece. One of the greatest challenges large builders face is recruiting. While critical for a builder like Centex Homes, video could be an effective tool for larger builders trying to compete with the mega builders.

A corporate positioning piece for NCI

NCI is a probably the largest publisher in real estate, but would you know that? They publish the smaller size magazines for new homes, resale, apartments, and active adult. Their other titles include Black's Guide (for commercial real estate) among others. Right on their homepage they have added a corporate branding piece that positions their company. I believe this type of corporate video can instill confidence in when prospects and/or potential employees are close to making decisions about doing business or seeking employment.

A warranty maintenance video for D.R. Horton

Is customer satisfaction important to the success of your homebuilding operation? What are you doing to communicate and add value after closing? I love this concept and believe every large builder should consider something like this. Every month you can touch your customer, remind them that you care after the sale, and encourage them to refer friends. The warranty maintenance cost reductions alone may be enough to pay for the piece. The marketing value is free.

Video online is here. Now is the time to consider how it may help you sell your communities.

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Blair Kuhnen is the publisher of FloorPop and can be reached at 817-658-7698 or via email at kuhnen@earthlink.net.

Blair Kuhnen is the publisher of FloorPop. He can be reached at 817-658-7698 or via email at kuhnen@earthlink.net.

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