FloorPop  - Internet Marketing that Works, May 5, 2004

Vol. 4, Issue 2

Copyright (C) 2004 Blair Kuhnen.  All rights reserved.

Leveraging Video in Marketing Coming Soon Communities

This month, we deliver part 3 of our 6 part series on how marketing "coming soon communities" is changing. In this issue we discuss how builders are leveraging video to support new community pre-sales and new phase releases.

Video has changed greatly in the past few years. With new technology and much broader distribution of Internet broadband, video online is becoming much better and more effective. We used to call it streaming media. A more appropriate term these days is video on demand. One company, Crozier and Henderson Productions, started distributing videos online from their "HotOnHomes" (http://www.hotonhomes.com) TV program. They now have their videos linked from hundreds of Realtor's websites. According to Clint Henderson of Crozier and Henderson Productions, "A Builder's video playing on a thousand Realtor websites becomes an on-line residential real estate TV channel."

The drawback to video in "coming soon community" marketing is that it can be expensive and works best when both amenities and home owners exist. However, when there is a good fit, it is a strong differentiator and sales tool.

What Makes Video Work?

There are a many reasons builders choose video. One important reason is that it can put consumers in place. Virtual Reality (VR) can help do the same thing with to-be-built amenities, but video can be stronger. As Phyllis DeWitt of DeWitt Marketing said, "A picture is worth a thousand words." A cliché? Yes, but according to DeWitt, "They walk in the door as a much more qualified prospect." DeWitt and her company made extensive use of video on the website and in pre-marketing activities for Savannah (http://www.savannahtexas.com), a Huffines Communities development in North Texas. She believes video has helped to not just draw traffic, but drives better qualified traffic. For many builders, particularly in stronger markets, getting better qualified traffic is what new home marketing is all about.

Video delivers what no other medium delivers: raw emotion. When a consumer bares his soul telling an audience why he likes his home and community, he is believed. You just can't get that from a still photo and a quote, no matter how strong. This is reason enough to consider video.

Not only can video deliver emotion, the message becomes much more believable. Customer testimonials come alive. The beauty of video testimonials is that they deliver an honest emotional appeal. "They [homeowners] say the most wonderfully delightful things about the community they live in. I couldn't write a script that could come close," said DeWitt.

Video Use at Different Stages

But how do you leverage video for marketing a new neighborhood? If all you have is land development taking place, you obviously cannot rely upon video to sell the amenity center. There, you can use VR to help sell the community before the infrastructure is in place in combination with video. Used effectively together, it can be extremely powerful. In one excellent example, Shea Homes, Lennar Homes, and Centex Homes, linked up to develop Rivermark (http://www.rivermark.net) in Silicon Valley. The location is a lifestyle play. It is a master planned community in Santa Clara adjacent to Sun Microsystems. For this community they not only developed extensive VR representations of the community, but augmented these with video that sold the developers, the vision, and even testimonials from prospective buyers. According to Gauger-Santy's (http://www.gauger-santy.com) David Gauger, "It (VR and Video) was key to the whole marketing strategy."

Even at early stages, video has a role. Video can work very well to help sell the story. Get the developer and real estate community involved. Developers can talk about the vision while realtors can reinforce the opportunity while endorsing a credible developer.

Finally, video can become an integral part of selling future releases. By this time video can be used to show the community, its attributes, and golden testimonials can be added. If what you want to show is lifestyle, video is probably the most effective means of showcasing a community's lifestyle.

Trade Secrets

Guidelines for Making Video Work

  • Focus the work on a target audience (e.g., Realtors, Consumers)
  • Break up your video into manageable segments (e.g. the amenity center, the golf course)
  • Combine your video with text to reinforce the message
  • Deliver educational value
  • Use testimonials
  • Use real people, not actors
  • Let the community sell itself
  • Tell the community's story
  • Distribute your video widely by making it available online, as DVD's, and in VHS format.

    In summary, video is your best tool for showcasing lifestyle when your community is established or the amenities are completed. As a tool for bringing testimonials alive, it is un-matched. "It is especially effective when you are communicating a larger vision for a community or a lifestyle." Said Gauger.

    At the end of the day, video helps consumers make better home owning decisions. Video done right will drive better qualified prospects. According to Clint Henderson of Crozier and Henderson Productions, "It increases your chances of making the right buying decision and, maybe more importantly, it increases your chances of avoiding a bad decision." FloorPop is published on the first Wednesday of each month. We welcome your comments, thoughts, and questions. Please send them to blair@luxsolutions.com.

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    FloorPop is published on the first Wednesday of each month. We welcome your comments, thoughts, and questions. Please send write or call anytime. blair@luxsolutions.com.

    Blair Kuhnen is President of Lux Solutions, an independent consultancy serving the homebuilding industry by building sales and marketing solutions. He can be reached in Fort Worth, Texas at 866-923-4026 (toll free 866-923-4026) or via e-mail at blair@luxsolutions.com