Floor Pop - Internet Marketing that Works, June 4, 2003

Vol. 3, Issue 3

Copyright (C) 2003 Blair Kuhnen.  All rights reserved. FloorPop content may be reproduced in any medium for noncommercial purposes as long as attribution is given.

Drive Leads with Permission Marketing

Permission marketing is simply exchanging value with a prospect as a way of gaining the right to market to them.  The term was popularized in the highly recommended book of the same name (i.e., Permission Marketing) by Seth Godin of Yahoo! fame.  Once you have this permission, e-mail marketing is usually your tool for expanding the dialog.


Godin argues that most of us market our wares unselectively, much like a male college sophomore in Ft. Lauderdale on Spring Break.  If there are enough prospects around and we ask enough of them, we are bound to get lucky every once in a while.  With permission marketing, we first give something of value in return for permission to start a dialog.


Permission marketing is not new to builders, but the term may be.   We have been giving away free brochures in exchange for prospects’ addresses for a long time.  The Web opens up a wide range of new options that can dramatically improve your marketing performance.


Here are 8 of my favorite homebuilder permission marketing vehicles:


  1. FREE brochures – We all have them and it’s a relatively low cost way to start a dialog.  Unfortunately we don’t always make it obvious to Web surfers that we would like to give them one.  Sometimes, the offer is hidden under a link that might as well be labeled “Have Guido call and try to sell me a home.”  A better alternative might be to simply label the link “Request a Brochure.”
  2. Electronic brochures – Printing out all the community information on a website such as the driving directions, plans, etc. is a pain.  Why not make it easy for your visitors to get all of this in one neat package.  In exchange for this value, it is okay to ask for registration.  See an example at www.centexhomes.com on any neighborhood page.
  3. Simple give away items – Maybe you have a video or virtual reality piece to mail?  One of my favorites is Arthur Rutenberg’s “Legendary Homes” model home book.  What a great name and great give away.  Or look at David Weekley and the book he wrote that you can get free for joining his Home Club.  What do you have that is unique to you, inexpensive, and would be of perceived value to your website visitor?  Give it away, in return for the right to start a dialog.
  4. Coupons or other weekly incentives – Give them a reason to share their information and to show up as physical traffic this weekend.  Maybe you are offering $750 off options in the newspaper.  Let your website visitors know.
  5. Coming soon interest lists – Now you have a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of a select group of homebuyers who will get first selection of lots, pre-construction pricing, and whatever else you see as appealing.
  6. Free pre-qualification – Are you selling to first time homebuyers or others who may be credit challenged?  Offer them some peace of mind and generate a lead at the same time.
  7. Personal portfolios – Let people sign up to save the plans in which they have an interest.  Beazer Homes was the first Builder I noticed doing this years ago.  Now several builders offer this feature.  Some have added comparison tools and more.  Will this feature drive many leads?  Not likely, but my guess is that the quality will more than make up for the quantity.
  8. Preferred visitor programs  Offer free advice, advance notification, and other perks to those willing to register.  Make the perks very clear and easy to understand.


There you have 8 ways to turn your website in to a lead generating machine.  That will keep you busy for a while.  Should you do all of these tomorrow?  No, you need to be selective.  Focus on those which have value to your target market.  I don’t expect Toll Brothers to come out with a pre-qualification feature.  However, it might be a good tool for Choice Homes.


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


Blair Kuhnen is the owner of Lux Solutions, an independent consultancy serving the homebuilding industry by providing Internet related sales and marketing solutions.  He can be reached in Fort Worth, Texas at 817-923-4026 or via e-mail at blair@luxsolutions.com