FloorPop  - Internet Marketing that Works, July 7, 2004

Vol. 4, Issue 4: Copyright (C) 2004 Blair Kuhnen.  All rights reserved.

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Making Your "Coming Soon" Interest Lists Work

In the past 4 months we have discussed:

In this issue we will discuss how to get the most out of your interest lists. Let's assume you already have your list together and you are getting responses.

What to Do with All Those Leads

You now have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of leads from Web site visitors who want to learn more and possibly buy a new home from you. Your end goal for each list is the same: generating qualified traffic into pre-sale and phase release events for each community.

To do this you must not only inform, but also build excitement. Let's start with the basics. At a minimum, you will send two communication pieces. The first will be an acknowledgement e-mail. Most e-mail messages should be kept short, but this one can be as long as necessary to accomplish a couple of simple goals.

First, thank your new members for taking this first step towards an owning decision and set their expectations. E-mail is inexpensive to send, but give great attention to copy. If you've got terrific copywriters in house, or are delighted with your advertising agency, you're in good shape. Otherwise, hire someone who knows how to motivate readers and make them respond in record numbers.

Second, you should send a reminder the day before any event, just like your dentist. You will likely send more than two e-mails in the process. In fact with your eventual buyers, your communication process should be on-going.

Tailoring Your Program

We are often asked "What should we send and how often?" I'm so glad you asked, the answer is: "Well, that depends." The first step is to look at your interest list and make a few assessments about your community and your market.

Unfortunately there is not a single template to follow for each community. You need to tailor your procedures for each community. Direct Affect Marketing, is a Virginia based interactive marketing agency that has managed several pre-sale programs for builders. According to Chris Delucchi, Direct Affect's President, "We develop a schedule of communications for each pre-sales program custom tailored by client and by community and by sales goals." Learning to do this quickly and effectively is the key. Making this part of your new community "start plan" will yield tremendous benefits.

What goals do you have for your program? Are you trying to streamline a process so you can handle more openings and better manage price increases through phase releases? Or are you trying to builder a prospect list to help kick start your pre-grand opening events to come out a little stronger in a slow market? What you send, when you send it, and who you send it to is what you need to answer in the process. Consider:

If the answers to these questions are still unclear, go back to planning and make your program decisions first (see "Changing the Marketing Coming Soon Communities").

You can learn to do this on your own or use a consultant who has experience making these programs effective. In working with one large West Coast builder, our list was so large and developed over such a long entitlement period, we needed to send one e-mail out just to ask those on the interest list to re-affirm their continued interest before formally inviting them to the next step. With another high volume, value priced builder, the task was more basic. Several new communities were to be opened with short lead times on each. While we expected strong demand, the buyers were less sophisticated. They wanted to see models. A few simple, but well written e-mails would bring them in. In another case, a large East Coast builder was selling to sophisticated buyers a good location with many amenities and needed to build excitement culminating in a grand opening event. Not only did they need an effective campaign telling a story, but they also wanted to augment e-mail with strongly branded direct mail to the interest group. So, are there guidelines for what to send and when? Yes, but every community will be different.

The Payoff

The payoff for a well planned and executed "coming soon" pre-sale program is immense. What would it mean to know your first release was effectively pre-subscribed? How much better could you manage your pricing, if you could easily break up your subdivisions into a series of well executed phase releases? According to Delucchi, several builders she has worked with were able to sell almost exclusively from their "pre-sales" interest list. In a strong market, this should be your goal. Learn to do this well, and you will be ahead of 90% of your competition. You will no longer be competing on price and product alone. Best of all, your efforts are out of the public view of your competitors. If you are ready to get started, give me a call at (866) 923-4026 and let's talk about what you want to accomplish. No charge.

SPECIAL NOTE: We also invite you to explore Lux Solutions' latest website project for D.R. Horton Homes at http://sfl.drhorton.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 toll free at 866-923-4026 or via e-mail at blair@luxsolutions.com. Chris Delucchi, President of Direct Affect Marketing and can be reached at 703-264-6400 or via e-mail at chris@directaffect.com