FloorPop -  Internet Marketing that Works, September 3, 2003

Vol. 3, Issue 6

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

Managing "Coming Soon" Interest Lists Online

Opening new neighborhoods is not new for production builders. You buy your land and put up your sign. Interested parties will call your office. They may even call the developer to find out who's building on a highly desirable piece of land.

When prospects call, the ball gets rolling. You let them know that they are on your "priority list" and tell them that you will keep them informed. Two weeks later they call to find out if your product is priced and to make sure they are still on your priority list. You are constantly fielding questions, sending mail, and trying to gear up for the opening. This works, but it could work so much better.

By leveraging the Internet you can manage more new neighborhoods, drive higher buyer satisfaction, and facilitate the sales process. You can do all these things while reducing overhead associated with managing all those new neighborhoods.

Moving it Online

Few builders are doing much to leverage their online assets to support their coming soon neighborhood marketing. With just a little effort and at very little expense, you can turn your website into a backlog builder. You can open with higher demand and price your product more aggressively.

Many builders have found that moving their coming soon interest lists online yields a number of benefits.

You can accomplish all these things while freeing up employees to focus on higher value activities.

Implementation Options

There's more than one way you can manage your interest lists online. The key components are a subscription page connected to a database and an email delivery tool for sending campaigns. With a few hundred dollars you can sign up to use any number of online campaign management tools. Most of these act as an Application Service Provider (ASP). With an ASP there is no software to install, no hosting, and little hassle. You could be operating in a matter of hours. For example, Microsoft's bCentral offers a service for just $199.00/year. There are plenty of others at higher and lower cost.

There are several advantages to using an ASP. First, your up-front expense is nominal. Second, since it is generally an established business, the vendor has already invested to provide a complete system. Finally, you can have it today. The drawback to using one of these providers is integration and customization.

If you have the budget or internal resources to do a little customization, the benefits are substantial. Ideally every time you receive another subscriber, you can put that lead into your lead management system or sales system and act upon it. Smaller builders may never need this level of integration and may be just as well off with an ASP for the longer-term.

Looking at One Example

Several large production builders do this well. Take a look at Pulte for an example of one of the better efforts. I like what they have done. They have a single subscription page for each market and a description of each coming soon neighborhood. Their subscriptions page only provides for an email address. While this maximizes form completions and allows them to do email campaigns, they can not send direct mail or simple customization. Their goal seems to be to get you connected and then slowly get you to tell them more about yourself.

For many builders this is the future of coming soon neighborhood pre-marketing. If you are already dealing with too many new neighborhoods and too few people, the future is now.

Internet Marketing Articles for Builders

The Lux Solutions website now contains expanded articles for builders. In addition to the FloorPop archive, you will find useful links and numerous articles that can help improve the usability and effectiveness of your website. Find them here at: www.luxsolutions.com/articles.html.

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 866-923-4026 or via e-mail at blair@luxsolutions.com