FloorPop -  Internet Marketing that Works, October 1, 2003

Vol. 3, Issue 7

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

Online Surveys to Improve Business Results

Research is something many builders take little time for. They have good land people, and in many markets this is considered the key to success. Their belief is that with the right land, they have a lot of leeway for product, positioning, and pricing mishaps. You know what? They're right.

However, some operators believe that being good is not enough. They want to improve their margins and overall profits without negatively affecting customer satisfaction. They want to make their money up-front and as quickly as possible instead of adjusting prices upward after being caught off guard at a surprisingly successful opening. They may need to decide how to price lot premiums or need help in guiding product choices in a new geography or to a newly tapped market segment. There are many ways to assess the community and product appeal, as well as pricing strategy, ahead of time. Some are hard to execute and may take considerable talent. But today, we will discuss one that costs little in terms of time, money or people.

One of the best ways to support these decisions is by simply asking targeted customers. All you need is a decent sized sample of qualified buyers. But where do you find your sample? Thankfully, they come to you every day through your very own website.

"The beauty of getting your sample from your website visitors is that they have already passed the key screen, 'Are you in the market for a new home?'", said Sally Markham, Director of Consumer Research at RCL&Co, a national real estate advisory firm.

So why don't we do research?

If doing a little bit of research is such a good idea, why don't we all do it?

Sound familiar? What if none of these conditions were true and you knew you could price your first release 15% higher? How much of that 15% would drop to your bottom line? Or what would it mean to sell out your first release without a hitch in a soft market?

"Web based surveys allow a great deal of flexibility in terms of the types of questions you can ask and the amount of time a person is willing to spend filling it out" suggests, Markham. "Most importantly, the ability to show actual planned product exteriors and interiors enables a builder to test new designs and concepts in markets where traditional homestyles prevail."

"We find online surveys to be quite useful for our clients that are looking to introduce novel ideas like neo-traditional or village centered communities into suburban locations typically offering conventional stucco or brick exteriors with five windows over four windows and a door," adds Markham. "It really enables a prospective buyer to think outside the box."

Online surveys can often provide your company with quick answers to many questions. For an investment of just a few hundred dollars you can acquire a tool for setting up simple online surveys that can get the job done. With the better tools, you will not need any programmers to set it up. You can deliver the survey either from your website or through an e-mail survey to prior leads. You may still need the help of a research company, but most of the logistics hassle and much of the cost goes away.

Is it perfect? No, far from it. Will it get you the answers you need to make better pricing decisions? Quite possibly. More importantly, it can help guide your decisions when time is short.

Internet Marketing Articles for Builders

The Lux Solutions website now contains expanded articles for builders. Here are a few recent articles:

- People in Green Cars Need Not Apply (pdf 98k)
- Managing "Coming Soon" Interest Lists Online
- 9 Ways to Drive Internet Leads and Sales
- The Online Sales Counselor
- The User-Centered Web Site (pdf 127k)
- Drive Leads with Permission Marketing

View all articles...

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

Sally Markham works with Robert Charles Lesser & Co. She can be reached via e-mail at sally.markham@comcast.net. 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