As a new home builder in my previously life, I am guilty, like many of you are, of not being aware of how powerful database marketing can be.
I mean, we're not real estate agents after all… They rely on their database. Builders? Nope… a database is something that we refer to because it's where our price file resides.
It doesn't matter if you're a big builder who builds hundreds of homes a year, or a small custom home builder building less than 10 homes a year. Your database matters.
If there has ever been a time to rethink your marketing database as a home builder, it's now.
Why revisit database marketing?
Newspapers are expensive & barely effective
As a builder, you'll already be acutely aware of the diminishing returns of newspaper advertising. Unfortunately, ad rates haven't dropped by much, if at all while the reach and effectiveness has been dropping year on year.
So this raises the question: Where can builders go to find their perfect target market and spend a reasonable amount of money with a good return on investment?
This article will show you opportunities that database marketing gives that out perform newspapers as well as give you marketing ideas you may not have considered.
So why do home builders overlook database marketing?
For good reasons.
First, historically it has been extremely difficult to generate new business using a database.
Second, most clients who build, don't build again for another 7-10 years. Which puts home builders in an unusual category. Repeat client work is terrific, but it's a long way down the track. Most long term sales reps will tell you that staying in the industry for 10 years+ is where they have reaped the rewards. Past clients return and boost sales numbers, almost effortlessly.
So, builders have ignored database marketing because they felt it wasn't relevant to their business model for new business, or it was such a long term investment for repeat business that often didn't pay off.
Thanks to technology, times have changed. Sure, repeat business is the same 7-10 year stretch but winning repeat business that far down the track isn't that exciting. What is exciting, is what you can do right now to attract new leads for your business over the next 30 days.
That's what I'll be sharing today, all about using database marketing.
But what if you don't have a database? Don't worry. I'll show you how to build your database quickly and easily. You'll soon be database marketing wizard.
Here's what I'm going to share with you in the remainder of this post;
- Your invisible database – and why you should be using this right now.
- Your extended invisible database – how you can optimise your business.
- Why email databases are a powerful ally for builders (not bought lists either – yuk).
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of what you can do… let me give you an example of what isn't being done right now, by the biggest and best builders in the business. You can then tell me if they're leaving money on the table or not.
Oh and if you're a small builder, don't switch off. I'm going to share with you strategies that you will want to implement right now, that will help you get leads almost immediately.
A number of years ago I was in a position of interviewing for a top job for one of the top 5 volume building groups in Perth.
During that time, I was asked to look over the brands that I could potentially be managing.
So I decided to do some undercover work. I visited a handful of display homes and spoke with sales reps. I reviewed all the marketing collateral of the 5 brands that were all under the company umbrella.
What I found surprised me.
There were opportunities everywhere – in most cases, the opportunities were right in front of their face. Yet they hadn't seen them and they weren't tapping into their potential.
I'll share just one with you, before I break down how builders of all sizes can better utilise a database for new home sales.
Opportunity for big builders with multiple building divisions to use database marketing
Here was a company that had been in business for decades.
They had several brands, ranging from first home buyers through to luxury two storey homes as well as a renovations company.
They build hundreds of homes every year.
My idea on how they could use their existing database?
Use the database of past customers, who have seen equity rise in their family home. Create an offer to extend/up-size the existing home using the renovations division.
So as an example:
- Search everyone who built a single storey home in 2000-2005.
- Categorise them against the house design name.
- Choose the most popular standard designs that were built.
- Design an upper floor addition.
- Price it.
- Create an offer “How you can add an additional floor to your home for $X using the equity in your home”
- Send it out to all the clients by post.
- Upload their email addresses into Facebook and show an ad for the same offer.
- Get your sales team ready for the phone calls.
This strategy would seed the mind of the home owners with the potential to increase the comfort level of their existing property.
Anyone who built a home in 2000-2005 went through the price boom. They probably have a minimum of $200,000 equity. That can easily be invested into an extension and will suit the families changing needs.
The hardest part is creating a design sketch and pricing it. That might cost $2k.
Apart from that… it's simple.
So there's an opportunity for a big building group to re-engage past clients by utilising their database.
When I asked the owner if they had a database of existing clients ready to market to, they confessed they didn't. They didn't do any marketing to past clients.
Now I know that most people don't build home after home after home. But many do build again in 7-10 years. So why not be first on their list?
This same concept can be used to cross promote the different arms of the business.
How about these examples;
A) Market to your first home buyer from your second home buyer brand after 5 years for anyone wanting to upgrade.
B) Market to your luxury home buyer from your first home buyer brand after a few years and attract potential property investors.
How technology makes this easier
While those examples are great for big builders, what can small builders do?
Going out on a limb, my suggestion is to NOT copy the big builders. That would be assuming they're doing things well – and many aren't.
I can tell you right now, many builders have beautiful websites – but never get leads from their website. So don't copy their website strategy unless you know it's working.
What I would suggest you do is begin working on building your database. Technology has made this easier today than ever before, in some cases it's a 10 minute job to get your database started, and it will grow organically.
Here's the three surprisingly simple ways builders can utilise database marketing
1. Build your invisible database
The first database you want to build (and it's also the easiest) is your invisible database.
You do this by simply placing a piece of code on your website from both Google and Facebook.
Once the code is on your website (it's a 10 minute job to do) – everyone that visits your website is automatically added to your invisible database.
So someone checked out a display home page on your website? They're in your database.
Someone looked at the latest promotional package you are offering on your website? They're in your database.
Over time, without doing any work – you're building your invisible database of prospective customers who you can advertise to using Google and Facebook advertising.
Reaching out to someone who has already shown interest in your business will perform much better than reaching out to someone who has no idea who you are.
If you're getting visitors to your website, but haven't installed these pieces of code, you're missing out! If that's you and you'd like someone to fix that for you ASAP, get in touch and we'll help you get it done.
2. Extend your invisible database
Ok so now you've got an invisible database… why not extend that database.
With Facebook Lookalike Audiences you can.
Facebook is so powerful, it can take your existing website visitors and find their similarities. Then, it looks though the entire Facebook platform to find other people who are very similar.
It does that by looking at;
- Browsing history
- and much more
With this new extended database, you can now advertise to the people who are similar to your current target market.
The whole reason you advertise in the weekend newspaper is to get in front of your potential target market. But you can do the same thing on Facebook using this strategy and yet so many people are unaware that this is possible.
3. Building your own email database for marketing
Are you collecting email addresses from your website? Why not???
Email addresses is a personal gateway to market directly to an interested customer. But you don't have to even use email!!
While I do recommend using email, you can also upload your email list into Facebook and Google and advertise to those people directly.
This way, if someone gives you an email address on your website, via an opt-in, you can continue to market to them for months until they're ready to buy.
For builders this makes a lot of sense.
Many people start researching builders as soon as they make a decision to purchase a block. So while they're currently deciding on a block, you as a builder can have the opportunity to be their first choice by showing them your various offers over a two to three month period.
This will help educate your prospective customer about your company and position you as a favourite to check out when they finally commit to the block they want to buy.
Not only can this work by directly advertising to the people on your email list, you can also upload your email list and create another lookalike audience – so you've got an extended market to advertise to.
Database marketing is powerful, powerful stuff.
How can I get someone's email?
The #1 easiest way to get someones email address is to create a catalogue of floor plans or designs.
Floor plans are THE most searched for term on Google relating to new homes. So it goes without saying people are willing to exchange their name and email address for a catalogue of floor plans.
Simply create a pdf brochure and add a sign up box on your website.
If you look at many of the big builders, they're not doing this – which is a big mistake and a lost opportunity. That's why I mentioned not to copy what they're doing.
If you follow my advice using the above methods, you'll not only build your invisible database, but you'll build a live email database also.
Both are very very powerful tools for builders. It can get your ads in front of the right people at the right time – driving more leads to your business.
Where to from here?
Are you interested in database marketing and would like to know more?
If you'd like to speak to someone who knows the home building industry back to front, plus understands digital marketing – get in touch with Steve Fitz here at Digital Domination using our contact form or call us today. We can get your digital outperforming your print media in 30 days.
Or, call your graphic designer and ask them to start work on your next newspaper ad.