Myers Barnes Blog Articles

Monitor Your Metrics: What the Numbers Can Tell You

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Oct, 14, 2014

If I were to ask you about your conversion rates, what could you tell me? Do you know how many online leads came in your door? What percentage of your sales was jump-started by your Online Sales Counselor? What pages of your site have the most unique visitors (and I don’t mean “unusual”, but the number of total visitors, not actual visits)? How many people are accessing your mobile site?

We have so many tools to help us measure the success of individual sales and marketing efforts, but far too many are being ignored. You study those sales figures, but how do you know what contributes to success (or failure) if you’re not analyzing the steps that lead you there? If you want to sell more homes, you need to monitor your metrics with extreme vigilance.

Start with your leads.

Where do prospects come from? It can be hard to measure because people receive so many marketing messages in a day that they might not realize what actually prompted them to contact you. Maybe they saw a sign somewhere and then looked at your website. Or a friend mentioned your name in passing—but is that a referral?

You can, however, measure the leads coming through your website, walking through your door, and calling on the phone. How many Realtors contact you each week? What’s the conversion rate with Realtors? How does that compare with the conversion rate for online leads? Does any particular referral source stand out? If so, not only do you need to keep cultivating that one (because competitors can sneak in any time and impinge on that loyalty), but also look at where you can develop other referral sources.

Study your website traffic.

You can see where people are clicking through on your site, where they linger, and where they exit. How many views are your videos getting? Which models get the most views? Which seem to be ignored? And what does all of this information tell you?

These are all important metrics for understanding the effectiveness of your site, as well as knowing where you need to place more emphasis. If, for example, your blog isn’t getting enough traffic but your videos are being seen, maybe you should look at the content you’re posting on your blog. Are you linking your videos to your blogs? Your site optimization should include pathways for the user to click through from one page to another. Embed links to take them from one place to another. For example, if you mention a community in a blog, embed a link to that page. If you have a blog on a specific topic—e.g., financing—be sure you link it to and from other pages that mention “financing”. In this way, you fill them up with useful information and they stay on your site, and come back again.

You invest in your sales and marketing. If you want to maximize the return on investment, monitor your metrics. Don’t let another week pass by without spending an hour or two looking at what happened in the past week, month, and quarter. You’ll discover it is time well spent.



Posted In: New Home Sales, New Home Sales Training

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Usability Testing Tells You Whether Your Website is Great or Just “Good Enough”

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Sep, 30, 2014

Your builder website is your most important marketing tool. Period.

Consider these statistics:
• 92% of homebuyers search for their new home using digital media.
• 76% say they drove by a home after seeing it online.
• 62% do a walk-through of a home they first viewed online.

With buyers placing so much emphasis on the online search, shouldn’t you be sure you’re making a powerful impression here? The best way to be sure that you’re communicating the message you want in a website that’s user-friendly is to conduct usability testing.

I’ve seen many builders treat their websites like a necessary evil, doing just enough to create an online presence. And they expect great things. “Here’s who we are and some photos of the homes we build. Let us build yours.”

Does that sound like a unique and impactful presentation? Sure, I’ve simplified it (maybe…maybe not), but then again, there are plenty of sites out there that are merely adequate. Is that how you want your prospects to perceive you? Adequate?

I recently chatted with Steve Shoemaker of Ideal Homes in Norman, Oklahoma. He recommends Usertesting.com. This company conducts usability testing on websites to see how site visitors actually use your website. It’s like blind-shopping your website, using pre-screened testers who match your demographic. They offer objective feedback that will help you fine-tune your builder website so that it keeps your prospects on the site. Steve says you want to make sure your site is relevant and friendly—in the user’s eyes, not necessarily yours. You can add all the bells and whistles, but if the user can’t find what they want, they’re gone—and so is the lead.

With a marketing tool as important as your website, don’t settle for good enough. Be great!



Posted In: New Home Sales, New Home Sales Training

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Content Marketing Done Right

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Sep, 16, 2014

Earlier in this blog, I discussed the importance of content marketing done right on a homebuilder’s website. Posting quality content and doing it frequently will keep your website fresh and dynamic. That’s the key to improving your SEO and encouraging site visitors to keep coming back.

But I’ve had some questions from homebuilders about the definition of “quality content”, so I want to address some of the most common inquiries here.

What should I post?

Keep it relevant. Put yourself in the homebuyer’s head. What do they need and want to know—about the homebuying and building process, your company, and how you can make it a pleasurable experience. Stop selling and start educating. Enlighten them about what they should expect, what to look for, and issues they might not have considered yet. Great content should be useful, enjoyable, and inspired!

Post photos, videos, articles, guides, and other content that supports your desired position as the trusted advisor. Include photos and videos that give them a “tour” of your expertise—from planning and design through construction. Create an animated video that shows the construction by taking a series of photos from the same perspective and editing them together. Interview a homeowner to talk about the experience or offer a home tour. Provide useful information about the communities and the areas they’re in—things to do and see, history, great places to eat and shop, and a calendar of local events. Not only will you help them envision themselves in this location, but you show yourself to be part of the community.

How often should I update my site?

At LEAST once a week. Stop groaning. I don’t mean you have to do an extensive update every week. Upload new photos or a blog post. Spend a few minutes recording a short video—an interview with a sales associate or homeowner, a home tour, or even a trip through a local garden center to get landscaping ideas. Don’t over-complicate this step. Encourage your team to contribute their ideas and experiences.

What has the most influence on SEO: words, pictures, blogs, links, or videos?

While all of these components factor in to having great content, the words you use in your content will give you the most influence with the search engines. Keywords are indexed by these search engines. They match up keyword searches with those sites that have matching keywords, used frequently and in a relevant way.

Remember, however, that content marketing done right reflects the full range of web content. Be diverse. Be relevant. And be consistent!



Posted In: New Home Sales, New Home Sales Marketing

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Where Should Your Marketing Dollars Go?

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Sep, 02, 2014

My last post offered suggestions for determining a reasonable marketing budget. Now, I’d like to give you some thoughts on where to effectively allocate those funds.

I recently spoke with Matt Riley, of Royal Oaks Homes in Raleigh, NC. Matt echoed the key principles when it comes to using marketing dollars to get the best return on investment.

Absolutely at the top of the list should be your website. You need good content that is constantly updated so you not only get the attention of search engines (for SEO), but you also give site visitors a reason to keep coming back.

Matt redesigns Royal Oaks Homes’ builder website every year. Total makeover. “Think of your builder website like a new community or breaking out a new model,” he said.

He populates the site with great content, including an ever-growing library of videos. “If you’re not doing videos, you might as well not be doing anything,” Matt told me. And he’s right. With the ease of creating a video—like a virtual tour or homeowner interview—there’s no excuse for not posting new videos every week.

Also make sure your builder website is designed for use on mobile devices, which is the common first approach. Your website developer can create a mobile app to make it even easier for your customers and prospects to communicate with you.

Make the most of your website investment by using QR codes on your signage and promotional materials. Buyers are savvy enough to know that scanning the QR code (with a free app) directs visitors to the relevant page on your site.

Matt’s second marketing tool is pay per click (PPC) advertising. Drill down the keywords to be as specific as possible. Instead of “new homes”, add the city or county, so that your PPC dollars are generating useful leads in your market area.

Third, use the referral sites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and Homes.com. It costs you nothing but time, and your new homes listings will be seen by active homebuyers. Big bang for no buck.

Social media is another under-utilized marketing tool. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest each offer you an easy way to stay connected with your market segment. In fact, social media is so important that you should hire a professional to maintain your presence on the social media networks, rather than assign the responsibility to a staff person as an administrative duty.

For special events, like grand openings and community awareness campaigns, allocate some money to online banner ads. Not a lot, but don’t overlook this section in your marketing plan.

Gone are the days of printing expensive, glossy brochures. While I agree you need collateral material, use your marketing investment here for digital brochures that can be viewed online—on laptops, iPads, and smartphones. Customers prefer less paper clutter, and you’ll be conserving a valuable natural resource.

And finally, there’s print advertising. Matt Riley says he doesn’t do any print. Period. He doesn’t see an appreciable return on investment in print media.

The most important consideration when planning how to distribute your marketing budget is to be clear on how your customers shop for a new home. Where do they go for information? What are the strongest influences? You need a plan that hits your target from different directions, not just one.

Creating and budgeting for a marketing plan is much more complex than what I have outlined here. Use this as a guideline. I’ll be discussing each marketing opportunity in more detail in future posts.



Posted In: New Home Sales, New Home Sales Marketing

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How Big is Your Marketing Budget?

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Aug, 19, 2014

Homebuilders frequently ask me how much I think they should allocate for their marketing budget. I find that, if they’re asking, they’re probably not spending enough—or on the right things.

One percent of your gross revenue—GROSS, not net—is a good rule of thumb. Now, if you’re grossing $10 million a year, then your marketing budget should be $100,000. Before you squirm, let me share a little story with you.

Bob prayed over and over to win the lottery, but nothing happened. Finally, he bellowed, “Lord, why have You forsaken me?”

Thunder clapped in the sky. A voice boomed down from the heavens and declared, “Help me out here, Bob. Buy a ticket, will you?”

So, if you’re going to complain that your marketing isn’t getting you where you need to be, then maybe you’re not taking the steps you need to make it happen.

Start by allocating a sufficient amount in your budget. One percent is a good figure. If you’re trying to expand—into a new market, for example—you might need to increase the figure. If you have some brand building to do—maybe the competition has gotten tougher—you should also consider a more aggressive marketing budget.

Remember, marketing is not an expense. An expense refers to spending money that delivers no appreciable return. An investment generates value. Consider your marketing budget like any other investment in your business. Leverage its power to grow your new home sales by generating more interest, inquiries, leads, and referrals that you can convert into revenue.

Then determine how to use the marketing funds to get the maximum return on investment. But that’s the subject for another post. Stay tuned….



Posted In: New Home Sales Training

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The Care and Feeding of Your Website Content

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Aug, 05, 2014

Think about your website as a fish tank. When there are plenty of colorful fish actively swimming around, it’s fascinating to look at. But if you don’t feed the fish or treat the water to create a healthy environment, you end up with dead fish in a stagnant, scummy tank. Not so interesting any more.
You have to “feed” your website to keep it alive and interesting. Add content, like videos, interesting articles, and photos so that your website’s visitors are mesmerized. In fact, if you don’t pay attention to what’s living on your website, the search engines might assume it’s already dead. If Google, Yahoo, and Bing consider your website to be lifeless, they’ll ignore it when people are doing an organic search for new homebuilders. You won’t be found anywhere near the first page of the search engine page results (SERPs).
Microsoft founder Bill Gates said content is king. It’s the quality of what you post on your website that draws the notice of search engines and site visitors. It’s not good enough to design your site—even a good one—and then leave it there to wither away. Is that a reflection of your business? Staying still? If you’re building and selling homes, you have news worth posting. Your knowledge about the home building industry should be shared, feeding your website with a growing supply of engaging content.
Here’s how you can nurture a healthy environment on your website:
• Upload videos with home and community tours to entice your prospects
• Update your photos at least twice a month
• Maintain a blog with at least one post a week, covering topics of interest to your new homebuyers—not sales pitches—or links to informative articles, and link the updates to your Facebook and Twitter accounts (because you have to have those, too).
• Make sure your content is keyword rich and contains relevant links for SEO.

Like a fish tank, setting up your website is just the first step. It demands proper care and feeding to remain active and interesting.



Posted In: New Home Sales Marketing, New Home Sales Training

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Announcing…. The New Home University – March 16th & 17th, 2015

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Aug, 04, 2014

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Imagine a source for sales and marketing innovation. A venue that provides access to new ideas and practices, and teaches you how to apply that knowledge right away. Now, stop imagining – and enroll in:

The New Home University

Build PROFITS through Leadership, Marketing, & Sales

With Myers Barnes and Mollie Elkman

Myers Barnes and Mollie Elkman have created a seminar that is so unique, Professional Builder magazine says it is “an event not to be missed.”  The New Home University is an exclusive learning experience, focused on giving you the information you need to improve profits and take your company to the next level.  By interacting with your peers, asking questions of experts, and examining real-world applications of the information, you reinforce your knowledge – and come away with an elite educational experience.

The New Home University is two full days of high energy, real solutions that you can IMMEDIATELY apply to your business to increase profits in 2015.  You can’t afford to miss this incredible opportunity!

When: March 16th & 17th, 2015

Where: Philadelphia, PA

Early Registration begins August 31, 2014.

Contact Myers at mba@myersbarnes.com or Mollie at melkman@grouptwo.com for more information!

Myers Barnes is a new home sales trainer who teaches important and effective sales strategies and techniques in the new-home sales industry to builders, developers, and top corporations.  Visit www.myersbarnes.com to learn more.

 



Posted In: Leadership, New Home Sales, Personal Development

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Stick to Building Homes, Not Websites

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Jul, 22, 2014

We’ve become a DIY culture, where we’ve become empowered to undertake a wider variety of tasks than ever before.

Need to fix your faucet? You can find a video online and save the cost of a plumber.
Want to skip the accountant and do your own income taxes? Just point, click, and download the software that makes it easy.

I believe we should continue to learn and grow, particularly with so many resources to make it convenient. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Your website, for example, isn’t something you should tackle on your own. A builder’s website is the most important marketing tool. Homebuyers are searching online before they ever call, email, or visit you. A misstep on your site could mean the difference between making the contact and being dismissed right from the start. Are you going to skimp on something so vital to lead generation?

A website that will attract the right traffic and promote the desired action—contact— must be written, designed, and scripted by a professional. Find someone who understands both design and scripting (the creative and the technology are two different skill sets so expect to hire a team), who has the latest knowledge of SEO techniques. Search engine algorithms change regularly, and keeping up with technology is a full-time job. So, don’t expect you can dabble in it and build your website with the same skills as a seasoned website development professional—any more than a website developer can step in and sell new homes as well as you can.

Think I’m wrong? That I’m underestimating your technical and creative prowess? Are you willing to bet a few months’ worth of leads? Because that’s how long it will take to fix your website if you’re wrong. If you skip right to hiring the website developer, you know that you’re buying knowledge that is based on experience and ongoing training. Along with it, you get the peace of mind that you haven’t overlooked important tasks that a professional will find. With the impact that a great website can have on your business, isn’t it worth the investment to get it right?

NOTE: In the coming weeks, I’ll be offering a series of articles on marketing in today’s tech-driven environment, based on my own experience and research, as well as interviews with industry leaders who have shared their insight. Stay tuned!



Posted In: New Home Sales

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Book Release: Announcing Myers’ Newest Book!

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Jul, 22, 2014

While traveling across the nation to share my enthusiasm about new home sales, I experienced a journey of another kind. This one became a year-long writing adventure into a world of words and I’m so excited about it that I wanted to give you an advance notice. So, here it is: I will have a new book published in 2015 that will rock your imagination!

Between its covers are 50 ordinary words that impact our lives as leaders. While researching their root meanings, I realized I had to get these words out of my head and into print. The yet-to-be-named manuscript is filled with inspiring stories, anecdotes, nutshell wisdom, motivational quotes and messages of self-empowerment that I’ve collected during my travels.

I wouldn’t say it’s like chicken soup for the soul; more like salsa for the soul. It’s fresh, good for you, has essential health benefits, will spice up your knowledge and provide you with a daily intake of optimism.  Watch for it!

Myers Barnes is a new home sales trainer who teaches important and effective sales strategies and techniques in the new-home sales industry to builders, developers, and top corporations.  Visit www.myersbarnes.com to learn more.

 



Posted In: Leadership, Personal Development

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Leak #23: Missing the Manufacturing Excesses – Leaking Profits: Article 26

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Jul, 08, 2014

A homebuilder really has two separate businesses: the manufacture of the homes and the sales operation. We’ve covered 22 ways to plug up leaks in the sales bucket, but we can’t overlook the other side of the business—because while you’re busily fixing the holes on the sales end, your profits might be escaping through your manufacturing gaps. The following manufacturing gaps are sales related:

Standing inventory (see #19)

Change orders

Mistakes in the field

Giveaways and cave-ins

Punch

Managing expectations

Relationships versus accountability to vendors and subcontractors

Principle of 15 Minutes

BOTTOM LINE: Your business is comprised of two operations: manufacturing and sales. Be sure to fix the leaks on both sides.



Posted In: New Home Sales Management Training, New Home Sales Training

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Red-Hot New Home Sales and Marketing Solutions

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Jul, 01, 2014

How can you ignite your selling power and blow past your goals to achieve blockbuster sales?  Here is your answer!  Join New Home Sales Expert Myers Barnes and Anthony Grasst with HomeStreet Bank on July 15th from 9:00-10:00 PDT for a results-orientated sales and marketing webinar, Red-Hot Sales and Marketing Solutions.

You’ll learn sensible solutions, new ways of thinking and come out of this webinar with great advice to achieve over the top results.

Click here to learn more AND to register TODAY.

 

 



Posted In: New Home Sales, New Home Sales Management

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Leak #22: “Bad Month” Myopia – Leaking Profits: Article 25

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Jun, 24, 2014

One more leak in the profit funnel is buying into the mythology of having a bad month. Having a bad month? Change your calendar!

Most people tend to think in “the now”—focused on the next big sale, and not the one that can happen five months down the road.

This shortsightedness doesn’t lead to sustained success. A businessperson—whether the owner or manager—needs a broader view, taking in both the short- and long-term perspectives.

Take, for instance, this all-too-common sales phrase: “You’ve had a bad month.” There is no such thing as a “bad month”. They come in pairs. You have the beginning of the build cycle, when you pen the deal, and the closing that happens after the construction is completed. One bad month during the build cycle leads to another one when there are no closings because of that slow period.

This problem is compounded even more when you fall behind. Let’s say you set a goal of 48 new home sales in a year, or four per month. January comes and goes without a sale, leaving you four sales behind. To catch up, you need to make eight sales in February, but only get two. Now, you’re going into March with a six-sale deficit. And what is the likelihood that you are going to sell ten homes in March when you’ve only sold a total of two in the previous two months?

Then we have the sales manager who feels bad for the salesperson who is missing the mark. “I’ll give him another 90 days,” says the kindly manager.

You’re really going to give him three more months to catch up? Think about it. What this extension does is sacrifice six months—half a year—of sales.

Multiply every “bad month”, “bad quarter”, or any “bad time” by two.

It’s easier to keep up than to catch up.

Casualness causes casualties.

Remember the 3 S’s: Sales, Starts, and Settlements.

Fiscal year versus calendar year

BOTTOM LINE: If you want to stay in business, don’t take a cavalier attitude toward a “bad month”. It’s the harbinger of a “bad year”.



Posted In: New Home Sales

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