Myers Barnes Blog Articles

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

Tags: , , , ,


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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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

Tags: , , , , ,


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

Tags: , , , , , ,


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

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

10155964_693506754031921_6293250300313693411_n

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

Tags: , , ,


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

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


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

Tags: , , ,


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

Tags: , , ,


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

Tags: , , ,


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

Tags: , ,


Leak #21: Keeping the Non-Performer – Leaking Profits: Article 24

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: Jun, 10, 2014

When I work with sales managers, the first lesson I teach them is about the value of behavioral economics. You must be able to remove your emotions when managing people. You’re not just managing systems and processes—like sales and marketing—but also the people who perform those tasks.

But we are human, and it’s hard to be objective in some cases. Someone who is “good people” may not be suited for sales.

When you evaluate an individual’s job performance, you should assess their work behavior as it relates to their specific position and goals. You’re not there to be their friend or surrogate mom, measuring their personal qualities. Separate all that and evaluate the working professional, the person who is paid to do a job.

If you’ve already plugged the leaks such as providing proper sales training (Leak #6), employing proper recruiting techniques (Leak #4), and making sure your models are adequately staffed (Leak #5). If you’ve chosen the right sales approach (Leak #16), identified and trained a sales process (Leak #15) and you are using your sales meetings to their fullest (Leak #14), then you’ve given the proper tools and training to your sales people in order to become a success.

The next step: Evaluating their performance. It’s not personal. It’s business. Don’t personalize your personnel management tasks.

Behavioral economics – Remove your emotions.

It’s not your role to judge an individual as a human being.

Focus on work behaviors and company goals.

Bottom Line: It’s not personal. It’s business. Don’t personalize the management task. Stick to work-related performance and achievements.



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

Tags: , ,


Leak #20: Overlooking Professional Standards – Leaking Profits: Article 23

Posted by: Myers Barnes | Published: May, 27, 2014

In simplest terms, a standard is a mutually agreed way of doing something. Do you set standards in your business? Have you communicated your high standards for behavior and performance to your team?

Be creating these standards for your business, you stem the flow of leaking profits.

Always perform monthly written reviews. Reviews are what the term implies. You review and evaluate the activities and results of the previous month, or quarterly goals based upon activities. It’s a time to inspect the salesperson’s pledge to their business plan. At the end of the review, the salesperson should sign off to indicate they have read, understand, and agree to the review.

Do you monitor their results and hold them accountable? Not doing this will cost you in several areas:

Sales - Are they hitting their goals? By adhering to a predetermined sales process you have benchmarks to make sure they are hitting their goals.

Customer Satisfaction – Are they hitting their goals, but at the cost of happy customers?

Attitude – Are they encouragers and energizers, or just hanging in there?

BOTTOM LINE: If you expect your team to adhere to professional standards, you need to establish, communicate, and monitor them.

By plugging holes we’ve discussed such as setting up proper CRM systems, having online sales counselors, doing proper training and hiring, examining your marketing targets, looking at your sales process, striving to surpass industry standards, and taking into account a whole slew of other leaking profits, you will set your team up for success and give them the tools to hit their goals.



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

Tags: , , ,