Find the appropiate mix of traditional marketing and new media by measuring the results and adjusting accordingly.
Bob Schultz, Contributing Editor
December 19, 2014
In the pursuit of increasing sales revenue while reducing unnecessary costs, consider these fundamental concepts while developing your marketing, sales plans, and budgets for 2015:
1. Your sales and marketing operations are not two separate independent functions. Rather, they are interdependent, closely related activities whose costs and results must be measured against objectives, analyzed, and constantly adjusted to become more effective.
2. ROI should not be measured solely on the basis of its cost versus traffic.
3. To maximize your return on investment in marketing and sales costs, it is critical to measure the conversion ratios of prospective buyers generated by specific sources of the marketing efforts against sales achieved.
4. In marketing, there is no one magic bullet. The magic is in the appropriate mix.
For insight into how to determine that mix and measure the results, I interviewed Rich Carlson, President of Carlson Communications. An expert with decades of experience in developing builder marketing campaigns, Rich knows the differences between what is now being called traditional marketing and new media, as well as how to balance the two. These principles are universal, and the examples given here are from one of his most recent successful endeavors, Southport, an active adult community on Cape Cod. I recently conducted an interview with Rich to find out his latest thoughts on traditional vs. new media:
BS: Is traditional media, such as newspapers, radio, and TV, no longer effective and is social media the key to generating traffic?
RC: There are instances where traditional media can be effective. However, one reason why social media has become such a powerful force in generating traffic is because of the credibility of the network (e.g., Facebook) in which your buyers are engaged. In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2014, 74 percent of adults online use social networking sites, with 71 percent using Facebook. If you are friends on Facebook with people who share the same values and interests as you do, and several of them recommend a certain product, builder, or community, you are more likely to be persuaded to contact that builder or visit that community than if they saw a testimonial in a print ad for that same builder. Similarly, if you visit a builder’s Facebook page or a building product’s website, you have the opportunity to see comments about the builder, community, or product based on timely feedback from customers. This transparency allows prospective buyers to read recent feedback from those who have experienced the product or service. Furthermore, if a buyer posts a negative comment or observation about a company or a community, the company has the opportunity to reply instantly showing how responsive they can be to customers’ concerns or complaints. This form of interaction in real time using social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn allows prospective buyers to make decisions based on feedback from friends with whom they connect on social media sites.
BS: Since selling is a contact sport, when using social media, what must you look for to know it is being successful in generating qualified traffic?
RC: Google Analytics allows you to see clearly which social media sites are providing the highest sources of traffic to your website. When reviewing the traffic from different social media sites, the number of page views and the average length of time viewers spend on your website are two ways to determine the level of interest they have in your product, company, or community. When you invite the web visitor to provide their contact information for a benefit such as brochures, DVDs, or other information of specific interest, you now have a point of reference to measure those contacts against appointments made to sales conversions.
BS: How do you know which sources of traffic produce the best results?
RC: One important benchmark is to determine the length of time between the first visit to the sales office and when they entered into an agreement. In running this analysis of Southport buyers, we discovered that those buyers who heard about the community from radio or TV had a much tighter time frame between their first visit and the purchase. Instead of the typical six to 18 months before making a decision, the majority of TV and radio buyers made their decision within one to 12 weeks. Thus, although these media can sometimes, but not always, be more expensive than direct mail and print advertising, the shorter time frame for marketing before the buyers made their decision helps to compensate for any added expense.
BS: When are radio and TV effective ways to reach buyers?
RC: Radio and TV, if researched and executed properly, can be very effective ways to reach your target buyers, regardless of their age, when you understand ranking. Account executives from a radio or TV station can provide you with “rankers.” These are reports for specific time periods that show how the stations in your area compare with one another in terms of size of the listening or viewing audience. This information and the costs of running ads can help you determine which stations would be best for your target market.
BS: How do I know if my marketing is working?
RC: In addition to using a well-constructed CRM system to track all traffic as to source and conversion, programs like Google Analytics make it easy to track the results of your web and Internet marketing and advertising activity. An email blast announcing the release of new homes should produce an immediate spike in website visits, followed by requests for DVDs, brochures, etc.
Here is where the art and science of the mix comes into play. Use a variety of sources to drive traffic to the website. For example, when running ads on TV, we track website activity on an hourly basis using Google Analytics to see which programs produced the best website activity. Then we adjust the balance of the media campaign to focus on those programs.
When sending a direct mail piece to multiple zip codes, Google Analytics can show you which zip codes produce the most website activity. That information, combined with tracking of who is providing contact information or visiting your sales office, helps you determine which locations to target in future mailings.
Bob Schultz, MIRM, CSP, is a global leader in new-home sales and management. He is the president and CEO of New Home Specialist Inc., (www.newhomespecialist.com), and is the author of two best-selling books, “The Official Handbook for New Home Salespeople” and “Smart Selling Techniques.”