sneakersI recently listened to an interview where experts discussed the shoe industry and how the economy has taken its toll on the apparel market. But unlike clothing, the shoe industry is still selling. But there are challenges. One of the biggest challenges that companies are now facing is the inability to market the way they used to. They no longer have the marketing budgets to handle large, national media buys. They know the importance of advertising, especially now, because in a recession consumers become even harder to reach.

To solve the problem, some shoe companies are employing hyper-local marketing to reach their core markets. Take Nike, for example. They recently released 300 shoes at $250 a pair and had customers lining up outside their local stores in eager anticipation. They were marketing to fans that Nike calls, “sneaker heads” and knew that this hyper-local market would be excited about Nike’s message and brand. The sneaker heads would help spread the message about these new Nikes.

We can do this in the home building industry, too. National home builders are doing whatever it takes to maintain profits, like taking advantage of the current $8,000 incentive for first time buyers. But without a marketing budget, they’re falling short. They are being forced to look at different alternatives for builder marketing. What about these hyper-local markets? Do national builders even know how to market locally?

What are the big boys doing to customize their marketing to the localized economies? How much power are they giving to their local divisions? These are the people who will spread the marketing message and brand. In real estate, referrals are one of the largest sources of sales, so what can home builders do? They need to shift their marketing power to their local teams who understand the local culture — the people on the ground who can energize the local market (that might mean your sales team)

Hyper-local marketing. It’s working for Nike, and it can work for any builder in multiple markets. And social media and the Internet has become an integral part of the marketing mix. Marketing guru Seth Godin talks about building communities in his book “Tribes.” He says you only need a tribe of a 1,000 to be successful. I would say in a local market, you only need a few hundred people buying homes, getting excited, and telling their friends, to be successful.

So what are you doing for builder marketing on the local level? How are you becoming hyper-local in your thinking. What are you doing to change your culture?

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