Almost everyone is guilty of it in our industry. In fact, I’d love for anyone reading this to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of someone who is not guilty. We as home builders are way too shallow.
An extremely conservative estimate is that in my current home town of Pittsburgh, PA over 1 million page views will occur this week. We all know how much people are hungry for information when performing their search for a new home, but those kind of numbers give new meaning to the word obsessed. Prospective buyers have a nearly insatiable appetite for high quality photos, insights into the community, and any details they can get their hands on. We fight so hard for the attention of a prospect by shouting at them via advertising, but then when they give us that attention – and are beg us for more in-depth content – we ignore them.
Yet the majority of home builders around the globe are content to do little more than give scant details on location, square footage, price (maybe), and a long list of builder standard features (only a portion of which your buyer cares about). You have 10 photos of your home, a couple exterior renderings, a video walk through, and the dream of a new home.
It just isn’t enough. It is like trying to hold a diving competition in a 3’ deep pool. Not productive – and certainly dangerous.
I believe part of the problem comes from an outdated mindset about how marketing departments approach websites. You build or redesign one, often painfully, over six months to a year and then you launch. You fix a few post-launch issues, and then you check off the box that says “re-launch website” and move on to the next project. You only return to the site to post a short blog, upload photos for a new model home or community, and update pricing. Investing that level of time and energy into adding new depth to your content should be a continual process – not an event.
I think the other half of the problem comes from how owners think about their website. The site is, they believe, there to drive interest that will ultimately visit a model. This means you don’t have to go very deep on content because it’s only supposed to wet the appetite of the prospect.
Let me give two quick examples that I think illustrate how builders and developers are getting it wrong:
- A resale home in a community that is still selling new homes has more photos than the builder’s website and compelling text explaining what it feels like to live in the home and the neighborhood (the builder site just has bullet point facts). The resale home sold in 5 days. The builder hasn’t sold a home in two months, and the resale was priced higher.
- A developer spent over $15,000 producing a slick video intro to a new community in Washington D.C., and it really looks pretty. Animated renderings, people walking through a yet-to-be-built park, great music, etc – really well done. That was two years ago. Now there are 4 model homes built on site that have no videos or detailed information beyond the basics I described above.
So… a Realtor took it upon herself to walk through each model with an iPhone and talk about them as she went through. The result? That Realtor has received 10x the number of views as the $10k developer video. Her cost was $0 beyond her time.
It’s time to add some water into the pool if we want more prospects to dive in. Stuck on where to start? Check out our list of over 25 ideas to get you started.