We interview Kevin Oakley, Dir. of Marketing, Heartland Homes
Kevin Oakley is the Director of Marketing for Heartland Homes, a company Oakley describes as “a marketing company that just happens to build homes.” This week we interview Kevin about his new ebook, Presale Without Fail – The Secret to Launching New Communities and Phases with Maximum Results.
In the ebook, Oakley shares details on how to put together a successful launch, complete with pre-sales events and timelines. It’s an amazing program that he shares, and at an amazing price – Oakley would like for you to download his book at absolutely no charge.
Don’t sell communities? The principles that are outlined here can be used to market any event or product launch! So, listen, read and learn.
Listen to the audio interview where I ask Kevin why he wrote the book, why he’s sharing it with his competitors without charge, and how to structure a launch event using the formula from the book. Or, read the condensed notes below:
Contrary to what many believe, the results of your marketing can be predicted, and good results can be duplicated.
The Heartland team realized this after they analyzed their marketing for a particularly successful grand opening where they sold 10 homes on the first day. Following the same basic program in the ten communities or phases that they’ve opened since then, the ‘worst’ results they’ve experienced was to sell ‘only’ 5 homes on the opening day.
In this market, not too shabby.
Heartland’s marketing program begins some 90 days prior to the first live event – a Preview Event where prospects can look, but not yet buy. It’s a few days later, at the Grand Release event, that deposits are accepted and sales made.
This 90-day ‘warm up’ phase continues to nurture buyers, create awareness, interest and desire, and generate anticipation for the event itself. The psychology behind this is interesting. “The timeline is built upon two fundamental principles,” explains Oakley. “The first is that human beings are not rational creatures. We don’t always make rational decisions. The second is based on Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion and the ’6 principles of ethical influence’ that allow you to create urgency, such as authority, scarcity and consensus.”
For example, the Principle of Scarcity says that the more scarce something is, the more valuable it must be. Oakley applies this principle to the information that Heartland makes available regarding it’s communities prior to the preview event. If people feel they have all the information and they know all about the community, then they don’t put as much weight on attending the event. But Oakley knows that those that attend the event are most likely to buy. So, the only way that potential buyers can get all the information is to attend the preview event – that’s when it all happens.
Other key parts of the 90-day promotion include building awareness through signage, media and direct mail. “With so many companies doing email blasts, people aren’t doing direct mail as much anymore. But there really isn’t a more cost effective way to make sure that people in a geographic area are at least aware of your project,” says Oakley.
Planning Your Preview Event
“The key to running the Preview Event well is to already know as much as possible about your prospect without them knowing much about the homesite. You accomplish that by scheduling appointments 30 prior to the event to talk about your houses.” Before they are introduced to the homesites, you want them to have narrowed down their choice of homes. Don’t get into options, just focus on the base house so that when they see the homesites, they are prepared to choose one that fits their plan.
“You’re gaining insight at that appointment on what they want and why they want it. So when they arrive at the Preview Event, you’ve already had 30 days to strategize and organize how you are going to present your homesites to the people that are attending the event. So, if your buyer says, ‘I think we want to build a Stanford,’ you can write in on the site map on two or three homesites ‘Perfect homesite for a Stanford.’”
Oakley explains that doing so “triggers something in the prospect’s brain,” particularly in a well-attended event. People subconsciously assume that if they like something, other people will want the same thing. So at the preview event, they are thinking that everyone is going to be going after the homesites that they want. The principles of scarcity and consensus kick in to create urgency, and you’ve got a hot prospect eager to put money down so they don’t lose their site.
There are two comments that Oakley hears at nearly every Preview Event. The first is, “I can’t believe you got so many people to attend in an economy like this!” The other is that at least two or three of the attendees will approach their salesperson and ask, “I know you said you’re not taking deposits tonight, but what do I need to do to reserve the homesite I want?”
“What we tell people is that the goal of that event is not to sell houses or to put houses or homesites on hold. The goal is to set an appointment to finalize the choice of the homesite and home and to get all the paperwork filled out so that they get in line to hopefully get the homesite they want. If you take a deposit that night, now they have all the information, it’s placed on hold, and the sense of urgency and fear of loss goes away. You find you’re no longer in the driver’s seat, especially with people who like to negotiate.”
So far, Heartland Homes has not lost a sales because of two buyers insisting on the same homesite. “We’ve found that by following this process at the second appointment when the prospect is ready to buy, we can find them an acceptable homesite that they’re happy with. We tell them that if they are an immediate starts, with no contingencies, are pre-approved, and your contract is clean, you get the first place in line. We’ve never had a situation where two people insisted on the same homesite or nothing.”
The Grand Release, then, is just the culmination of the work you’ve done with buyers during the previous 90 days and at the Preview Event. It’s when contracts are signed and checks are exchanged.
“The key here is to communicate just as effectively as you did during the Awareness phase the great success that you’re having. That’s what will reach those people who didn’t buy on day one. What we’ve seen is that about the same number of homes will sell within the next 30 days as sold on day one. They’ll get an email or postcard telling them that you sold out 33% of your development on the first day, and they’ll be motivated to get in before it’s too late.”
Following this formula works primarily because it creates a sense of scarcity and urgency up front, it encourages homebuyers to give thought to their wants and needs and make decisions early in the process, and it rewards those that act in both physical and emotional ways. The other thing it does is get good, solid deals with few fall-outs and nearly zero buyer’s remorse.
We’ve just touched on the highlights of the program used by Heartland Homes and described in Kevin Oakley’s new book, Presale Without Fail – The Secret to Launching New Communities and Phases with Maximum Results.
To download your free copy of the book, click here.
Contact Kevin Oakley through is blog, www.BrandPossible.com