Monthly Archives: June 2013

Missed Marketing Opportunity – Don’t Forget the Features!

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE

If you have been following this blog you know that I am writing a series about common marketing mistakes that I see on MHVillage. For those of you not in the loop, here are the first two in the series:

Eight Missed Marketing Opportunities – Your Sales Center on MHVillage

Missed Marketing Opportunity – One Simple Tip to Getting More Leads

(Note: to get my articles delivered directly to your email, just subscribe over on the right side of the blog.)

Today’s tip costs no extra money and practically no extra time. In fact, it is so easy, I’m surprised to be writing about it, and yet, I see it being missed on a regular basis. I’m going to show you examples from MHVillage, but this tip is true no matter where you advertise your manufactured homes for sale. It’s simple:

Tell People What They Want To Know

When you are entering a home listing on MHVillage, we first ask the basics about the home – where it is located, what you are selling (or renting) the home for, the number of beds and baths and so on. Once you’ve entered that, the next section is all about the Features of the home. Occasionally, I see this left blank.

Here’s a list of just some of the items they’re missing:

A screen shot of the home features - it can be completed with just a few clicks.

A screen shot of the home features – it can be completed with just a few clicks. (Click the image above to enlarge.)

  • Roof type
  • Siding type
  • Color
  • Trim color
  • Garage
  • Carport
  • Storage shed
  • Gutters
  • Deck
  • Patio
  • Shutters
  • Ceiling type
  • Interior wall type
  • Heating type
  • Appliances that stay with the home

While every home is different, and not all have sheds, decks or patios, there is something in this list that can be filled out for every home. We’ve even made it as easy as possible – the form is a series of check boxes, drop downs and radio buttons so you can quickly just click and select.

Let’s take a look at some examples. Here are two screen shots of the Features section on two different homes:

2002 Cavco selling for $64,000

2002 Cavco selling for $64,000

These are from home listings that are currently live on our site. Both homes are in the same senior community.

Manufactured Home Features, Complete

1998 Cavco selling for $65,000

Obviously one listing has a lot more information than the other. But let’s talk marketing – why does it matter? And how does this effect your home leads?

Step back a moment and think about internet shoppers. Why do they shop online? What are they looking for?

When people shop online, whether it is for manufactured homes or digital cameras or a local gym, what they want is information. The more information they have, the better chance you have to sell. Good information not only makes your listings more appealing, it also increases their effectiveness. In other words, good information means not only more leads, but better leads.

Camera. $199.99

Camera. $199.99

Here’s how it works: take the digital camera for an example. While people don’t always buy homes online the way they do cameras, (although we hear regularly from customers who have sold their homes, site unseen, to relocating buyers,) there are a lot of similarities. If you were considering purchasing a nice digital camera, what’s one of the first things you might do? Go online and look at your options! What if all you saw was a photo and price? No information about zoom, lenses, or other features? Would you call the seller to find out more? Would you drive out to the electronics store to check it out for yourself? Or, would you click your back button and look for a different camera?

The same thing works with homes. Skipping this section might save you a small amount of time, but you’ll lose potential customers. On the other hand, what if when you were looking at the camera, it included this:

  • 16 effective megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor
  • 3-inch TFT color LCD with wide viewing angle
  • DIGIC 4 image processor
  • 720p HD video in stereo sound with a dedicated movie button
  • 24mm wide-angle lens with powerful 30x optical zoom and optical Image Stabilizer
  • 30x Optical Zoom and 24mm Wide-Angle lens with Optical Image Stabilizer
  • DIGIC 4 Image Processor
  • 3.0-inch LCD with 461,000 dots
  • Enhanced Zoom Framing Assist button aids in tracking and capturing subjects during super telephoto photography
  • High Speed AF

If those are features you are looking for, this ad will catch your attention and perhaps start the buying process. – and that’s exactly what you want to have happen with home listings! Here’s the best part – the people you attract with an informative listing have already started to sell themselves. They already know it meets their needs. And if the home doesn’t meet their needs? Those are not people who would buy anyway! You save yourself time by narrowing down leads to the very best ones.

Quick note: What about color? Do people really choose their home based on color? Some do, but that isn’t the point. Most people shopping for homes love to do drive-bys. Drive-bys are your friend – if the customer likes what they see, the next step is calling you. Listing the color makes it easy for them to find the home!

The full menu of Features is available on every home listing type on MHVillage – Basic, Featured and Premium. You can edit, update and change this section at any time. Need help? Just email us and let us know – we are happy to assist!

The May Statistics Are In!

More Traffic More Sales More Leads Ad

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE

Last month was a great one on MHVillage! Here’s a quick look at the numbers:

Website Visits

May 2013 – 1,604,921

Year to Date – 8,117,678

To put it simply, this the reason why we call MHVillage the #1 Marketplace to Buy, Sell or Rent Manufactured Homes.  Every month our site receives well over a million visits by people searching for affordable housing. Don’t forget – not only are they shopping on their desktop computers, more and more shoppers are searching using their smart phones. That’s why back in February we released a special mobile version of our site specifically to generate more leads for you.

Sales Leads

May 2013 – 55,925

Year to Date – 298,286

Don’t miss the fine print on those numbers – these do not include the estimated 40,000 phone inquiries generated each month! Are you looking for more sales leads? Then keep an eye on this blog! I am writing a series specifically for you. (Or, to get my articles delivered directly to your email, just subscribe over on the right side of the blog.) Here are the first two articles in the series:

Eight Missed Marketing Opportunities – Your Sales Center on MHVillage

Missed Marketing Opportunity – One Simple Tip to Getting More Leads

Homes Sold

May 2013 – 5,070

Year to Date – 27,167

This is what it all comes down to, right? While solid sales leads are the right first step, the sale is the result we want. Over 5,000 homes are being marked as Sold on MHVillage each month. Manufactured homes all across the country, in all price ranges, in all kinds of communities, and of course, new homes that are being purchased and sited. If you have any questions about adding your home listings to MHVillage, email us – we are happy to help!

Missed Marketing Opportunity – One Simple Tip To Getting More Leads

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE

I travel a far amount speaking to Professionals in the Manufactured Housing industry all across the US. (Just last week I had the honor to be a guest speaker and exhibitor at the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association Meeting in Champaign/Urbana.) One of the questions that comes up over and over again is a simple one: How do I get more leads?

Currently I am writing a series on how to increase the number of sales leads – and the effectiveness – from your online advertising with MHVillage. I’ll be sharing with you some of the same simple tips and tools that I talk about at meetings around the country. Last week I wrote Eight Missed Marketing Opportunities – Your Sales Center on MHVillage. This week I’m giving you the easiest tip of all on how to get more leads:

Make Sure Your Entire Inventory is on MHVillage.

At first glance, this might look like a sales pitch for MHVillage – but remember – unlimited Basic listings are included in your Pro or Pro+ account at no additional charge. So, if you are already listing some of your homes on MHVillage, adding another 2, 20 or even 50 home listings doesn’t cost you a penny more. Now, let’s talk about why it matters:

It’s All In The Numbers

Let’s just start with the basics – the more home listings you have, the bigger piece of your market you have, which means the more leads you will get. For example: say you do a search on MHVillage for homes for sale in your area and there are 30 listings. If 3 of them are yours, you have 10 percent of the market. In this case, the market being all the possible homes that buyers will click on and view. Let’s say that you have additional 10 listings that you haven’t added. If you enter them, your percentage jumps to over 32.5%. The only cost is time, (and I will have some tips on that a little later in the article.)

Of course, this assumes that all listings have an equal chance of being clicked on. We know that isn’t true – some listings are more desirable than others. So maybe a shortcut would be to just list your most desirable homes, right? Wrong.

There is a Buyer for Every Home

This home was recently marked as Sold on MHVillage

This home was recently marked as Sold on MHVillage

Some professionals list only their “best” homes. But what is ” the best” listing? The best looking, the highest priced, the one with the best location? How do you define best? If there was only one home buyer a day on MHVillage, or if every home shopper had the exact same needs, family size and income, it might be simple to define “best”. However, there are 46,000 people shopping for manufactured homes a day on MHVillage. Forty six thousand people that each have their own criteria for selecting the perfect home.

This home was recently marked as sold on MHVillage.

So was this one.

There are buyers looking for retirement properties, handyman specials, second homes, bargains, gated communities, homes for their children, homes for their parents… in other words, there are thousands of different customers looking for different manufactured homes. What may not appeal to you, might be just the ticket for someone else.

The point is simple – by listing your entire inventory you are giving shoppers the maximum choice when it comes to buying the right home.

Homes Being Remodeled

I’ve also heard from professionals who wait to list their pre-owned homes until they have been completely remodeled. This is a missed marketing opportunity. The fact that a home is being remodeled should be a huge selling point. What better time to run a promotion? Here’s an idea: Basic listings come with two photos. Take one photo of the outside and one of the interior, including the paint buckets, ladders and ripped up carpet. In the description of the home offer a special deal if they purchase by a certain date and they can even help pick out the paint colors! If the home doesn’t sell by that date, your listing is already up and ready to go – you can easily update it with new photos and a new description.

The More Inventory You Have, The Better You Look

Just last week, I wrote about how to improve the look of your Sales Center page. This is the page that shows your company information to home buyers searching for Professionals in their area. (Want to see your Sales Center? You can do a search for sales centers on MHVillage here.) We do some fairly sophisticated algorithms to determine the sort order of Sales Centers in a given area. One of the biggest factors is whether you are a Pro+ or Pro account, (Pro+ accounts are always sorted towards the top) but another factor is the number of homes you have for sale. Each home within in certain geographic area gives you a number of “points.” Obviously upgraded homes, (Featured and Premium listings) give the most points, but Basic listings do contribute to your ranking. So, putting all your homes on MHVillage helps push your company page towards the top.

This tool is on your account home page on MHVillage.

This tool is on your account home page on MHVillage.

Quick Sales Tip: Did you know that within your account, under the Listing Management section, there is a nifty tool for printing a list of all your homes for sale or rent? It makes a great handout to buyers or inventory control sheet to be used in the office. It’s a free tool we offer to all MHVillage Professionals.

Too Busy To List All Your Homes? Clone Them Instead!

Here’s another great little tool in your account – you can “Clone” removed listings and save yourself some time. Some communities have the luxury of having a portfolio of homes that are very similar – even down to the Manufacturer and Model, but even if your homes are quite different from one another, you can still take advantage of the Clone tool.

Once you click Removed, you can "Clone" any of your Removed homes.

Once you click Removed, you can “Clone” any of your Removed homes.

From within your account go to the Edit Listings link. In the section above the listings, click Removed. That will give you a list of all the homes you have removed from the site. Just click the “Clone” link on the home most similar to your new listing. That’s it! It will instantly make a duplicate copy. Then, you can go through and update your new listing with the correct address, details and photos. Details like financing promotions and your contact information will already be filled in and correct. It can help you build a home listing fast.

So, Why Not Cheat?

You might be thinking to yourself, with all these benefits, why not “pad” your listings a bit? Let me caution against that – state regulatory agencies come down pretty hard on false advertising, and they are starting to wise up to internet marketing. Keep yourself on the right side of the laws of your state and you won’t run into trouble. We’ve seen some states handing out big fines for small infractions and we don’t want that to happen to you. Our advice? Always play it safe.

What if I Only Have One or Two Listings?

If you only have a few listings in a given area, then my advice to you is to make sure they are at the Premium level. Premium listings cost just $8 a month more per home, but they move your home listings out of the back of the pack and onto the first page. In many busy areas, where there are hundreds of homes for sale and rent, you may not even get noticed if you aren’t on the first page, so the small extra cost is worth it.

The Take Away:

You put a lot of time and effort into your marketing strategies. Naturally, you want to get the most out of them. Making sure that your entire portfolio of home listings is available to be found by home buyers, renters and potential residents is the best way to get the maximum number of leads.

Eight Missed Marketing Opportunities – Your Sales Center on MHVillage

BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSEEdit Your Sales Center

Over the next few months I’m going to be running a “Missed Marketing Opportunities” series here on our blog. In this series I will highlight many of the powerful sales tools we offer at MHVillage. Because Manufactured Housing Professionals are busy, and MHVillage has so much to offer, some of these tools get missed – resulting in missed marketing opportunities. While some of the tools I will be writing about have additional costs, others will be free and already included in your account. In all cases, they are simple and easy to use and can make a big difference in your internet marketing.

Your Sales Center Page

What is a Sales Center page? It’s a webpage within MHVillage that works like your own personal website. It contains your homes (and only your homes) as well as a description of your company and contact information. If you are a community operator it also contains a link to your communities. It can be searched by buyers looking for retailers in their area. Monthly Pro accounts on MHVillage are $29.95, Pro+ accounts are $49.95. Both accounts come with a Sales Center page, although some of the advanced features are only available with a Pro+ account.

Let’s take a look at how the sales center page looks like within your account:

This sample shows how to enter Sales Center information within your account.

This sample shows how to enter Sales Center information within your account. (Click to enlarge)

1.) Your Own URL Website Address

Did you know you can create your own website address within MHVillage? From in your account, just click just click the little yellow pencils to make changes to any of the information. In this case, Sample Homes Co. created a website link with their company name. Now they can tell their customers shopping MHVillage to just go to samplehomesco.mhvillage.com and their buyers will see all of Sample Home’s inventory and only their inventory. If you don’t have a company website, this is a great way to jump-start your internet marketing. If you do have a company website, Pro+ accounts can add a link to it, driving MHVillage traffic to their site. (See #5, below)

2.) Logos

Add Your Logo

Click the Add Your Logo to upload your graphics or photos. This is available to Pro+ users, Pro users can upgrade to access this feature.

Most Professionals have invested a lot of time and money in creating their brand and their logo. They’re important parts of their marketing strategy. Pro+ accounts can customize their sales center by adding up to two logos or photos. My suggestion is to make the most of these two spots! The top logo is perfect for a long banner. If you already have a website, the banner from your own site looks great here. Otherwise, a simple graphic with your company name in your colors can look professional and clean. The side logo is the best spot for block style logos or photos. I’ve also seen Professionals use spot for a photo of the entrance to the community or of their sales center.

3.) Company Information

Buyers need to know how to contact you. I am amazed at how many people don’t fill in their hours or driving directions for walk in traffic. Your phone number and mailing address also go here. Again, clicking the small yellow pencils allows you to update and change any of the information.

4.) Facebook Link

Does your company have a Facebook page? Here is a way to get more traffic to it! Pro+ accounts can send interested buyers directly to their company’s Facebook page.

5.) Website Link

Pro+ users can also add a link directly to their own company website. MHVillage has 46,000 shoppers a day on the site – send some of that traffic to your site using this link!

6.) Company Description

Here’s where you can really sell your company. What makes your company unique? Are you a family run company that has been in business for years? Do you offer financing or have Spanish-speaking sales people? Do you have a reputation for great customer service? Here’s where you can add all that information. Both Pro and Pro+ accounts can add descriptions of their companies in this spot. We also offer bold, italics and spell-check to make sure you look your best!

7.) Search Results Caption

Pro+ users – make sure you add a Caption line! Caption lines show on the search results and pull buyers to click on your company. Let’s take a look at an actual Pro+ account on MHVillage. Here is the top result in search for Retailers in Las Vegas, NV:

Las Vegas Retailers

See how Tropicana Palms has uploaded a great photo and is using the caption line to draw buyers in? This is a great example of making the company very enticing to home buyers.

One More Suggestion:

Do a search for retailers in your area on MHVillage. How does your company look? Here’s how our Sample Homes Co. looks to home buyers:

This sample shows how you can use MHVillage tools to increase the effectiveness of your internet marketing.

Have a community? We’ll automatically add it in a tab next to your home listings.

Our sample is customized and optimized for web traffic. It is a great landing page for people using Google or other search engines to find manufactured home retailers and it says a lot about the company. Is your sales center page doing the same?

If you need help entering your company’s information and making it look it’s best, please send us an email. We are happy to set up a time to do a phone appointment and review your account with you.

Join Us in Illinois!

Illinois Manufactured Housing AssociationBY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE

If you are in the Illinois area make sure to attend the IMHA Annual Conference in Champaign/Urbana this week! I’ll be there presenting Marketing Homes and Vacant Spaces using MHVillage. I’ll also be displaying at a booth and I would love to have you stop by!IMHA Events and Meetings

Here is some information about the even from the IMHA website:

The 2013 Illinois Manufactured Housing Association Annual Meeting is right around the corner! IMHA is eager to welcome you to Champaign-Urbana for the 2013 Annual Meeting taking place June 12-13th. This two-day event offers a focus on issues and challenges that face our industry.

More information on the IMHA Conference can be found on the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association website.