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Recently I went along to the ‘Property investor Show’ at Manchester Central, to find that the usual melee of hard nosed, Armani be-suited, sales-men, shouting about the thousands of reasons why Manchester’s good people should part with their hard earned cash, so they could secure their very own two-hundred-year-old shed in outer Mongolia, had some new companions in the form of some of Britain’s biggest household names in new home building.
Having decided to investigate the motivation behind the appearance of these ‘big, new kids on the block’, I discovered that waves of negativity and general depression, surrounding the housing market and the wider economy (you know, the ones we read about everyday in the papers, or listen to Trevor MacDonald harping on about on ‘the News at Ten’) had engulfed the very mind-set of these once proud housing giants. The Doom and Gloom circulating the exhibition hall was incredible; the downcast atmosphere and mere presence of some of these companies perfectly illustrating the slowdown in new home sales. The lack of preparedness and general game plans of some of these housing giants to survive the bad times was there for all to see.
‘Sales have been so bad, we thought we’d try this’ and ‘We’re not sure what to do from a marketing point of view’ were just some of the things I heard whilst chatting to the various exhibitors,
Well I’ve got 2 pieces of news for you, 1) experience tells me that the majority of these property shows serve one purpose only, to put cash in the pockets of the organisers. Such shows can prove extremely costly for companies, with stand space usually costing between £5,000- £25,000, and if you don’t convert any leads, you have just spent a lot of company money on a complete waste of time. 2) In the early nineties something called the Internet came in to our lives. It has grown, evolved and revolutionised the way we find information, products, companies and services.
With over 40 million of the UK population now on-line, progressive companies at the forefront of the commercial internet are ploughing around £3 billion/year into internet marketing. The internet is fast becoming the number 1 arena for selling your services and finding potential customers.
£5,000 - £25,000 invested in web development, targeted PPC and an ongoing search engine optimisation (SEO) programme, would provide returns that company directors could only dream of generating through such property shows
The majority of new home building programmes seem to have ground to a halt and some property developers are looking to rent out brand new homes rather than having empty homes on the market. For cash-rich companies, this may well stave off decreasing revenues and possibly the need to re-structure. Some developers will be mortgaged up to the hilt to pay for land on which they expected to build and then sell quite comfortably. Nevertheless, we are entering a phase for the housing market from which some big name developers may not emerge on the other side.
It’s time for these house builders to wake up and embrace technology. Even in an economic downturn people will still be buying houses and some people will opt for a new house. UK builders need to embrace the internet and invest in their on-line presence to stand any chance of finding potential customers and outlasting the gloom until the good times return and the boom comes back