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Archive for May, 2009

Going For The Gold!

goldnugget 228x300 Going For The Gold!

Come June 18th, the tension in the air in the San Francisco Convention Center will be palpable as the finalists and industry leaders await final word on who will take away this year’s Gold Nugget awards in various categories.The Gold Nugget Awards, established in 1963 and for a long time known as “Best in the West,” have gone international and are now considered by some to be the most prestigious award for architecture and building.In acknowledgement of the growing ties between the U.S. and its neighbors who also touch the Pacific Ocean, the competition now includes major Pacific Rim participants such as Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and Thailand.

The judging was completed at the end of last week with 375 entries reviewed by a blue ribbon panel.As always, Lisa Parrish of Peter Mayer Productions carefully watched over the proceedings!All finalists are presented with a Merit Award.

Winners in Fusionhappens�� backyard include:

Architect Ross Chapin and Conover Commons, a great example of sustainability, planning and a ‘less is more’ approach to living with their amazing right-sized homes.Conover Commons received Merit awards for Outstanding Neighborhood Site Plan up to 20 Acres, Outstanding Single Family Detached Home – Any size on a Compact Lot under 3,200 Sq. ft., and Sustainable Residential Neighborhood – Detached Home.

Weber Thompson’s Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue by Opus NW Development L.L.C.,
 a classy condominium using GREEN quite strongly in its marketing, received two Merit Awards.One for Outstanding Attached Project – High Rise For Sale and the second for Sustainable Residential Neighborhood – Attached Home.This 440 foot tower is aiming for LEED® Silver, and according to their website, has been selling at the rate of one home per week since January.

The full list of finalists is now on posted on the Gold Nugget Awards website, along with information on how to register for the awards luncheon, if you’re headed to SFO for the Pacific Coast Builders Conference.


Facebook and the Art of New Home Sales

facebookmay5 300x245 Facebook and the Art of New Home SalesSocial Media in the Workplace

One of the perennial questions for large companies these days is what to do with the emerging Social Media phenomenon.With the advent of Web 2.0, larger IT departments have placed some very strict limitations on the access their employees have to outside Internet sites.Being strong proponent of hiring adults, and then treating them like adults, puts me immediately at odds with that Old Skool line of thinking.(Of course, I disclaim: I have never had to manage an organization that numbered in the many hundreds, if not thousands.)

With that said, let’s get specific.You are running a new home sales team and now have to decide how approach a brand new tool: Social Media.We’re all familiar with the oldest tool, the intake form, registration card, welcome form, or whatever you call that sheet of paper where you try to capture information about your prospective buyer.We ask for a name, and some contact information.Maybe a price range, a number of bedrooms, an ancillary preferred feature or two.Where did they hear about us?Was it the website? Our expensive newspaper ads?But, of course, the only box most of them check is the one about “the signs.”Our next tool is discovery — the process in which we attempt to bond and learn more about the customer so we can professionally direct them to the right home at the right price.Here we want to know about interests, family, commute, favorite recreation activities, etc.Only when we do the discovery process correctly are we best equipped to serve our customer.

Now imagine the value of knowing even more about our prospective clients.Maybe before they visit, or when they return for a second or third look.What if they wrote us a long personal letter, shared who they were friends with, displayed photos of their last vacation and the awesome 10th Birthday Party for their grandson?I’d venture that a new home sales professional would jump at the chance to glimpse that deeply into the lives of their customers.

What I’ve just described is Facebook!Now add to that the family videos posted on YouTube, the photo albums displayed on Flickr.com and the professional contacts shared on LinkedIn.

When a builder of new homes, a planned community or condominium community enters into a professionally managed Social Media campaign, the doors are opened wide to new kinds of relationships with their best prospects.Because of the public nature of the medium, those relationships extend beyond the prospects to include their best friends, family members and the people to whom they turn for validation.If you’re now thinking that sharing all that personal information is a little creepy, note that Facebook, if it were a country, would be the be the 5th largest in the world, with 200 million active members who have an average of 120 friends each. One hundred million visit Facebook every day.*Remember that the information users post about themselves is voluntary. They want YOU to know about their lives.

Facebook (and Social Media, in general) can help you get to know your customers.As a two-way conversation, Social Media can help them to get to know you as well.

Now, back to the IT staff which wants to restrict access.My advice:it’s time to embrace Social Media, give employees access and open new doors for your company.Let senior management set some reasonable expectations for representing the company online and in public, then encourage your sales teams to get social.It’s the next step to getting more business.

groundswell 216x300 Facebook and the Art of New Home Sales

For a wide angle view of integrating the Internet into the daily flow of business, I suggest reading Groundswell, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.

* Source: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics


Toast the Future

cocktail Toast the Future

Over the generations, just how much of our body of useful knowledge was traded at the neighborhood pub or bar?

One of our Fusionhappens, Bruce Woodstrom, was catching up with long time pals, Susan and Al Sipe. Bruce has this thing for the Zig Zag, a quiet and venerated bar between Seattle’s Pike Place Market and the waterfront.  Also home to Murray, Seattle’s favorite bartender. Recently, Susan has been asking a lot of questions about Social Marketing. She’s responsible for marketing many hundreds of new condos in premier buildings represented by Williams Marketing, a regional legend in condo sales.  Midway through their second round of cocktails (Murray’s Old Fashions are seductively good), Bruce noticed a group in the next booth.  Mixed ages, mixed genders, mixed ethnicities.  A perfect sampling of the metropolitan condo audience.  Here they were, face-to-face, and each member in the chatty group was also riveted to their iPhone or Blackberry.  “Those are your buyers, Susan,” noted Bruce, “and look how they’re connecting.”  Being the ultimate student of marketing, Susan seized the opportunity to join the table next door and conduct an impromptu focus group on the media habits.  The conclusion: it’s all about the “three screens”! If you want to reach the future (meaning this afternoon) buyer, you need to engage them on one of their three screens:  the iPhone, Blackberry or cell phone — always with them; their computer — where they spend the most time; or their television — where you can only conduct a one way conversation.

So, my question of the day is:  why the heck do so many of you still insist on dumping all those budgets on ineffective newspapers and glossy magazine ads?

Maybe it’s time to find your own local Zig Zag and conduct some person-to-person market research.

Results may vary.

Image by Free-StockPhotos.com