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Relationship Marketing is the Key to Surviving a Downturn

Feeling the economic pinch? Home builders are usually among the first hit during difficult times. With bankers and other industry sectors watching, they’re rethinking the way they do business. One major change: home builders are distributing relevant messages over the channels most used by their audiences, including the Internet and social media.

“Relationship marketing through public relations, social media, Internet marketing and e-mail marketing is a proven way to build and sustain a customer base,” said Carol Flammer, managing partner with mRELEVANCE, LLC. With offices in Atlanta and Chicago, the firm has introduced its share of home builders and other business owners to the distribution of relevant messages through cyberspace.

“Home builders and developers have found they can reach the same groups and even a broader base with a fraction of the budget they spent on advertising when times were better,” said Flammer. “If home builders can do it, other industries can, too.”

“The home builders and developers who are still out there must be as cost effective as possible,” says Lisa Brutvan, who helps builders and developers identify and position new projects through her Focused Market Solutions firm. “Banks are now paying more attention to business models because they want to make sure they’re making loans to people who make sound decisions.”

Brutvan recommended mRELEVANCE online strategies for her largest clients, including Heron Bay, a golf and country club located near Atlanta. The community’s aggressive social media plan optimized their online presence with a comprehensive Web 2.0 traffic building strategy. Components include online ads, blogs, video and even an online journal for the community mascot, Henry the Heron. Since the program launched in January 2008, the strategy has tripled the number of model home visitors who say they came because of information they found on the Internet.

Mitch Levinson, Flammer’s partner at mRELEVANCE, says that now is the time for other industries that haven’t previously seen the value in Internet marketing to learn from home builders.

“We’re applying the same principles of social media, Internet marketing and public relations to a wide range of clients,” says Levinson. “Whether you publish magazines or manufacture hardware, everyone has a relevant message that needs to reach its intended audience. Internet marketing can make it happen.”