“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted.”
“…the trouble is I don’t know which half,” uttered back in the 1800s by John Wanamaker, the Philadelphia marketing pioneer whose department stores ultimately became part of Macy’s; Wanamaker’s words still ring true today. Ironically, at the exact time prospective new home buyers are actively seeking information to help them make the best new home purchase, too many messages fail to engage.
Left-brain/right-brain theory suggests words and information reside in the left hemisphere of the brain, associated with logic and rational thinking. Sometimes called the “emotional brain,” the right hemisphere is home to pictures, feelings, and her sense of identity. And we know buyers buy on emotion and subsequently justify those purchase decisions rationally. I’m an avid reader of Motor Trend. Many of the car ads are predictable – a beauty shot of the automobile, some text… Would anyone really notice if you were to swap out the photo of the car and the manufacturer ID? However, Volkswagen’s ad for their parking assist was different:
This Volkswagen ad doesn’t even show the product! Rather, it addresses a feature (Park Assist), implies the benefit (making parallel parking safe and easy), and is emotional (humorous).
Okay, your turn. Much home builder advertising seems almost “templated,” focused on a beautiful photo of the home (exterior or interior), informative text meant to differentiate, and company identification. The beauty photo might attract attention, but is the ad memorable and engaging?
Main visual: Worried, wide-eyed 8-year old. Headline: “Mom, have you seen my _____?” Secondary visual: The lockers/cubbies in the rear foyer of your home. Secondary text: Cubbies/lockers provide organization, helping get everyone out the door on time in the morning.
Main visual: Woman wrapped in towel, smiling, standing in entry to door-less walk-in shower, holding squeegee. Headline: No door to clean! Secondary visual: Bathroom layout illustrating walk-in shower. Secondary text: Giving you back a little more time.
Main visual: Baby napping. Headline: Another reason to chose the “Serenity Package.” Secondary text: Peace and quiet is a beautiful thing. You’ll never regret opting for the Serenity Package with (highlight a few of the product upgrades included, such as quiet appliances, bath fans, garage door opener, etc.).
Main visual: Adorable, muddy dog staring up at you. Secondary visual: Your home’s optional pet center. Text: Appreciating everyone in your household.
Each of the above examples delivers on one of home buyer’s most-desired benefits – reducing stress. While most builders touting “quality-built,” “industry-leader,” and “customer-focused,” are essentially wasting their advertising dollars (what builder doesn’t say those things?). Ads focused on the concepts and benefits customers seek, without the overused exterior/interior beauty photos are emotional, engaging, and drive decision making!
In addition to innovative home plans, Design Basics can help you develop compelling ads that work. Let’s talk!
He’s never had another job. His father has been in construction for over 50 years. In fact, Brian Lantz started working for his father in home building when he was just 10 years old! In 1988, Brian went out on his own, founding Homes By Brian, Inc. The secret to his longevity is simple. According to Brian, “Quality and personal touches pay off.”
Based in Schererville, Homes By Brian built 10 homes last year in Northwest Indiana. That’s a good pace for Lantz, whose quality reputation hinges on his personal involvement. Lantz’s degrees in civil engineering technology and construction engineering are evident in the company’s homes. For example, some builders simply dismiss cracks in garage floors, stating “concrete floors are just going to crack.” But prior to pouring the garage slab, Lantz floods the gravel and sand base with a couple inches of water to aid in compaction, thus minimizing the likelihood of future cement cracking. He heats and dehumidifies his homes prior to drywall application to reduce the chance of drywall problems later on. In addition to both gluing and screwing the floors to eliminate squeaks, Lantz screws the subfloors along with screwing the walls down to the floor, further reducing the potential for squeaks.
Lantz’s personal involvement extends to doing all his own client meetings, bidding, scheduling, and even the materials take-offs. He stakes his own houses and spends the day onsite each time a new homesite is being excavated to spot any soil issues. Throughout construction, Lantz visits each jobsite two to three times per day.
“I like working with Design Basics’ plans! I know what to expect and can ballpark a price pretty easily. And I encourage my customers to look at Design Basics for plans for their new home,” comments Lantz.
Lantz is also his customers’ single point of contact, helping ensure clear and consistent communication. There is no other salesperson; he meets with all prospective buyers and clients in his home office. Customers aren’t assigned to a foreman, either; Lantz personally works with each customer from beginning to end, even attending his own closings. He also works with his customers on modifying plans to get them the design that’s “just right.” Lantz lives in one of his subdivisions among many of his customers-turned-neighbors and friends. And, he has even vacationed with some of his customers.
Northland home plan #2322
Not surprisingly, this high level of personal involvement has resulted in tremendous positive word-of-mouth, the #1 source of new customers for Homes By Brian. The company has never used traditional media advertising nor even been listed in the phone book. Rather, Lantz has always found that his yard signs are effective marketing and more recently, if he’s had a spec home, he holds open houses in that home on Sunday afternoons to meet potential clients and answer all their questions. Lantz wrote his own website but conceded the company’s Facebook outreach to his son.
Customers’ personal experiences building with Lantz have resulted in 13 different clients whom he has had the pleasure of building two houses for. It often becomes a family affair as well. Lantz built four homes for one extended family and five homes for another. He has even built a couple homes for second generation customers – adult children whose parents first chose Homes By Brian for their new homes.
Click here for more about Homes By Brian Inc. and see beautiful photos of their custom designs!
(Cover photo: Ashton home plan #2203.)
A report by the real estate website Zillow found 17% of prospective home buyers are willing to pay the 20% premium for a brand-new home compared to a resale property. But willing and able are different sides of the coin. The median (half lower, half higher) sales price of new houses sold in February 2018 was $326,800 (U.S. Census Bureau), requiring an $85,000+ annual household income to qualify for such a home’s 30-year mortgage with 10% down at a 4.5% interest rate.
Rising land and construction costs have forced many builders to shy away from the lower end of the market. After all, certain fixed costs such as regulatory and permits vary little, if at all, based on a home’s size, constituting a much higher percentage of a less expensive home’s selling price. Yet the limited supply of affordable homes (partly due to investors having gobbled up tens of thousands of lower priced homes during the recession for rentals) can mean wonderful opportunities for builders offering attractively-priced new homes.
Design Basics’ Kuebler plan (#31007) is a charming three-bedroom, two-story home focused on both affordability and livability. At just 35-feet wide, this home works on smaller, less expensive homesites. The streamlined foundation is rectangular (cost-effective), requiring just two steel poles in the basement. Only three different-sized windows are used, simplifying ordering. A half-wall at the top of the stairs is less expensive than railings. A more price-focused exterior could include eliminating the second reverse gable and the covered porch, using single-wide windows with shutters in lieu of the double wide windows, and bringing the master bedroom windows together as opposed to the split windows.
Livability is evident throughout. Coming in from the garage there’s a handy bench and a drop zone helping keep clutter contained and out of the kitchen. The front flex room can be purposed as an eating area or home office, and the kitchen island has dual access. On the upper level, the storage is amazing, the five-foot walk-in shower rewarding, and the second-floor laundry is convenient. Plus, there’s 155 square feet over the garage for a kid’s play room or even more storage!
Take a look at other “affordable” home designs:
Plan #35084 the Dane Mills (featured above): a split entry home with main floor laundry or our signature Pocket Office™
Plan #8656 the Irvington: a 4-bedroom, 2-story home that maximizes square footage under roof
Plan #8530BL the Calverton: a top-selling 3-bedroom ranch less than 1,200 sq. ft.
In 2018, Design Basics is celebrating 35 years of providing home builders and home buyers with quality home plans. In an age where only 20% of businesses are still in business after 20 years, we are grateful for the many wonderful people who have contributed to our success. We hope that in sharing some of the lessons learned on our journey, you will find applications leading to your ongoing success!
Our products have evolved. Building codes and building materials have changed, household composition has become more varied, and home buyers’ design preferences have changed. Design Basics has both embraced new design trends as well as introduced design amenities, which have since become today’s hottest trends. The secret is actively listening to our customers’ challenges and dreams, resulting in some of today’s best-selling home plans.
How we create our products has evolved. Most obvious was moving from manual drafting to CAD of the construction drawings, making plan creation and modifications more efficient. While Design Basics has always used a team approach to home design, by the mid-2000’s we have utilized a co-ed design team, elevating the importance of women’s preferences in home design. Technology also now makes photo-realistic presentation renderings attractive and affordable, helping customers better envision the built home.
How we deliver our products has evolved. Back in the day, Design Basics ran lots and lots of blueprints and vellums, which were both erasable and reproducible. They were shipped out by the next business day via UPS or FedEx. Today, most home plan orders are sent as digital files (PDF or CAD formats), both making for a quick delivery as well as more economical for all parties involved.
How we market our products has evolved. In the 1980’s, our marketing was pretty much word-of-mouth, ads in BUILDER Magazine, and the NAHB International Builders’ Show. Starting in 1990, Design Basics added a very successful self-publishing program via direct mail distribution of publications for builders and developers. By 2007, the Internet and digital marketing replaced most of the company’s direct mail efforts, but has given us added flexibility in creating and disseminating marketing materials and home plan designs.
The bottom line? It’s great to love what you do, but it’s not okay to be infatuated with how you’ve always done it. Embrace the changes that keep us moving forward, while continuing to provide innovative design and exceptional customer service. Design Basics…Where Great Design Matters!
Did you know we have a library of home plan books – print and digital – to aid in your plan selection? Below is a sampling of our most popular home plan books.
Digital Plan Books
Our digital edition of PREMIER HOME PLANS was recently released and contains over 60 trendsetting home plans presented photographically and/or full-color artist’s elevation renderings! It also includes a special section on dual owner’s suites and three builder feature stories.
HER HOME™ Home Plans featuring VELUX® Skylights is a collection of home plans with skylights incorporated into the design.
(View these plan books by clicking on the image.)
Print Plan Books
Our PREMIER HOME PLANS book is available for purchase and features hundreds of plans; includes our special Home Design issue of HER HOME™ magazine.
Home plans for the way you live: Set of four plan books featuring over 200 plans categorized using our signature Livability at a Glance™ floor plan color-coding.
(View these plan books by clicking on the image.)
Check out our entire library of home plan books in our online bookstore.
Contact us to order: 800.947.7526.