Imagine waiting for a commuter train, checking messages and e-mail on your PDA or cell phone, and receiving an alert ping asking if you'll accept a 30-second sound bite about a builder offering new homes in the area. That's just one high-tech marketing method employed by T.H. Properties (THP), one of the nation's fastest-growing private builders, to boost awareness of its metro-Philadelphia neighborhoods and sell the 600 homes it plans to start this year.
In addition to blanketing its target markets with 76 Bluetooth-enabled billboards and compatible wireless transmitters at train station hubs to help drive traffic to its Web site, THP created a subset of its online presence for original video programming of basic home buying and maintenance tips. Called THPtv, the site took a year to develop and is updated weekly with new videos covering everything from a primer on title insurance to home care issues—as well as a burgeoning archive of content. The spots are also made available on multiple video sharing sites, thus spreading the THP message even further. “The YouTube phenomenon has shown that you can provide home video [production quality] as long as the content is valuable,” says Bob Gollwitzer, THP's director of marketing.
As if that wasn't enough, THP also created THP-mobi, an evolution of the Bluetooth billboards, that transmits digital postcards to a cell phone or PDAabout specific homes, special offers or promotions, or new communities. The technology, says Gollwitzer, suits the majority of buyers, who use the Internet and related technology to search for new homes. Since launching the campaigns in mid-2006, the builder sold 175 more homes than in the previous 12-month period.
Program: THPtv and THP-mobi (online awareness and branding campaigns);
Builder: T.H. Properties, Harleysville, Pa.;
Cost: 1 percent of sales;
Advertising agency: Bergey Creative Group, Harleysville