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    Posted February 26, 2014 by

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    Bruce Karatz: Local Marketing Pioneer

    When homebuilders pared back homebuilding in the wake of the 2008 recession, they also pared back their marketing efforts. And this shouldn’t come as a surprise, when budgets tighten, organizations focus on retaining customers instead of utilizing marketing outreach to attract new ones. But as the real estate market recovers, homebuilders will once again be investing in capturing their respective shares of the bourgeoning homebuilding market. Most companies will target customers through online social networks that have blossomed since the bottom fell out of the housing market in 2008, but some companies will also smartly employ marketing techniques like those called upon by Bruce Karatz that brought customers to KB Homes during his tenure as CEO.

    Facebook has grown from 100 million to 1.23 billion users since 2008. Social media marketing has become a necessity for companies, including homebuilding companies, instead of a new frontier. There is tremendous opportunity for homebuilders to utilize social media platforms in their marketing efforts. Homebuilders should invest in their social media presence in order to enhance their brand by casting the net wide on social media platforms in search of impressions. Homebuilders should utilize the customer information available on social networks, or Big Data, in order to target the specific groups of customers that align with their offering. And lastly, homebuilders should broaden their reach by connecting with well-connected real estate agents.

    But homebuilders would be remiss if they didn’t call upon older marketing techniques that have proved effective within the homebuilding industry specifically. And if there’s someone to whom homebuilders should look for inspiration, it’s Bruce Karatz. Mr. Karatz spent 19 years as the CEO of KB Homes, and during that time, KB Homes saw revenue grow by 575%. More relevantly, Bruce Karatz called upon marketing techniques unique to the homebuilding industry. Karatz, when he was head of France division of KB Homes, made a full-size replica home and placed it on top of one of Paris’ popular department stores; the rooftop home then became famously popular. Then in the 90s when The Simpsons became popular, Karatz built a full-sized replica of the fictional family’s home; this replica and related marketing efforts then helped Las Vegas become KB Homes top market.

    There is an opportunity to use marketing techniques that reach a local community like those of Karatz in conjunction with online social media marketing. Homebuilding companies in 2014 should utilize both types of marketing, especially in markets that value a company’s local presence.
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