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Thursday, 29 October 2009

20 killer ideas for selling eco-houses

The Government is determined that new housing stock being built by developers will be energy-efficient, sustainable and low carbon emitting and has put in place mandatory targets for developers to attain. Bearing in mind, there has not been a lot of housebuilding going on in the last 2 years, this means that developers need to be thinking about going green. Green cars (hybrids and electric cars or low-CO2 emission) sell well and all major car manufacturers are working on their own offerings. So now it is time for housebuilders to grasp the nettle. So I have set out 20 ideas to help housebuilders sell eco-friendly houses.

1. Use Google Ad words (Pay Per Click) on relevant sites/key word searches eg. green house building, eco-houses, self build, low carbon housing. If you Google these words now, you would be amazed how little there is out there at the moment.

2. Write articles on green houses and the ancillary technologies that go into them eg air to heat exchange systems, heat sinks, grey water drainage systems, solar panels. Give talks, write blogs and email newsletters. Build a following. Godin calls this permission marketing ie. don't junk mail people but obtain their permission to send them really useful and interesting content with no sales pitches included.

3. Approach local radio and TV stations (who are always desperate for content). The green angle is perceived as sexy by programme producers.

4. Raise your / your company's profile locally by sponsorship/charity/voluntary work/conservation and nature preservation work.

5. Attend trade shows eg. Eco Build to win new business.

6. Read books on sales and marketing. Listen to motivatational tapes.

7. Reward referrals handsomely and memorably.

8. Get a hip image. Think Apple. Use creativity in your marketing materials. Create a buzz. Read Seth Godin's "Purple Cow" and "Tribes" on this.

9. Make your web site easy enough that a 5 year old child can understand it. Don't have technical jargon or scientific papers. It's neither big nor clever.

10. Use social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Diggit) to build connections but not repeat not to advertise your services unless you want a load of hatemail and service denial attacks.

11. Think of publicity stunts that get the brand known. Richard Branson is the master of this. Use traditional media and the internet to create a viral buzz. Read De Bono's "Serious Creativity" to generate some ideas for stunts.

12. Write to celebrities with known green credentials to endorse your products eg. David Attenborough, Ray Mears, Mark Constantine of Lush Cosmetics, Prince Charles (though for the latter make sure your houses have the highest and most aesthetic architectural standards or he will think it is a "carbunkle").

13. Put your company forward for green housebuilding awards. There are loads of them. Find out the criteria and start applying.

14. Reach out for mentors / visionaries either here in the UK or abroad who could evangelise for you and your company.

15. Find rich benefactors/retired entrepreneurs who in their twilight years want to save the planet and who might let you build on their land provided it was a zero-carbon development.

16. Use humour in your marketing. If you are building with lime and hemp, make jokes about hemp=dope=funny!

17. Target and educate young people and women and the grey market on eco-housebuilding via known forums such as the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth, Wales, Eden Project, Cornwall, the Science Museum in South Kensington or the Royal Agricultural Society for England. Hold seminars, free lectures. Work hard at building and spreading the word.

18. Create a groundswell of public demand. Make the houses highly sought after but don't flood the market. Create a scarcity atmosphere using viral marketing techniques. Make landowners/mass housebuilders want to buy your product.

19. Use guerilla tactics to raise awareness of the corruption and vested interests in existing housebuilding with concrete and brick eg. cycle go slows in major cities, chaining to railings, You Tube campaigns. Appeal to the radical hippies of the sixties many of whom are in very high places now.

20. Use puppy dog closes to sell to the public ie. rent our eco house and experience the warmth and comfort before you buy.

Just some out of the box ideas for you to be thinking about. Go on make it happen!