By Stephanie Andre
RISMEDIA, May 18, 2009-There are many things that through the down market Realtors have begun to cut out of their budgets. From print advertising to printing paper, everyone feels the pinch. While the idea of “getting back to basics” has begun to become cliché, some principles still hold true, one of which is the most basic of all-yard signs. Here, Rob Kline, vice president of Sales & Marketing for Lowen Sign Company, breaks down why these simple, yet quite smart staples are still a mainstay for many on-the-go agents.
Stephanie Andre: How is your company staying fiscally successful in the down market?
Rob Kline: For us, it starts by being part of a financially strong and diversified corporation that has access to other types of markets. We’ve also been able to keep our supply lines open and our prices down in order to help our real estate customers during this downturn in the market.
SA: What changes have you made on the production side and how has this affected your delivery of product to your clients?
RK: We’ve been able to cut down our production times to three working days on catalog items and quantities, due to internal efficiencies and multiple print processes, including digital printing. We’ve been printing digitally for the last three years and have been able to harness direct-to-press applications from online ordering on our website to the press. This enables our customers to get their signs faster. We’ve also made it easier and faster to order Lowen signs on our website (www.lowensign.com).
SA: How has Lowen dealt with the industry’s consolidation?
RK: Mergers and acquisitions in the real estate industry require signs to become rebadged. We’re known for our ability to turn large conversion orders in time to meet the impact date of the new company. Our new building, with 150,000 square feet of printing space and our faster presses are built for handling big orders.
SA: How is Lowen meeting the demands of the changed market-i.e. short sales, foreclosures, etc.?
RK: The new tax credit is a great deal for new home buyers and a terrific marketing strategy for the real estate industry. Free-standing signs, banners, and riders on yard signs can easily be designed, printed, and shipped to have marketing impact in the yard of every single home for sale in this country. And, signs of the times with copy that includes the words and phrases “foreclosure,” “short sale,” and “bank owned” can also be ordered from Lowen.
SA: What trends have you seen as a result of this market? Do you see more Realtors going back to basics like open houses?
RK: Recently, now that the weather is improving, we’re beginning to see more open house campaigns. These require open house signs, agent showing signs, riders at the property being sold, and directional signs on the street corners. Some brokers have gone to the extent of designing themes around open houses with special sign designs to support these campaigns.
SA: How does your relationship with WhamMobile (a mobile marketing provider) help agents reach customers more easily?
RK: We’re working in partnership with WhamMobile to deliver on-site information to potential home buyers. Access to such information is powered by signs with text message codes on them that can be punched into cell phones resulting in instant property information, including pictures of the home’s features. You can even schedule an appointment with the real estate agent and do all of that without leaving your car. The Nielsen company, the one that rates TV show audiences, has come out with new information exploring the idea that more people text than talk on the phone-specifically those in certain age groups. So it’s no wonder that real estate professionals are looking at mobile marketing as a real aid to their selling efforts. The great thing about working with WhamMobile is that Lowen customers get a discount on their subscriptions. The signs also can be used over and over without changing the codes that are printed on the signs.
SA: How are you promoting your business to show Realtors they can still afford signs?
RK: We have more than 3,000 products, so there really is something to fit every budget. We offer a range of good, better and best sign solutions for yard signs that fit even the tightest sign budgets. For example, we offer complete sign units that cost as little as $3 to $8 per month during the course of a normal, three-month listing cycle and even less than that if they use the sign again.
For more information, visit www.lowensign.com.
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