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Reality Rules: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Makes Innovative Marketing Moves

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By Zoe Eisenberg

When it comes to branding, thinking outside the lines of traditional marketing is a surefire way to raise awareness and harness customer loyalty.

With an impressive statistic of 97 percent brand awareness, Better Homes and Gardens is regarded by consumers as a well-loved and well-trusted brand. Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate is able to leverage the brand’s faithful consumers through its unique relationship with Meredith Corporation, whose production company, Meredith Video Studios, helped produce the lifestyle real estate brand’s latest innovative marketing endeavor.

In mid-March, the company kicked off an online television and reality series, “Home, First Home”?. Featuring an Ohio-based agent and a single mother in search of her first home, the show takes viewers through the basic process of home-buying; from searching for a home to securing a loan, dealing with inspections and appraisals and following through with a closing.

Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, points out that one-third of buyers currently looking for a home fit into the category of first-time buyers. “Eco boomers, or 18-34 year olds, will be driving both the industry and economy for the next 30 years. We wanted to gear the program toward that first-time buyer,” says Chris, who believes that now more than ever, we need to look at many different ways to help kick-start the market. As renting becomes increasingly popular, Chris notes that an effective way to stoke the buying market is to talk about the importance and value of homeownership. “It’s not just a financial transaction, it’s the next phase of the consumer’s life, and we wanted to communicate that through the series.”

While “Home, First Home” is not the only real estate reality show percolating right now, it is one of the only series that is geared toward the average buyer. “If we look at other reality shows that speak to real estate out there, many of which focus on multi-million dollar homes, those shows have a high entertainment value, but don’t necessarily speak to the reality for most consumers,” comments Chris.We created home “Home, First Home” because it’s accessible and relatable to the next generation of homebuyers.

And it isn’t solely eco boomers who are interested in first-time home buying; a national study conducted by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate shows that one in five of baby boomers have gifted or loaned their children or grandchildren down payments on their first home and two-thirds would like to in the future, showing that even the older generation is still involved.

“While we believe that homes in all ranges are selling, the first-time buyers market is a significant one, and that’s what we wanted to concentrate on.”

However, the true strength behind this innovative marketing move is that the reality show is appealing to both consumers and agents, and this synergy is what is fueling the show’s success—even before its official television debut.

As a franchisor, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate provides its franchisees and agents with quality lifestyle content, which gives members of the brand’s network more frequent opportunities to have relevant dialogue and interactions with their consumers. .

“Every one of our agents across the country can take this series and use it in their own presentations with first-time buyers, on websites, in blogs…It’s completely scalable.”

Chris says that the relatable content in the show has been a home-run for them on many different levels. The series has received exceptional feedback from agents and consumers. It’s also spurred a strong PR response and is engaging social media dialogue within the brand’s many social channels, both consumer and industry facing, including facebook.com/BHGRealEstate and facebook.com/AllThingsRE, since its online unveiling on March 12, which just may be a promising sign of more innovative marketing moves to come.

The series is currently available online at youtube.com/bhgrealestate and will air on the nationally syndicated lifestyle television show “The Better Show” in more than 150 U.S. markets from March through June 2012, beginning tomorrow, Thursday March 29. Check your provider for local listings.

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