HUD's Web Marketing Strategy
HUD's Web Team manages three web-based information products for the public: HUD's award-winning Homes and Communities web page, the HUD kiosks, and HUD Public Computers, which provide free access to the internet in every HUD office. But we knew you can't just create a new product and expect it to sell - you have to market it!
So we came up with a simple 4-part marketing strategy that has proved successful:
- Go to the audience: You have to let people know what you've got to offer. So we seek opportunities to demonstrate our web-based products all over the country: at major professional conferences, at industry meetings, and at public events, such as State Fairs, Home and Garden Shows, and Homebuying Fairs. HUD's staff can schedule one of our colorful traveling kiosks, on which they can demonstrate both the kiosk and HUD's home page. Or - if it's not possible to take one of the traveling kiosks - we simply carry a laptop to demonstrate what HUD has to offer on the web. The important thing is that we actively seek these opportunities - we don't wait for people to come to us. We identify important partner groups and public gatherings and ask to come to show them our wares.
- Leave a calling card: We've developed a great brochure describing HUD's web products, which HUD staff can send out, hand out, and set out in public places, all over the country. But if brochures aren't available, we just take copies of the front page of the web site - making sure that the web address clearly shows - and distribute those to our target audiences. The important thing is that they take away something with the web address on it, so they'll know where to look when they get to their computers.
- Listen to the audience: Long ago, we learned that the key to creating a good web site is to listen to the audience. They'll tell you exactly what you need to do. So HUD's Web Team conducts focus groups with the public and with business partners on a regular basis, to get feedback on the web site. These small, informal demonstrations serve both to show focus group members how the web page works and to get ideas for ways to improve it. In addition, we "listen" by watching the statistics for our site - which pages are being visited often, and which pages aren't being visited? That helps us improve the organization of the site. And we listen to the audience through their e-mail to us. If we start getting lots of questions about a particular subject, then we know we may need to make that information more visible.
- Train the staff: We want everyone at HUD to know how to use the web and how to use HUD's web site, so they can help us in our marketing efforts. So we hold web "drop-in" days, find opportunities to work with organizations to teach them more about HUD's web products, and organize our annual Web Day at HUD, where we showcase new features of our web site and recognize employees who contribute to our efforts.
The bottom line is this: web sites - just like any other products - have to be promoted. A great product will site on the shelf if no one knows about it. So our marketing strategy is integral to managing HUD's web products.