Thursday, June 22, 2006

Creative networking

For those who are bringing a new product or idea to market, the length of time it takes to educate the market can be frustrating. Just ask Cindy Young, owner of Hourglass Home Impressions, a company that helps homeowners sell their homes more quickly by taking the owner's personality out of the home. This is called staging® by the International Association for Home Staging Professionals. This concept is readily accepted on both coasts, in fact it is a given that when you put you home on the market, you call your stager at the same time you ring up your Realtor®. That said, Cindy is in the midwest where the market tends to lag behind the trends. Also, the real estate market is glutted at the moment with many homes for sale and fewer buyers looking. Many homeowners can't see the value of paying a bit more to rearrange their homes. But that's where they are wrong.

Cindy is in the middle of trying to educate her market. People are not learning the lessons quickly enough for her. As a smart entrepreneur she asked for help from a few of her business friends. They suggested that she might link with a carpet cleaner who is called in to clean the spots out of the carpeting just before the sign goes out in front of the house. This person could recommend the use of Cindy's services, just as the carpet cleaner's services are being engaged. Cindy can return the favor when her business starts to take off and she is called in first. Additionally, one friend suggested asking to speak before home owner's association meetings. Staged homes get sold more quickly, and from the association member's point of view, it helps to keep the public perception of home values higher when there is NOT a glut of for sale signs sitting in front of houses.

Educating a market about a new idea is always a challenge. If you were Cindy's friend, what ways would you suggest (that wouldn't take a lot of cash) to move her business to the next level?

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