Lee BIA Parade of Homes
Customer Success Story
The Lee Building Industry Association (BIA) is one of the nation’s leading builders associations, covering three counties in Southwest Florida and representing the business interests of more than 1,200 member companies. In addition to providing its members with networking opportunities, educational resources and a number of other valuable services, for nearly 20 years Lee BIA has hosted an annual Parade of Homes™ event, inviting thousands of local residents and visitors to tour some of the area’s most beautiful and innovative homes.
Since the creation of its Parade of Homes™, Lee BIA had managed virtually every aspect of the event – from organizing builder participation to producing the event magazine to selling ads and sponsorships. While the Parade was well-regarded by association members and the local community, the Lee BIA staff always recognized certain areas they wanted to improve.
In particular, the already stretched Lee BIA staff wanted to outsource the arduous task of producing its Parade magazine. The production process – including collecting content for the magazine, creating the layout and design, and selling ads – required months of staff time, a commodity that’s always in short supply during a Parade of Homes™ event. Beyond the workload, the Lee BIA staff was also interested in improving the quality of their Parade magazine, to better reflect the quality and elegance of the event itself.
While the event magazine was a top priority, the Lee BIA staff wanted to explore new ways to leverage the Internet as well. Parade information was listed on the association’s Web site, but the organizers understood the Internet offered untapped potential to make the Parade of Homes™ a richer, more interactive event.
While BuilderFusion has become the leader in technology for builders association largely on the strength of its member management software, in 2005 the company launched a new product line aimed at simplifying some of the most challenging aspects of operating Parade events. ParadeDirect combines high-quality magazine publishing, event Web site development and consulting services to create a comprehensive solution for launching or improving a Parade.
Having already selected BuilderFusion’s data management system as its primary technology platform, Lee BIA staff felt comfortable working with BuilderFusion, albeit it in a new capacity. And the new ParadeDirect offering was an ideal solution to help Lee BIA achieve its goals.
The ParadeDirect team from BuilderFusion assumed responsibility for all aspects of Lee BIA’s 2006 Parade of Homes™ magazine, including ad sales, graphic design, editorial content and printing. They assembled photos, renderings and descriptions of participating builders and Parade homes and created several clean, attractive designs from which the Lee BIA staff chose their favorite. The proofing process was also simplified as completed pages were posted online to a secure server for review by builders and association staff.
Once the Parade of Homes™ content was assembled, it was easy for the ParadeDirect team to repurpose the information on FloridaBuild.com, a regional Web site used to promote Parade events and BIA members. As a regional site, FloridaBuild.com allows multiple associations to post event information, letting them leverage one another’s marketing dollars by driving traffic to a single site.
The 2006 Lee BIA Parade of Homes™ convened March 3-12, 2006, and proved to be a huge success. In total, more than 50 homes were showcased and the accompanying magazine and Web site met and exceeded expectations.
Using high-quality printing materials and methods, the finished 2006 Parade of Homes™ magazine featured a high-gloss, full-color cover; an attractive, easy-to-read design; and a durable binding – a “coffee-table” quality piece that can serve as a resource for Parade attendees long after the show has ended. Equally important, the ParadeDirect team was able to increase magazine ad sales revenue by 30 percent over the 2005 publication.
Showcasing the Lee BIA Parade of Homes™ on FloridaBuild.com added an increasingly important marketing vehicle to the event, particularly as more and more prospective home buyers are looking online for available properties. The site allowed event attendees to learn more about Parade homes and builders from the comfort of their own home computers, as well as search for qualified builders and contractors in the local area.
Internally, the feedback was just as positive. JoAnn Orr, Lee BIA's director of operations, said, “Our staff member assigned to this project spoke highly of her overall experience. She felt her interactions with ParadeDirect staff were professional and respectful, even when a few bumps in the road were encountered on the production front. In her words, they were pretty much ‘awesome.’”
With a successful ParadeDirect project behind them, Lee BIA has already committed to working with BuilderFusion for their 2007 Parade of Homes™; and Orr plans to begin the collaborative process even earlier this time around. “This being our first year using ParadeDirect, we couldn’t have asked for a better Parade of Homes event. Our relationship with BuilderFusion is only getting stronger, truly becoming an integral part of our operational success, and one that I am sure will continue well into the future.”