Called Value Range Marketing, the program is designed to offer a home within a price range, rather than at a fixed amount.
"The process of selling or buying a home hasn't changed in 50 years. But this program is revolutionary, out of the box, in an industry of dinosaurs," said Ginger Sherman, senior VP-network support.
The program, test marketed in San Diego and Colorado Springs, Colo., earlier this year, is rolling out nationally to Prudential's 34,000 sales agents in 1,260 offices.
While the corporate advertising budget hasn't been finalized, Ms. Sherman expects Prudential franchisees to spend in excess of $24 million next year, when the campaign will feature testimonials from satisfied buyers and sellers featured in newspaper, radio and , possibly, TV commercials.
Newspaper ads, handled by an in-house agency, broke in 24 markets in November. This month, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal were added to the schedule. Spending for this two-month effort reached $700,000.
Prudential, fourth in the real estate brokerage business in the U.S., only entered the market 10 years ago. U.S. sales for 1996 are projected to climb 20%, to $58 billion, while the number of transactions is expected to hit 370,000, up 8.8% from 1995, according to Ms. Sherman.
ALSO IN CANADA
Prudential also has begun offering the marketing plan in Canada, where the company recently purchased Family Realty Group, doubling its Canadian business to $600 million.
Feedback from the value-range program has been positive. In San Diego, the average time a home is on the market dropped from 180 days to 31. Moreover, approximately 65% of homes were sold for more than the buyer expected, according to Prudential.
In addition to the test marketing, Prudential pre-tested the idea with focus groups.
"We found that consumers felt the whole process of buying or selling a home was frustrating and anxiety ridden," said Ms. Sherman. "We're tying to simplify the whole process."