Builders across the country cheered in August when the National Association of Home Builders reported that the share of homebuyers actively engaged in the purchasing process gained ground in the second quarter of 2022 after declining for the previous three quarters. Builder sales and marketing teams are no doubt eager to capitalize on this encouraging news to boost lead generation and conversion strategies.
Our marketing firm, Group Two, has seen droves of builders launching incentives and revitalizing the marketing strategies that brought them success in 2019. Data suggests that 2022 buyers have changed, exhibiting more flexibility on timing and on features such as square footage and location. With those changes to market and buyer expectations in play, it’s safe to assume past tactics will not drive the same results.
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Take a Holistic Approach to Your Brand Strategy
To stand out from the crowd and attract buyers in today’s market, home builders must adapt their strategies beyond first impressions and focus on a comprehensive plan that emphasizes the whole brand experience. A holistic brand experience strategy will generate customers that double as fans who rave about your product and process, and employees who long to be brand evangelists for your company to further stimulate traffic, sales, and revenue growth.
This methodology is more nuanced than simply hiring a customer care manager or providing a closing gift. Builders that want industry-leading financial results must focus on every aspect of the journey. The information technology firm Accenture provides powerful insight when it proposes that “a great experience is defined not by what you offer but by how well you enable your customers to achieve the outcomes most important to them.”
Align the Pieces of Your Brand Strategy
The good news is that many builders already have many of the right pieces necessary to make impactful and immediate modifications to their strategies. With some updating to reflect the current market conditions and customer persona, you can start thinking about how to share content to create desired impressions in your pipeline of leads and with your team to further improve results.
A focus on helping enable customers may mean shifting from an ad that celebrates the ease of buying your homes to a combination of ads, other content, and events that educate buyers about how to prepare for homeownership in the current market.
To ensure your campaign’s success, you’ll also need to access and assess current marketing data, performance trends, and feedback from your team to properly calibrate your processes and product to fit the needs of your target customers.
Your marketing teams can do a lot of the heavy lifting when creating tools that support a strategic focus on the whole brand experience. It is essential to recognize that securing long-lasting, lucrative results will require a synergistic approach—marketing working with sales, product development, operations, customer care, and business administration to close the gap between your brand promise and the final homeowner survey.
Brand Strategy Must-Haves
As you embark on your journey to adapt beyond first impressions, consider these seven must-haves of a results-driven brand experience strategy.
1. Make a plan for your brand strategy
• Set and communicate goals across the organization.
• Align departmental goals with companywide goals.
• Identify and track key metrics that define success.
• Consult with industry groups and specialized experts to stay abreast of trends and elicit broader perspectives.
2. Create an authentic brand identity
• Establish (and verify) your mission statement, values, and brand promise.
• Demonstrate your mission and values through what you build and everything you do.
• Develop branding guidelines to ensure a consistent look and tone across every buyer touchpoint.
• Analyze your website, email campaigns, digital and social media presence, sales tools, and marketing collateral against your brand guidelines. Make adjustments to ensure consistency with your branding.
3. Inspire and empower your teams
• Cultivate a culture that places a high priority on the experience of the customer and the team member.
• Communicate your values clearly through your onboarding pro-cess, employer value proposition, and throughout all communications.
• Empower your team with education, practical tools, efficient processes, and a level of trust.
• Provide elite training opportunities to promote ongoing professional development.
4. Align across departments for a strong brand experience
• Create a central hub for departmental updates.
• Encourage transparency in goals and results across the company.
• Share marketing and advertising messaging with all team members.
• Maintain an understanding that customer satisfaction is the responsibility of every team member, every day.
5. Foster a “customer-first” mentality for your company
• (Re)define your core customers and your homes with them in mind. (Note that the customer you built for in 2019 has changed since then.)
• Provide transparent processes and clear, timely communication within your team and with your buyers throughout the entire purchasing journey.
• Create consistent, relevant messaging via a combination of marketing automation, a well-defined online sales process, and engaging events.
• Develop educational content that drives highly qualified leads while setting buyers up for success.
6. Commit to innovation
• Collect and evaluate regular feedback from customers, team members, and industry resources to continually refine your strategy, tools, and messaging.
• Perform consistent journey mapping to identify the high and low points in the customer experience and why they happen, as well as strategies to maintain the highs and mitigate the lows.
• Implement tools and elicit support from experts to optimize your website for user experience.
• Review processes to pinpoint operational efficiencies.
7. Build a reputation for reliable quality
• Deliver quality and value every time.
• When things go wrong, act quickly, communicate often, and do the right thing.
• Actively engage with customer reviews and feedback.
• Follow up with customers after closing.
I’m confident that most builders have many of these tools, but perhaps haven’t yet brought them all to bear in a truly comprehensive brand experience strategy.
As the next era of homebuying preferences, expectations, and requirements comes to the fore, a holistic approach is your best recipe for sustained sales success.
Melissa Galland is director of brand experience at Group Two, an agency specializing in marketing strategies that have brought buyers to builders for over 50 years. Learn more at grouptwo.com.