Getting Personal

Milennial buyers expect personalization, and they want transparency in the sales process

February 7, 2017

There were more than 1,000 entries this year for the NAHB National Sales & Marketing Awards, and a sampling of the winning entries begins here. As a judge this year, I spent three days reviewing brochures, websites, videos, print and radio ads, and floor plans with fellow jurors. Here are some of our most lasting impressions (Image: Empire Communities).

Social media = huge opportunity. “As builders, we have a hard time creating content that people want to share,” says juror Jennifer McIvor, sales and marketing leader at NVHomes, in Fairfax, Va. She acknowledges the hurdles: Construction photos aren’t pretty, and a brand new home is empty, with white walls. But too many builders use social media as if it were any other source instead of a venue with go-viral potential, she observes. “If we can’t get people to share our content, then it’s not social at all.” McIvor points out that young homebuyers in particular are apt to look at site content and ask themselves, “Would my friends find this interesting?” Social media is where people are spending time, McIvor says. “Outside of Google, Facebook has the best data on its users.” 

Time to get personal. Jimmy Diffee, VP and creative director at Denver-based digital marketing firm, The Bokka Group, points to Empire Communities’ winning entry as proof that “personalized video, social media advertising, and display retargeting are fast becoming staples in the builder’s marketing arsenal.” Millennials have unlimited information in their pockets, he points out, and they expect personalization and transparency. “They do their own research and walk into a sales center knowing exactly what they want; they refuse to be sold to,” Diffee says. “Builders are being forced to reexamine the current homebuying experience.” (Here's his take on digital trends for 2017.)

Print still matters. Several of us were surprised at the amount of print collateral submitted for our consideration this year.  Builders and developers are still opting for paper; marketing materials feature high-quality stock, colorful illustrations, and compelling packaging.  To ask about current client demand, I talked to Nick Monteleone, principal of Toronto-based ad agency 52 Pick-up, which won silver for its work on The Residences of the Hotel McGibbon (on this month's cover). “Digital is gaining traction by the day but hasn’t yet replaced print,” Monteleone says. “While advertising has changed in the past digital decade, print is still important for marketing new real estate,” he adds. “Buyers need to see amenities, floor plans, features and finishes, and location, all in a takeaway piece they can refer to, write on, and talk about.” 


Amy Albert is editor-in-chief of Professional Builder magazine. Previously, she worked as chief editor of Custom Home and design editor at Builder. Amy came to writing about building by way of food journalism, as kitchen design editor at Bon Appetit and before that, at Fine Cooking, where she shot, edited, and wrote stories on kitchen design. She studied art history with an emphasis on architecture and urban design at the University of Pennsylvania, has served on several design juries, and is a recipient of the 2017 Jesse H. Neal Award for excellence in journalism. 


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