What should home builders be saying right now to inspire homebuyers to choose a future in one of their homes?
Home has always been an emotional word far more meaningful than physical walls. Home is a feeling. It's your safe place. It's where you can relax. As the song goes, it's “wherever I’m with you.” That is, until “stay-at-home” policies across the nation turn homes everywhere into offices, schools, restaurants (ugh, why is the fridge always calling?!), and so much more.
In this moment, your potential buyers’ “home” is where they’re living out their own personal version of the movie Groundhog Day. And as uncertainties continue to roll out, your marketing message has never been more important. Screen time is up, you have your buyers’ attention, and while marketers in other industries scramble to stay relevant, you’re in an interesting position. Home builders hold the keys (literally) to a genuinely better future. So, what should you be saying right now to inspire homebuyers to choose a future in one of your homes?
Tell homebuyers how your process has adapted
New homes have a profound advantage over used homes right now, as they’re obviously vacant. While in-person restrictions vary from state to state, it’s likely you’re able to offer virtual tours. Informing buyers that you’re open and still able to provide tours shows you’re adaptable, tech savvy, accommodating, approachable, and organized.
Plus, it gets your buyers familiar with the virtual shopping experience. And let’s face it, this is probably where buyers were headed anyway. They’re just getting started a little sooner than expected.
Texas builder HistoryMaker Homes’ “Stay-At-Home Tours” campaign gets straight to the point and highlights convenience as the ultimate benefit of its video tours. The campaign is easy to understand and the simplicity of the illustrated living room setting offers comfort and familiarity.
Make the homebuying process easy for buyers
Even if you weren’t offering virtual tours before, you probably already have options for your buyers to shop online. Can they set up an independent tour to walk through a model without an agent? Do you have videos and photo galleries, or Matterport tours on your website to browse? Showcase these options in one place, ideally on a designated page on your website.
The COVID-19 communication landing page on Opelika, Ala.’s Stone Martin Builders’ website gives its audience one organized place for all of the company's updates; their virtual buying process, a weekly note from their leadership, an incentive for healthcare workers, an explanation on how they're supporting local businesses, and more.
Right now, buyers are looking around at all of the things they wish they had in a home—newer features, a backyard, their own office space .... Stone Martin Builders is one home building company showing potential buyers that a better living space isn’t a pipe dream. | Image: courtesy Stone Martin Builders
Empower prospective buyers to take control
As the current scenario continues to play out, the buyer mindset evolves. Family, health, and safety are becoming, well, everything. It’s their whole world. What could be more important than a safer, healthier life for their family? As the life you used to know shifts, builders should help your buyers focus on what they can control. Your marketing message should assure them that they can plan now for a better tomorrow. There has genuinely never been a better time to have something to look forward to.
Even for a buyer whose net worth has been affected, the prioritization of their own well-being has shot right up to No.1. Brown Haven Homes, which builds in Georgia and the Carolinas and offers custom build-on-your-lot homes with grand mountain views and fresh air, is currently amplifying a message that’s all about investing in peace of mind. It’s hard to put a price on that in times like these.
Tap into prospects' current dissatisfaction with their homes
As we speak, your buyers are looking around at all of the things they wish they had—newer features, a backyard, their own office space .... By tapping into these things, you aren’t exploiting their emotions, you’re letting them know you have exactly what they’re looking for. You can connect with their pain points by focusing on the strengths of your homes. If your homes offer ample natural light, you don’t need to mention that their home is dark. They already know. Shed some light on how your homes are brighter, happier spaces. Show them that a better living space isn’t a pipe dream.
For Stone Martin Builders, this exact sentiment turned into an opportunity to highlight specific details of their homes in a drip email campaign. The emails use positive, uplifting language and aspirational headlines such as: “The art of working remotely,” and “The joy of cooking with new appliances” to inspire buyers to dream of themselves in an upgraded space.
They also took to Facebook to present one of their floor plans reimagined, with a whole new world of possibilities during stay-at-home restrictions.
Show how your home building company is supporting the local community
It’s not just the perspective of “home” that’s changing, it’s community, too. Buyers are feeling more connected to businesses that may be suffering, or workers who might be underappreciated. Who isn’t looking at food service workers with more gratitude now?
Showing your buyers that you’re willing to do what it takes to support your local community and businesses is a great way to express who you truly are and what you care about. Consider offering a gift card to a local restaurant as an incentive for buyers to schedule a virtual tour. Hosting “Dinner and a Tour” encourages buyers to take the next step in a way that feels low-commitment, approachable, and human.
Stone Martin Builders turned its Facebook page into a local business shout-out zone and offered a $500 donation to the business that got the most shout-outs. By doing this, the builder gave its audience a list of community-approved restaurant recommendations and boosted engagement on their page.
Georgia Castellano is the creative director at Group Two, a leading new-home marketing agency that focuses on connecting builders with buyers. She leads the agency's creative team, which provides marketing services for over 80 home building companies across the country, many of which are on the top 100 and 200 builder lists. She has shared her passion as a speaker for the National Association of Home Builders at the International Builders' Show and is a regular guest on Group Two’s Building Perspective podcast for new-home sales and marketing professionals.