Short-term disruptions in consumer behavior can happen for any number of reasons. As new home marketing and sales professionals, we should always be nimble and swift enough to adapt without fear. The COVID-19 pandemic, while it will certainly bring new and different challenges to home building, should be treated as a temporary disruption to the market.
The U.S. stock market has dipped and the Fed has cut interest rates – these are reasonable and expected responses to this type of event. History also tells us markets are cyclical. Our job in new home sales and marketing is to keep abreast of what’s happening on a local and national level, understand how it may impact our audiences, and adapt to changes in consumer behavior to continue serving their needs and those of our builder.
We should not panic, but we should pay attention.
While you may be feeling the consequences of current events now – a slowing of walk-in traffic or online leads not wanting to make appointments – you can (and should) adapt. Mike Lyon and Kevin Oakley share some behaviors to expect from online consumers and suggestions on how to address the changes.
Social distancing might become the norm, at least in the short-term. That means online sales teams will become even more important as consumers rely more heavily on the web for information and communication. If you have a backup person, discuss the possibility of having them work alongside you to handle lead volume.
As people become more hesitant about being in social situations, make sure that onsite sales teams are ready for virtual appointments. Show your onsite colleagues how to use FaceTime or Skype to tour homes with prospects. Continue to move prospects along the buyer’s journey and keep them excited for when they are ready to visit in-person.
While shoppers are avoiding crowds, they may be more likely to travel from their home to another home to meet with a sales rep one-on-one. This feels more manageable, so promoting private appointments may ease the fear of crowds.
As the first point of contact for your builder, online sales specialists should promote the positive message of the value of real estate, particularly with today’s historically low interest rates. Note: check with your manager to understand exactly what you can and cannot say about interest rates – there are guidelines.
Let prospects see your face without being face-to-face. Calm their worries, answer their questions, and continue to nurture your relationships.
Funny how the market can change from even a few weeks ago. A period of uncertainty may not be the time to experiment with new marketing strategies. Do what you know works to maintain lead volume to keep your pipeline full for when people are ready to make onsite visits again.
This may be the time to rely even more heavily on content. As Kevin mentioned in the Pro Builder article, The Top 5 Ways to Increase Your Marketing ROI in 2020, online content like photography, renderings, videos, podcasts, and now virtual tours, are the frontrunners of marketing ROI. These will become even more important as people scale back their social activity in the near future. >Promote your virtual shopping tools – Matterport tours, dynamic floor plans with options, build your kitchen, exterior color tools, etc.
Don’t be afraid to slowly pull back on ad spend (5-10% increments over 5-10 days). If ad costs go down (as other industries stop advertising), then you should still get the same results. You’ll be able to save money for your organization that can be put to use later or for other purposes (like content creation). Don’t cut spending dramatically.Our internal data still shows people are shopping online at record numbers – still over 2019 levels as recently as yesterday.
Spend more effort supporting the online and onsite sales teams vs. only worrying about new leads. Conversion is always a high priority, but in a slowdown or market adjustment, it’s more important than anything else. Help the sales team overcome objections and stay connected to their best prospects.
Watch your dashboards and analytics DAILY and adjust as necessary. If you’ve been glancing at them only once or twice a month you’ll be way behind the movements of the market.
You are likely not an expert in epidemiology or economic markets – don’t try to be. Stay up-to-date with current events, but defer to the appropriate authorities to interpret them. Stick to your area of expertise – the sales and marketing of new homes – and only offer what you know to be verified and true in that area.
Remember – we should not panic, but we should continue paying attention to events and market conditions as they unfold. Now is the time to pivot, adapt, and do what is necessary to keep business moving to the best of your ability, while being as accommodating and safe as possible.
Watch this DYC Live with Mike Lyon and Kevin Oakley, recorded March 12, 2020, as they discuss how online sales and marketing pros can adjust and adapt to changing market and social conditions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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