Would you rather listen than read?
It has never been a better time to be in the business of marketing new homes. We have the perfect blend of a great market and breakthrough technology. For the past 12 years or so we’ve often only had one or the other. In 2006, we had a record-breaking market but the best-selling phone that year was a Nokia brick-style device. Not exactly revolutionary.
The Best Of Times
By 2010, technology was really starting to change how consumers behaved. In 2012, Candy Crush was released and proved just how dramatically Facebook had penetrated the market (remember all those annoying “will you help me pass level 10?” requests?!). While the real estate market was fighting back from the Great Recession, technology was making it easier and cheaper to reach the target audience you needed. But it couldn’t provide full-on disruption until the market returned, and that’s where we find ourselves today. It’s never been a better time to be a marketer.
You have the ability to connect directly with people looking for a new home on multiple proven channels that all cost less than the newspaper used to. Search, PPC, social media, syndication, etc. You can track effectiveness easier than ever before. You also can stalk your ideal customers with remarketing messages, YouTube videos, and so much more. Content creation is more dynamic and compelling, and it’s less expensive too.
The Worst Of Times
It’s also never been a riskier time to be a marketer. While speaking at PCBC this year, I asked the crowd of 170 how many of them honestly have no clear concept of how their digital marketing efforts actually work – and over 50% raised their hands. The fact that those tasked with using technology to improve marketing results don’t have a firm grasp on how it works could cause some real problems
Let’s take a moment and consider a few scenarios that will come to pass for this group. When what is working now becomes less efficient, will they know before it’s too late? When something stops working, will they know how to fix it – or test solutions? Perhaps worst of all if someone in this group were to try and create their own solution, there is probably a 50/50 chance that things will get worse.
There isn’t an easy fix to this, but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored. Not understanding the fundamental elements of digital marketing today could not only hurt your career but the entire company. Sign up for an educational course, watch a few hours of YouTube videos, or hire a coach or mentor you trust – but you can’t stick your head in the sand and hope things just keep working… because eventually, they won’t.
You Aren’t In Full Control
The final challenge that makes it so risky to be in new home marketing is that even if you are in the half that does understand how it all works, you aren’t in full control. Google and Facebook algorithms can change on a dime, and while focusing on great content first will help – you may ultimately slip 10% in a month despite your best efforts.
Consumers, not marketers, are in charge. That means “quick wins” are often hard to come by, and those you report to will often need to have more patience than comes naturally to them. You may use a great click-bait piece of content that drives large numbers of visitors, but you ultimately can’t force them to complete a form, make a call, or start a text conversation. This means bait and switch won’t help – and can seriously hurt – your brand if you try it. Building respect and awareness in your market the right way takes time.
Stop Dictating Strategy
The single biggest opportunity for improvement in home building companies around the globe is for those who are in leadership but unsure how digital works to stop dictating specific digital strategy to those who “get it.” Setting goals is perfectly ok, but directing the tactical steps needed to reach those goals is really harmful. Here’s a quick analogy:
Suppose you were going to work with a framing crew on a new home, but knew very little about how framing works. You’d have little choice but to be a bit more collaborative with them – right? You could ask for a broad goal (frame the house in 4 days), but if you began spit-balling how precisely you want them to perform the work, your home likely isn’t passing inspection.
Decisions being made from the top to cut Adwords, triple down on banner ads, or build an app without any collaborative discussions with those in the trenches can cause serious issues. Stop dictating and start laying out broad goals and ask those tasked with the day-to-day to fill in the gaps and take ownership.
It’s All Your Fault
Now, to those who are true digital marketers but not yet leaders in your company: It’s all your fault. Be brave and start appropriately pushing back with data and stories to give your leaders confidence in your ability. Don’t just say yes to a strategy you know will fail because you are scared to put your neck out. Your company – and the industry – needs more leaders comfortable with digital marketing to step up. Now’s the time.