Published on January 18, 2019
Joe and Sue Smith are your classic baby boomers. Residents of Albany, NY, avid golfers, late 50s, and contemplating retirement. As they peer out their window at the frigid snowscape of a late-January day, the visions of soon retiring in the year-round golf paradise of the Sunbelt become more vivid. Florida? Arizona? The Coastal Carolinas, perhaps?
So how do they get there?
At this stage, they aren’t going to Realtor.com looking at houses—it’s far too early for that. Besides, they don’t necessarily want an ideal home as much as they want to live the ideal retirement life. So instead they go online and begin to enter general search terms that align with their soon-to-be retirement lifestyle. Using keywords like “golf communities,” “gated golf retirement communities,” “retirement communities in Hilton Head,” and so on. They land on some sites that pique their interest, and even submit their info on an online form or two as they begin the process of putting out feelers.
Classic baby boomers. And classic top of funnel leads.
The top of the marketing funnel is where you’ll find prospects who are just beginning to think about a purchase. They’re gathering data, researching information, and comparing all their options. As a developer or builder, it’s your job to make sure these leads are educated on everything your brand has to offer. First impressions are big, and the top of the funnel is where you’ll build awareness, create some buzz, and get to know Joe and Sue Smith so you can develop a valuable relationship—and be there when they’re ready to buy.
Just because the top of funnel prospects are in the early stages of their decision doesn’t mean it’s not a crucial time to engage with them. In fact, our industry has a longer sales cycle than most, with the average lifestyle community buyer taking 18 months to make a final decision. Engaging with your top of funnel leads involves taking the time to nurture the prospect with targeted email campaigns. Overbearing sales tactics won’t work here, they aren’t ready for that. Now is when you learn about who they are, what they’re looking for, what’s motivating their eventual purchase, and provide useful content that will help them make an informed decision. The goal is to push them through the funnel as you gauge interest, look for their conversion as they interact with your content, then qualify them for closing. And don’t stop engaging until they tell you to stop. A lot can happen in 18 months, after all.
9 out of 10 consumers start their research on the web, and as we established with lifestyle community buyers like Joe and Sue Smith, they’re using keywords that directly connect them with sites like privatecommunities.com. The wider you cast your net with top of funnel marketing, the more successful you’ll be. Content marketing efforts, digital marketing, social media, blog posts, SEO, and free trials (aka Discovery Packages), can all generate leads that feed into your lead nurture program and eventually convert to buyers.