From the outset of the pandemic, it was clear that certain companies would have to change the way they do business to stay afloat. More restaurants offering carry-out options, clothing companies manufacturing masks — alternative business models are appearing everywhere in response to the changing landscape.
For homebuilders and developers, there really is no alternate business model — building homes and creating communities is the business. Fortunately, data suggests new home construction hasn’t been hit nearly as hard as other verticals during the past several months. But that doesn’t mean our industry can rest on its laurels and ignore the new reality. On the contrary, this is the ideal time to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing world around us. Here are three ways we recommend you do just that:
Build a More Robust Content Library
Much is unclear about the months ahead. Will we see a second or third wave of the pandemic? How unstable will the economy and/or stock market be? Will unemployment remain high?
A lot of questions have no clear answers, which means demand-generation is more difficult than ever. Those media placements designed to build awareness and pique initial interest (think billboards, broadly targeted banner ads, etc.) rather than spur direct action are probably less effective than usual. It’s not necessarily because people aren’t paying attention; rather, it’s simply more difficult than ever to compel anyone not in the market for a new home to suddenly enter it.
Fortunately, those marketing funds you’ve allocated to those types of media placements don’t have to go to waste. Make the most of this unique situation by flipping some of those dollars into the development of new content, such as storytelling videos, high-quality photography, virtual tours, etc.. Use this content to enhance your website, social media presence and existing digital ads to set yourself apart from the competition. And best of all, you can use these new assets for many months to come, which means this marketing investment can pay dividends well into the future.
Give Potential Customers Something to Aspire To
It’s anybody’s guess as to when life will “go back to normal,” especially with a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases looming. Fortunately, no one is expecting you to have the answer to that.
People who choose to live in a planned community do so because they want more than just a nice home — they want a premium experience that they can’t find in a normal neighborhood. Even if your amenities are closed or more restricted right now due to state or internal policies, you should still focus on your community’s lifestyle.
Connect with your potential customers about the life they still aspire to. Talk about the amenities that will make their life easier or more enjoyable when this is all said and done. If nothing else, aspirational messaging and imagery help people get excited about an experience rather than dwell on the objections they might have in the here and now. You don’t have to oversell which amenities are actually open in your community at this very moment. The dream of a resort-style experience is simply on hold for a bit, not gone forever.
This Could Change Consumer Behavior Forever. Change With It.
We empathize with businesses and individuals wishing things would go back to normal, but the reality is COVID-19 is a catalyst for changing consumer demands. Pre-pandemic market inertia made it possible for builders to focus more on closing deals rather than appeasing consumer demands, but the current environment is completely driven by consumer expectations.
Today, few people will even consider a builder or a community if they can’t shop for a new home safely and on their terms. So it’s paramount to make shopping tools — online and at your community — that allow shoppers to get all the answers to their questions and to take action when they’re ready.
This is as much about learned behavior as it is about safety. Think about how Carvana and, to a lesser extent, Carmax have forever changed the way people feel like they should be able to shop for cars (another major life purchase). Across every industry, expectations for convenient, hassle-free and even contactless shopping are here to stay, and they’ll be even bigger parts of what separate homebuilding market leaders from the laggards going forward.
For homebuilders and developers, that means adopting technologies such as chatbots (we recommend taking a closer look at AtlasRTX) to create a frictionless online experience or self-guided home tours (we’re the team behind the UTour platform) to allow shoppers to visit and self-tour homes on their schedule. We know it’s not always easy to jump into new digital experiences, especially when business has been done the same way for decades, but it’s important to understand that consumer behavior was moving in this direction well before anyone ever heard of COVID-19, which means this is the perfect opportunity to take the leap forward.
About NDG Communications
NDG Communications is a full-service creative advertising agency based in La Plata, MD, specializing in real estate and new home construction. It empowers builders and developers by telling their authentic story through brand development, traditional advertising, digital and online media, social media, web development, app development, sales center design and more. To learn more about NDG Communications and how it can help you save time and maximize ROI, visit its official website or call (877) 889-1848. For additional insights and recommendations from the NDG team, check out its official blog.