I’m running from meeting to conference to meeting these days, talking about how the new consumer wants information, and plenty of it because for some reason the real estate industry is still lagging behind when it comes to sharing.
In order to feel secure about buying something as quotidian as an apple, people want to know if it was organically grown under fair trade conditions without gene splicing and within 100 miles of the store. And that’s just a 25-cent apple. Now, consider how much information is required to convince someone to lay down $50,000, or $500,000, or $1 million on a home, and look at the amount of factual, truthful information we provide. There is an information gap.
Yes, there are buyers who don’t really care what home they get in a tower, as long as they get one. They are the investors, of course. But there are also the real estate buyers who will likely end up living in the home under consideration. And they quite naturally want to know more details. The shift our industry needs to make is to realize these new consumer expectations, and to be prepared to meet them.
It means marketing about facts, about whole truths, about reasoned and researched arguments regarding the value proposition being proposed. It means ferreting out every story about your production methods, you pricing, your ingredients, your distribution methods, your people, your community, your philosophies and your beliefs. And then telling those stories. Use every channel that makes sense for you. Certainly your website should be an information hub, with the additional hidden agenda of setting you up as an expert in your field instead of merely as a brand with inventory to move.
Any advertising should be informative; your goal should be to have people read about you and say to themselves “Hmm. I didn’t know that about them.” The other overt goal of your advertising (and by that I mean ads, direct mail, flyers, signage…any traditional marketing tool) should be to get people to your website. No one buys anything today, except perhaps the aforementioned 25-cent apple (and even that’s questionable) without going online first.
And for goodness sake embrace social media. It’s come along and become mainstream at exactly the right moment in our economic history. People don’t want to be sold, they want information, preferably from people they trust. Social media can be a brilliant tool for that, if used properly and with respect for the social conventions therein. Still scared or wary of social media? Get over it. Get some help. Look around your organization for a young staffer who knows way more than you about this stuff, and get them involved. See how your competitors are doing it. And then get into the swimming pool; starting at the shallow end of course.