How to Gain a Tactical Advantage By Looking Outside the Market You Build In
If you want to sell more homes, you need to stand out. Period. So, while keeping up with the competition is nice, if you’re not standing out, you’re blending in with the crowd. This means you’ll never be top-of-mind with prospective buyers and therefore limiting yourself when it comes to increasing your bottom line.
So, how do you separate yourself from the herd? How can you stand head and shoulders above the other builders in your market and sell more homes?
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- Looking at builders in other markets for new and innovative ways to approach your campaigns and buyer personas
- What elements you should ALREADY HAVE on your website and what you should be looking to builders in other markets for, to help you gain a competitive advantage
- Taking note of how builders in other markets attract and gain permission to market to their leads.
The thing is, if you're running the same kind of promos and marketing campaigns as your competition, you're simply going to be a part of the background, not the focus of the home-building picture in the prospect's eyes.
So how do you avoid looking like every other builder out there?
You need to be a thought leader and champion of finding new and innovative ways to capture your prospects’ attention within your market. So, instead of looking to other builders within your market for ways to stay relevant with home buyers, why not look OUTSIDE your market for original yet effective strategies to give you a leg up?!
Start With the Big Guys
In some cities, the housing market is much more competitive due to a large population or, on the other hand, there just might not be many buyers - so competition is naturally more fierce (think Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal etc). Take a look at the highest ranking builders in these markets. What are the top players doing to gain attention and sell homes?
As you look at different builders in these areas, keep asking yourself, “who is their target audience?”, “which buyer personas are they trying to attract with their campaigns and promotions? Take note of what these builders are doing and use it to your advantage when it comes to capturing the attention of your own buyer personas. For example:
The Multigenerational Family
Due to immigration, east and west coast provinces and cities tend to see an increased number of large, ethnic families. If one of your buyer personas is multigenerational families, wouldn’t it make sense to explore how builders in major centres such as Vancouver or Toronto are marketing to them?
Maybe they’re promoting discounts on basement development in single-family homes or offering to pay the mortgage on a quick possession for the first three months while the family gets settled. Use these ideas to appeal to ethnic families within your own market.
The First-Time/ Millennial Buyer
Did you know Quebec City is ranked as Canada’s best city for millennials? A recent Canadian real estate study on millennial homebuyers has named the country’s most attractive cities for millennials looking for new homes. If, like most builders, millennials are one of your buyer personas, then it makes sense to see what builders in these markets are doing to attract them.
Perhaps they're engaging these types of buyers more through social media campaigns, or offering technology packages or discounts? Try to get a sense of how they're engaging this group and, if the response is good, consider using these approaches in your own marketing.
The Downsizer or Retiree
On the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe you specialize in multifamily communities and you’re targeting downsizers looking for the lock-and-leave lifestyle. Think about markets or cities most attractive to retirees and what are new home builders doing to pique their interest? Low condo fees? Upgrades?
Now that you have an idea of where to start and what to look for, it’s time to dig a little deeper.
Analyze Their Websites
As a savvy home builder determined to keep a competitive edge within your own market, you’re aware (or should be aware) of how important a high-quality website really is. With 90% of home buyers doing their research online before they even step foot into a show home - your website is, in fact, your digital sales centre. And, to remain competitive at even the most basic level it should have the following:
- A professional, easy to navigate and MOBILE-FRIENDLY design
- A blog offering content geared to your buyer personas
- A search option for visitors to easily navigate communities, models, floor plans etc.
- Contact information on every page, including links to your social media channels
- An online sales concierge marketing page (if you have an OSC) to encourage interaction with visitors
- Your story
- Support and customer service pages
- Show home maps
- Email newsletter sign up
- Printable floor plans
- Down payment and mortgage calculators and other financial tools
If you find you’re missing any of the elements above on your own site, then it’s time to implement them before you look at what builders in other markets are doing. Like the foundation of a home, these elements are imperative to have in place before continuing to build your website.
Once you do have these foundational features in place, THEN you can start exploring other markets for different ideas to attract prospective buyers. Look for the following:
- Videos, videos and more videos - How are other markets using video to promote show homes, models and neighbourhoods? Are they doing live streams when highlighting their promotions? Are there informative videos on their site to accompany their blog posts?
- Homeowner portals - Are they offering a platform where existing homeowners can learn more about their home and/or seek help, view documents, ask questions or receive updates?
- Interactive floor plans - Can visitors adjust and customize their floor plan options or features?
- A Live OSC (online sales concierge) - Do they encourage real-time chat, addressing questions or concerns within seconds?
While you’re looking at what other builders are offering in different markets (especially the more competitive ones) you’ll notice many of them, if not all, have these elements in place.
Take the live OSC for instance. In a fiercely competitive market, these builders can’t afford to miss an opportunity to answer a question. Since 35-50% of sales go to the builder that responds first, if they don’t answer immediately, they stand to lose that prospect. With stats like that, why WOULDN’T you have a live OSC?
To put it all in perspective, think about how much you spend on a model home versus how much you’re currently spending on your website. Now that you’re fully aware the majority of your prospects are online, can you really afford not to have a more than competitive edge?
The effort you put into your site will pay off in dividends in terms of attracting visitors and capturing more qualified leads. That brings us to our next point…
Look at Their Lead Capture
All of the elements listed above serve that one greater purpose - to help you sell more homes. The more interactive and user-friendly your site is and the more you have to offer, the more likely you are to bring in leads. And not just any leads - qualified leads. Leads that want to be in touch with you, that follow your brand and can be nurtured through your marketing funnel.
So when it comes to looking at other builders outside your market, ask yourself how they’re engaging visitors and gaining permission to market to them. Look at each page and see what they’re doing to encourage a visitor to interact.
- Downloadable content - Are they offering downloadable content in exchange for visitor info? Is a visitor encouraged to fill out a form with their contact info in exchange for a helpful guide or brochure? What other types of content are being offered in exchange for information?
- Newsletters - Are visitors encouraged to sign up for monthly or even weekly newsletters offering fun and informative information regarding everything from mortgage rates to home decor?
- Visitor profile - Can prospects create their own profiles where they can save information pertaining to blog posts, home models, features and floor plans they're interested in?
- VIP sign up - Is there an option to sign up for “insider” information? By filling out a form, visitors can be first to receive news on up and coming promotions, new communities, models, quick possessions and more.
- CTA’s (Calls-to-Action) - Lastly (and we can’t stress this enough) where are the CTAs on the builder's site? A good, competitive builder will have them on every page, every piece of content, at the end of every video, every blog post etc. And sometimes more than once! CTA’s promote communication and you want your prospects to be able to connect with you as easily as possible.
All of the above are proven tactics for engaging visitors, converting them into leads and moving them further down your funnel.
According to author Mike Lyon from his book Browsers to Buyers, the standard lead conversion average for website visitors is between 0.5 and 2 percent. But those who are truly on top of their game (and ahead of the competition) should be striving to convert between 2 and 5 percent. And more conversions = more leads = more homes sold!
To sum up, it’s absolutely possible to gain the competitive advantage and sell more homes. But you can’t expect to stand out if you’re applying the same tactics as every other builder in your market. Instead, look elsewhere, especially to highly competitive markets for inspiration. By evaluating how they approach their buyer personas, optimize their websites and seek and capture leads, you’ll find new ways to stay relevant with prospects and increase sales.
For even further information on how to separate yourself from the home builder herd, download our Essential Guide to Building a Powerful Home Builder Brand below, or reach out to us. We’d love to tell you more!
In today's booming home builder industry, if you're not standing out, you're blending in. So, instead of just keeping up with the competition, why not look for new ways to set yourself apart? This is where looking to builders in other, more competitive markets can really be of benefit.
In some cities, the housing market is much more competitive either because of a larger population or, conversely, there just aren't as many buyers. Take a look at the highest ranking builders in these markets and what they're doing to attract prospects and sell homes:
- What kinds of campaigns and promotions are they running?
- If they have buyer personas similar to your own, how are they marketing to them? What are they doing to attract them?
Look at these builders' websites for ideas to optimize your own but, before you do, there are some key elements you should already have in place to remain even remotely competitive (let alone surpass the competition in your market). The more optimized your website, the more visitors you'll attract and the higher your conversion rate.
When it comes to converting visitors to leads, what are these builders doing to engage them? Do they have downloadable content available? Newsletters? Customer profiles? Are there CTAs available at every opportunity? Take note of what these builders are doing to gain permission to market to visitors and how they're using these opportunities to move them further along the sales funnel. Above all else, make sure website visitors have every opportunity to connect with you - every contact point can be another home sold!