In 2018, first-time buyers accounted for more than half of the property market1. This demographic’s age is largely associated with the magic “M” word to marketers. Millennials have engaged with the world far differently from their counterparts, Baby Boomers and Generation X. Therefore, they think and act differently when it comes to purchasing big-ticket items, such as property. When it comes to marketing to them, could you be thinking differently too?
Whilst there are better ways of targeting people than age, effectiveness at scale can begin by viewing behavioural trends amongst millennials as part of your audience research, giving you the insights into how to target this age bracket.
In this blog, we outline 5 key ideas property marketers may not have considered when it comes to marketing to first-time buyers (FTBs), with some examples that are already being used today.
Offering a virtual reality
Brands are embracing the uses of virtual reality at rapid speed, even property developers. Virtual walkthroughs of the property in question can be downloaded straight to smartphones, saving buyers the trouble of visiting the property in person and having the luxury of showing parents and friends for their opinions. Savills real estate already offers this feature for their more premium properties. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t offer this on lower-priced properties either as a Coldwell Banker Real Estate poll of 3000 adults found that “62% of survey respondents said they would go with a real estate agent who made VR technology available.4”
For a utopian view of how this could look, we turn to Black Mirror. In one episode, we see a young lady, Lacie, who visits a property to buy. Instantly, the agent initiates the virtual simulation of what Lacie could look like in this new home.
Now, there’s other aspects of this episode that are less desirable, but it sure gave the character a realistic view of her life within the property. Is this how the future of visual property marketing could look?
Introducing an experience
FTBs want experiences and buying properties is no exception2. To help assuage buyers’ apprehension of property purchases, some developers are allowing try before you buy schemes3.
Trying a property before you buy is not only innovative but bursts full of experiences for the buyer. It helps the buyer decide, what the neighbourhood is like? What’s their commute going to be? Do they feel comfortable in the property? Could they imagine how they’d decorate the property? These are details which can be forgotten during the few brief visits a buyer makes during their purchase journey. They imbue buyers with personal connections to the property, thus making a sale far more likely.
If you think about it, we spend an awful lot of time considering lesser-priced purchases, such as clothes, food, and even medicine. So, why do we purchase a huge investment, like a property, on the whim of a few visits? Enabling your customers to have more consideration experience time could be the difference between a sale and a loss.
We can forgive you if your first thought was “that’s a free hotel stay, surely?”. We did too. But actually, try before you buy schemes are providing additional streams of revenue for developers. Rather than the “Rent-to-buy” schemes, “try before you buy” could only be for 2-3 weeks, which companies can charge potential buyers for. A win-win on both counts.
“Millennials want immediate gratification – be sure that you are always accessible and responsive 24/7.5”
Jared Wilk | Realtor, Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. Real Estate
Now, unless you’re a robot, this is a very demanding expectation. But is a robot what you need? Last year we discussed the importance of chatbots within a business. Instant satisfaction is given to your customers when an out-of-hours service is still being provided to them. It shows you’re paying attention to your customers' lifestyle demands and offering convenience to their lives.
Buying a property can be one of the most stressful times in a customer’s life, so why not make it as easy as possible for them? By providing instant responses, call-back features, and much more, the convenience offered by a chat-bot could put your brand in the forefront of their mind when it comes to solidifying their buying purchase.
If however people still want to call, you can divert numbers outside of regular business hours (or when you’re on a call already) to a centralised call centre trained to deal with your most common queries and issues.
The little things
“Connecting emotionally with a client during a first-time home purchase is just as important as the transaction itself. Every aspect of home-buying is tied back to trust, which ultimately helps the process be smooth and positive”
Marketing to FTBs means thinking outside the box. It means connecting on an emotional level during the consideration process of buying a property.
We’ve already explored the need to provide more than just a “service” to them, but how else can we do this? Crest Nicholson offer an incentive scheme whereby if you reserve a property, at their Westvale site, between January and February, you could be entitled for them to pay 2 months worth of groceries for you. By offering that little bit extra, it shows you're going the extra mile to consider your customers' needs/wants, and providing a viable solution to them.
With this in mind, what other benefits could you offer to help incentivize your buyers into making a purchase?
Cleaning contract for 3 months? Vouchers for decorating supplies? Complimentary removal van for your big moving day?
The options are limitless as long as you are providing real value to your customers' experience.
Track what’s working
Whatever strategy, you need to know what’s moving the needle in taking people one step closer to their first home. With Infinity Call tracking you can take the guesswork out of which channels are driving high-value calls and conversions.
See how Redrow have used call intelligence to gain greater clarity on their marketing channels, subsequentially achieving a 7% annual increase in qualified leads over the phone and a fivefold increase in quality calls from PPC?
Think 2019 could be the year to re-think your marketing strategy to FTBs? Could a few subtle changes be the difference between your sales for the quarter? Re-thinking how you can market to FTBs can offer a multitude of rewards and position you as an innovative and forward-thinking brand.