Has the market forever changed Real Estate marketing?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Hill Mullikin Co.

The only guarantee we have about marketing in today’s real estate climate is change. The market has changed. The buyer has changed. Will it ever change back and if so will we market the same way?  I am not sure and do not intend to make any grand projections other than the pendulum swings in both directions and God is not making any more dirt. So my assumption is like most cycles, these tough times will change. And marketing has and will continue to change with it.

So where does that actually leave us today?  It leaves us working harder and expecting less.
It leaves us reevaluating the products we develop and how we market them. We are back to the basics of asking ourselves what needs does the market have and how can we serve them? And how will we fill the need better than our competition? And, oh yeah, how does the internet come into play?

I always start with this guiding principal when determining a product’s position: Good, fast, cheap, you get two out of three.  Good being a quality product.  Fast being exceptional service. And cheap being a price leader. With a combination of any two you can create an effective value proposition.  With all three you are trying to be all things to all people and will ultimately serve no one.

In the past, resort real estate development was driven by a developer’s vision for a great piece of property and desire to create a grand lifestyle.  A place for people to love and cherish. A place they would bring their friends and family. And often a place envisioned and created without understanding if it filled a need in the market.  Not all, but many, ended up being monuments of opulence and irrational splendor that served a narrow market of extreme wealth and “ego ownership”.

In the current market there are buyers, believe it or not. These buyers are the ones who serve as the shepherds to the sheep that ultimately pull the trend back. These shepherds are driven by ideals and philosophies that are deeply rooted in their generational up bringing.  They are the boomers, but not the boomers we saw in droves signing reservations in tent city. These shepherds are conservative individuals who are prudent and pragmatic. They are far more calculating and much less impulsive. As much as they can afford the lavish, they are not going to be looking for their fourth McMansion. They are not ones that follow trends but are the ones that quietly create them. They are what we call the “know me” wealth, not the “show me “ wealth.  Unless you know these individuals personally, you would never pick them out of the crowd.  They are private. They are discerning. And they are wealthy. Very wealthy.

So what are they looking for?  Probably the same attributes they found when they bought their Toyota Avalon or F150. They want quality, reliability and value.  They are utilitarian. Yet they enjoy acceptable luxuries. They are natural researches and moved by trust and connections. When the time is right they will have been planning for years and will be armed with far more knowledge than you are. They will be looking for a quality product without empty promises or future guarantees.  This will lead them to established communities with reputable leadership. They will see right through your marketing façade and will cut to the chase about being in control of the process.

So how do we change our marketing strategy?

For starters, marketing starts with the product. Provide a product that meets a market need.  Do research, talk to your peers and listen to what the market tells you.  Then decide if you are good, fast or cheap.  My prediction is people will want a smaller, more modest product by a credible company and they will not want to wait for it. They will want built product or resale inventory more than homesites and they have no desire to be first so throw the reservations out the window, urgency is gone. They just want to feel comfortable with their purchase and believe they own a solid product at a fair price, hence the Toyota Avalon. They are not looking for market approval and will buy what they want, when they want despite the negative media coverage.

Additionally, their habits have changed. They are going to want information with substance and if you do not have it they will move on.  And they will move on to the next web site as well.  Studies have shown that these buyers are no longer tech laggards and research their purchase decisions online.  Additionally, they will trust a stranger’s review online far more than your own paid marketing efforts (by 82% according to a 11/08 McCann Survey). Many of these buyers are starting their efforts with online search and your Web site alone is no longer enough.  You need a comprehensive strategy to distribute your content online with what we call Digital Presence.  A strategy that leverages all of your content as well as the content provided by others. You can’t stop others from mentioning you in blogs or posting wedding and hole-in-one videos on youtube so you better become a part of the off-site conversation as well.

So has the market changed marketing?  Absolutely.  And if you think the internet will not play a factor with your demographic then don’t change a thing and let me know how that works for you.

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