Marketing & Sales

New Would-Be Buyer Data Calls For New Ways To Win Them Over

Wick Marketing senior VP Barbara Wray and Audience Audit Inc. founder/president Susan Baier, recently tapped 1,350 recent buyer- and would-be buyer cohorts to learn what homebuilding sales, marketing, and customer care teams can do about the "trust gap."

Marketing & Sales

New Would-Be Buyer Data Calls For New Ways To Win Them Over

Wick Marketing senior VP Barbara Wray and Audience Audit Inc. founder/president Susan Baier, recently tapped 1,350 recent buyer- and would-be buyer cohorts to learn what homebuilding sales, marketing, and customer care teams can do about the "trust gap."

June 9th, 2023
New Would-Be Buyer Data Calls For New Ways To Win Them Over
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Marketing and consumer insight author and teacher Seth Godin's work is like one of those enormous books. Open it to any page. Blindly run your finger down the page and point to a passage. A moment – this moment – shimmers.

Wednesday this week, for instance, Godin writes.

Bought or sold?

Most things that consumers acquire are bought, not sold. We decide we’re interested in something and we go shopping to get it. Potato chips, wedding venues and cars are all purchased by people who set out to get them.

Selling is a special sort of marketing. It’s interactive, generous and personal. Selling brings individual attention, connection and tension to each customer. And selling takes time, effort and money.

Many companies believe they have a new product that will sell itself from the first day. But that’s unlikely.

We shouldn’t disrespect selling by pretending we don’t need it.

It's the third two-sentence paragraph here homebuilders and their partner firms and teams may value particularly.

Everybody needs a home, the saying goes. No argument with that. But does it sell itself? Even when demand so far eclipses supply, a home, Godin might say, is "bought, not sold."

New homebuilders are ever more acutely aware of at least four things a customer can and does do rather than to buy one of its homes.

  • Continue living at the present location
  • Move into a rental
  • Buy a resale property
  • Buy a competitor's new home

That's the case even when available for-sale homes are so scarce and when money's tighter and when the pressure to act – if they're going to – comes with short deadline. This was the case, and still is for homes in many markets at many price points, especially in the lower price tiers.

But, to Godin's point, how are some builders outliers in the the way they get customers to buy rather than to leave it to the homes to sell themselves? He would look at those homebuilder outliers and probably cite the ways they stand apart in their selling:

It’s interactive, generous and personal. Selling brings individual attention, connection and tension to each customer. And selling takes time, effort and money."

And, when he talks about "interactive, generous and personal" he's getting at a modern understanding of the meaning and role of trust in the process.

It's here that homebuilders – their associates in the field of marketing, selling, customer care, etc. – have an opportunity, and that opportunity has a freshly minted quantitative measure: 56 points.

Fifty-six points is the measure of difference between the share of recent homebuyers' who count "trust" as a high priority catalyst in the decision they made to purchase a new home (77%) and the share of the current crop of would-be buyers who fully trust new homebuilders (21%)

Image courtsey of Wick Marketing and Audience Audit, Inc.

Barbara Wray, senior VP of strategic growth at Austin-based Wick Marketing and Susan Baier, founder and president of Chandler, AZ-based Audience Audit Inc., recently (March 27 to April 22, 2023) tapped 1,347 recent buyers and would-be buyers to learn about that gap, and what homebuilding sales, marketing, and customer care teams can do about it.

We spoke recently with Barbara, who presented with Baier at this year's PCBC Conference in Anaheim May 25, and dove deeper into both the flashes of insight and the uptake homebuilding team members can put into action to address that No. 1 issue standing in the way of prospects and their doubts about builders when it comes to trusting their purchase.

Here are a few of the highlights from our conversation with Wick senior VP of strategic growth Barbara Wray:

Image courtsey of Wick Marketing and Audience Audit, Inc.

The 'Big Groan' Among Builders: Trust

Barbara Wray:

During the PCBC presentation the loudest groan in the room was around the issue of trust. 77% of prospects – and it was really the same for the buyers -- say that being trustworthy is the most highly valued quality in a homebuilder. And at the other end of the spectrum, only 21% say they have a high level of trust in builders.
So there's a huge gap there in how much people actually trust builders, and how important they say that being able to trust them is to them. Builders have got to focus on closing that trust gap. You'll also see that another metric here did make them groan pretty loudly: 51% of the prospects trust their real estate agent. So that's a bit more than double the trust level there. So there's they've got some work that they can do."

Disconnect: Marketing & Sales

Barbara Wray

It's data and it's very interesting. Some of it is obvious and things that you know, such as that we as marketers can have impact on this issue of trust, and that's our role. But we don't consult salespeople directly in training. There's valuable information here in this data for the people who are responsible for sales teams and for their training."

Action #1: Shop Like A Home Buyer

Image courtsey of Wick Marketing and Audience Audit, Inc.

Barbara Wray

You have to shop yourself and make sure that you are seeing what your buyers are seeing that it's you have to pay close attention to that stuff right now because the buyers are so like the prospects the buyers also show only six shows six other resources above builders and developers when choosing a home. Only 10% of the buyers feel that homebuilders understand them very well. That means 90% don't.

Action #2: Be A Buyer's Best Resource

Image courtsey of Wick Marketing and Audience Audit, Inc.

Barbara Wray

In terms of actions that we talked about, one is this shop like a homebuyer. Yes, do this secret shopping. This was a beginning of a punch list for the. I suggested that they sit with someone who's outside of the industry and have them walk through the website like they are shopping for a home. What are they doing, where are they going? Can they find it? How hard is it to get what they're looking for? Set aside for a minute what you know, as a builder, set aside for a minute what you know about your metrics, but get at a personal level and see what that looks like. 82% of the prospects said pricing information is the first thing they want. So people have to be able to find that. It needs to be transparent and needs to be consistent. Talked a little bit about the shopping experience on site. One, how is it when you walk in and encounter a person who's actually there? But often we don't have people in those sales offices right now. So what's that experience like? Can I find the model? Is there a QR code outside to help me get any other information or am I just like, Oh, 'whoops, I guess I'm out of luck and I guess I'll leave but I was gonna buy a house today.' You know what is that like? Are you missing opportunities because you're not creating the right experience, staffeed or unstaffed? And then also online, what's the whole thing look like from any digital advertising that's there to the website, and so on.
Financing was a huge area of confusion for a lot of these buyers and so is there good information available? Is it understandable? Is it easy to see what resources might be there? Also, the home buying process itself was confusing to a lot of people and often even move up buyers who have never bought new before. So I encourage builders to define their buying process whether it's in an app on the website, it's in a brochure like however they're going to do it but make it really easy, really easy to find. So that it boils out some of that confusion and fear and lack of feeling supported if people actually know what they're supposed to do next and what to expect that's going to be helpful. And then just the you know the question of how does, the experience someone's going to have with your brand compared to the guy down the street. It's going to be a lot more supported and easier to find information and I'm finding the pricing right away."

Action #3: Reconcile With Realtors

Barbara Wray

The best insight here comes from our data on confident and satisfied homebuyers in the study – only 22% felt that way. But in this group, they were very involved in the process. They trusted and relied both the builders and the agents they worked with they felt fully ready to buy. They were satisfied with their purchase. They're proud of their new home, and they're significantly more likely to be extremely satisfied with their builder.
Their defining attitudes were that they were planning to buy a home before the market changed and they just weren't willing to wait. They, perhaps, thought about it during the pandemic didn't act quickly enough and then they're like, just not gonna wait. They're proud of their home they're satisfied with their purchase. They felt confident in their decisions during the process, having a positive relationship with the professionals that they dealt with who helped them to feel more comfortable buying a home. They felt like they had plenty of time to make an informed decision. They trusted the professionals they worked with. They carefully considered and selected which professionals they would work with. And overall they felt like their experience was positive.
They wanted to be as involved in the homebuying process as possible. Almost 100% of them and 96% they felt extremely satisfied with the builder 75% and satisfied with their recent home purchase again almost 100% of them at 98%.  They carefully chose and trusted the professionals they worked with they were involved in the process. They welcomed information and advice. There were more informed buyers overall.
We would like more of those. So home shopping behaviors of this group that was confident and satisfied. They highly value information about financing home design community video tours, they want it all. They are significantly are more likely to hire a realtor. 62% of them did researched ratings and reviews of the builder in the community. They use social media to get tips about how to best buy a home. They visited the models and home sites and they are less likely to consider a resale home. They prefer new because of the things that we know about modern fixtures. And appliances, energy efficiency, lower maintenance open floor plans. They're more likely than the other groups to have used a conventional fixed rate at the mortgage and then significantly more likely to say in person builder contact was extremely important. So out of this group of competent and satisfied we we determined that the buyers who've done their legwork, who engaged help from the professionals that they were working with are significantly better positioned for success."

What comes through blindingly clearly is this. As Seth Godin would say, they bought rather than were sold. And they liked and trusted themselves as customers making the most valued purchase many of them will ever make.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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