There is a shift in the way consumers make purchasing decisions. The National Association of REALTORS® reports the number one way a consumer chooses their real estate agent is based on referral. However, most millennials will solicit several referrals before they make a decision about which one(s) to interview. Millennials and vast majority of consumers today are “empowered consumers,” meaning we want to have as much information as possible about our product and provider before we make an informed decision.
So how do providers in this industry stand out among competitors to win Millennial business? Many REALTORS® turn to marketing with the idea that the more people who see their name will choose to work with them, or they rely solely on their previous consumers without consideration of what a prospect might look for once they receive that referral. In today’s environment, marketing is not the answer but building a brand that stands out among the rest is critical. In an article published in the Harvard Business Review, this concept is articulated well just in the title, “Marketing Is Dead, and Loyalty Killed It.” Today’s “marketing” is about building a brand that appeals to customer values and generates passion among their loyal consumers who in turn will refer like-minded business.
There are three areas REALTORS® should focus on when considering their brand development, including: trust, convenience, and expertise. REALTORS® who demonstrate they qualify under these three categories will win the greatest market share of Millennial business.
Today’s consumers do not trust marketing or sales professionals, and, let’s be honest, the housing market hasn’t had the best reputation over the last few years. According to Pew Research, only 19 percent of Millennials say people can generally be trusted, in contrast with 31 percent of just the previous generation.
Providers need to take extra precaution to ensure their brand communicates first and foremost trust with the consumer in the language they understand. They can do this through consistent, authentic messaging through all marketing, social media, and communications. Avoid “salesy” content whenever possible and lead with content that helps the consumer.
Millennials are accustomed to having access to services within seconds. I ordered my groceries on my phone today and had them delivered within an hour. Today’s norm is extreme convenience. Therefore, it seems strange when we have to go out of our way to deliver paper documents or review a presentation in person. Providers should offer technology communication whenever possible to speak the “digital” language of today’s consumers. Utilize available mobile tools to enhance the purchasing experience, such as an app called My Nest, which allows consumers to digitally record and organize their home showings.
At the very minimum, use text message as a primary form of communication. Of course, you can’t communicate everything over text, but use it as your default channel. For example, when a customer has a question that needs to be communicated in person or by phone, text them, “Are you available now to discuss this by phone?” or “I will send you an email later this evening in response to your question.” (Then send them a text when you send the email, letting them know they can check their email). This might seem inconvenient to those who did not grow up using text, but when the majority of consumers have access to many options to choose from for a provider, it’s important to lead with the best customer experience.
Millennials have grown up with access to information at their fingertips at all times. When I go into any purchasing decision, I have done my research and sometimes expect to know more about the product than my salesman. When I buy a candle, I look at customer reviews and understand what type of wax is best for my home and environment. If I will research a candle, I’m certainly going to research my REALTOR® options. In order to stand out, you must come alongside my research as a companion and guide.
Many customers may bring outdated or inaccurate information to the table. Simply explain that you will guide them through that information, supporting their research, and providing them with more expertise than they can find on their own. Utilize online tools when possible and send them articles that might be relevant to their home concerns. This kind of branding will secure their belief in you as a resource and invaluable guide through the home buying process.