Can you handle the truth? If you can’t, skip this post. I’m probably going to step on a few toes here . . .
Great residential marketing, after the product has been developed, designed and built, is the continuation of finding the answers to the who, what, where and why.
If you’ve read more than one of my blogs, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that whenever I talk about marketing I always preface the word ‘market’ with target. Everything to me is ‘target marketing’, as it should be to any great marketer worth his/her shekels. Here’s why: no one has scads of time or money to waste marketing to broad segments of the market, so everything that the sales and marketing department does must be highly targeted to drive the right traffic to build sales.
The optimum time to determine the target market is prior to the start of the development and production of the product, and not make it up as you go along. But even after product launch, changing market conditions can change your target audience, so the key is to stay on top of who your market is by collecting good data, asking questions, and pulling it all together so that the new market information is something with which the entire team can work with and use.
I often run across companies who are marketing broadly with little success, or they are having some success while spending more money than is probably necessary to generate that success. As an industry, for whatever reason, marketing is frequently looked at as a necessary evil, handed off to the office manager who ‘needs something more to do’, and, quite frankly, sometimes the people calling the sales and marketing shots don’t really know who their target market is; they simply don’t know how to do it . . . how to figure it out, how to get the answers they need, or what to do with those answers once they get them.
Generally, the ‘target market’ is incorrectly based on assumptions, not on research and fact, or it’s been assumed that the target market is a certain demographic because the company thinks that their product will appeal to most. When sales are weak, the target audience may have been derived from a few buyers that did buy; what happens next is that generally that small pool of buyers becomes the focus of the selling strategies.
Sometimes the sale is lost on the sales floor.
I’ll ask the salesperson who their target market is, and whatever the last three buyers looked like, that’s the market.
When this happens, I’ve noticed that the tendency is for the salesperson to ‘push’ the things that they think the customer wants, needs, or desires, thus totally losing sales to other audiences by highlighting the wrong features of the product. In essence, this goes back to the fundamentals of salesmanship and asking each prospect the ‘right’ discovery questions to get the answers that the salesperson needs in order to build the correct presentation for each prospect.
Great residential marketing, after the product has been developed, designed and built, is finding the answers to the who, what, where and why today, and then adjusting both the selling and marketing strategies to those findings. Not coincidentally, we ask the very same questions before developing and building the product, which helps us get the target market and the product correct right out of the starting gate.
Even when running the marketing for Centex Homes, I consistently focused on finding and building sales incrementally, community by community, product by product, by asking myself who does this product/community appeal to and why, and you should be doing the same. What is it that these buyers are looking for, and will they find it when they get here? Then adjust, track, seek confirmation, and continuously refine your sales and marketing strategies to keep things moving forward.
We’re aiming at moving targets, and so each of us must constantly be looking at what we’re doing and whom we’re attracting to make certain that not only can we draw a bead on the bulls-eye and hit our target, but that we’ll have precisely what they want and need when they get here.
Deborah Fisher has been in the professional new home sales and marketing arena since 1985. A past speaker with the National Association of Homebuilders and the Southeast Building Conference, Fisher now makes her primary home in North Texas, and provides sales and marketing consulting services and sales training to companies nationwide and throughout the Caribbean. To discover more, click here: About Deborah Fisher