There is an adage that says, “When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.”
While that statement is essentially correct, the truth goes further: Every business must continue marketing through every economic cycle – good times and bad.
Even the current housing surge, with its strong consumer demand, backlogs, resource, and supply issues, is a dangerous time to take your foot off of the marketing gas pedal. In fact, now is the time you need to increase your marketing to make sure your message is heard. Why?
For one, your consumers are saying in a loud voice, “I want it, and I want it now!” That is equally true of homebuyers to retailers, and retailers to their manufacturers. We are not a society that embraces waiting for anything. So, if you can’t deliver now (and you can’t), then you need to be communicating with your audience why they can’t have what they want… and when they can reasonably expect to be able to get it. If you aren’t clearly communicating how you are working hard to satisfy the needs and wants of your buyers – physical and emotional, then they will constantly be looking at other vendors who are telling them what they want to hear.
With that in mind, here are 4 consumer perceptions you should be addressing now with your marketing:
“What have you done for me lately?”
Even the most loyal dealers or customers need to feel like you have their best interests in mind. That’s not so hard when they can order a home and have it delivered in a matter of weeks. But when inventory – and bank accounts – have dwindled, and maintaining cash flow is a struggle, even the most loyal of us have been known to consider our options. What are you saying and doing to assure your best customers that they are more important to you than they would be to your competition? That’s a job for your marketing message
Old Dogs; New Tricks
COVID changed everything. Your best-selling floorplans from 2019 could be a total flop in 2021. Homebuyer habits have changed. So have the way they are shopping for, selecting, and buying their homes. Without fluid communication throughout the distribution line, along with copious testing of your offering and messaging, you could quickly find yourself out of touch with your buyers. Strong housing demand does not guaranty strong demand for all your plans and models. Marketing bridges that gap and ensures that you are connecting with your buyers.
Conferences and In-person Meetings Are Back!
As this is being written, the first two in-person conferences of 2021 have already taken place. State association meetings are already populating calendars, with the bigger shows being planned in early 2022. While many are still cautious about getting back together, most are excited to be moving back toward normal, and retailers, suppliers and community teams are showing up in record numbers. But with the production challenges manufacturers are facing, should you put precious resources into attending these shows? Absolutely! Here’s why:
“Out of sight…”
Retailers will be attending conferences and shows largely to reconnect with their trusted suppliers. Your participation reassures them of your commitment to them and their customers. It builds brand equity and loyalty. They need to see you. At the bigger shows, they need to see your homes and what you’re doing to help them stay connected with their changing buyer profiles. Most of all, they need to just see you working hard for them. Yes, they are coming to do business, but even more, they – we all – are coming to reconnect and share the common experience of having survived the pandemic and to learn how we will move forward as an industry.
New Dog, New Tricks
If you haven’t noticed, manufactured homes are HOT, attracting not just new buyers, but new blood into the industry as well. For the past few years, we’ve seen a steady decrease in the number of retail outlets, through both consolidation and moving to inter-community sales teams. Expect that trend to reverse as more positive attention is focused on attainable housing, while community sales continue to grow. Will you get your share of this growth? These new players can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist. Keeping a consistent marketing program will put you in front of new players – and help you replace older ones that move on
The final reason for every business to continue marketing through the good times, as well as the bad, is that now you can. We’re on the top of a cycle that won’t last forever. Sooner or later, you will be looking for more people to buy your homes, products, or services. Buyers have always rewarded the brands that maintain a strong front-of-mind presence with their business. That’s why companies like Coca-Cola and Nike continue to invest in marketing, even when they are household names. The name recognition and buyer loyalty you build now will be there when you need it most
About the Author
Scott Stroud has been marketing new homes for over 40 years, first for his own dealership in the 1980s, and then as VP of Marketing for a major manufacturer. He has owned his own marketing automation company, and now works with the LearnMH team, as well as Director of Development for MHCRM, a sales automation program for the MH industry.