4 ways to connect with new homeowners
By Colleen Malloy
Data shows new homeowners can spend nearly $2,400 on yard care essentials1 as they settle into their homes, and much of their equipment will need regular service to continue running well.
Millennials — the generation born between 1982 and 2004 — make up a growing percentage of these new homeowners and will continue to make up a larger and larger share of your potential customer base. This tech-savvy generation is known for seeking instant gratification and the approval of their peers. The best ways to market to them look a little different than the methods that you might have used to reach Baby Boomers and even their Generation X counterparts.
In this article, I’ll dig into four ways you can connect with these new homeowners before they buy in the big box stores. Let’s get started!
#1 Create a custom in-store experience
Millennials want their visit to a store to give them something they couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Lucky for you, as a small business, you’re able to offer the custom experience that young new homeowners are looking for better than your big box competitors.
Offering great service is a no-brainer, but what can really set you apart from the mega chains is your product expertise. Millennial shoppers do their homework before they ever step into your store, so you need to be at the ready to offer them an experience that goes beyond a rehash of the product brochure.
Taking the time to talk with your shoppers one-on-one and give them personalized assistance — whether it’s recommending what lawn mower is best for their yard or helping them find the right replacement chainsaw blade — can make them feel like VIPs in your store.
Including interactive elements on your sales floor, like unit demonstrations, engaging product displays or kiosks where shoppers can look up product information, can complement the shopping habits of these digital-savvy shoppers, giving them a hands-on experience of what they’ve already researched online.
Make sure to dedicate some of your physical real estate to community involvement — post team photos of the Little League team you sponsor or share pictures of your sales team volunteering. That will help you connect with your millennial shoppers. This younger generation is very socially conscious, and they enjoy working with companies that give back to their community.2
Creating this engaging in-store experience to convert millennial shoppers is critical, but where most dealers see the largest struggle is getting them in the door in the first place. Let’s move on to explore some ways to hook this new generation of homeowners.
#2 Promote early and often
Buying a home is a huge financial commitment, and many new homeowners look for the most budget-friendly equipment.
You can get ahead of the big box stores by offering holiday promotions a little early. If you know these competitors usually offer huge sales on Labor Day weekend and you’re planning a storewide sale of your own, offer your deal the weekend before the holiday. Budget-conscious shoppers are likely to jump at your deal and make a purchase before the other stores even begin their sales.
Inexpensive pay-per-click ads, social media ads and retargeting ads can help you reach your target demographic and advertise any current deals. With social media ads, you can often target specific groups based on interest, income, age range and location. Pay-per-click ads similarly allow you to target locations and specific keywords to help you reach the shoppers who are most likely to make a purchase with you.
#3 Build your online reputation
Instead of just chatting around the water cooler at work, millennials look to online reviews for product and business recommendations. They respect and trust what their peers have to say and are likely to be influenced by their friends and family. Many of these young shoppers will look to ratings and reviews to help them decide on a product to buy and a business to buy it from, so it’s important that your dealership has a positive online reputation.
Make sure you respond politely to both positive and negative reviews that you receive online. If a customer leaves you a 5-star rating and a glowing recommendation, thank that person for his or her kind words. If someone had a bad experience at your store, give that person a sincere apology and take steps to try to correct the situation. When other shoppers see your responses, it will reinforce the message that you care about your customers.
It’s also important to ensure your online presence is up-to-date and working properly. If you have outdated information on your website or a page is slow to load, shoppers may get frustrated and head to your competitor’s website instead. Address any website issues as soon as you learn of them, and do your best to make your website a strong counterpart for your brick-and-mortar store.
#4 Engage on social media
It’s no surprise that millennials are major social media users. The generation grew up alongside the Internet, and many were early adopters of social media. Statistics show that 69 percent of millennials in the United States use Facebook, with the average adult using the site for 21 minutes a day.3, 4
To connect with young homeowners, post regularly on Facebook and other social media sites. Social media content should provide a good mix of entertaining and educational content with sales-oriented posts. A good rule of thumb is the 4-1-1 rule: For every six posts you create on social media, four should be entertaining or educational; one post should be a soft sell designed to get customers thinking about a future purchase; and one post should be a hard sell designed to get customers buying right now. Examples of entertaining or educational posts would be a video of a chain saw carving contest or sharing an article on snow blower maintenance. A soft sell post could be promoting an upcoming sale or in-store event, and a hard sell post could be advertising a specific unit or creating a sense of urgency by saying you only have a few of a certain model left in-stock, so shoppers should hurry to get one today.
Don’t forget to post community-centric content when it’s appropriate. Creating posts about things going on in your area can help set you apart from the big box stores, many of which only post store-specific content provided by a corporate marketing team on social media. If your town has a communitywide event going on, post about how you’re participating, or if you sponsor a youth sports team, create posts to wish the team the best of luck in its games. This type of content will help you build relationships and loyalty with homeowners in your community.
Understanding who new homeowners are will help you tailor your marketing efforts to suit their needs and interests. When marketing to millennials, using digital marketing channels like social media, review platforms and your website will help you reach them where they’re spending the most time — online.
Colleen Malloy is the director of marketing at ARI Network Services. Prior to joining ARI in November 2013, Malloy served as the editor of Motorcycle and Powersports News. She is dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” — online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”