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Lead the way with user-friendly signposts
There’s more to effective wayfinding in 2018 than staking directional arrows in the ground or floating brightly colored balloons in the sky.
The process of guiding prospects to your property and from place to place once they arrive should also move them to buy. By being offered the proper cues at just the right time, your potential home buyers won’t miss out on important information. They’ll have a more meaningful and enjoyable experience, increasing the likelihood they will buy.
Let’s take a look at what goes into crafting a user-friendly pathway for model home visitors—every step of the way.
Today’s buyers rely on mobile technology to take them where they want to go, as much as—or more than—traditional methods. Younger buyers, especially, expect to find your community listed on Google Maps. Beyond driving directions, they expect to find photos, floor plans, news about special events and business hours. Claim your Google Business profile early, pack it with lots of information and then keep it fresh by updating it with Google My Business posts for new events, construction progress updates and special offers.
By taking advantage of Google’s tools, you’ll be providing an important signpost to potential buyers at just the right time. Because this feature can be used during early research, it is paramount that your community be listed. Because this feature can help guide prospects with door-to-door directions, it also plays a significant role in the earliest stage of wayfinding.
Beyond Google, consider leveraging technology by using geofencing to create a perimeter around your community allowing you to push messaging to potential buyers as they enter or exit the boundaries. Not familiar with geofencing? That’s okay. We’ve got a full article coming soon on this which will go into far more detail than we can here. So, keep your eyes peeled.
Go Big or Go Home
Chances are, you’re not the only builder located just south of Exit 95 heading west on the local expressway. Own the corner by buying a billboard just before or just after the exit, or both, if they are available. They are impossible to miss and immediately stand tall above the rest. For now, don’t sweat the details. We’ll discuss out of home (OOH) media in an upcoming article. Just know that billboards can be key to directing buyers off the main artery coming into your area.
Flags, Signs and Sign Twirlers (Oh My!)
It’s a jungle out there. Make sure your community signage cuts through competing messaging with branded flags, A-frame signs and perhaps a sign twirler to direct traffic in your direction.
If you’re in an area where more permanent signage is possible, take advantage and do it right. Consider building a small monument, for example, beautified with vegetation typical for your development. You’ll be creating a positive experience by making your location easy to find and connecting it with plant life your target customer finds attractive.
Top it off with a giant American flag waving over your models. It’s a visual cue even inexperienced home buyers won’t be able to miss.
Influence Traffic Flow
Foot traffic begins the moment a potential buyer sets foot into your parking lot or pops over from across the street. Make it clear where buyers should begin their journey with well-marked pathways. It helps to provide guide rails in the form of low-profile, fashionable fencing.
If you want guests to begin in the sales office, for example, lead foot traffic to the models by way of an entrance that cannot be accessed otherwise, at least without hopping a small fence, that is.
Continue to lead the way from model to model using stepping stones, sidewalks or other pathways. The walkways could be lined with colorful flags or landscaped with flowers. But what’s most important is that they guide guests through your properties with ease, highlighting the benefits of features as they encounter them.
Include Table Tents, Brochures and Floor Plans
This is where table tents, brochures and take-home packets stocked with floor plans and community information come in.
If your model home features a gas range, be sure to let guests know if electric appliances are an option, and vice versa. The same goes for other options such as whether a portion of the garage can be used as a villa or business office with a separate entry.
In short, if they need to know it, make it available. This could include referring guests back to the sales office or to your website. But address matters your target buyers want—or need—to know.
Develop a Mobile App
Okay, we realize we’ve already touched on using technology to get buyers to your community. Once they’ve arrived, a well-planned mobile app can help them navigate the space for a positive, truly personalized experience.
Building augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) into your app, for example, could help guests visualize various options such as colors, finishes or fixtures. Both Apple and Google offer kits for developers to create virtual and augmented reality mobile apps. And, with ever-advancing technology, the point of entry is becoming easier.
Guests who download your app to their device will be able to revisit the experience later or share it with family or friends. Because not everyone will have a compatible mobile device or be willing to download it, consider offering tablets for checkout that can be turned back in at the sales office following a tour.
Be careful, however, because the temptation is there to include tracking applications which can tell which models guests stopped in and where they went after leaving your community without giving anything of value back. Whatever they do from that point forward, you will be notified and can follow up. What will you deliver in return?
Think of it this way: although we all know technology is watching us, all we’re asking for is a fair trade. Make sure the software you write is worth the information you take.
Some benefits, beyond the wealth of information the app should relay, might be receiving push notifications on special opportunities or inside information on private sales available only through the app. Just don’t ping them every 15 minutes. They are making a $500k decision—treat it as such. If you violate that trust you will never get it back.
Limit the Roles of VR/AR—For Now
If you use VR or AR to guide the user experience, make sure it lives up to expectations. If you are going to do it, don’t do it poorly. Your guests expect a certain level of quality from your brand, so it makes sense that offering a not-ready-for-prime-time app can actually hurt your reputation.
Also, contrary to industry chatter that such technology could reduce the need to build as many model homes, keep in mind that there are fine lines between enhancing an experience and pulling off a complete replacement. Guests still want to touch something, to feel something. They want the experience of walking through a home and getting a sense of the space. Even the scent matters when it comes to creating an atmosphere conducive to making an emotional connection.
Once a guest has toured your property using the app to track their journey, however, the app could be used to play it back in a 3D model. By pointing at a floor plan, for example, a guest could experience the walk-through as often as they like.
Again, remember that if you don’t delight and wow your guests, they didn’t come out with a positive experience. Spend the money to make sure your brand comes through.
Not sure where to start? You’re not alone. LAVIDGE can help. We know how to tell stories in creative ways so your wayfinding not only moves people, but moves them to buy.
To learn more, give us a call at 480.998.2600 or send email to [email protected].
2018 Southwest Residential Development Marketing Report
This article is a brief abstract of our exclusive study about home buyers and their preferences for advertising and marketing tactics used by new home builders.