Four years ago I joined Builder Funnel to create a content department for our clients. They say time is the best teacher, and this blog is all about lessons that time has taught us about home builder and remodeler marketing.
We’ve learned a lot about the dynamics around home building and remodeling clients, mainly that it’s usually a busy mother who initiates the conversation around building a custom home or remodeling the kitchen. When we put ourselves in the mindset of this busy mom, our assumptions about content change drastically. We don’t assume that she consumes content the way a home builder or construction manager would for a very simple reason: what drives her is different. In our content team, we affectionately refer to her as Custom Home Cathy and ask ourselves questions such as:
Does Custom Home Cathy really read blogs word for word?
Does Custom Home Cathy care about the price of lumber?
Does Custom Home Cathy prefer emails over ebooks?
When does Custom Home Cathy take breaks in her day to research a potential remodeling job?
After four years of asking these questions and more, here are five lessons we’ve learned that influence how we set up content marketing strategies for home building clients.
1. Most potential remodeling or homebuilding clients don’t read ebooks or blogs word for word
I’m a writer at heart, and this is a tough thing to admit: as much time and thought our writers and designers put into our ebooks, most clients don’t pour over them like a best-selling novel. This means that although we invest in professionally designed and written ebooks, we don’t spend months upon months researching them. Why? Because Custom Home Cathy doesn’t download an ebook to see if you understand the way hard wood floor grain patterns might influence the afternoon sun in her living room. She’s usually curious about high-level items. Not to mention, ebooks and blogs mostly function as a step in trust building—if you deliver an ebook that matches the description where she signed up for it, you’re moving forward in the relationship and that’s what counts.
2. It’s all about the pictures
Visually interesting and sometimes artistic photos will almost always win the attention of Custom Home Cathy. Since it’s in real life situations that she finds herself frustrated or discontented, it’s not surprising that visual solutions almost always trump written content.
3. It’s better to write and create content for the “skimmer” client (and invest resources accordingly)
Custom Home Cathy is a skimmer. Working off of the first two lessons above, we’ve learned that it’s better to create blogs and social media posts that cast a broad net and offer just enough to whet her appetite for more content. This also means we create blogs with information-rich subheadings where she can get the gist of the blog by reading them alone. It also helps us focus on “skimmer” type topics and make sure they’re visually stimulating.
4. Email and social media is (usually) where the magic happens
No matter how provocative or interesting we try to make our blogs and ebooks, Custom Home Cathy is not a commenter. Rarely (if ever) does she interact with written content.
What does she like? Photos, photos and more photos.
Pinterest and Houzz are common places where we see content consumed and shared. Along with being a skimmer, a lot of times Custom Home Cathy is a “lurker” (in the best sense, of course). Because we use HubSpot analytics, we know when a link in our email lead nurturing has caught her eye, but it doesn’t always result in her reaching out. This is why we say that she lurks, moving in and out around our content, until she’s ready to talk seriously about building a custom home or remodeling her kitchen. Email and social media are where we “magically” build trust between her and a brand, so that when she’s ready to stop lurking, she knows where to turn for help.
5. Your sales team’s personality absolutely must match the warmth and tone of your content
There’s a lot that content (and our content team) can do for Custom Home Cathy—we can help her self educate around a topic she’s interested in; we can let her move at a pace that’s comfortable for her; we can help her attach to your brand and style; and we can also help business owners identify where she is in the buying cycle. But all of this falls to pieces if a sales team member reaches out in an abrupt, pushy or rude manner or in any way that doesn’t match the tone of your online brand. When leads aren’t closing for clients, this is one of the first places I recommend looking. A disconnect in voice/personality between online and offline resources raises red flags for Custom Home Cathy, mainly because it feels as though she’s been duped—that who you are online was all a rouse to get her to become a client.
While these lessons have taught us a lot, the primary lesson that keeps growing is this: There’s no substitute for understanding how clients interact with your content.
Learn about your clients, challenge your assumptions about what they want online and time will continue to be the best possible teacher.