We recently came across research showing that over 60% of Millennials would rather buy a home that requires renovation, at a discount, than spend their entire budget on a move-in ready home. As millennials start settling down and remodeling contractors get ready for the next wave of homeowners, we had to wonder, is the industry ready to market to this younger audience?
There is a renovation boom happening in America - remodeling is trendy, wholesome and rewarding. The past decade has produced a slew of remodeling shows and renovation celebrities. From HGTV's handsome Property Brothers and Rehab Addict Nicole Curtis from the DIY Network, all the way to high design luminaries like Kelly Wearstler and her interior design Master Class, high profile influencers have made the idea of renovating a home exciting. More than that, the hands-on home remodel has given millennials a way to prove their worth to the world after being blamed for everything from selfishness and short attention spans to cancel culture. Enter the Renovation Generation.
In many ways, 2020 is the perfect storm for remodeling contractors looking to work with first-time homeowners. Millennials, now in their mid 30s, are living out their last years as city-dwellers and starting families. They are looking for more space and re-evaluating their urban living arrangements. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, forcing young urban families to look for more space to they can have space for a home office and quarantine in comfort. Other suburban amenities are suddenly much more appealing too, like less crowded supermarkets or private outdoor space. As a result, the suburban single-family home market is booming.
So, what do we know about millennials and how can we leverage that knowledge to market home building and remodeling services? If the Renovation Generation wants to personalize their homes, should a home builder market a property before it is completed, giving the new owner an opportunity to customize? How can a remodeling general contractor attract young families who are buying their first fixer-upper?
Let's start with the facts. Although all generations have embraced digital life, millennials stand out not just for their adoption of technology, but also for their confidence navigating the web. They firmly believe that the best information can be found on the internet and conduct extensive online research before making any important decision. This knowledge allows us to take specific steps as marketers, to ensure that a business is not only visible, but also engaging and capable of capturing remodeling leads.
1. Optimize for Local Search and Maps
Certainly any remodeling contractor can take some basic steps to put themselves on the local map, that's what we call "table stakes". This can be as simple as claiming or creating a Google My Business profile. But is that enough to attract, engage and convert millennial leads and get that coveted phone call?
2. Create Informative Up-to-Date Content
The answer is not complicated, but it does require a commitment to your online footprint. In most cases, millennials will choose a contractor whose website is informative and helps them understand the remodeling process. Becoming a trusted advisor to your online audience requires going beyond simply listing your services - your website needs to be frequently updated with timely and informative content. Frequently posting new content also matters because it points to the health of your business. Millennials will notice if you haven't published anything new on your blog or news section in a while and begin to wonder what's happened in your company.
3. Add Lots of Pictures & Videos
The internet is as much a knowledge repository as it is a visual medium. Make sure your website has attractive images of your past projects to demonstrate your expertise. We love photos because they are also easy to syndicate across social media. Post project photos to your website often and share them on Facebook, Instagram and Houzz.
Videos are also a great way to show your expertise and start building a more personal connection with your leads online. Videos give people a chance to get to know you, humanize your business and make the renovation process seem less daunting to first-time homeowners.
4. Take Control of Your Directory Listings
In its early stages, the renovation research process is often dominated by aggregators like Houzz, Angie's List, HomeAdvisor, and many others. These directories allow users to skim the market and get a general sense of their options. Make sure your directory listings are consistent and accurate. It's also important to remember that each directory has a "mind" of its own and the ability to update your business information automatically if it isn't claimed, which can lead to mistakes.
5. Use the Right Calls to Action
Even if a prospect finds you via an online directory, or a local map pack, all roads lead back to your website. Make sure your website is ready to engage and capture leads by having both great content and the right calls to action. A call to action can be anything from a "Call Now" button, to a form inviting the user to "Request a Free Estimate". Whatever you language you choose, make sure the website and the call to action are helping you capture the right leads. After all, if you specialize in large-scale home remodels, you don't want to receive 100 calls about replacing a broken door.
6. Don't Neglect Social Media
Make sure you have a social media presence you can be proud of, but don't make Instagramming the hallmark of your marketing strategy. Even though social media plays a huge role in the lives of the Renovation Generation, it is not the final word in their decision-making process. Social media is a low-consideration space where attention spans are minuscule and posts transient. After all, it is one thing to buy a trendy set of pajamas from an Instagram ad, and another to select a general contractor for a major renovation project that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your social media efforts should circle back to your website, where a prospect will have the opportunity to tune out social distractions and really learn about your business.
7. Execution Is Key
The millennial Renovation Generation is the future of our industry. While adapting to a new type of customer is exciting and there are a number of trendy solutions, the biggest challenge in digital marketing is always execution. These days, content gets stale almost as quickly as it travels. Technology evolves just as quickly. The website you built a couple years ago may already be getting knocked by search engines for providing a mediocre user experience. For a millennial digital marketing program to be successful, it is important to align every component on this list and make sure you are clearly communicating your value proposition to the new generation of homeowners.