Connecting with the next generation of homebuyer

My first job out of college was working in the marketing department for a huge corporation that manufactures consumer goods. I don’t want to tell you the name, but it's a company that most people would recognize.

All the new hires like me were put into a group whose sole purpose was to come up with ideas that appealed to a newly labeled demographic category, Generation X. (Yes, it was that long ago.) The thinking was that the company had a good handle on reaching Baby Boomers and wanted to reach this new group of consumers.

The “powers that be” thought the marketing for the product line was "old and stodgy." (Yes, that phrase was in the memo we received.) The goal was to get the message out to the people of Gen X.

For weeks, we sat in the bullpen area and brainstormed. We generated ideas, methods and messages to reach this demographic, which was going to change how the company did business and take this consumer-goods manufacturer into the future.

Fast forward 20+ years and I'm still trying to get the message out to Gen X. Only nobody calls them that anymore. They've just melted into the fabric of society.

One day I stopped to get an overpriced coffee at the newest anti-Starbuck's café that looked exactly like it was built on the same business model. I took a good look at the customers who were frequenting the business.

They don't dress the same. They don't speak the same language. Oh, it's English, but it's shorthand, with word usage I didn't quite understand. (“Sick” can mean “awesome” now.)

They grew up in a different world. They are wired in ­– they communicate digitally via texts and tweets and they get news instantly. Only it's not called "news" anymore. (Updates ... one of the new words I learned.)

They like things that are “trending,” and being ahead of the curve. They share information and like to think of themselves as influencers. They don’t like being marketed to, but are offended if they are not.

This sparked something in me. I began to work from the coffeehouse for a few hours a week. I began listening to their conversations. I made notes. I felt "stalkerish." (Another of the new words I learned.)

I realized with pride – and on some level, sadness – that I had just identified a herd of "Millennials." Pride, because after a couple of weeks of camping out there, I'd successfully made some inroads with them. I realized that they are the next generation of home buyers; sadness because I feared that I, too, had become "old and stodgy."

Because they are wired in, it made me realize that in order to appeal to the Millennials, we have to pay attention to areas of marketing that we may not have anticipated because they didn’t exist 10 years ago.

1. Social media

This offers a viable option not only to communicate, but to advertise. REALTORS® must have a presence and add value to the relationship.

2. Website

Yes, everyone has a website, but the content on it needs to be fresh, friendly and informative.

3. Blog

Your experience matters to Millennials. If they can tell something about you by reading what you write and it appeals to them, they'll reach out.

4. Online reputation

Pay attention to reviews and make sure you have a presence in local listings such as Manta, YellowPages and MerchantCircle, just to name a few.

5. Integration

This is all part of the big picture – your online brand, if you will. Consistency is the key. Make sure to promote your digital presence in print.

Reaching Millennials doesn’t have to be scary. We can help you develop an effective social media strategy. Call us at 800.458.8245 for a free marketing consultation.

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