(Rendering | Courtesy of Savy Agency)
Branding is an art form. It is fluid, multi-faceted and sometimes fickle. And while some foundational principles remain true across all brands, you should always do research and adapt for your particular brand’s market. Marketers for custom home builders are one sub-category that can utilize specific tools to set the brand apart from the competition.
The custom home builders trend
Turn on the DIY Network or HGTV or search your area for custom home builders and you’ll have your pick of options. As the U.S. housing market and demand have risen, so has interest in custom homes. In the last decade, the custom home market has continued to grow, despite rising costs for labor and materials. Census data showed “that 171,000 custom homes started construction during the one-year interval spanning the third quarter of 2016 through the end of the second quarter of 2017.”
Overall what this means is that if you market for a custom home builder, you can use this growth to increase brand awareness. But taking advantage of this trend requires that you fully understand the custom home builder market. Does your client build small family homes or sprawling multi-million dollar estates? What specific services do they offer and what area(s) do they serve? Understanding why these homes are popular now — from self-expression to low cost maintenance — is the first step in getting a grasp on your market.
Building a standout custom home brand
Whatever the brand’s size, the product or service or market, there are some solid marketing strategies that you should first put in place before focusing on the specifics. When marketing for custom home builders, the devil is in these details.
Tell your story
We can’t say this enough: storytelling is the heart of any marketing strategy. For a custom home building brand, your marketing strategy should include your story at every touchpoint. The idea here is to make it compelling because, “people need to know how your brand got to where it is today, what is at the core of your business and what it is you stand for.” For example, you should detail why and how the company started on your About page, but go further. Talk about what types of custom homes the brand offers and why, what the motivation was for creating the brand and the process the company takes for each crafted home.
Understand your audience
Knowing your target audience means you are specific about consumer behavior, have done your research to narrow down your ideal customer (age, location, occupation) and have a focus with your messaging. Marketers for custom home builders need to fully understand the scope of their brand’s reach. Which markets do they build in? Who is the ideal client? Study analytics from the brand’s site and social to understand further who your audience is. Knowing your audience helps you to establish an effective brand persona.
Make it consistent and recognizable
Consistency helps to set your custom home brand apart from competitors. Once you establish a brand persona that includes a recognizable logo, typography, tone and imagery, you want to keep it consistent and complementary across all platforms. Creating an evergreen image, helps brands to “cement themselves in the minds, and often hearts, of their biggest fans.” Pay attention to what other custom home brands are doing and why. Are there certain themes in their imagery? Is there something you could be doing to market your brand differently?
Marketing strategies for custom home builders
If you’re marketing for a custom home builder, you hopefully have a good idea of your audience and your particular niche (i.e., the things that set you apart). But are you optimizing your marketing? And are you doing your best to stand out? Some ways to do so as a custom home builder are to:
Optimize your website
SEO is important for every brand, but for custom home builders, local SEO is even more important. Your SEO strategy begins with your website. Start with a list of keywords (found on sites like SEMrush) that pertain to your brand and your custom home building location. For example, if you serve the Arizona area, that might be “custom homes in Arizona,” “custom home builders AZ” and so on. From there, “make sure that phrase appears in the title of one or more of your website pages. Also include the phrase in the content on your homepage.” Best practices for local SEO include creating local content, adding location pages to your site and optimizing for Google My Business.
Set up eNews and a blog
Custom homes are highly personal projects for clients. This means that a personalized newsletter that speaks to their interests is crucial. It’s true also that “sometimes potential customers are interested in your company or what you have to say, but aren’t quite ready to make a purchase.” Newsletters are a great way to show off your portfolio, and blogs are a great way to show behind the scenes/behind the build stuff, giving potential clients insight into your expertise and process. These tools can establish your custom home brand further with your audience.
Include case studies and project galleries
Case studies and a robust photo gallery are the most crucial element to include for a custom home builder. Clients and potential clients want to see past work. They want to be wowed by imagery, and they also want to read about the details of the project (where storytelling can come back in). Case studies also allow for testimonials from past customers, which can make or break a new deal. The more shareable these case studies and galleries are, the more marketable the custom home brand becomes.
Take advantage of social media
Lastly, custom home builders have image-forward brands. So social sites like Instagram provide a platform to show off current and past projects. Remember to use each site to its advantage. Facebook can be useful in answering customer questions. Twitter is great for reaching new audiences. LinkedIn can help with networking and B2B connections. And YouTube can help you show off a more dynamic side to your brand (i.e., a video timelapse of a project).
Examples we love
As custom home builders have such highly visual brands, it wouldn’t be fair not to showcase some of our favorites. These local companies set themselves apart through imagery, storytelling and compelling brands.
Argue Custom Homes
Argue Custom Homes is a luxury custom home builder in Arizona. Their brand has a specific market with the sprawling estates they create for clients. As such, their website is image-forward and focused on the details of the homes they build. Their About and Process pages highlight the brand’s story, and the imagery throughout stays consistent. Argue is an excellent example of a brand that understands its target market and carters to them throughout their site.
CNC Homes is a local custom home builder with a 50-year history. Their brand stays consistent with colors and imagery throughout their site and social media, and they also focus heavily on their portfolio and customer case studies. Further understanding their market, they keep a regularly updated blog that speaks to current and future clients alike.
New Energy Works
New Energy Works’ Timber Frame Homes is a bi-coastal operation that creates custom homes in a niche market. Their timber-framing and woodworking approach is apparent throughout their site and social channels. Like the other examples, they weave storytelling throughout their brand touchpoints and have a focus on imagery with their gallery and case studies. By understanding their unique approach, they set their brand apart.
Marketing for a standout brand takes time and a deep understanding of both the market and what the brand offers. For brands like custom home builders, there are specific approaches like image-forward sites and case studies that set them apart from the (growing) competition. The takeaway here is to build momentum in your marketing––with values and content that carry you forward and ahead of the pack.
Rob Brown is a founder and the agency director at Savy Agency, headquartered in Bend. Savy has brought brands to life since 2007 and is a top-performing Google Partner delivering comprehensive marketing services to brands in a variety of industries. Savy’s in-house team of designers, developers and content creators work together under one roof to enhance the competitiveness of every brand they serve.