Listen to Your Moms — Your Primary Customers
Everyone says it: “Know your customer.” But how well do you know them?
Of the 105 million women over 18 in this country, 82 million are moms — and 32 million of us have kids at home.
Even with the industry’s increase in sales to singles and couples, chances are excellent that mom is your customer.
Selling to her requires the ability to see the house and house-buying process as she sees it. In order to do that, you have to listen to mom.
Understand How Mom Thinks and Makes Decisions
You need to understand that she makes her big decision based on many little decisions. She has a huge need to be efficient with her time and money, so she will do her research upfront, before she comes to your models. Her research may include information on the seller, the builder, the community and the city.
Mom notices everything in those first encounters, including any inconsistencies in your branded message. So, don’t tell her about how green you are if you don’t recycle your garbage. She’ll notice.
Of course, the first thing she and her mate will do before buying a home is come up with an objective “must have” list — number of bedrooms and baths, size of the yard, family room or office, schools — all the usual.
But mom will also be dealing with a lot of subjective wants, which are harder to assess and can be much harder to address.
Mom Reacts to Smells, Lighting and Sound
Women, in general, process sensory information better than men, so mom will be reacting to smells, lighting and sounds, along with what she sees.
Ultimately, the house has to sing to her. You have to figure out what kind of music she likes.
Mom Looks at Space in Terms of Potential
Mom is more likely to see her new space in terms of its potential. Even if the house is still a blueprint, she’s looking ahead. In her mind, she’s willing to trade off a few things she’s not crazy about now for a lot of things she thinks are perfect.
For example, she can easily turn what you call the library into the garden room by replacing the back wall with French doors later on. To her, your configuration is not really a deal breaker because your kitchen/dining area works so well.
Her mind games may include fitting in her grandmother’s sideboard, her husband’s favorite chair, beds for two Irish wolfhounds or space for a rock-climbing wall.
She’s writing the story of her family and your job is to provide the setting. The hard sell won’t work with her.
Forget the Hard Sell — Emphasize Safety and Security
Mom will likely imagine her children (or grandchildren) growing up in this new house. She will be focused on safety and security — of the interior of the house, the yard, the neighborhood and the community.
A mom with young children needs to be able to see them at play. Good sight lines in the backyard may be a great selling point. Be able to answer her safety questions honestly.
Mom Wants Value — But Let Her Define What It Is
She’s looking for value, but it’s important to let her define what value is for herself. Don’t define it for her.
The same woman who loves shopping at Costco for bargains on toilet paper and cleaning supplies can also find value in spending $8,000 for a spa tub in the master bath.
The fact that you have sold the house next door to a family with children near the ages of hers may be of more value to her than any option in your package.
Mom Wants to Be Able to Make Her Home Her Own
Regardless of where she’s moving, mom really does want her home to be “customized.” You may call it personalization, options or add-ons. But what she is looking for is a sense of individuality — little touches that set her home off from the surrounding homes.
No two women want to arrive at a party in the same dress. Mom doesn’t relish living three doors down from a duplicate of her home.
She’s also likely to be highly motivated to add options that make her life better, easier or more efficient.
Mom Is Technologically Savvy
Finally, don’t underestimate mom. She is not technologically challenged.
In fact, she’s quite the opposite. She’s the one doing the Internet research on your product.
If your Web site doesn’t respond with the kind of information she’s after, her husband or buying partner will never even see your online virtual tour.
Bottom Line — Know What Mom Wants
Mom loves a bargain — but is more than willing to pay for things she values. You must listen to find out what those things are.
She loves a good story, too. But in this case, she’s the playwright. You are only part of the stage crew.
You have to take note and respond to her needs, her wants and most importantly, her dreams.
Treat her like the woman she is and she may reward you — not only with a sale, but also with the kind of word-of-mouth marketing that makes your dreams come true.
Nora Lee is the catalyst/principal of Nora Lee Et Al, an Altadena, Calif.-based consulting firm that teaches the business world about the “economic power of mom.” Lee is the author of “The Mom Factor: What Really Drives Where We Shop, Eat and Play” (Urban Land Institute, 2005.) For more information, visit her Web site, www.momfactor.com; or e-mail Lee, or call her 626-797-3372.
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