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Being There

I’ve just read possibly my 893rd news article about the millennials and how we all need to change the way we market so we can reach them. Of course, in every single article I read touching on this subject, they never give me a single suggestion on what I should change or do differently to reach this bloc of buyers. Ugh!!!!!! I’ll come back to that in just a moment.

Research indicates that millennials have grown up with a strong distrust for big institutions. That same research tells us that millennials have trust issues – they lived on the sidelines during the subprime meltdown and foreclosure fiasco – and they have a hard time trusting the “older” generation. The typical real estate agent is 57 years old, and the average age of a loan officer is 54. The median age of first-time homebuyers is 31. Here’s the reason these things matter: Millennials account for 32% of all home sales and 68% of first-time homebuyers – and those numbers will continue to grow.

As I said, the pundits (that’s a fancy word for “experts”) keep telling me I need to change and adapt to reach out to and connect with the millennials, but they never tell me how. Why? Because they don’t have the foggiest idea. Don’t despair, though: I have three pieces of advice that will help you connect with the younger buyers – and these things will help you connect better with ALL of your buyers. None of these suggestions requires you to create an app for a smartphone or invent a new technology that predicts who is going to enter the market before they even know it themselves:

1. Be reachable AND responsive by email and text – yes, I said “text”. If you are immediately responsive (meaning: in an hour or two, not in a day or two), the millennials (and everyone else) will be impressed. Honestly, that’s as tech savvy as you need to be.

2. Use plain English. Gone are the days when people are impressed with our ability to trot out terms like BINSR and amortization. This does not mean I think the millennials aren’t smart enough to handle the home buying process and that it needs to be “dumbed down” – quite the opposite, really: they’re demanding that we know our stuff well enough to translate it into plain English so we’re not trying to hide behind big fancy terms. The way we assure we’re not doing the job for a lesser agent (read: not as smart) is making the process so easily understood that clients see us as the reason for that clarity – we “outsimple” the competition. That’s how we gain their trust.

3. This is where and how you gain their loyalty – yes, their loyalty – in two words: constant contact. I don’t mean sending them a post card every six months. You need to call, email, and text them (pick one method at a time) on a fairly regular basis with a recommendation of a landscaping service, a pool cleaner, a good restaurant, a financial planner, etc. If they see you as a constant source of knowledge (that pays off), they WILL come to you first to buy that next house, that vacation home, and eventually that retirement home. With the younger generations, gaining and keeping loyalty is like maintaining a healthy lifestyle: no slacking.

You can Facebook, Tweet, and Instagram all day long – no harm in that – but the way to reach out to and connect with the millennials still revolves around being available and knowledgeable. You don’t need a pundit to tell you that!

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