With so much emphasis placed on acquiring new guests, it is easy to overlook the importance of a strong homeowner acquisition strategy. If your Owner Acquisition Strategy (OAS) is not performing as well as you would like, it might be time for a fresh look.
When interviewing property managers in our Under the Hood series, we always ask about their homeowner acquisition and retention strategies. Understanding this information is highly confidential, we’ve pulled together tips and tactics utilized by property managers to grow inventory.
B2B + B2C =B2O
The relationship with the homeowner has both business and personal elements, so a healthy OAS combines B2B and B2C sales and marketing tactics to create a B2O (business to owner) plan.
The Agency Post article 10 Differences between B2B and B2C Marketing identifies how messaging to businesses and consumers differ.
Here are a couple of excerpts:
- The B2B purchase process tends to be rationally and logically driven, while consumer choices are typically emotionally triggered.
- B2B clientele want to be educated and provided with expertise. B2C customers just want to enjoy themselves, be happy with their purchase and have it adequately fulfill their needs.
For homeowners, choosing a property manager is both expertise-driven and emotionally driven. Therefore the strategy should connect on both levels.
Steps for creating a successful Owner Acquisition Strategy
There are 6 components to a successful OAS:
- Channel Identification
The first step combines an analysis of the market/destination, owner acquisition strategies and programs utilized by the competition within the destination, the unique selling proposition of your homeowner program, and an in-depth look at your existing inventory (including any losses of inventory in the relevant past).
Based on the analysis and consultation with your rental team, identify a set of criteria used to target new inventory (e.g. property type, amenities, location, specific buildings or communities). DMB Realty Network in Scottsdale posted a whitepaper describing a Second Home Buyer Profile.
Working with homeowers is challenging because they view the relationship with the property management company (PMC) in both a business and personal way:
- Business: The homeowner views himself as the CEO and wants the PMC as the manager to be fully accountable for increasing revenue, maintaining the quality and cleanliness of the property, achieving maximum rental rates, providing top notch accounting/reporting services, etc.
- Personal: The homeowner also wants the PMC to act as a babysitter, making sure nothing is broken, monitoring who is coming in and out of the home, staying in close communication, understanding the home’s uniqueness and personally and lovingly caring for the vacation home.
Design the messaging to highlight the advantages of your program and appeal to the homeowner in both a professional and personal way. (Tip: both B2B and B2C marketers utilize testimonials)
In a successful OAS, a portion of your B2O messaging will be directed to the VRBO market. Whether it is a chart showing how your services save time and money or an introductory program with scaled down services, tapping into the VRBO market in your destination is likely to be necessary to affect your market share in a material way.
4. Choose your marketing channels
You have several options in deciding how you are going to reach prospective owners. Direct mail, email, PPC, display advertising, social media, in-person marketing, events and more. You may also want to add typical B2B channels such as whitepapers, LinkedIn or SlideShare with content showing the effectiveness of your rental program, video testimonials, etc.
Here is a marketing chart to help generate ideas from B2B marketers:
Once the above elements are completed, articulate your strategy and identify tactics in a written plan. Include a budget and plan for evaluation. Get buy-in from stakeholders and begin to thoughtfully execute the plan.
The OAS should be evaluated on an ongoing basis identifying the ROI for each marketing channel. Metrics vary based on the marketing channel, but full reporting is key to monitor performance and maintain momentum. If possible, provide incentives to your sales and marketing team.