Time to rebuild: 5 step guide to the right type of communication.

At this time, a difficult time with so many challenges. It is hard to know what to do and when to do it. Especially when it comes to taking those first tentative steps back to the world of work and business.

Many housebuilders have been announcing plans for a responsible and compliant return to construction over the next few weeks. Soon after that their marketing suites will open. As they carefully navigate the slow path back towards some kind of normality from this enforced and unwelcome hibernation.

1. Research, Planning and Preparation.

As sites start to gradually come back online, marketing plans need to be in place sooner rather than later. With most housebuilders adopting a staggered approach, which sites are reopening first - and when? This schedule should be driving the communication strategy.

2. Audience analysis: Who’s the customer now?

Perhaps the most important question of all. Has the potential customer base changed? And if so, how? A detailed analysis of each development catchment area, as always, will be a good starting point. Including engaging with those people still in market, potentially stuck at various stages of the move cycle.

3. Content and Messaging: Test the water, don’t dive in.

An immediate return to the conventional messages we were all used to doesn’t feel like the right approach, probably because it isn’t. The key focus is reintroducing the brand and, crucially at this time, brand values, ethics and trust. We will be ‘all in this together’ for a while, so it’s important to ensure all communication is driven by Corporate Social Responsibility rather than sales. That said, this positioning can then pave the way for subtle selling techniques to be introduced and enticing offers will certainly play a role in gradually switching consumer mindsets back to thinking about the future – and their dream home.

4. Channel Selection: How best to reach out.

If nothing else, the last few weeks have shown how important online communication is, but with this increased screen time comes a danger of ‘trust fatigue’ when it comes to digital channels, not helped of course by the increased threat of fraud. Consumer research consistently shows physical mail is more valued and trusted, and highly effective in driving emotional engagement with brands. Something to hold, touch and feel (remember that?), and at the moment audiences have even more time to put down their devices and give you some real attention. From insight driven direct mail, to smart door drops and look-a-like customer matching via Partially Addressed, there have never been more ways to augment your digital activity and put your messages in the hands of potential customers. Literally.

5. Review the plan. Then plan again...

This forthcoming period is going to be a case of carefully testing and measuring for all of us, so campaign analysis is more critical than ever. Social media engagement and website metrics will help guide the volume and tone of your digital content, and mail is itself increasingly benefitting from behavioural research and data to help predict interactions and drive outcomes.

So, as we rebuild together, if the right tools are used at the right time and in the right way, then it should be a truly exciting time for marketers everywhere . . . and their clients.