Village sales and accepting the future, or creating it

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At DCM, we have around 1,100 clients, split 400 B2B (businesses that sell to other businesses) and 700 B2C (businesses that sell to consumers). The 400 sell to the 700 who sell to mums and dads who buy into retirement communities, home care and residential aged care.

Our 700 B2C clients are the ones that actually push every button to get sales, short term and long term, including investing in our medias like villages.com.au and agedcare101.com.au.

So in these COVID times these 700 marketers are the ones that create the future for our sectors and all the service and product suppliers that rely on it.

As we talk to them ‘every day’, we can report that the word in village land is that sales have ‘fallen off the cliff’. People have not been able to inspect villages. People can’t sell their family home for a reasonable price. What can you do?

The worry is that everyone hunkers down – and that is now happening on scale. We can report that marketing budgets are being cut by 50%, marketing staff are being let go, finance people are screwing everything down.

It is a repeat of the GFC and sales sank by 75% – from October 2007 to 2012 and beyond. There is huge risk that today we are creating a similar future and it is not a good one.

As you can see from the editorial above and below in The Weekly SOURCE from July 2012, the village sector had not recovered five years post the GFC.

At the bottom of this article is another editorial clip from December 2012, revealing the ‘value’ that was destroyed by finance people running the joints – retrenching people to dress up a bad balance sheet, made worse by…retrenching people who create business.

The singular lesson to be learnt is that the sales you don’t get today, you won’t make up tomorrow. In the village sector, potential customers move on, they don’t come back. (They moved on for five-plus years from the GFC).

By saving $1,000 in ‘costs’, the finance people destroyed $10,000 in value.

Nobody should bank on false hopes – are the customers really there to be had? The answer is definitely ‘yes’. Look to the operators that survived and prospered between 2007 and 2012, like Oak Tree, or Southern Cross Care in NSW, or RSL LifeCare.

And today the customers are definitely there. The graph above is a snapshot of our villages.com.au Google Analytics for the one day, Monday 11 May – one week ago.

3,333 people searched for a retirement village in just 24 hours.

At exactly 2pm, there were 338 people investigating a new accommodation option for themselves or a family member. This is not Facebook or Google Ads where people stumble on an ad; they can only reach villages.com.au by searching for it.

We all know the research that says people look to villages when a significant event has occurred in their life (physical, emotional, financial), so these are committed, interested people.

But is this a lot of people relative to the market? Again, yes.

Each year, just 22,000 village homes come on to the market. That is 60 every day of the year. Last Monday, 3,333 people looked at villages – of which for 2,466, it was their first search.

60 sales are 1.8% of all people who searched that day. Pretty good odds, given the force of the events driving the village search.

The base is there to create a strong future. Marketers have to do that – market – which means identify the needs that customers have and then satisfy them. Establish the value proposition.

And the finance people need to invest in the parts of the business that create value; otherwise they are destroying value.

COVID-19 has changed the world and all of us. It has made us all reset our basic thoughts on life, plus impacted our domestic security. For marketers this creates new, compelling value propositions.

It’s up to the marketers, supported by the finance people, to not repeat 2007-12. A lot of people are relying on it.

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