July 06, 2007

Adult Communities - a gold mine for you?

My mother-in-law moved into an Active Adult community a few months ago, and I was recently invited to her house for a dinner party. When I arrived, she was chatting with three neighbors about her new furniture. An hour later, the four women were still discussing home design issues – paint color choices, where they could find the best area rugs, who they used to install their lights, and on and on. I found it fascinating that they could talk for so long about this one topic, but I realized it wasn’t unusual. When someone buys a new home, they are often interested in decorating it, and since EVERYONE in this community is a new homeowner, home decor is a common topic of discussion.

Active Adult communities are popping up all over the country. The new residents are in desperate need of our services! Here are 4 great reasons to target these communities:

  • These are new homes, and the fact is: homeowners spend the most money on their homes within the first few months of moving in.
  • Seniors are the most affluent demographic with the largest disposable income.
  • Seniors have more free time to spend on hobbies and passions, like home decorating.
  • Once you penetrate a senior community, referrals spread like crazy.

Okay, now that you're convinced of WHY you should target Active Adult communities, I bet you want to know HOW!

Here are a few great tips on breaking into this market.

  1. Advertise in their newsletters
    Rates are usually very reasonable, and the newsletters are read thoroughly by most members of the community. Contact the newspaper committee.
  2. Conduct a design seminar at the community clubhouse
    This is so effective! Many seniors enthusiastically attend these presentations, which are widely promoted within the community. You can also contact individual groups and clubs within each development (singles club, theater group, game group, etc), as they often look for guest speakers and theme nights. Once you make a contact, it is easy to become "THE" designer who is referred by - and used by - most of the community.
  3. Send "New Home Flyers"
    Don't get me started on New Home Flyers! Those of you who have read my earlier e-zines or my e-book on New Home Flyers know how passionate I am about this marketing tool. You can get addresses and labels fairly inexpensively from direct mail companies. The company I use is Homeowners Marketing. (You can go on the site, but it's much better to call. Ask for the owner, Barry, and mention my name: 800-232-2134.)
  4. Take a walk
    Beware! Most of these communities are gated, which means you can't get in unless you are visiting a resident. My mother-in-law and I walked around her neighborhood knocking on doors, and it worked out very well. But you can only use this method if you are friendly with my mother-in-law (she won't walk around with just anyone, you know!). Seriously, once you've established contact with someone in the development, ask them to introduce you to the neighborhood.

    One designer I know saturated a neighborhood by walking around with flyers as the homes were still being built - before there was a guard gate. This activity made her the main designer for the community. She decorates almost every home there.

Some of these techniques may take you out of your comfort zone. But if you truly desire to expand your business and become more successful, don't be afraid to explore new ideas. The results will be worth it!

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