Focus discussion of the week:
From best practices to scalability, tune in to learn more about the benefits of partnering with outside brands and businesses – big and small! Join Amanda as she chats with Special Guest, TJ Streit, VP of Marketing at Dream Finders Homes.
Chelsey: [00:00:00] Hi, and welcome to building perspective with Group Two, we are here to bring value to you and your team by exploring all things new home sales and marketing, all from different perspectives.
Amanda: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Building Perspective with Group Two. I’m your host, Amanda. Druschel, and I’m joined by my friend and building partner, TJ Streit with Dream Finders Homes. TJ, welcome to our Building Perspective podcast.
TJ: Thank you, Amanda. Great to be here.
Amanda: We’re excited to chat today with you, TJ about marketing partnerships. So I know that at Dream Finders, you guys have some really amazing marketing partnerships. So we obviously wanted to get you on to get your perspective on that and kind of talk through some strategies.But before we get into it, just wanted to give you a chance to sort of introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit [00:01:00] about yourself. Your role at dream finders and probably some of your past roles, because I think that obviously comes into play here with our podcast today.
TJ: Sure. Thanks, Amanda. I am excited to be here.
I have been at Dream Finders and in the home building industry for exactly five and a half months. So well, not certainly an expert on home building, what I cut my teeth with is sales and marketing. And the last nine years prior to that was with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the national football league here in Jacksonville, Dream Finders, headquartered in Jacksonville.And so I was able to remain in town. I didn’t have to move markets and Dream Finders forged our partnership with the Jaguars. And over the course of nine years, it became my largest. And then I just decided to turn it over to the brand side. And that’s what brought me over to the home building industry.
And I’m certainly excited about it and everything that marketing can add to, you know, [00:02:00] continue to help drive sales in that industry. So prior to that, some media experience, but it’s really for today, you know what I learned over the course of the nine years with the Dream Finders Homes association with my last employer, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah, no, you definitely have a unique perspective. It’s been really fun getting to work with you as you are, you know, coming over to this industry and working together to sort of get you acclimated. I know we’ve joked that you are no longer able to say that you’re a newbie, that’s right. You’ve passed that mark. You kind of dove head in here, but having all those years of experience working with the Dream Finders team, I’m sure has you know, helped with that aspect.
TJ: Yeah, no, that is the honeymoon phase is over. Yeah. And now we get to talk about interest rates and inflation and all that fun stuff, but again, [00:03:00] super excited to see how marketing can help with you know, continuing the, the growth of sales.
Amanda: Yeah, definitely. So let’s, let’s kind of talk a little bit about Dream Finders’ current partnerships with the Jags and the PGA tour. If you can fill the listeners in a little bit on sort of those partnerships, what they look like, and then we can kind of talk through those a little bit.
TJ:Yeah, sure. As I mentioned with the Jaguars, I’m much more familiar with that and I know it began in 2014, and, you know, it runs currently through today and into, you know, many more years and the idea. With that one at the outset was it’s local. We, when I say that I’m speaking with regards to Dream Finders needed a brand identity.
We’re headquartered in Jacksonville Jaguars, have the broadest reach of any, probably any media outlet in Jacksonville. And we just utilize the brand alignment to help create a brand identity of a company that was born in 2000. And [00:04:00] it really accelerated our brand identity rather than just a much more organic way of doing that.
Fast forward to today. And you know, in the last three years we’ve had, you know, we’ve made a few acquisitions on the home building side to now have you categorize this as a large home builder. So that’s a good thing, but you know, a few years ago, we were doing a thousand homes and now we’re doing 5,000 homes. And hopefully in 2022, we’re doing 9,000 homes and, you know, growing the building 100 list. But with that and the expansion into other markets, you know, the Jacksonville and the Jaguars’ brand partnership was fantastic and has continued to help us, but we needed a national reach. So that’s when we engaged with the PGA tour, who is a national organization, they do a lot of tournaments in the regions that we are expanding into. And [00:05:00] there’s a lot of symmetry there. Not only are they headquartered here, we are as well. And so again, a lot of those same factors that the Jaguars worked in 2014 were just trying to implement again in 2022, just instead of it being Jacksonville as the region, you know, the, the cores are, you know, eight states and in 20 divisions.
Amanda: Yeah, that’s a great recap. So the Jaguar’s partnership, definitely, I know for you guys, it’s been very long standing and has, you know, you guys have a huge presence in Jacksonville. I had an opportunity to come down there with you guys earlier this year, and it was just very evident that just a very well established brand.
And you guys did that in a pretty short amount of time, which is impressive. I mean, obviously if you’re aligning with an NFL team and that is a long standing relationship, you know, it’s not just a short term one. You guys made some really smart decisions there to do so, and, and [00:06:00] definitely got a lot of value out of.
And the, the PGA tour. I know that’s, that’s a newer thing and that’s been great too. Like you said, having, you know, your growth across the nation definitely aligns with that because you know, they’re not just in Jacksonville. And so it allows you guys to have some of that presence that is in more of the areas that you are building across the nation.
And for us, it’s been, it’s been really fun. I know last year when we first started working with Dream Finders in the like spring of last year, the first campaign that we started working on for your team right out of the gates. And this is when you were still with the Jags was, was on some Jags creative.
And it was really fun for our team. I know we were talking about, a couple days ago, but our creative team really loved, you know, kind of getting in there and doing some of the creative work for these different brands, because it’s, you know, obviously it’s different than, than our normal day to day.
TJ: You mentioned the longevity of [00:07:00] it. It really goes to one of the points that I think is important with the brand partnership. And that is, you know, with the strategy, it has to be sustainable, like to try and focus on a brand campaign. It just takes time because it’s not as measurable right off the bat and it’s hard.
So, you know, the creative is great and you just have to trust that you’re doing the right thing, but it isn’t until years, 2, 3, 4, 5. And now, you know, with us, this is our eighth year, you know, that you really start to feel the brand loyalty of that core, you know, group of fans and, and in this case, Jacksonville Jaguars fans, but that’s what we’re hoping for with the PGA tours is over time, we have many more brand loyalists, you know, that have seen and, you know, seen the credibility of the brand associated with the PGA tour nationally.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. You know, the [00:08:00] longevity is definitely something to think of, especially when you’re doing something obviously as large scale as partnering with, you know, the NFL or, you know, the PGA, that’s not something that you’re gonna, you know, do once and. And be done and, and it’s a little bit harder to really assess the effectiveness of it.
I know one of the things that we did last year when we were working on some of the different campaigns and creative was utilizing QR codes. And I really loved that. That was really the first time with your team that we’d utilized QR codes. And I thought it was a great way for us to sort of track.
So at the Jaguar stadium on the Dal wall, just for those of you who are not Jags fans or have never been to a Jags game, it’s a wall that essentially is marketed exclusively by Dream Finders, Right? There’s nobody else that, that, that was on that wall, right?
TJ: So we’re the, we’re the sole sponsor of it. And, you know, total social media [00:09:00] based.
Amanda: Yeah. So you guys had some life size images of some of the core players. And we had taken some of the video clips that you had had done from like a press day, I think, and we had made them into real short little clip videos and we then put a QR code under like right at the feet of each of those players. So when people would go up and they’d stand, you know, do their little photo op and stand next to their player, they could then scan that QR code. That brought them back to that video where that player was, you know, doing chanting and some fun things. But on the back end what was really cool is we were able to track on those QR codes, how many people were scanning them, where were they coming from? You know, what state those different types of metrics. So that was really interesting to be able to kind of track that you were also able to see obviously which players were a little bit more popular than others and which ones engaged with people more. [00:10:00] So, but to be able to take that information and use that for the following year, even though you’re gonna have, you know, different players and different things like that, just being able to, to take whatever data you can pull from any of that is really important to make sure you’re tracking that.
So then utilized for, for following years to, to make decisions and adjustments as needed.
TJ: You know, with the QR code, obviously I know that Group Two and yourself obviously are huge believers in that. We’re gonna incorporate more of that into our Concourse panels this year during the 2022 campaign, where folks are walking by.
You know, just go into their seat and you have 50, 60,000 people at a game. And we have about 10 spread out throughout the stadium. And you know, just general, you know, either community marketing or, or something, just more broad about the association as official home builder, the Jacksonville Jaguars with a fun picture.
But what we’re gonna do is QR code it [00:11:00] and just have current listings available. So someone could, you know, it’s real time and that’s one way we’re taking kind of the brand association and that brand partnership and trying to also integrate some call to action, right? Because ultimately at the end of the day, brand is great.
But if it’s not obviously then converting into sales or, you know, whatever your objectives are for that brand partnership, then it’s not effective.
Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that where you guys are at with the Jags, you are definitely able to take it to. Sort of that next level of, like you said really getting into more of the, like driving people to specific, you know, Jacksonville communities and inventory that have available to sell.
All right. Obviously we’re speaking from a very national perspective here, we have a national home builder, and we’re talking about big national brands here. So if you’re listening to this, you’re probably [00:12:00] thinking well, I might not be a national home builder, and I probably will never have the budget to partner with some of these big names like we’re talking about. So we wanna kind of bring to a little bit of sizeability and kind of talk through just some of the main things to think about when partnering with really any size brand. Whether you’re teaming up with a local restaurant or an NFL team, the main goal is to have outreach other than just yourself and to align with brands that you feel really fit with your brands. And builders, I think have a lot of opportunities all around them and their local communities to extend their reach that they might not necessarily. Think about or notice, and, and it’s just kind of taking the time to, to look outside of your industry regardless of how large or small scale that looks for you as a home builder.
TJ: I think you hit it on the head. I mean, we’re [00:13:00] talking national, but it’s not, you can scale it to whatever is in your community or, or in your area or in your region and, you know, effectiveness based on your KPIs.
Amanda: Yeah, for sure. So there’s a couple sort of like main topics that I wanna talk through here together. So I’m just gonna kind of talk high level about each one, and then we can dive into each one. The first thing is like alignment. Do the brands align and who are you trying to align with? What are your goals? What are both parties really wanting to get out of the partnership? And that may look different for each party, but do those align?
Strategy, how are you going to maximize the marketing partnership and really strategizing what that looks like budget? How much are you able to spend here on this partnership? Not only for the potential cost of the partnership, but then marketing it and, and making sure that you can, can get reached there and then [00:14:00] your return on investment and what KPIs you’re focusing on track.
Let’s start with the alignment first. So do the brands align? So thinking about audiences and are those the people that fit your target audience. So whether you’re looking at a local or, or a national brand, your target demographic, your target audience, do those align and really making sure that you are, are picking a brand that fits sort.
Who your demographic is? Do they have a local or a national reach, as you said, the, the Jags were definitely more of a, I mean, while they’re a, you know, it’s a national brand The majority of the followers for the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to be in the Jacksonville area, whereas the PGA is definitely more national.
So when you’re looking at those different brands that you may potentially wanna align with, do they have more of that local reach or do they have more of that national reach and what [00:15:00] makes more sense, you know, as a more of a local confined builder, you may need or want that national reach, right. Because, you know, if you’re only building in a specific location, you may want to focus on brands that are really gonna have audiences that are within that local area and then values. I think with that alignment there, you know, is really kind of thinking of do the values align? I know you kind of said with the PGA tour, you know, you felt that, you know, you had some symmetry there, some similar values.
So I think that really is important when you’re, you’re looking at different opportunities and different brands to align.
TJ: That is exactly right. Again, as we said at the outset, you know, it doesn’t matter. It’s really just targeting the right audience to do the right demographic and then getting it in front of that audience and putting in front of them exactly what you want. In our case with the PGA tour, our biggest thing is brand identity on regional national [00:16:00] level in the areas in Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, where no one knows the Dream Finder’s name association with the PGA tour simply was that it, that’s not a call to action at this point, because we’re not down the road.
We’re not vested enough into the partnership, but you know, that will come with time. But I mean, it’s just identifying your goals and trying to, to align, you know, strategy as much as possible with it.
Amanda: Yeah. And the other thing I wanna touch on here talking about like, just thinking through different brands to align with as a builder, don’t forget about your vendor partnerships.
I think oftentimes those sort of get overlooked and, and the, the different vendors that you partner with they obviously have chosen to align with you as, you know, builder partner, not from a marketing perspective, but as you know, using your products and working together. And I think that there’s a lot of opportunities there to partner together with those vendors.
And most of the time, they do. I know in my marketing role when I worked [00:17:00] for a home builder in Pittsburgh, we had really strong vendor partnerships and worked together and maximizing the effectiveness of that. And those brands we were very particular about ones that definitely aligned with who we are as a company and a brand.
So definitely keep that in mind, as, as you’re, you know, kind of thinking different brands that you could work with. Next thing we have is goals. So what are both parties that are aligning together? Getting out of the partnership and the relationship. What goals and, and I, and I think I said, like that might look a little bit different from each side of that, of, of what each person is trying to get out of.
So is your goal to get in front of maybe a new audience or a new demographic, maybe, maybe you’re starting to sell in a, in a new area or maybe you’ve, you’ve never sold to the empty nester demographic. And now you’re starting to, to sell that type of product and, and you need get in front of that audience now, [00:18:00] or is it to maybe strengthen your relationship and exposure to your current audience. So really kind of thinking through goals from that perspective of who that audience is that you’re trying to get in front of also connecting with the community, I think is a big one there when it comes to the goals, you know, obviously with these brand partnerships, most of the time they’re gonna be more on the, the local side.
And, and that gives you a really great opportunity to connect with the community and kind of be seen as somebody. It’s not just building homes, but really kind of cares about the community that they, they are they’re living in and they’re building homes in and creating, you know, families and memories in, I think that’s really important.
And then the other thing too, with goals is, is this goal more of a, a long term partnership or more of a short term one? Right? So like your partnerships that we’ve been talking about, those are definitely more. Long term, and they don’t necessarily need to be like [00:19:00] that. Right. You can have more short term partnerships and those are gonna look extremely different on what those goals are.
So, yeah, I think that there’s a lot of different things to really kind of think through, as, as you’re looking at those goals and, and what your objectives are.
TJ: Amanda, that is spot on. And you brought up just a hyper local, you know, example totally different than what we were talking about before, but it totally translates.
I mean, even with, if you think about an event with some local animal shelter or something that is very prominent in the area and you wanna do some sort of sponsorship, but you’re not sure how much you can spend, you know, what it’s gonna do for you. I mean, you can take the strategy of, I mean, they’re gonna typically offer you some sort of advertising.
They’re gonna offer you some sort of ticketing for the program. They’re gonna offer you maybe some, some digital or something. And so you take each of those assets and you’re like, okay, let’s take the invitations to the event. Like who would enjoy which vendor as you just [00:20:00] mentioned, which vendor would enjoy it.
In the Jag land back when I was with the Jaguars back on the selling sides, when someone says no to you, but is very appreciative of your invitation, you get credit for the ask. So you can really generate, you know, your vendor relations with that. Then the advertising it’s like, how are you gonna use it?
Are you just gonna splash on a logo and call it a day? Are you gonna try. Put a QR code, as you mentioned earlier on it and really make it effective. So it’s a perfect example of this. Isn’t about, you know, just necessarily all big time branding, but it’s literally how each branding relates to each one.
You know, the goals, how they relate to each one of your, your brand opportunities that you’re deciding on.
Amanda: What’s interesting about what you just said about the vendor partnerships of, you know, like, let’s say, you know, you get tickets as part of, you know, some relationship, whatever, and, and, you know, thinking about your vendors to like offer those up to.So really what I was thinking was more along the lines of partnering with vendors. On like brand [00:21:00] mark marketing together. Right? Like mm-hmm so, so it’s interesting, but I think you brought up a really great point because you can kind of think through when you do get some of those sort of like freebies or, or, or different things really think through like what makes sense and, and how can you utilize that to your benefit?
It like one step, one step beyond that. So, so that, that, that was kind of cool. Cause I, I was thinking on something totally different, but right. That’s definitely related there. Next step is the strategy. So, how are you maximizing marketing this partnership and what strategy are you taking to market this? A lot of the times, like you just said, there are typically some already spelled out sort of guidelines, depending on, you know, usually like what level partnership you choose to do those types of things. But what I would suggest and recommend for our listeners is try to think [00:22:00] outside the box. I think when you do some of these partnerships, get creative, have fun with it, right?
Like, especially when you are like locked in and, and even if you are locked in and they have like their different levels of, of partnerships, I would ask, I would, I would always ask, well, can we do this? Or this would, you know, this would, would actually like work better for us and, you know, explain why and how it would for both parties. I think this is just a really great opportunity to really take the time to think outside of the box, have fun with it, really make that splash to be noticed. Right. So when you’re doing some of these marketing partnerships, sometimes it’s outside the norm, obviously of your normal day to day marketing. So really just, you know, get super creative and then, you know, once you kind of figure that out, just make sure that you’re very strategic. What you’re doing, why you’re doing it, how you’re doing it, you know, really looking at the, at the logistics [00:23:00] of that.
TJ: Yep. Good point. I mean, the strategy as it related, we didn’t, we did not get engaged or, or involved with the PGA tour without me laying out, you know, even a three year plan through 2024 of how we were gonna execute this. And of course, things change. And even in the last five months, I mean, we’ve seen the home building industry just have to adjust to, you know, some inflation in other, in other items. It’s not gonna look the same in 2024. It might not look the same when you’re planning a, you know, a local event sponsorship in October, you know, than it is right now. But it’s just having that strategy in place, how you’re gonna maximize the partnership and then try and execute on it.
Amanda: Yeah, definitely. And then our last two somewhat go hand in hand.
So we have, you know, the budget and then the return on investment from a budgeting standpoint, how much budget do you have to work with here? I would assume that, you know, you may [00:24:00] not have a line item in your annual budget for marketing partnerships. Maybe you do. If that’s something that is, you know, something that your, your organization does on a consistent basis. But really kind of thinking through, if you don’t have that line item already sort of laid out, how can you fit that into your budget? You know, if it’s something that you wanna do. And I would obviously suggest that this is new, a, a newer idea for you to, to start small, right? Like, you know, baby step into the pool here and you know, get your feet wet and don’t, you know, don’t, don’t get crazy out of the bat. Like you’re not gonna obviously go partner with an NFL team or anything like that, but I, I don’t think you have to, right. I think that there are so many really great opportunities for builders just in their local communities, even on just a, such a small scale that if really thought through could, could have a big impact without a huge.
And then the return on investment. So like once, once you have [00:25:00] decided who you wanna partner with, how much you’re gonna spend, what that looks like, how are you going to measure the effectiveness of that partnership? I think this is one of the most important things here once you’ve kind of laid it out is, all right, how are we gonna measure this? Because any dollar that you’re spending on marketing, you always have to make sure you’re measuring those, those KPIs and making assessments based on the data and what is the data telling us? So what KPIs you’re gonna focus on. And I think that’s gonna look a little bit different depending on the different partnership, what you’re tracking and different things, obviously with your more national partner.
What you’re going to view as what is effective is gonna be really different than if you’re, you know, doing a, a local partnership with a, a, a winery or, or something of that sort in your local area. So I think you have to kind [00:26:00] of see what makes sense with the partnership. And then also you may have to, like, as I was saying with the strategy, thinking outside of the box, I think the same goes with what metrics you’re looking at.
You might have to. Have more of the nontraditional metrics that you’re assessing here. Right? Like how is the community perceiving the partnership and the relationship? Right. So some of those things that maybe aren’t necessarily like specific data numbers, but just as an, as an overall assessment of, of that partnership.
TJ: Yeah. Brand loyalty. With that wine audience that you’re trying to target, with that wine tasting sponsorship, like, can you track any sales back, you know, from it directly? I mean, that, that is just icing on the cake, you know, as far as getting direct, you know, revenue from the brand and sponsorship, but ultimately that is the KPI that you will, you know, that you’re, you know, their ROI, the KPI that you’re looking for, you’re [00:27:00] looking for, ultimately for these things to pay.
There’s tools out there to help you, you know, just understand and measure and survey brand loyalty. And I think that that’s, you know, in the end, what we’re talking about here is, you know, the strategy, it’s a little different than call to action, but at the end of the day, the best part is when they can kind of come together and you can really own that audience.
The biggest thing for me is I would prefer to own a small portion of an audience. That’s I think a target demographic then be everything to everyone, you know, because once you are spread too thin, nothing has a backbone and all the marketing just doesn’t talk to each other when you’re just trying to own an audience.
That’s really what, when you’re trying to build brand loyalty with a brand, you know, that’s where you feel the most effective, and that does come as we’ve. Earlier on with time and duration and having to stick with this. So, [00:28:00] you know, a brand partnership isn’t necessarily a one year thing, you have to be thinking about this strategy and it goes back to what you were talking about.
Budgeting. You gotta trust that this is going to work cuz you’re making a business decision and you trust your business, you know, growth model that you’ve put in place.
Amanda: For sure. Yeah. I mean, I think just really kind of everything that we’ve been talking about here is just really making sure that it’s, it’s a well thought through, you know, who you’re aligning with, why you’re aligning with them and, and what that looks like from either short term or a long term you know, perspective. All right. So just as kind of like quick recaps, you know, some of the main things to think about when you’re looking at different marketing partnerships, Whether it’s large scale or small scale aligning with a brand that is aligned with you and your target demographic, what are your goals?
What’s your strategy? What’s your budget and how are you measuring the effectiveness of the partnership? [00:29:00] With all of that being said, I am going to steal Chelsea’s homework time. So for those of you who are long time listeners, I am going to give you all homework, just like Chelsey always does on all of her podcasts, and you guys can’t see it, but she’s sitting here on the recording as a silent partner, just to make sure we didn’t screw anything up here. So my homework time for you is I would like for you to think about a brand partnership that you could start with and start out small scale, whether that is finding a brand that you can just very easily partner with on. Maybe like a small social campaign where you could do like a, a takeover on their social and they could do a takeover on your social, something really small that, you know, isn’t gonna have huge budget just to sort of get your feet wet and try it out.
So if you wanna [00:30:00] take some of the takeaways that TJ and I talked about here today, and, and implement those, and we would love to hear about, you know, what you’re doing and, and how it’s working. If you want share with us on our social, and if anybody has any questions for me or TJ, I can be firstname.lastname@example.org. TJ,
I’m not sure if you wanna share your contact information or not.
TJ: Sure I’m at email@example.com. Thank you to Group Two. We love working with you guys and love what you guys do for us and all of our divisions. And so, keep it up.
Amanda: Awesome. You guys are a great partner for us and, we definitely value our relationship here.
Well, thank you everybody for tuning in and listening, and we will see you all next time on Building Perspective with Group Two.[00:31:00]