S1 EP18 | Uniquely You

Show Notes:

Focus Discussion of the Week:

In a sea of competition, what makes you stand out among your competitors? Is it energy efficiency? Is it your warranty program? Is it your team? In today’s episode, Matt and Mollie dive into how to differentiate your brand with “Uniquely You.” Apart from factoring in price point, savings, etc., learn how to evoke strong interest from your buyers with your brand identity.  


Top Topics of The Week:

  • Zillow posted incredible 3rd quarter results — website traffic was at an all-time high for unique users (195 million)! Invest in Zillow now.
  • Twitter is banning political ads in response to misinformation… which is quite the opposite of Facebook’s stance.
  • Facebook is now limiting the amount of ads your page can run to 50,000. Will this affect you? Probably not, but it’s always smart to stay on top of Facebook’s ever-changing ad platform. 
  • Facebook just launched a brand new logo to differentiate the parent company from its other ventures and apps. Let us know what you think about this new logo!

Mollie’s Meet The Geniuses event on November 14 went great! Take a minute to read all about the event and the incredible things going on at The ALS Genius Fund.

Two thought leaders come together to explore all things sales and marketing from their unique perspectives. Each week, Mollie Elkman, Matt Riley, and others from Group Two dive into a focus discussion to talk about the latest trends, changes, and best practices.


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Two thought leaders come together to explore all things sales and marketing from their unique perspectives. Each week, Mollie Elkman, Matt Riley, and others from Group Two dive into a focus discussion to talk about the latest trends, changes, and best practices.

[00:00:00] Matt: Everyone’s default. Go to is energy efficiency, right? Like they’re like, Oh, how? How are you different? Oh, well, we’re energy efficient and we have a warranty and we build quality homes and we have a team who cares? Well, so does everybody else. That’s the reality of it. That’s the. Standing in the aisle, a target, looking at the giant sea of granola bars.

Like everybody has a granola bar. They all have different flavors. They, you know what I mean? Like that’s how it all happens. And you’re not allowed to say that because the consumer expects that a brand new home to be more efficient. Energy-wise than an existing home. They just expect that. Now, does that mean you shouldn’t talk about energy efficiency?

Absolutely not. That just means that we have to, we have to phrase it and position it in a right in the right way. That’s uniquely yours. And also [00:01:00] shows them the value of what kind of impact that it’s going to have on their lives. And a lot of times, from an energy standpoint, that isn’t always, it can be money, but it isn’t always money.

Hi and welcome to building

perspective with Matt Riley and Molly open.

Mollie: We’re here to bring value to you and your team by exploring all things sales and marketing related,

Matt: all from different perspectives. In today. Focus discussion of the week. This week is uniquely you and we’re going to dive in and talk a little bit about how to stand out when it comes to competition, how that incorporates into your brand and your voice and all those [00:02:00] fun things, and really standing out in that sea of competition.

But first,

Mollie: let’s dive into our top topics of the week.

Matt: All right. I am going to go first this week. I have a couple kind of like high level things that, several things I want to hit on. Um, and I’m just going to kind of rattle down the list and Molly, chime in whenever you want. But, so I’m, so, I just saw the tweet, a tweet this morning from rich Barton, the CEO of Zillow, and he pushed out there.

Third quarter results of from their quarterly earnings call. And this is really interesting. I haven’t even, I mean, I literally just pulled this before we got on here and started recording and, uh, so I haven’t even had a chance to like go through it all. I was just looking at some of the highlight stuff, um, for what they have and what I found really interesting right out of the gate.

And we can, or we can post this in the show links if anybody wants to see it, but, um. Q3. This is [00:03:00] some just amazing numbers. So the traffic to the Zillow group, mobile apps and websites reached an all time high with average Yoon, monthly, specifically monthly unique users. So unique users, that’s first time to the site.

That’s up 5% from the previous quarter. That’s 195.6 million unique. Monthly viewser users and total visits exceeded 2.1 billion with a B, which is up 11% year over year.

Mollie: It’s crazy. I mean, it was already your first impression and now it’s just, there’s more eyeballs.

Matt: I mean Zillow in no way, shape or form sponsors this a podcast episode.

However, I, I just, you see, this is where people are, and if you are not. Here you are [00:04:00] missing the boat. And unfortunately, I mean, fortunately or unfortunately the pricing is what it is. You’re not going to get a steal from Zillow, like you’re not going to come in and get it by your, by the placing on their pennies on the dollar.

But you have to be there because this is where the consumer is starting their search. And then there’s this whole other argument about the, you know, mainly with the realtor side that they, you know, the, most of them are not pro Zillow, but this is all about consumers. And this is where.

Consumers are, and you’ve got to be there. This is, you know, this is November the eighth of 2019 so thinking about 2020 budgets. You got to put that in your budget. You’ve got to be there. Um, you’ve got to find out how to make room in your budget for it. It’s a major player for this is talking about, I’m specifically talking about what we call promoted communities, not necessarily the boost, which is more of a banner ad campaign within the, within their platform that has really specific uses.

But I’m talking about you gotta be in Zillow in [00:05:00] the From a promoted community standpoint as a, as a builder. Um, the other thing that I found interesting was we did get more and more data on the Zillow offers program. It’s now in 21 markets across the country. Um, and they added eight markets just in Q3.

So during the quarter, they sold 1,211 homes. So remember, Zillow sold. Owned by Zillow, 1,211 homes and purchased 2,291 homes, and that leaves them with 2,822 homes on their balance sheet. Obviously that’s carrying over from previous quarters. They’re not even at that. Those are big numbers, but they’re not even at what they’ve stated.

Their actual goal is to get to, which is buying and selling 5,000 homes. A month. Wow. Those are big numbers. Um, so [00:06:00] anyway, I’m going to come through the rest of their Q three Q three earnings report. Um, cause I see this on the Zillow offers program. I don’t know what it is, but I’m, I’m almost certain they’re still losing money there.

Um, but that’s okay. They’re looking at this much bigger picture. They are going to disrupt the way real estate is done. Um, and I think it’s actually a good thing. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

Mollie: And if it is a new business model, even though Zillow is existing. Um, anytime you have a new business, really, you don’t make money for the first few years, it’s you get it set up.

So I don’t think it’s unusual that they’re not making money. I would imagine that they have enough data to know when they will make money and when they need, you know, how much they need to sell

Matt: to get there. Yeah. And think about the Amazon model, right? Like how long did Amazon go before they actually made any money?

I mean, it was almost,

Mollie: I was going to say, I think it was a decade.

Matt: And now they run. They

Mollie: really do run the [00:07:00] world. They definitely run my life.

Matt: Oh, I

Mollie: feel like we’d send groceries now, so they really read my

Matt: life. Yeah. That’s awesome. Um, all right, so a couple other things worth noting and you probably, everyone, maybe you’ve seen this, maybe you haven’t.

Twitter came out and said that they’re banning all political ads in response to the concerns around misinformation. I mean, if you’ve ever tried to run something and ad on Twitter like I, I don’t think it’s a mess. It’s a mess. So I don’t think that’s a big deal. I think that’s much more of a, a branding play of like kind of making a stance because they even stated that it was only a few million dollars in revenue for them.

It was so minimal.

Mollie: Right. I think most of, I think Twitter was used more for organic posts and. You know it, that does just as much damage because it’s, you know, but I agree. I think it’s more to take a stance and to, [00:08:00] to separate.

Matt: Yeah, I mean they’re looking at, okay, it’s only a couple million dollar hit.

The, the, the, the perceived thought process of, Oh well, Twitter is not gonna tolerate this. Um, I think there’s just a stance. So anyway, read up on that. Curious to see what your all’s thoughts are. Um, couple of things. I run down my list cause it’s just, it’s been a, been a past like two weeks, really been a decent news amount.

Uh, Newsweek’s so. Facebook. There’s an article, and this is off social media today. Facebook is talking about they’re limiting or will implement limits on how many ads a page can run in 2020 don’t let that scare you because according to our Facebook rep. The limit is about 50,000

Mollie: that’s so limiting.

What are we going to

Matt: do? How are we gonna sell homes and market on Facebook? I have no earthly idea, but you know, and they [00:09:00] did say that that limit is only going to affect a few of their advertisers, but can, if you think about that, that is a staggering,

Mollie: I want to know who’s doing more than that for one page, like what are those brands and how much are they spending.

Matt: You’re talking at least we’ve to 1 million bucks a day. I mean, you go back to 2016, the 2016 ish election era, the Trump campaign was at one point, was spending $1 million a day, uh, and others were doing it too, but that, that’s like, that’s crazy. Crazy, crazy. Um, so anyway. So be aware you’re only allowed 50,000 ads on your page.

I love that. I don’t think we have a problem.

Mollie: It’s still good to be in the know of what’s going on because even though it doesn’t affect us on a business standpoint, I think it’s important to know, you know, different rules that are being put in place for social media in general. Cause we all get information from social media whether we [00:10:00] think we do or not.

Matt: Yeah. Right. Uh, and then the last thing was, well, there’s more, but I’m going to limit it. Uh, the last thing was Facebook is launching updated company logos, which is going to be included in all of its subsidiary apps. So Instagram will have a Facebook logo as you log in. So at the bar, because the whole point is ensuring clarity with everyone that what platforms Facebook actually owns.

So that’s like Instagram. What’s app. Things like that. So at the bottom of the login screen, it’ll have a Facebook logo. That has the same color scheme from a branding perspective as that platform’s logo. So Instagram will be that maroonish red color, whatever color that is. I’m a dude. Well, of those scholars,

Mollie: I saw a couple of posts online on some marketing, you know, conversations about this, because essentially the corporate Facebook logo is just [00:11:00] all cats.

And they’re essentially, you know, there are all these jokes like, why is Facebook yelling at us? We get it. You own everything. Um, so there, you know, I’m sure our listeners have seen some funny, um, comments on social media about that. So Facebook, all caps is the company of Facebook. And then Facebook itself has a slightly different logo.

Matt: Yeah, right. It’s going to be Instagram by Facebook.

Mollie: Listen, I remember when it was the Facebook and there was a little picture of Mark Zuckerberg at the top.

Matt: I do. I remember. All right. All right. Okay, ma. Uh, that’s going to do it for my article and news Roundup. I could go, I can, there’s a lot going on, but those are the top things I wanted to hit.

So, Molly, what do you, okay,

Mollie: so I wanted to talk about something a little more personal. Um, I have a big event that I am actually doing here in Philadelphia next week on November 14th. And I shared a little bit of the story of what, um. You know, what has happened in the past few months with me [00:12:00] and why I’ve gotten involved and started working with a nonprofit.

Um, and now that the event is around the corner, I really want to share it with our listeners because it really has been a big part of my life as well as, uh, my passion, which is marketing. So I’m sure everyone here has heard me talk about just, um. Your head and your heart when it comes to marketing.

And there is a lot of study and research about the power of, you know, science and the power of emotion and how, you know, people process information differently. And there are both sides to, um, marketing and you need to really know both sides to be effective. So that has always been my. Um, passion is really understanding the head and the heart.

And, um, my world kind of collided this summer when we found out that my mother in law has ALS. And [00:13:00] it was, of course, very devastating. ALS is a, is, I personally think it’s the worst disease that. You know, that exists. It is, um, progressive weakness in your muscles. Um, and it eventually makes it so that you can’t move, you can’t talk, you can’t swallow.

And it, and it’s, it’s really just devastating. At the same time of her diagnosis, we also found out that hers is the very rare genetic kind. So there is a gene. That is a dominant gene that is passed down to the children of people who have the gene. So as I said, this is my mother-in-law. Um, the next generation of children, um, each had a 50, 50 chance of having the gene.

And some of them have it and some of them don’t have it. And it’s just, it’s, it’s a very scary situation because you’re literally talking about. [00:14:00] Life as normal or total disruption, and your life is going to end with a terrible disease. I mean, so that is really what we were faced with this summer.

And, um, it was. You know, I said out loud, um, I had never been so scared in my life because I have two children and that would then also give them a 50, 50 chance and they have cousins and so on. So without knowing the answer of whether or not we had it, I decided that I was going to use my skillset and which is marketing and be a part of a solution in some capacity.

So this is really, um, you know. It was already my, my passion was already understanding the head and the heart. And I think in the past four months, it’s become my purpose in life. And so for me to be able to combine those two things has been, um, really rewarding. And all of my [00:15:00] experience for marketing new homes has, has helped me because I’ve been studying the head in the heart so much.

So I’m doing this event, it’s called meet the geniuses. And, um, because this. Because this disease is so devastating. We really didn’t want to focus on the sad message and really the the outlook because it is a terminal illness and there is no treatment and there’s no cure. So instead, what we have decided to do is shine a spotlight on these brilliant people who are.

Accelerating research and our, um, advancing patient care and are helping the families with the disease. And, um, we’re, we have all these different neurologists and scientists who are just absolutely brilliant coming to the Franklin Institute. I know on a previous podcast I talked about the, your brain exhibit.

And I’ve always loved the brain exhibit. And I thought it was the perfect backdrop for this event because we are literally talking about how the brain functions. And, um, we have neurologists and scientists [00:16:00] talking about what happens when you have a motor neuron disease and your brain isn’t functioning properly.

So, you know, this study of the brain has really, um. It’s really gone full circle in my life. And I wanted to share it with our listeners because, um, I did start a fund. It’s called the ALS genius fund. And it is specific to the brilliant people who are, um, who are, you know, really, uh.

Working to find a cure for this disease. And so if you are connected to me on social media, you probably have seen some posts about it. And I, I just wanted our listeners to know because, um, I feel, I feel like, I ha, do you have a purpose for, you know. Marketing and making sure that I’m doing good with it.

And I think all of us have very specific talents. And I think when we are able to use our talents and do good, it is [00:17:00] extremely rewarding. So, you know, my message to our listeners is essentially what are your talents and what are you, no, you’re, you’re doing great things every day in your work.

And thinking about how you can apply that on a grander scale to, uh, do good in

Matt: general. That’s good. Uh, and I would say that, um, add to that, like you created a you mentioned meet the geniuses, but you also created a genius. Fun. Right? And that you’re not going to talk about, but I will. Um, and you’ve may have seen some videos from Molly on, online, on, on social media, talking about it.

Um, and it’s really, that genius fund is. Help funding and funneling money into the research of. Of being able to understand ALS better and leading to a cure. So if it’s something that you’re interested in and you want to [00:18:00] learn more about it, reach out. We’d be happy to, happy to provide links, or if you want to be a part of it in some way.

Um, I, I think that we can make this more than. You know, several years ago, if you remember the old ALS ice bucket challenge that went around and got viral and everybody just dumped a bucket of ice water on their head, and you know, it’s fun and it goes viral. Uh, but things like these things like this actually do something.

And so instead of dumping a bucket of ice on your head,

Mollie: get involved, really appreciate that Matt. And I have to say. I have always loved the housing industry. Truly, I feel so lucky to be in this industry and part of this experience. Some of the people who have reached out to me that I’ve worked with or just kind of known, or the the people who have gotten involved and reach out.

It is, it has meant so much, and I know some of our listeners have already done that and I just want to say thank you because it really does mean a lot to me because. This is going to be a part of my life for the rest of my life. It is not one person who is going to have [00:19:00] ALS. It is multiple people across every generation of my family, so I will be, this will be a cause.

That is. And a purpose that is a part of my life forever. So I appreciate that, Matt, and, and you’ve been incredibly supportive and, um, yeah, I just, I wanted to share it with our listeners and, and make sure you, you knew what those posts were all about.

Matt: That’s great. Good stuff. Okay. All right.

We’re going to transition into our. Focus discussion of the week this week, which is uniquely you, and I don’t think we could use a better transition topic than talking about something that’s unique to you. So hang with us. We’ll take a quick break, and then we’re going to dive into uniquely. You this

week [00:20:00] right, and we are back from break and we’re going to dive into our focus discussion of the week this week. Uniquely, you. And what that means. Molly, what does that mean for you? For builders, uniquely you.

Mollie: Yeah. For me, it really is everything that we do all day, every day, and that is differentiating.

Builders and really making sure that what, what makes you special and unique is really the key foundation for your message and what you’re communicating and putting out there about your company. So this is really what we talk about and live and breathe all day, every day, is, you know, really starting from the beginning and identifying what makes you.

Who you are, and that starts typically with senior management and coming up with a mission and then how that carries through at every single step.

Matt: Yeah, [00:21:00] so a couple things here for me is the, started the thought process. It’s an ongoing thing, but the kind of, it was the light bulb moment for me of, Hey, let’s talk about, this was a couple of weeks ago, and we alluded to this and talked about it a little bit in a previous episode.

Um, we just pushed out a blog. Um. Called, how to stand out and, um, as a home builder in a sea of competition. And what sparked this? And, and I guess should say before I say that, and then this is our builder branding week, right? So the week of where, this is November the 11th, or November the eighth, um, and this week on social, we’re focusing on a builder rebrand or a builder build from scratch brand.

All, you know, uh. Everyday this week, so you can check it out and go back to our social media account and look at every single, the different examples. It’s like the parade of homes, except this is the parade of brands. Um, so all of this ties together because. [00:22:00] This comes in. I was at the Grove, I was at target, I was looking for my RX bars, and I walked down.

I walked down the aisle and it’s like this giant long list of boxes, just box after box after box, and they all basically blend in and look to get look the same. At that point, then I get closer to find what it is that I want and then I see a box above that above what I was buying. And it said something along the lines of like.

This box saves lives. And it was something that really stood out. Um, that ma that absolutely caught my attention. And I was like, this is, and I, and I live in Raleigh, and that’s a major, major market in housing. It’s old. It’s just unbelievably competitive. There’s new construction everywhere.

And I felt like this is, we faced this as builders is super, super competitive areas. And a lot of times. So if we don’t do a good job of differentiating ourselves, you could put your blindfold on, get, you [00:23:00] know, get taken into one of the homes, the blindfold off, and do go do that multiple times.

And you may not know whose home you’re in. Like they all could just blend together and look the same. And when that happens, when you’re, when you look, feel, sound the same as everything else, you’re just a commodity and all it comes down to. Is price. And if it all it comes down to is price you’re going to lose because there’s eventually always someone that’s willing to sell for less, and then it becomes a race to the bottom.

Mollie: Yeah. So when I worked in a previous life on a hospitality marketing, which a lot of that does, um, you know. Go well with home-building, we did an exercise for Marriott hotels, and what we did was a brand personification. So we really started with a blank board where we talked [00:24:00] about, well, internally we called her Mary Marriott and we said, what does Mary Marriott’s life look like?

And we personified. The person who would potentially be the customer or would be experiencing the product. And I think that’s really what we’re talking about is in order to be uniquely you, you need to have a realistic, real conversation about who you are. And what tends to happen is we put our sales hats on and we talk about all the things that make us great, but we don’t have that same discussion for all the challenges and all the things that maybe.

Wouldn’t be perceived as great and things that we can overcome. And, and you really have to address both. So this brand identity, um, really starts with a personification and, and really, um, it’s a fun exercise and we’ve continued to do that here as a part of [00:25:00] our branding process and a part of what, you know, what gets us to a mood board and a positioning strategy and having all the pieces.

In place that would come from that.

Matt: Yeah, that’s, that’s huge to start there because you, if you, you have to know who your customer is, you know, w who, who, what was her name, would you say it was

Mollie: Mary Maryanne.

Matt: Mary Marriott. So you’ve got to know who Mary Marriott is

Mollie: and we got really deep, like what’s in her shopping cart.

What kind of car does she drive? What kind of shoes does she wear? What does she do on a Friday night? You know, we really, really tried to have a discussion and personify their, all of their buyers into one.

Matt: And what’s really important about that, and you know, and at the. As Marriott, you’re selling hotel stays.

And if you think about their own, I dunno what the average, how many average nights the person stays in a, in a hotel, maybe two, you know, with [00:26:00] whatever the average is. And you think about if your entire goal there is to make them feel at home, to make them feel, um,

Mollie: it’s.

Matt: Convenience.

Convenience is, is really the, the word that I was looking for there at home and can, it’s all, it’s a convenience for them. Just think about what a customer or a potential buyer would want. In their home that they live in every single day. And if you can do something different, and if you could do something that’s uniquely you, that is going to stand out, um, that is going to better their lives.

That is going to what’s going to make you stand out from a sea of competition. So if Marriott is willing to understand what’s in Mary Marriott’s shopping cart and what she does on a Friday night, what do you think that as a builder when you’re going to open a new neighborhood. [00:27:00] That you’re impacting the lives of hundreds of hundreds of people, um, that that should happen from the very beginning almost.

I would almost argue even before you decide to purchase the property, like as you’re in due diligence, can we put something together that’s uniquely us, that’s going to be different and it’s going to enhance the lives of our customers because. From experience, um, that rarely, rarely happens. I mean,

Mollie: and to take it even further, I love this kind of exercise obviously, cause I’m a branding dork and I love creative, but it’s an amazing team building activity.

So when you get your team all talking about these. Questions that are even just thinking, okay, what kind of car would they drive? You’re going to get answers that are really different because one person’s going to say a [00:28:00] car that has a lot of space and can fit a lot of people, and one’s going to say a high end luxury car.

But what it does is it generates conversation, and that’s really where identity comes from is, is getting everyone on the same page and talking about what the benefits are to a buyer. And it’s. It’s fun. So you really get to get the team together and answer some of these questions and it ends up becoming a team building activity.

But then on top of it, it feels like just a team building activity, but on top of it, you get everyone on the same page, which is so valuable for sales and marketing because they were a part of the initial discussion. So, you know, going back to Mary Marriott, when we have a, uh, a fun debate or back and forth about what she does on a Friday night, now it’s, you know, we’ve really personified who that, who she is.

And we all have that mental image in our heads. So when we have our sales and [00:29:00] marketing, we’re making sure that it’s still gonna resonate with, with that person that we have. Together, put on paper

Matt: and, and let’s do the quick math real fast on why it’s important to dive into this. And we’re really, I think we’re actually going a little off into the weeds a little bit on this and that’s okay.

Cause I think it’s a really great conversation, but from a pure numbers perspective, you could think I don’t have the time or the resources to put in to figuring that stuff out ahead of time. Let’s quit. Let’s do the quick math. Let’s just say that you’re going to acquire a piece of property. Um, more times than not, that’s a, that’s a minimum of a seven figure investment.

Let’s just use $3 million. So it’s going to cost you 3 million bucks to buy the property. Now. If you’re the developer, if you’re also developing it yourself, you also have to improve the property. So 3 million bucks to buy the dirt, and let’s just say for easy math purposes, let’s just say it’s another $2 million to [00:30:00] improve it.

So clear it. Put in connect utilities, that’s assuming you can, can you have an easy connection of city utilities you can just tap into. You don’t have to go miles up the road to tap into water and sewer. Um, and then you’re going to improve the lots. You’re going to spread that cost out over the, all the, what’s your, you know, the, the number of lots and that’s going to be your yield.

Now. You’re $5 million to buy it into, improve it, and then we’re going to build, let’s just say it’s a hundred lot subdivision, and let’s just say our average sales price is going to be $350,000. That’s $35 million, uh, and add the other five. So you’re $40 million in revenue, like costs plus revenue into this project.

Um, and we don’t want to take the time. To actually figure out who we’re going to sell to. That’s, that’s [00:31:00] big money. That’s big risk. And to understand that going into it is huge. Cause I’ve been there, I’ve been sitting at my desk and the owner of the builder, the owner of the building company walked in.

And handed me a plot map and said, um, here’s the new subdivision. Um, we’re going live in a hundred days. Um, I need you to figure out how much, you know, like what homes we’re going to build in there and how much we’re going to sell them for. And we need to be at a 25% margin. Like complete. So I get it like that happens.

But if, and then what happens is we, then we dive in, we do a quick, we do a CMA, and then we realize, Oh man, uh, the market in this area is really wanting master downs. They want master on the main floors. Um, and. My product is in that is at least a 40 maybe it’s a [00:32:00] 40 foot wide to 45 wood. Five what a wide product and it’s about 65 to 70 foot deep product.

Well, the lots to get the yield that we need, the lots don’t fit that house. So now what, this is what the market’s telling us that we need to build, but the yield that we’re getting from the number of lots based on the lot size, is not going to fit the product that we need to sell based on the market demand.

Now what, and Oh, by the way, I’ve got to make a 25% gross margin on this, at least to make this deal pencil out that, Oh, by the way, we’ve already purchased. Yeah.

Mollie: Oh boy. What a nightmare. Um, I have, uh, you know, I had an experience that I want to share. So to me, marketing is really simplifying and having this conversation ahead of time, or even just five questions about, um.

You know, I had used the [00:33:00] example of what kind of car, uh, the PR, you know, your buyer would drive. Okay. So for example, I was driving, I was doing a visit in, um, Arizona and I was driving through a community and I realized that. No buddy was parked in the driveway or in their garage. All the cars were parked on the street and the builder didn’t, didn’t realize that their buyer was going to be driving SUVs or trucks.

And they didn’t have garages that were big enough to park inside the garage or in the driveway. So you have this neighborhood that looks like junk because everyone is blocking the street and you can’t get through and you can’t even see the homes. And all this would have been, was a conversation about our buyer and realizing, yeah, you know what?

We have, you know, people who are going to be driving trucks and really thinking about who, who they are and personifying them. And, um. It’s actually super fun. You know, we [00:34:00] have a, we did this exercise for a builder in Vermont, and part of it became a really cool new verse used message because they have, um, a really outdoors-y kind of audience.

And we ended up having, you know. Hiking boots and canoes, and this, this huge wall of visuals that were essentially all about lifestyle, right? And that’s where it ties back to the example of Marriott is we’re talking about lifestyle. So what does that person’s life look like? And just putting it on paper with visuals.


Matt: Yeah, and this is a really interesting conversation as a whole, because this is almost a year ago now. So it was like last December, I had a conversation with a friend. His name’s David Alison. He’s out of, uh, Canada, and he has a company, I hope I don’t mess it up, but it’s, um, um. Value metrics, something like that.

I’ve got to look, I’ve got to look it up and I’ll clarify, but one of the [00:35:00] things that he does is helping people understand what actually matters to actual customers. Now, a lot of times, what he does, his specialty in this, and he’s worked with a lot of builders and developers, but mainly on the multifamily side, so building in areas like Vancouver or Toronto, you know.

Big inner cities where they’re building condos and things like that, and but diving in and understanding what the people that are going to live there actually value, and then building the building around those things. For instance, maybe you’re going to find out that these customers, these are the people that would buy here really like to bike to work, ride their bicycles to work well.

If you live in a multifamily, a condo style, it’s a pain in the butt to have to get your bike, put it on the elevator, take it up to you. And so what if you are able to securely put your bike on the first floor, lock it up, it’s yours. You can get in and have a special [00:36:00] entrance to get in and out, out on your bike so you don’t clog up the entryway.

Making it easier to get in and out. Having specialized doors that allow people to do this easier. What if you could provide values like that, understanding your buyer? What if you were able to build homes, and this, I’ve actually seen this, this, I saw this in DC, happen in Mali. You mentioned at the top of our podcasts that you even have Amazon deliver your groceries, right?

Well. What if you actually created areas in the home that had double entries, so maybe it was an area in your garage that was sectioned off and had a refrigerator in there that was locked at two different doors that was locked on both sides, but where you could give them. Amazon access to that particular part of your garage.

They could come in through a pedestrian door and actually put your groceries in that area or in the refrigerator for you, but the doors were still locked and they actually, nobody could get in through your house.

[00:37:00] It’s already been done. I saw in DC, there’s a builder that did it about a year and a half ago as a concept, a, I think it was Baker residential, I believe was the builder that

Mollie: did it. Do you remember that?

Matt: And it was really, really cool. They actually had a prototype of, um, an Amazon drone pad.

A landing pad in the yard essentially were stuff that were the pad, the drone would get dropped, would land to drops, deliveries off. But if you think about what your customers actually want and what they value, not what you tell them, they value because there’s a difference between. Consumer behavior and consumer preference.

Just because they’re behaving a certain way doesn’t mean that that’s what they prefer. That could mean that they’re only behaving that way because there’s no other options.

Mollie: And you know, I love this. I love this discussion because it really does get into just overall [00:38:00] perception and reality and really.

You know, it, it applies to us in our companies, but it also applies to us as people. You know? So the old saying, perception is reality. We know that that’s not necessarily true. But from a marketing standpoint, that is true. I mean, how you are perceived is how a consumer experiences working with you.

So what is that perception and how do you take control of the perception of your company at every touch point.

Matt: Perception may not be reality in general. But to further your point is the, their perception is your reality. No matter what it is, their perceptions, you is your reality. So you have to address that.

And, and we’ve talked about this and from a marketing perspective all the time, but like. Meet the customer where they are in their journey. Kind of the same thing. Meet the customer where they are in their journey, but meet the customer where they are in the journey of life. Not just how to market to [00:39:00] them, but actually offering them something that’s going to, uh, for the better impact their lives.

And in turn, you’re going to be able to market to them better. As a whole. So let’s talk about We’ve been talking about like theories and best practices and not even best practices, but like theories as a whole. But let’s talk about some ways that you can differentiate and stand out in VI and be uniquely you.

Um. One of the go-tos that I see all the time talking even with our builder partners and other builders all across the country is everyone’s default. GoTo is energy efficiency, right? Like they’re like, Oh, how? How are you different? Oh, well, we’re energy efficient and we have a warranty and we build quality homes and we have a team who cares?

Well. So does everybody else. That’s the reality of it. That’s the standing in the aisle, a target, looking at the giant sea of [00:40:00] granola bars. Like everybody has a granola bar. They all have different flavors. They, you know what I mean? Like. That’s how it all happens. And you’re not allowed to say that because the consumer expects the BR a brand new home to be more efficient energy-wise than an existing home.

They just expect that. Now, does that mean you shouldn’t talk about energy efficiency? Absolutely not. That just means that we have to. We have to phrase it and position it in a right, in the right way that’s uniquely yours, and also shows them the value of what kind of impact that it’s going to have on their lives.

And a lot of times, from an energy standpoint, that isn’t always, it can be money, but it isn’t always money. Do you agree, Molly?

Mollie: Oh, I totally agree. I don’t, I don’t think it’s, I think money is actually secondary. I think it tends to be more about lifestyle and health and wellness and, [00:41:00] um, you know, that goes back to what I was speaking about earlier with the, the head and the heart.

I mean, it really, you can speak to both the head and the heart when it comes to that type of messaging. Um, but I totally agree. Energy efficiency is expected now, so that is not a differentiator. If you can tell the story in a different way, it can be. So what you said a word, and I want to go back to it because it’s important.

You said position, and I think positioning is a marketing term that not everyone doesn’t necessarily understand it. And. You need to know what position you own in the marketplace. And in order to know what position you own, you need to really know what position other people own. So for example, if you are building in a market where Lenora is building and they are doing everything included their EEI program.

That is not going to be your message. You are not going to differentiate from [00:42:00] Lennar by saying everything is included. That’s not going to make you sound any different from them. So you do have to be aware of what position is already owned by other people in the market, and then you, that is, you know, I.

I’d like to talk about this because a lot of people feel uncomfortable with that because they think, Oh, well, I don’t want to make decisions based on what other people are doing. No, you need to make marketing decisions based on what other people are doing so that you are not doing what they are already doing.

So really positioning is the start of the conversation. What position do you own? What position do you want to own? And and starting your marketing strategy from there.

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. And so we talking about position, and so we said money can be important, but it’s not the thing. It can be a secondary thing.

So if you understanding what your position [00:43:00] is. Money’s just this thing. But if you can make people feel then the impact and telling them a story with them in it, the impact is far, far greater than you’re going to save $60 a month. Now, that may work with the absolute entry, first time buyer, and they’re comparing, renting versus owning.

You know, like being able to break that down. But I think that’s. That time has passed us by for the most part. But you’re talking about feeling and what it’s going to make them feel and how it’s going to impact. So what if you shifted away from the focus on energy efficiency being about money and energy efficiency being about comfort.

And Tim O’Brien talked about that in one of our previous episodes, and they focus on green building and energy efficiency, but it’s not about the energy efficiency. It’s about. Comfort because I can tell you if you’re not comfortable in your home at that time, [00:44:00] you really don’t care about how much money you’re saving.

If you’ve got a drafty home or you’ve got a room that gets hot all the time or a room that gets really cold all the time, when you’re in that room, you’re not thinking. But I’m saving 50 bucks a month.

Mollie: Very true. Those become the pain points and that’s what you know, people need to pull out in their conversations of what are your pain points in your current home because everyone has

Matt: them.

Absolutely. So that’s taking something that could be money being an ancillary effect, uh, should be an ancillary effect and not the focus of, and shifting that benefit to a feeling instead of this commodity. Because if it’s just a commodity, then everyone else can also have the same commodity. But if the way you build homes and the way you tell your story focuses on energy efficiency [00:45:00] from a comfort perspective, that’s a very different position than most other people would take when it comes to energy efficiency.

Now, what about other things? While you mentioned like health, so many stories

Mollie: that I can tell about differentiating.

Matt: Oh, I know. It can go on and on. Um, but from you think about healthy living, this is becoming more and more important, and this is how you’re going to make things and tell stories of how you’re going to make things feel, instead of just stating, Oh, we build healthy homes.

Or maybe you build healthy homes and you didn’t even talk about it. But that’s another part of your. Position, um, that, that you, that you want to own because many people aren’t owning that part of it. Um, and how does, how does health factor into, you know, that story in that position? While it could be maybe you use no or low VOC paint.

In the house? Well, first off, you have to [00:46:00] define what VOC are. It’s, it’s a volatile organic compounds that are in the air that are released off. We’re getting geeky

Mollie: here

Matt: that are released off things that’s right, that are released off. Things that are in your day to day house, the paint on your walls, the carpet in your house, dry cleaning.

You bring in hair. cleaners, these are things that go into the air. Um, if you have bad allergies or asthma, those can be triggers, right? So, mr. Customer, do you have anyone that, you know, anyone in your family that has, uh, suffers from allergies or asthma? Nine out of 10 times the answer is going to be yes.

Well, you’re going to want to pay attention to those VOC scenarios. So one of the things that we’ve done as a builder, we’ve committed to Butler, but we start telling that story. Um, and from a health perspective,

Mollie: yeah. So that a lot of that is really like, once they’re onsite. And I think what, what is really amazing about marketing is how do you tell that story in a simple way to get them in the door?

So think about this question. Have [00:47:00] you ever met anyone who says, I don’t want to be healthy?

Matt: It doesn’t exist.

Mollie: So essentially when you can make, when you can use something very simple to get people in the door where they know that they are doing it, is in their best interest to see what this builder’s doing because they value their health and the health of their family, then that’s your marketing message around health to get them in the door.

But what we tend to do as an industry is try to talk about all the specifics. Too early in the conversation rather than carrying it all the way through. So from a differentiation standpoint, from marketing, it is really, um, it can be just getting it down to the one line that’s going to get them to actually come in the door.


Matt: starting, the story is clear, concise and short. And then when they come on site. Or talk to someone, then it’s the continuation of the story. That’s the difference [00:48:00] between the marketing message and the sales message, and they

Mollie: work there.

Matt: They are, they are the same message, but they’re presented differently because when you’re talking to someone, we can have a conversation like this.

We can’t, however, put that on an ad. Right? It’s a, it’s a book. It’s not an ad. And so the marketing message has to be clear and concise. To get them into the sales message.

Mollie: Yep. And the marketing message tends to be way more focused on the emotion, whereas the sales message, emotion is still a part of it.

But so is the information. So for example. If you, you can use different emotions like you, you know, we’re talking about health and wellness, like show make people feel that they love their family and that they need to to come out because they do care about the health of their family, or plant a seed of doubt of, Oh my gosh, if I’m not thinking about this, I am not thinking about the health of my family.

[00:49:00] So those are all emotion. Um, triggered messages that would generate action. And then when they come out, then you talk about the specifics that really get into what’s behind the walls and those memory points, you know, next to the windows and cutaways and, and the real science behind it and the value to

Matt: them.

Yeah, absolutely. Good stuff.

Mollie: So I do, I want to talk about, um, some other messages that could differentiate cause we’re talking about health and saying everyone can’t talk about health. Well, this is important because all builders. Are different. All building companies are different. And um, you know, there are things that we can learn from that there are only so many topics or different things that we’re going to potentially focus in on as your differentiator.

Right? So Matt was saying before, most likely, most of you, it is not going to be price. If your differentiator is price and you are the best price in the market, go for it. Own [00:50:00] it, use it. Put it on everything, be the be the lowest price. Most of our listeners are not going to be that. So what are, what are some other directions you could go in?

Price, product, livability, life, lifestyle, location, um, the process of working with you, your experience, all these different things. And there were a lot of different angles that you can approach differentiation from. And I think that’s why, you know, having that conversation upfront and really.

Knowing that what we tend to do is be everything. And we have, you know, we have a message about price, product, location, lifestyle, all those things, but you need to pick one. And that is how you differentiate. That becomes your primary message, and then your information about all the others becomes your secondary message.

So just because you’re not the lowest price builder doesn’t mean you’re not going to talk about price. It just means that’s not going to be your [00:51:00] primary differentiator to get someone in the door. Does that make sense?

Matt: Absolutely. Okay. Well, I love you said, cause we easily skipped over that when we’re talking about price, if you are a price, own it.

Totally. That’s what, that’s your thing. I mean that’s, you’ve got to lead with price. You actually want, then that scenario, you actually want everything to be listed out on paper. You want everyone, all the other builders to just hand out price sheets and square footage because you win every single time.

Right. And so understand what you are and then just own the hell out of it.

Mollie: Yeah. And you can have fun with a price message. So here’s an example of making that, um, an emotional message. You know, what are you going to do with all that extra

Matt: money?

Mollie: What are you like? So then it becomes, again, about not just the money, but about what are you doing with the extra money that is going to be lifestyle and experience and all this.

So, um, [00:52:00] you know. Everyone who is listening right now. Think to yourself, what is the one thing that differentiates us from all other options. And I’m going to guess that the majority of you can’t without just say it right now. The one thing that differentiates you and that right there is your opportunity because when you can narrow it down to that one thing, it is going to help your marketing and it is going to help your sales.

It’s going to help your traffic. It’s going to really help everything. So I would encourage you all to go back and have that conversation so that you are able to figure out the one thing that differentiates

Matt: you. And I would say that you need to summarize that in five to seven words. Yeah, like not one sentence, cause you can a sentence, you can have commas and you know, like it can be this big giant thing, but think of it.

What is the, what is the thing? And then how do I condense that down into that marketing, that marketing message. I, I, we’re, I actually, the [00:53:00] builder I started working for, when I first started in this industry, we were a square foot leader. Like that. We were all about price. We wanted the price.

Um, and so at the time, this was back in the day, um, then billboards were important, and Molly’s got a, the cops or something. After her going down to go down the street, she just muted herself. That’s okay. I’m chatting. Uh, and so. But there was a giant, we put up a giant billboard and had a whole campaign and it showed a goldfish hopping out of one bowl into the other bowl.

And the one bowl was really small and that represented everybody else’s houses or the house that they were in. And then the goldfish was jumping into this big giant aquarium tank and it was just, you know, it was other builders and then CP Morgan, right. That was the R my builder name. And that was his under there.

And it was just showcasing the space. However, what was, and I thought this was brilliant. And so because we were a square footage leading builder, we, um, it was [00:54:00] one, it was the business model of really low level spec, um, included features except for the, obviously the basics, but everything else was an upgrade.

However, the biggest one of the bigger competitors, I’m not a, I’m not going to name him, get into builder names cause CP Morgan doesn’t exist anymore, so I can name them however. They put up a campaign that I love to this day, and it was all, and it basically said, don’t upgrade your countertops.

Upgrade your expectations. And I loved it because it was a direct hit, but we owned what it is that we were priced urban and we owned it. And you had that short message about it was more square feet, less money. That was. The slogan that was the messaging campaigns. That was everything that we did focused around more square feet, less money.

Mollie: I love that story and it makes me think I, have you ever heard me tell this story about eBay? No,

Matt: I don’t think so.

[00:55:00] Mollie: Okay. So your buyer is out there. So like your message that you were doing about price was right because it was targeting your buyer and then the other company that had that, that message that you loved, it was right to be aggressive and also get in front of their buyers.

So eBay, when it first got started, the, the people who founded eBay, they, they put the website up and they ended up, um, testing it and they put. They listed on the website, a pen, and they put it up there and they had it listed and they put the site live and like, all right, let’s see what happens.

And someone bought the pen and it was actually a broken pen, and they were literally just testing the site and someone bought the pen and they were like horrified because they were just testing out the site and to make sure it all worked. And they sent the guy a message and said. We are so sorry.

This is our new website. We’re testing it out. The pen you bought, that’s a broken pen. We, um, you know, we’ll refund you the money. And [00:56:00] the guy said, no, I knew that I collect broken pens.

Matt: I

Mollie: mean, what are the chances of that? So when you think about it there, your buyer is out there and when you are able to get in front of them, they are going.

You have to get in front of them with what you have and what makes you special, because they will buy. So it just, it makes me think of that story because we tend to think, Oh, we need traffic, we need traffic, we need traffic. No, you need the right. People, the right eyeballs, the right people for what makes you uniquely you.

Matt: I would even tag on to that because you said it perfectly. You don’t need more traffic. You actually, you need a better experience too. It’s all about the experience once they get there.

Mollie: Yeah,

Matt: definitely. So anyway. All right. I love that story. I’ve not heard that story before. I’m going to have to look that up and read it.

That’s great. [00:57:00] All right. All right. Okay, well, perfect way to wrap up this episode. I think this was, I hope you guys found this helpful. I know, I sure found this fun just to talk about, uh, I love, we love doing this stuff, so this is fun. All right guys. Um, we are gonna. Wrap it up this week.

That’s going to do it. So thank you guys so much for joining us on another episode of building perspective, make sure you join in on the conversation on our Facebook group building perspective. Make sure you guys go in there, ask them questions, talk with other people in our industry. Like-minded, super smart folks are in there.

So make sure you utilize that as a tool for you. If you have questions for us, use it there too. So. Thanks so much for joining us. It’s

Mollie: been fun building perspective together and we’ll talk

Matt: with you

[00:58:00] soon.

Have a great week.

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