This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Alyssa Titus of Schell Brothers joins Greg and Kevin to discuss how marketing through community involvement can be a game-changer for builders.
Alyssa’s mission as a marketer for a new home builder is customer happiness. She says, “We eat, sleep, and breathe work. We also eat, sleep and breathe that mission, and with that comes really being involved in the community.”
Community outreach can be a very affordable way to enhance marketing strategies for home builders. Alyssa explains, “a great way to build your brand for almost free is community outreach. Aligning with important non-profits in your area or important events in your area and you don't need to be the head sponsor. What I always say is be the boots on the ground. If your whole team goes out there and does the event and your handshaking…and you get to know people. I think that is huge, and it's almost free, right? I mean, throw them 500 bucks if you can. Throw them a thousand bucks if you can. Be the title sponsor. Do it, but I don't think you have to. I think having your people strategically partnering with important events and nonprofits in your area is advertising that is so cheap. It takes your time and energy, but it doesn't take your money, and I 1000% would always do that.”
Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how community participation can add to your marketing efforts.
About the Guest:
Alyssa Titus is the Director of Marketing for Schell Brothers, a new home builder in Delaware, Richmond, VA, and Nashville, TN. She was named National Marketing Director of the Year at The Nationals in 2021 and was honored as DE Marketing Director of the year in 2020. She leads a 14 person in-house marketing team and manages a multi-million dollar marketing budget annually. She serves on the Lewes Chamber Board of Directors, the Advisory Board of Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation, and The Del Tech Community College Business Studies Board. She has successfully launched many new initiatives for Schell Brothers and oversees all of their charitable giving.
Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody, and welcome to today's episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine,
Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.
Greg Bray: and we are excited today to welcome to the show Alyssa Titus, the Director of Marketing at Schell Brothers. Welcome, Alyssa. Thanks for joining us.
Alyssa Titus: Thanks for having me. Super happy to be here.
Greg Bray: Well, for those who haven't had a chance to meet yet, we just like to start off with that quick introduction. Help us to get to know you a little bit better.
Alyssa Titus: Sure. I am the Director of Marketing for Schell Brothers. We're a new home builder. Our home base is Delaware. I'm lucky enough [00:01:00] to live in Rehoboth Beach and our office is in Rehoboth Beach. So, we're just five minutes from the ocean. We have a division in Richmond, Virginia, and we also are launching a division right now as we speak in Nashville, Tennessee. So, it's exciting times here at Schell Brothers. We're a production builder. We've highly personalized our homes. Our average price point is about low sevens and we settle about 700 houses a year.
Kevin Weitzel: So, there's still land in Delaware that people could build on because 700 houses a year, that's a lot.
Alyssa Titus: It's a lot. Yes.
Kevin Weitzel: But that's why the expansion.
Alyssa Titus: I mean, that's part of the reason we're expanding and we've definitely creeping westward and we're in primarily Sussex county, which is, the coastal Delaware county here. So, we've definitely been creeping west as time goes on, but you know, everyone is fleeing cities right now I feel like, and Delaware is certainly a great place to retire, which is typically what we have. Just recently, with COVID, we've welcomed a lot of families who are now able to work from home, so.
Kevin Weitzel: So, if I can take a left-hand turn.[00:02:00] We're going to get to the point where I can see her smile already, so I already know you know this is coming. That's all the business you. We need to know something interesting personally about you that nobody will know unless they listen to this podcast.
Alyssa Titus: Personally about me. Okay. That's a tough one. Okay. Well, so I have a design degree, a fashion design degree, and I used to be a fashion designer and sell to like Macy's and Nordstrom and pretty much every major department store in the country in my former life. I had a showroom in New York City. Traveled all over.
Kevin Weitzel: Whoa That's a new one. Greg, isn't that a new one? We haven't heard anything like that before.
Greg Bray: We have not had a fashion designer on yet. I would have dressed up nicer if I had known.
Alyssa Titus: I'm not dressed that great today.
Kevin Weitzel: That kind of makes an interesting segue. I mean, I know we'll get more into the marketing side, but what caused you to drive toward the marketing side of the home building industry and versus the design interior exterior design?
Alyssa Titus: Right. I mean, I honestly, Kevin, I totally fell into this position in a crazy way. I had retail stores up and down the east [00:03:00] coast. I had one in Rehoboth Beach for 17 years and I knew my boss, Chris Schell well, and his wife and his sister-in-law shopped in my store all the time and, you know, retail game changed quite a bit five to seven years ago with the internet and all of that.
Kevin Weitzel: No. No.
Alyssa Titus: And so like my retail business was kind of winding down a little bit and I had some other opportunities which I took, and one day out of the blue, Chris called me and was like, do you want to be my Director of Marketing? And I'm like, what? I don't know anything about the new home building business.
You don't want me. I don't know what the hell I'm doing. Right, and he's like, no, no, no, I want you, and I'm like looking at my husband and I'm super entrepreneurial and so is Chris, and I met him and I met like some top-level execs who are now my peers and they super impressed me, and I was like, okay, sure.
I'll be your Director of Marketing. You know, I knew nothing which [00:04:00] was cool and exciting when you're in your mid-forties to learn a whole new career is something else. it's been really fun and I didn't know how much I would love the new home industry.
I used to have a sewing factory. I think, you know, fashion design, and we had a factory with 220 employees at one point and made our own apparel. The crazy thing that I learned right away is like making things is making things is making things. Making clothing is actually not all that different than building houses because you have all the same variables and you have humans and you need raw materials and things need to be cut and built and sewn and it's not that dissimilar. So, it's been really interesting. I've been here five years now and learned an astounding amount about the new home market. It's super exciting, and I have an in-house team of 13 people who are awesome.
Greg Bray: Alyssa, I think that's fascinating that you see the manufacturing piece of building is very similar to other manufacturing processes, but the more important question I have is where does shell brothers get their t-shirts now for their staff?
Alyssa Titus: So, [00:05:00] I've upped our game. I've definitely upped our fashion game, but the stuff I'm putting logos on now, people are like, oh, wow. Yeah, we have a t-shirt for everything too. Every event we do, we do a t-shirt.
Kevin Weitzel: Have you considered velvet blazers?
Alyssa Titus: I mean, hey, you know what? Next holiday season, I think that's on the table.
Kevin Weitzel: I think velvet blazers are on point. I don't know anybody else doing it. So, you've got to do it.
Alyssa Titus: Yeah. I love it. All logoed up. I'm in.
Greg Bray: Oh, Kevin can't take you anywhere.
Kevin Weitzel: Greg, did I hear that right? Thirteen. Did Alyssa say 13 people on her team?
Alyssa Titus: Yeah.
Greg Bray: That's definitely something we got to unpack a little more. Tell us more about that team. How you've structured it and what those folks are doing for you.
Alyssa Titus: So, I have three videographers. I have a senior photographer. One of my video guys can also photo. I have three senior graphic designers. I have a production artist who's also a graphic designer. I have a programmer, web designer. I have a digital marketing specialist.
So, I've got [00:06:00] like, what would I call her? An event planner. We do a thing called Project Kudos, and she runs that for me, and she runs all of our Project Kudos social media and all of our Coffee House social media. She's head cheerleader. She's awesome. Who am I missing? Oh, I have a renderer in staff. That's a new addition. He's awesome. Super exciting. I think I got everybody.
Kevin Weitzel: Now are you doing interiors and exteriors or just exteriors?
Alyssa Titus: Renderings? Both.
Kevin Weitzel: You're doing both. Nice. Okay. What about virtual tours? You doing virtual tours?
Alyssa Titus: Yep. Yeah.
Kevin Weitzel: Rendered or Matterport or both?
Alyssa Titus: Both
Kevin Weitzel: Both, and do you have your own camera, or do you hire that in?
Alyssa Titus: No. We have our own stuff. We have all our own equipment.
Kevin Weitzel: So, you guys are literally, you've got your own like action-packed, you know, league of awesomeness.
Alyssa Titus: I do. We kind of look at ourselves as this like Maverick ad agency, right, and our client is Schell Brothers.
Greg Bray: I'm going to say, you're bigger than a lot of ad agencies with thirteen people. You are.
Alyssa Titus: Oh, we are. We are. Yeah. The cool [00:07:00] thing about them is they're all so incredibly good at their job and talented, and we all bring different things to the table, which makes it really fun. We love collaborating together. We'll just sit, right outside my office is like a bullpen, we call it, and a couple of people have desks out there and then we'll all just meet there, you know, and kind of say, hey, I have this idea. How about we do this, and then we layer on. I think it's what makes us so great. You know, we all come to the table kind of with different skillsets and we layer that on and then we make this amazing stuff. Which is really fun.
Kevin Weitzel: So, your ideas can come from the bottom? Can come to the top and then you just have to make sure that everything is kosher, it's above board, it gets approved?
Alyssa Titus: Yes. We're a democracy.
Kevin Weitzel: I love it.
Alyssa Titus: I happen to be the leader of the democracy, but yes.
Greg Bray: So, when you came into home building not really knowing the industry when you started, did you have this team already there, or is this something that you've built out as part of your journey?
Alyssa Titus: Both a little bit. [00:08:00] Chris Schell, my boss, who's the owner of the company, understands how important marketing is. If you come to lower Delaware, you, I mean we're going to hit you over the head. Like, you are going to know who Schell Brothers is. We have 27 billboards on the highway. You're not missing us. So, he's always known the importance of marketing.
I had parts of the team. I definitely have built my team, I think, in the past five years, slowly. Ivana, my senior photographer, has been here since almost the beginning of the company, so she's seen it all. Most of the team’s pretty new and I've brought on board most of them, but you know, we've always had an in-house marketing team, and they've always been so good.
I think when I got here, they had gone through like a bunch of marketing directors and everyone was a little gun shy to share their ideas. So, when I got here and I'm like, what is this thing? What is this? That they are done, and they're like, oh, no one liked that. Oh, that was no good. Oh, that's not on brand, and I'm like, what? Wait. So, I like walked into Chris's office my second week and I was like, so everyone tells me what you like, but I don't think I care what you like. I like want us to be great, and he's like, yes. [00:09:00] So, we've always run like that. I'm like, let's not worry about what other people like. Let's make great work and then we'll figure it out from there. That's what we do and I think we're pretty good at it.
Kevin Weitzel: So, I'm under the firm belief that like if you're hiring for sales, you don't have to hire a salesperson. You need to hire somebody that just has a great personality, that's willing to understand that there's a regimented process to it, as well as an understanding of uncovering problems that you can be the solution for.
Alyssa Titus: A hundred percent agree with you on that.
Kevin Weitzel: Do you feel that the same thing happened with you coming in and not knowing anything about the home building industry that you could actually bring in a fresh set of eyes to say, why are you guys still doing this, or what's the reasoning behind that?
Alyssa Titus: I don't think that was purposeful on anybody's part, but it certainly was true, and I mean, I think, you know, the first year I was learning like exponentially, right? I'm like, wait, what's an HO? Who's a CSM? You know, what's a CT? I would stop people in meetings all the time, you know, executive meetings and I'm like, I have no idea what you're talking about. You need to back up a bit. Yeah. I don't know what that is, but yeah, I was always asking questions cause I didn't know the [00:10:00] answers, literally, right. I'm like, why are you doing that like that? What does this mean and do we really need to be doing this? So, I think there is value in that for sure.
You know, I'm five years removed from that right now, and we talk about this as a team all the time. I'm like, let's look at this as like we're in it. You know, we're living it, you're sleeping it, you're breathing it, which doesn't always give you an outsider's perspective on things. So, we're always trying to look at things as what would the consumer think, right? If I'm the buyer, what do I think and what's my reaction to this because when you eat it, sleep it, breathe it every day, sometimes you get bogged down in things that maybe don't matter to the consumer, right?
Kevin Weitzel: With your market segmentation, do you find that you have an advantage and not to call out age or anything, but you did say that you know, you basically did a reset at 40. Do you find that you have an advantage that you are basically a potential client of Schell Brothers of the product that you sell?
Alyssa Titus: Yeah. I mean, a hundred percent am our clientele. My husband's 56. I'm going to be something this year. So, yes, I'm certainly our customer and I think there's a lot of value in that and you know, how our [00:11:00] customers view our product. My job is marketing, obviously, and our marketing for that matter. What people want and what excites people, and I'd like to think I add that senior view to that.
Greg Bray: So, Alyssa, what was the strategy about bringing it all in-house versus maybe partnering with some different agencies along the way? Was that something just kind of happened accidentally or early on was that always this is how we do it here and why we want to do it this way?
Alyssa Titus: I think Chris has always been a firm believer in the importance of marketing. Sometimes he himself will be like, well, we're actually a marketing company that just happens to sell some houses. So, he understands the value in having elevated marketing. Which is really exciting. I mean, when you have somebody who builds houses who understands that. You don't get that very often. People were like, why do we need to do marketing? Even when we were so busy, as every home builder was during the pandemic, he's like Alyssa, don't take your foot off the gas just cause we're busy. He understands the value in that. I mean, I think our elevated marketing [00:12:00] makes the brand more valuable, right? We're a luxury brand. That's how we market ourselves and you know, when we do good work, it makes the brand look good. Therefore makes you want to buy houses, is my hope at least.
Greg Bray: Well, and I know when I've seen you guys put in for some of the Nationals awards and things that you've won over the years, one of the things that seems to always pop up is your events. You guys seem to be pretty event-heavy. Well, maybe, maybe that's just my perception not living there, that you want to be part of the community beyond just selling them a home. Right? You're contributing fun things to do and places to go. Is that a fair assessment?
Alyssa Titus: Very fair. We are incredibly community-minded. You know, one of the things that we are constantly saying is, we live here, we love it here. Our stakeholders in Richmond lived there. Our stakeholders in Nashville live there. Like, we love where we live. Our mission as a new home builder is happiness, believe it or not. Above anything else. Like I said, we eat, sleep and breathe work. We also eat, sleep and breathe that mission, and with that comes really being involved in the [00:13:00] community.
We did, I think I mentioned, Schellville to you guys before we jumped on. We put on this huge Christmas festival for free at 6.6 acres. There's the biggest roller rink you've ever seen in your life, and you know, Santa is there every night. We have 18 artisan shacks. We have a food tent. We have food trucks. We have all these little houses that the kids can explore and play in. There's a live Christmas tree maze. We put up a lot of Christmas trees.
Kevin Weitzel: I'll be honest with you. I saw all the social media behind that and at first, I was like, what did they just sponsoring some kind of like little festival and then I'm like, I think it's their festival.
Alyssa Titus: Our festival. Yeah, we did it all.
Kevin Weitzel: That's crazy now. Now, and it's all free?
Alyssa Titus: It's free. Yeah. It's the coolest thing I've ever been involved with. I can cry with happiness every night we're out there. We had nine engagements. I mean, the kids are just so happy. We had 104,000 people through the gates this Christmas season. So, it's really cool.
Kevin Weitzel: Well next year, if you want Greg to dress up in a [00:14:00] flying Elvis costume and parachute in, I happen to know that he has those talents to do that. At least one of us does. I don't know.
Alyssa Titus: I'm a yes. I'm a hell yes on that, but only if you come with him.
Greg Bray: I think Kevin may be confusing me with someone else.
Kevin Weitzel: Oh, I was looking at the mirror when I was saying that I just got my name mixed up.
Greg Bray: Kevin has jumped out of an airplane in his life. I have not.
Kevin Weitzel: Several. Yeah.
Alyssa Titus: We'll let you hover right over the roller rink of Schellville and drop you down.
Greg Bray: Yeah. Now, alright, I'm going to play devil's advocate a little bit, from a marketing perspective, right? Yeah. That's fun. It's great. Everybody had a great time. They're getting married. The kids are crying. They're laughing. Are you selling any homes from it?
Alyssa Titus: I believe that we are. I don't want to say, you know, people aren't like, oh, I'm coming to Schellville, so I bought a house, but yes, I think we are. It's huge goodwill for our community. Definitely, I think anybody who's been to Schellville, certainly if they're looking to buy a new house, they're going to look at Schell Brothers, I believe first, and that's not the only thing we do, we do things like that twelve months a year. Not quite as elaborate, but so yes, I think it's [00:15:00] part of our marketing strategy, honestly. It's great public relations. I mean, we do it because we want to also. It's not a PR play, but you know, that definitely plays into it, right.
Kevin Weitzel: Is it basically like the steroid version of sponsoring a little league team or a gymnastics squad? You know, it's not about necessarily the ROI on that expenditure. It's about infusing yourself into the community.
Alyssa Titus: Correct? Yes, I agree. You know, we live in a tourist town, at least here in Delaware. If you talked to a local, I would say, if somebody is like, hey, I'm thinking about building a house, who should I look to? I'd like to think because we do all these things, most people would say, oh, you absolutely have to look at Schell Brothers. I believe that is happening. So, it's pretty cool.
Kevin Weitzel: Hold on, Greg. I got one more thing on this one. This one is one of my sticking points here. So, you don't see it as a potential, you've got to follow me on this one. So, like I belong to a credit union then my credit union will sponsor like the Fiesta Bowl like some super-duper football game, and they spend millions of dollars to do it and when I see that, I see they're spending millions of dollars of my potential dividends. Do [00:16:00] you ever think that there could be a flip side of that or do you think it's truly that infusement with the community, that it is so community-focused versus just sponsorship-focused and it's ingrained in the community, you think that that is a major benefit?
Alyssa Titus: Really, I mean, you couldn't imagine it unless you've actually experienced it I think, but the experience is so good that the only thing you could get out of it is goodwill and that's why we do it. We're a little different than a credit union, right, cause we're taking your money and giving you a product,i.e. a house. So, I don't think that people think about It like that.
Kevin Weitzel: It was more devil's advocate. Just trying to see if there was another side of that and if you guys have considered that.
Alyssa Titus: No, no. I get it.
Kevin Weitzel: But honestly, it seems like we're grilling you, but truth be told, I think it's fantastic, and I know that Greg does too because as soon as you said Schellville, he's like all lit up and stuff. So, you know, that's, so that's why I wish sometimes we could have cameras on us because every once in a while, Greg just gets this, aaahhh, you know, kid all excited that there's candy.
Greg Bray: I do? I do?
Kevin Weitzel: You do. No. I always looked like that.
Greg Bray: Well, Alyssa we do want to connect this back to some of your digital [00:17:00] activities, of course, you know because it's not The Home Builder Event Marketing Podcast. So, how do you guys fit in digital into all the different things that you're doing?
Alyssa Titus: Sure. I mean,
We do the obvious things. You know, we do Google ads. We do keywords. Obviously Facebook, Instagram. I have a very large digital spend, honestly. I mean, that's where I spend the lion's share of my money now. I like it because you can track it, so, you know what your return on investment is, which is I think pretty great as a marketer, right. You know what you're spending for each conversion. I actually, finally, yesterday got the holy grail I've been looking for years and I got everybody who's bought a house in the past two years and where their point of entry was on our website.
Greg Bray: Ooh.
Alyssa Titus: Yeah. Yeah. So I'm like digging into that now and I'm like, woo, this is so good.
Greg Bray: I love the fact that you've called that the holy grail. No, being able to totally connect back your marketing attribution all the way through to the sale is fantastic. It is very hard to do for a lot of people.
Alyssa Titus: So, hard to do, right. I've been chasing this for years and it all came together finally. It wasn't magical either. It took a lot of [00:18:00] energy and effort on a lot of people's part. I think if you're not spending money as a new home builder in digital marketing, you're nuts. It's the best way to target people and understand where your dollar is going. You can clearly track your dollars in that space, which is, I think exciting for all marketers everywhere, and we're doing all kinds of new stuff. Obviously, geo-fencing has been around. We use that. We're doing some really cool retargeting stuff right now, where if you clicked on our ad, we're going to serve you another ad because we're tracking your unique cell phone, which is crazy, true.
Greg Bray: Do you find from the, tying back to the events, that you're able to get a lot of organic kind of digital activity, you know, especially social media related where you don't have to pay for it the same way because of the events that you're doing?
Alyssa Titus: So, this is a crazy funny story. You know, we didn't do the event last year cause Covid, and blah, blah, blah, and we moved it and this is the biggest we've ever done it. We've done it for four years, but this was huge. So, we were just talking in an exec meeting the other day, and [00:19:00] my boss, Chris is like, why was our traffic in December on the website triple what it normally is? And I was like, oh, that was Schellville. So, yes. That is 1000% happening.
Kevin Weitzel: And you're not talking like a spike in December, you're talking about the month of December?
Alyssa Titus: I'm talking about the month of December. Our traffic was almost triple what it normally is because of Schellville.
Greg Bray: I'm still sitting here going the CEO knows what the website traffic is well enough to even see that.
Alyssa Titus: We send marketing reports. Yes.
Greg Bray: No, I think that's enlightening that somebody's in the data at that level. You know you said he loved marketing. We might have to have an interview with him at some point here.
Alyssa Titus: Yeah. He's great.
Kevin Weitzel: Can I give you a potential scenario here? You go back in the way back time machine and your back designing and selling clothing in fashion stores. and somebody approaches you, but it's not a Chris Schell. It's a Carl the Builder and he is not an established builder. He doesn't have that same budget. What would you do differently going into that role? I know you. You're a Maverick. You're going to take that adventure [00:20:00] and rock and roll with it, but what would you do differently when you don't have that budget, you don't have that spend? Where are you focusing your output to, your efforts?
Alyssa Titus: That's a tricky question cause I'm in the land of being super spoiled here at Schell Brothers, right?.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah.
Alyssa Titus: I actually taught a class last year on this, and I think one thing that we've already talked about that I think is so important and people overlook is a great way to build your brand for almost free is community outreach. Aligning with important non-profits in your area or important events in your area and you don't need to be the head sponsor. What I always say is be the boots on the ground. If your whole team goes out there and does the event and your handshaking, and you're like, hey, I'm Alyssa, I'm from Schell Brothers, or I'm from Brad the Builder and you get to know people.
I think that is huge, and it's almost free, right? I mean, throw them 500 bucks if you can. Throw them a thousand bucks if you can. Be the title sponsor. Do it, but I don't think you have to. I think having your people strategically partnering with important events and nonprofits in [00:21:00] your area is advertising that is so cheap. It takes your time and energy, but it doesn't take your money, and I 1000% would always do that. So, that would be by my number one.
Kevin Weitzel: I love it.
Alyssa Titus: Yeah, and people forget about it, which is crazy to me, cause they're busy and you're building houses and there's five of you and you're like, I'm just up in it, and this homeowner's mad at me. I got to get this done. I think being present in the community is such a game-changer for a small business.
I mean, I was a small business in this community before. You know, when I had my store and I did tons of events downtown and I made sure everyone knew who I was, knew I was partnering with charities. I think for me, that's the cheapest marketing you can do. Then I would probably honestly find like a really good ad agency that I can trust to run my digital, especially if I'm a small builder building houses day to day. How am I managing the digital space that is ever-changing? I don't think I would try to tackle that myself if I were a mom-and-pop builder with five or seven employees. I think it's too hard because it [00:22:00] changes so fast.
Kevin Weitzel: And you said you also have a coffee, you have a coffee tasting and a coffee bar, like where you have food and everything at one of your models?
Alyssa Titus: It's actually on 18 Rehoboth Avenue. So, it's 10 steps from the ocean and it's an actual coffee shop. So, you go in there, we have so much branding. There's my coffee house cup. Here's my coffee house hat. Which I didn't even try that. That was just sitting next to me for this. You go in there, you can get coffee. We have a local roaster that we've partnered with and we have some local bakery people we've partnered with our employees in there. We have kiosks in there, so you can page through all our communities, all our floor plans. You can see what we're doing with Project Kudos in there. We have takeaways. You know, we have our model lookbook, our community lookbook. We have a huge map on the wall of where all of our communities are. So, you're just getting immersed in the Schell Brothers brand. We're like a little cocoon in the coffee house.
Kevin Weitzel: We had a builder here in Arizona that hosts it, and it was kind of a crazy idea that this young marketer had, and she had them host a [00:23:00] speed dating in this infill townhouse community, and they pre-sold five units at that speed dating event, so, and I was blown away. I was like, that's a huge success if you asked me because they literally just host that. Do you guys host like peanuckle tournaments?
Alyssa Titus: Last weekend we had a dessert flight with spike coffee and it was sold out. So, you got three desserts and then we showed you how to make your own cake pops. It was so popular that we're doing it again this weekend cause people were mad that we sold out and then next weekend we have candle making and charcuterie in there, and that sold out right away. So we're doing that twice as well. So, we have an art show in there mid-June where we sell a lot of swag in the coffee house. It's like part coffee house, part sales center, part retail store, which is probably the me. The retail stores, that's a little Alyssa-like creeping into Schell Brothers.
So, we do all kinds of things and my goal there, or our collective company goal, if I sell like two houses or three houses a year from the coffee house, I feel like we're winning cause we're branding. [00:24:00] We're getting our name out. Every single piece of swag we have has Schell Brothers on it somewhere, so, you're taking things home. This fun notebook, these flip flops, this baseball cap that say cool things about the beach, but they also have Schell Brothers on them, and then we, you know, we hope to sell some houses, so it's pretty cool, and all of our kids work there, which has been a really cool by-product that we weren't expecting. All our kids work at the coffee house. All of us have teenagers.
Kevin Weitzel: With your advertisements that you're putting out there and your various digital campaigns, and not to discount the community insurgence, if you will, but how do you actually differentiate with the other builders in your area about the quality of your build and the move-in process, or whatever those differentiating factors are, how are you letting people know about that?
Alyssa Titus: I mean, we do campaigns focused around our unique homeowner journey all the time, and our technology. You know, we have a patented shelter technology, We build our houses very differently than many other new home builders using two by sixes and all kinds of different things. Yeah. So, we had a whole campaign last year where we talked about shelter technology. You know, it's science, but we brought emotion to the [00:25:00] campaign. Our houses are built for the way you live and we had all these little vignettes of people doing things. Like my girls were in a commercial, and I have three daughters and they were like using their curling iron and all the beauty products and using the electric, and we're like, we're energy-efficient, you know? Somebody else's kids came in and they were like jumping on the bed and making a lot of noise and we're like, you know, we're noise-proof because we are using the shelter technology. So, I like to bring emotion to all of our campaigns because I think it resonates better with people.
So, generally, we're storytelling when we're telling about our unique home journey. We're using homeowners are using our employees, but we're always talking about it. We have a proprietary software called Heartbeat. We have a bunch of smart people who work on our innovation team here and they develop this software that tracks the home build.
It's pretty much like nothing I've ever seen before and so we talk about that and get testimonials about that and incorporate them into commercials. We are always striving to do four big brand campaigns a year and then [00:26:00] pepper in these product campaigns and community ads with those, but the brand campaigns are, you know, our big brainchild, where we're sitting for months and strategizing, and so that's the thing. We have a big one brewing right now that's going to be really cool.
Greg Bray: I'm starting to be concerned that your thirteen people are understaffed and overworked and that you need more.
Alyssa Titus: We work hard. We do. We always say like, this is the Schell Brothers thing, we work hard and we play hard. So, yes, we all work really hard, but we love what we do. I think all of us love what we do. I've got a great team right now who's happy. Which is awesome.
Greg Bray: The energy is contagious that we can feel just coming from you, so it's great. I'm sure everybody feels that. Well, Alyssa, we want to be respectful of your time. You've shared a lot with us today, but just a few more questions. What are you guys looking at as new things coming that you need to prepare for or working on from a digital standpoint? What's coming next for Schell Brothers?
Alyssa Titus: I think the digital space is so hard because you have [00:27:00] to be in it daily or you don't know what's happening.
Kevin Weitzel: We'll wait. Could you say that again? There are a lot of marketers out there that do not understand this concept. They think we put these on our websites eight years ago. They should still be good.
Alyssa Titus: Right. Right. I mean, you have to be nimble, I think, in the digital space and be willing to adapt. I mean, for us, if something's not working, I'm like dump it, move on. What are we doing? If you're small, I don't think you can do a good job at this because you need to have your eye on the prize all the time with this. Like you have to. I mean, I love some of this targeting. I don't know how long you're going to be allowed to do this, but some of the retargeting you can do right now is, to me, totally mind-blowing.
I mean, I can, you know, ID your cell phone if you've looked at one of my ads and then serve you a drip campaign, right? So, if you looked at my ad, let's pretend you're at the top of the funnel. I don't know how interested you are, but I know you looked and now I can serve you ads on your phone, cause I know you looked, that are dripping you information. Which is really intriguing and exciting I think as marketers, that we can do this. So, we're [00:28:00] really dabbling and that's probably one of the newer things that we're doing. I love the OTT space, which is the over-the-top television, where you can really still in that space, really target demographics.
Unlike you can do even on Google now because they have so many restrictions, with targeting and new home. Now that I think things have really changed in that space, which is unfortunate for marketers, but maybe good for consumers. So, you always have to leverage all of that, right.
Kevin Weitzel: Greg, that's our second guest that's mentioned OTT.
Greg Bray: I was kind of wondering if we would get to that based on the fact she's got three video folks on her team. Are you doing some of that as well? That's where some folks get stuck is they don't have the production piece figured out to get the video in place quickly, easily, change it, you know, update it, some of that. Although, you don't have to be changing it and updating it all the time to experiment with it.
Alyssa Titus: No. I agree. I mean, We're right now dabbling with 5-second, 15-second, 30-second commercials. Five-second ones that you can't skip through, so you have to consume them in the YouTube space They're being [00:29:00] received really well. I mean, I like to think our ads are really unique and not boring. I thought we were going to win a gold award this year for this car ad. We didn't. We won a silver, but I don't know if you guys saw that one, but it was pretty cool.
Kevin Weitzel: Greg and I were hoping for a gold for our podcast. We really were. We won a silver as well, but man, we were hoping for that gold. So, I was hoping that gold so, so bad.
Alyssa Titus: It feels so good when you get them too. We got two last year and I was like, guys we're at least at three this year and we didn't get any. We got five silvers, so that's still good. Yeah, so I think the OTT space is really interesting to me. I think the spaces where you can target your demographics, right?
I can target income, age, what you've been searching for, which is a little scary and crazy. You know, as marketers, this is stuff we love. I know who my customer is and now all of a sudden I can really laser-focus my marketing on them. How cool is that? So, we're really excited about some of those opportunities that are new and I don't know how long for this world they will be because I think they'll probably have some [00:30:00] restrictions put on them. I think right now, no one's watching, which is interesting, right.
Greg Bray: So, speaking of watching, Alyssa, where do you go to watch? What are your sources of new ideas?
Alyssa Titus: Well, so, you know, we love The Builder Show. We take a ton of classes at The Builder Show and expect everyone to do a write-up when they come back and the core executive team, we dissect all of that and decide what's good and not good, not just in the marketing space, but in every space.
The team's going to go to Inbound this year, which is a marketing conference. So, we've not done that as a team yet. So we're really excited about that, and then we're, I'm like a consumer of information. So, I will read like Ad Age, start to finish. I'm always, you know, online like, oh, what is this? What is that? What is this? Lately really interested in the metaverse space and what that's going to look like for home builders. We have some cool stuff we're thinking about there, and the team, you know, have a young team, they know more than I do about some of the newest stuff.
They'll come to me and be like, have you ever heard of this? And I'm like, no, but what is it? You tell [00:31:00] me. I think having youth on the team is really great. They're on top of all these fresh ideas and how people are consuming content and things. I'm a little older. We tend to get set in our ways. I have to be mindful that I can't be set in my ways because we're in this ever-changing space as marketers. So, I'm definitely listening and leaning into the team too, because I got a bunch of 20 something-year-olds who know stuff.
Greg Bray: That's great. Well, as we, as we finish up, do you have any last words of advice that you just want to get out there to the world to help them do better with their marketing?
Alyssa Titus: I guess my only advice is don't think inside a box, right? Always challenge yourself and always put your consumer hat on. You think of floor plan is great. How do you convey that to the customer is what will make them think it's great, right?
I'm like not putting a floor plan on an ad and being like, look at our great new floorplan cause who cares, but if I'm like, look at the way our new floor plan lives. I think thinking like that is important as a new home marketer.
Greg Bray: About the storytelling, about the emotion, about the [00:32:00] connection. Yeah. I completely agree. That's great. That's awesome. Well, Alyssa, if anybody wants to get in touch with you, you know, connect, reach out.
Alyssa Titus: Email for sure. Alyssa dot Titus at Schell Brothers, S C H E L L brothers with an s.com, and am happy to answer any questions.
Greg Bray: We'll drop a link to that in our show notes as well. Well, thank you so much for spending time with us today. It's been a fun conversation and great to get to know you better, and thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.
Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.