This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Samantha Radloff of Hughston Homes joins Greg and Kevin to discuss the importance of creating value for potential customers through digital marketing.
One of the major purposes of home builder digital marketing is to provide information to prospective buyers. Samantha says, “We really just try to educate everyone through marketing.”
That information needs to benefit the targeted audience. Samantha explains, “…we want to offer value with our marketing. We don't want to just ping people with, look at this. Like, why do they want to look at it? Why do they want to know more? What solutions can we solve for them? How can we improve their lifestyle? How can we enhance everything for them? Why us?”
Prompts that ask individuals to take action are also key to a digital marketing strategy. Samantha says, “So, call to actions are very important now. They were before, but pretty much every post now has a call to action…Like, pulling them in with something engaging, and then getting them down a rabbit hole, and then they have to find out more because we tell them through the marketing why they want to know more.”
Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about ensuring that your digital marketing is delivering value.
About the Guest:
Innovative. Dynamic. Tenacious.
Gifted with an insatiable thirst for excellence and a desire to achieve the impossible, Samantha Radloff is blazing indelible stamps on the home building industry’s trail with Hughston Homes, THE Southeast’s premier home builder and brokerage who has been helping homeowners make their new home vision a reality for half a century.
Samantha graduated from Valdosta State University with her bachelor's in English and minors in creative writing, journalism, and psychology without truly knowing what she would end up doing afterward. She dabbled in marketing while bartending throughout college, but her love and passion didn’t transpire until she realized its true power to change (and save) lives when she became heavily involved in the animal rescue networking world.
Fast forward 7 years and Samantha believes that marketing new home opportunities is not much different than marketing animals to save them; just one life improved by owning a new Hughston Home creates a never-ending wave of positive change and is one big reason she attributes to loving her job. Additionally, she enjoys the fast-paced environment, ever-shifting priorities, and various challenges that the industry presents.
Samantha specializes in social media management, brand personality creation, online sales/CRM management, buzz-worthy content creation, unique organic reach, videography, and is a drone pilot! She has proven to be a highly productive leader and team player at Hughston Homes as the Chief of Marketing and Director of Inside Sales. Her ability to fuel and coach her direct reports up to optimal performance is evidenced by the leanness of Hughston’s marketing team of just three virtual employees and one Online Sales Counselor.
If she isn’t in the office, you can find her flying her drones, traveling, editing videos, painting, cooking, and enjoying the outdoors, all while hanging out with her 7-year-old son.
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 Wietzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.
Greg Bray: And we're excited today to be joined by Samantha Radloff. Samantha is the Chief Marketing Executive at Hughston Homes. Welcome. Thanks for joining us today.
Samantha Radloff: Hello. Thank you for having me.
Greg Bray: Well, Samantha, let's just start off by helping folks get to know you a little better. Tell us just a little bit about yourself.
Samantha Radloff: Yes. So I, like you said, am the chief marketing executive for Hughston Homes. We [00:01:00] are a home builder and brokerage in Georgia and Alabama. I manage the marketing and inside sales at Hughston Homes. We've been building homes since 1972, so for 50 years.
Kevin Wietzel: Well, that's the business you, but do me a favor, break us into the world of Samantha, the personal side of you. Something, not business related that we can learn about you on our podcast and only on this podcast. What do we got? Are you into juggling? Throwing knives? What are your hobbies? What do you do?
Samantha Radloff: So, I'm a drone pilot. I love flying the drone. So, I do that business and personal just to learn. You know, take it on vacation and get cool videos of things. I got some of dolphins once, so that was super cool. So, I do that. I rescue animals. I have a seven-year-old son that's always with me. We go hiking and paint and cook and all that good stuff.
Kevin Wietzel: Now he's not an animal that was rescued, right? He was actually a birth son.
Samantha Radloff: [00:02:00] Yes, yes. I birthed him.
Kevin Wietzel: You didn't see him climbing in a tree and be like, I need to rescue this child?
Samantha Radloff: No. Sometimes I do have to rescue him out of trees, but.
Greg Bray: And when you talk about drone pilot, are you talking about like the little things we get at Costco, or are you talking about big drones? What kind of drones are you flying?
Samantha Radloff: So, all of mine are DJI drones. I just got an FPV drone. So, one with goggles where you can actually like fly through houses. Super cool.
Kevin Wietzel: Do you geek out of that drone racing?
Samantha Radloff: No, I don't think I'm into that. Not yet.
Kevin Wietzel: And do you have, like one of those drone pilot licenses, are they required in your area or?
Samantha Radloff: So, I'm pretty sure they're required. I got one just in case, just because I'm flying for business. So, yes, I do have my license. Just in case I hurt somebody or something, you know.
Kevin Wietzel: So, when you're not flying drones, you're into marketing. So, tell us a little bit more about that. Like your role there and how you interact with the sales team.
Samantha Radloff: Yes. All things marketing. So, I [00:03:00] started in 2015 with Hughston Homes, but at that point, Richie Eubanks was with Keller Williams and he brought me on to start social media marketing. I didn't really know what I was doing at that point. All that I had done prior was animal rescue networking. So, I was fortunate to start when we were small. So, I started here Columbus and then he took over market by market, and then while he took on markets, I learned more and more. So, it's always been my focus to learn new things every day, always improve.
Greg Bray: So, Samantha, tell us a little bit more then about Hughston Homes and the different areas that you guys are building in and what type of buyers you are targeting with your product.
Samantha Radloff: Yes. So, most of our buyers are FHA government-backed loans and VA loans. Our average price points around 430,000. We build in several [00:04:00] Georgia counties and also in Alabama. We're in a lot of military markets. So, like Fort Banning, Fort Gordon, Robin's Air Force Base.
Kevin Wietzel: Being a former Marine myself and knowing how transient that life can be, how do you market specifically to military folks? Cause obviously if you're in military town, you have to cater to military. How do you focus that and capture that transient pop-in, pop-out audience?
Samantha Radloff: Yeah. So, we do have a lot of military that PCSs to our markets. So, we do make it a priority to make sure that they know about us. You know, if you're in California and you're thinking about PCSing to Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, they should know about Hughston Homes. So, we do a lot of networking and local groups, Facebook groups catered to the military market.
We're also on BDX and New Home Source, which caters to the military market as well. Our trusted lending partners, they're VA loan experts. So, we'll have a home opportunity say in Perry, Georgia. That's a military area. [00:05:00] So, we'll make sure to communicate the VA loan estimated payment scenarios, what they can do with their VAH, stuff like that. We really just try to educate everyone through marketing.
Greg Bray: So, with the military buyer, do you see a lot more engagement of them researching from afar? You know, when they're coming into the area where they're doing things remotely, either through the website or other types of video technology, as opposed to the onsite visit?
Samantha Radloff: Definitely, yes. So, prior to COVID, we already had a lot of military reaching out to us from other states. At that point, they would fly here, you know, and tour the home, but after COVID they would tour virtually.
Greg Bray: So, tell us, Samantha, a little bit more about how you guys are structured from a marketing department standpoint. You know, you mentioned that you started in one area and grew to others. So, now how is your team working, and is it just you or you [00:06:00] got lots of minions running around helping you out?
Samantha Radloff: So, I have four minions. Well, they're not minions. They're awesome. So, I have three virtual employees. One is in Nicaragua, one's in Mexico City, and one is in Bogota, Columbia, and one online sales counselor who manages all of our leads and then me.
Greg Bray: So, as you look at that team, how do you decide which type of activities you want to keep in-house versus where you want to go from a partnership and agency standpoint?
Samantha Radloff: If we can do it in-house, or if we can hire someone to do it, we like to keep it in-house. There are things that we don't know. Digital, for example. In the past, we outsourced that, but now pretty much everything's done in-house, but we also stopped doing paid ads when COVID hit. We didn't know what was going to happen. So, we pretty much stopped spending money and really focused on getting organic reaches. We've picked up organic leads a [00:07:00] lot more. It was paid prior. Most every lead was paid, Facebook, social media, Instagram, all of those platforms.
Greg Bray: That's great that you went from an organic focus and are seeing the returns coming back on that because, in the long term, those are much better than having to always be paying for the next ad. For sure.
Samantha Radloff: Yes, we really had to like, I hate slowing down to speed up, but when we did slow down and said, okay, we're not going to like focus on getting out ads by Wednesday. It was just like ad, ad, ad before. Like, what can we do to build relationships with people so that they remember us? Or they might not be ready to buy now, but when they are, they're gonna think about us.
Kevin Wietzel: That brings a point. All builders experience things differently. In your particular market, were you experiencing the COVID sell-through where you couldn't produce enough homes to sell? You had to start waiting list. You were in that same market then as well? Correct.
Samantha Radloff: Yes, we were. Yeah. So, we're in a second-tier market. So, locations that aren't Atlanta, where the [00:08:00] big national builders dominate. We're in growing markets.
Greg Bray: So, with the market changing again right now, Samantha, over the last couple months with interest rate adjustments and things, are you finding yourself going should we go back and revisit some of those decisions that we made over the last couple years and maybe try some things we had paused or are you happy with what's happening and this is our new way of doing it going forward?
Samantha Radloff: So, I think we're in month three now of like slow down. So, yes, I thought should we start this again, or what should we look into? But we're still getting a ton of leads and there's still a high conversion rate. I don't think right now, but maybe in the future. You know, I talk to our lenders and all the experts that we connect with and try to get their feedback for what they're seeing and it doesn't seem like it's quite that time yet.
Kevin Wietzel: Who are you looking to for advice?
Samantha Radloff: So, Hughston Homes invests a lot on like training and you know, all of that stuff. Mike Moore, Bob Schultz,[00:09:00], and our lending partners are always super helpful. Richie Eubanks, he's our president sales manager. Y'all know him, I think. He's very connected in the industry and hears a bunch of things that he relays to us. That's pretty much it. Podcasts. I look at y'all's stuff.
Kevin Wietzel: Heyoo.
Samantha Radloff: I listen to y'all's podcasts and I research probably once a week. Just if you Google home builder, like what pops up? What is this person doing? What is this company doing? It's really good to do that type of stuff too. What are we not doing? What could we do that nobody else is doing?
Greg Bray: So, Samantha, looking at some of those organic things that were working well for you, what do you think is the biggest home run in all of that? The thing that you're like, oh, I'm not sure if this will work or not, but we tried it and it worked well?
Samantha Radloff: Yes. So, in January we started doing more reels. You know, like the phone videos that cover your whole phone. YouTube shorts. TikToks cause prior to this year, I think everything was 16 x9 YouTube size or [00:10:00] Instagram sized, but reels get killer engagement. It's insane. No paid ads with them either. Get a really good reach if you do hashtag research. Figure out what's relevant to what you're posting. You don't want to put hashtags that don't mean anything because most platforms will penalize you. If you really focus on that, you can hit a lot of people. Like hashtag Fort Benning. Who's gonna click that hashtag and what will they see when they click it? Will they see you?
Kevin Wietzel: And to our older listen group, hashtags are like pound signs, but used with words so they're searchable.
Samantha Radloff: Yes. Yes. Yes. So, call to actions are very important now. They were before, but pretty much every post now has a call to action. So, say, for example, we post a video of the Magnolia home plan. We'll have a Bitly link. Y'all know what Bitly is I'm sure. That leads to a Magnolia tour, which that Magnolia [00:11:00] tour has a button on it to request the floor plan. Like, pulling them in with something engaging, and then getting them down a rabbit hole, and then they have to find out more because we tell them through the marketing why they want to know more.
Greg Bray: So, as you are engaging on social media with these posts and the reels and everything, are you focused on, Hey, here's our product, here's our product, or do you find other things to put in front of your audience to engage them that's a little more subtle than come look at Hughston Homes?
Samantha Radloff: Yes. So, I think, the 80/20 rule, 80% value, 20% sales. Well, it's probably not 80/20 for us. It's probably 70/30, but yeah, we want to offer value with our marketing. We don't want to just ping people with, look at this. Like, why do they want to look at it? Why do they want to know more? What solutions can we solve for them? How can we improve their lifestyle? How can we enhance everything for them? Why us? So, we answer all those questions. Like, even through a [00:12:00] video, you can do that.
Kevin Wietzel: Now, do you guys have like a fireman calendar? Because it seems like you guys you know, discriminate on hiring practices because all of your sales professionals are like good-looking, sharp-dressed people. Have you thought about putting out like one of those firefighter calendars for the lady buyers out there?
Samantha Radloff: That is an excellent idea. I'm about to write that down right now.
Kevin Wietzel: Well, you got Immanuel Whitaker alone could be like March. Richie could be December. Yeah. I mean, Immanuel Whitaker, he could be March. He could be dressed up like in a green suit or something crazy. You know, with just a couple of buttons undone, you know, just to give a little hint.
Samantha Radloff: Yes, yes, yes. Just a little bit of chest hair.
Greg Bray: Okay, Kevin, this is a family show. Oh, my. Getting back to real marketing.
Samantha Radloff: Yes. We do try to market our agents. They're highly trained, and they love what they do and they just love assisting our buyers. So, we try to put a focus on them for sure. Calendar coming soon.
Kevin Wietzel: [00:13:00] I'm not kidding you, Greg, if you haven't seen their salespeople walk through like, the IBS or something. It's this little pack of super snazzy-dressed GQ people. It's crazy.
Greg Bray: I have seen them. I know what you're talking Yes. They do look sharp. Samantha, when you are working on these various campaigns, what key indicators are you watching to measure success, and how do you know if it's working for you?
Samantha Radloff: Yes. So, you know, I trust my gut, but I do look at numbers, click-through rates, bounce rates, engagement rates, watch time, impressions. Where are they looking from? What device are they looking from? So, I compare all of that and it's different for every platform really.
Greg Bray: What's your one platform that you like the best? If you could only do one, which would be the one that you would keep?
Kevin Wietzel: Ooh.
Samantha Radloff: Ooh, that's hard. I would say Facebook and Instagram we get the most leads.
Greg Bray: They're still the top?
Samantha Radloff: Yeah, and LinkedIn. I can't just pick one. Sorry.
Greg Bray: Okay.
Samantha Radloff: So, [00:14:00] LinkedIn was never really a focus before, but the past few months we've really tried to get more into it. I know there's a ton more I need to do there cause on that platform we don't really offer value and I know we should be. So, that's something we'll do soon.
Greg Bray: When you look at the different platforms, how much are you able to reuse across platforms, and how much do you feel like you need to customize at the platform level in your messaging?
Samantha Radloff: Yes. So, prior to COVID, I know people knew where they wanted to move. A lead would come in from Colorado and they would know they wanted to move to Columbus, but after COVID, I'm not sure why, but people were like, I just want to move somewhere in Georgia. I want information for every location. So, before that, we were more custom, like we would post only Alabama stuff on Lisa Bancer's page. She's the listing agent in Alabama, and now we'll post a move-in-ready Alabama home on all pages, just in case there's someone following the Augusta page that might want to move to Alabama.
Greg Bray: Okay. So, you've spread that [00:15:00] across because of interest, a wider interest from the audience. Interesting.
Samantha Radloff: Definitely a wider interest. Yes.
Greg Bray: So, have you had one of these campaigns that you were so excited about that just bombed, that just didn't do what you thought it was gonna do? Any hard learning experiences you can share?
Samantha Radloff: Well, let me think. No, no bombs.
Kevin Wietzel: Which one has surprised you the most? Like you've said, I'm just gonna throw this Frisbee across the room and see where it lands. What really surprised you in the marketing side?
Samantha Radloff: Surprised me. Taking risks is important with marketing. You have to definitely have to take risks. Branding is important too. Like, you don't wanna post something that will hurt your brand or make someone hate you, or start a campaign against you. We started putting music on our ads a lot. Before I post things, if I'm unsure about what Edgar Hughston will think, or Jack Hughston, cause it's their company, I will send it to Richie. What do you think about this? I don't know if we should put that on there actually. So, like rap [00:16:00] songs. If you look at the video we posted today on Instagram. Videos like that seem to get crazy engagement and crazy clickthroughs. One of the agents we recently did a video of said that he had four people come to the open house saying, I just came cause of that video. That was hilarious.
Kevin Wietzel: There's definitely some truth to just the relatability of pop culture in general or just being aligned with a certain theme, and that can work both ways. It can both turn on and get clients there. It can also turn them off. Like a considerably older crew. I mean, I'm only 51 and I have never been into rap. Pop, you know, and some hip hop, but never anything rap. When I hear companies that utilize rap, I tend to just avoid them. You know, and not because they're a bad company, but I don't really buy into that marketing. Same thing is if they're not using any big band arrow stuff, you know, so.
Samantha Radloff: Oh, so we mix it up. We give it all to you.
Kevin Wietzel: Exactly. If they're using big band, I'm not going to that company because they are definitely not with the time. So, I hear you, but you have to know your market. If your market is strong in the rap community, then that's where you're going to be selling [00:17:00] to. Seriously, or country or whatever. Pick your genre.
Samantha Radloff: Yeah, we try to make the music fit what it is, at least the words.
Greg Bray: Samantha, what goes into your video production efforts? How do you guys go about creating one of these videos that you want to share?
Samantha Radloff: just like the little ones we post, like on a day-to-day basis. One of the virtual employees, I'll send raw drone footage and he'll edit it or I'll just edit it on my phone.
Greg Bray: You're getting the videos off your drone of your sites and things, and then just putting them together. So, you guys are creating the raw footage and then doing some editing and magic to it?
Samantha Radloff: Yes, and I'll go out to each market at least once a month and collaborate with the agents, get footage of them, and then come back and edit it or send it to one of the other employees and they'll edit it.
Kevin Wietzel: I wish I could remember the name of the builder, but there is a builder that actually used a drone, but they literally flew past the monument sign, down the road, pivoted, looked at the models, shot over to a spec [00:18:00] home and then flew in the front door and then did a full virtual tour, and it's all continual footage. I think it took a total of maybe six or seven minutes, but it was super cool.
Samantha Radloff: Yes. So, that's the FPV drone probably. The drones I currently fly cannot fly through a house. I still have to learn the other one. Google earth videos are also very cool. I don't know if y'all have seen those.
Greg Bray: Yeah, those are pretty cool. Samantha, is there something that you guys are looking towards oh, I can't wait till we get to try fill in the blank, you know, this new thing that we haven't done yet?
Samantha Radloff: Have y'all heard about Threadkore?
Greg Bray: Yeah.
Samantha Radloff: Our former CFO developed this app and we use it for scheduling and everything pretty much. I couldn't live without it. The customer care portal is about to drop. So, that will be super awesome.
Greg Bray: You're looking at getting your buyers into watching what's happening as the process progresses using the technology?
Samantha Radloff: They'll be able to see their build schedule and everything.
Greg Bray: And do you [00:19:00] think the marketing team will stay involved there or will that be something that's handed off to the construction team or the sales team to manage?
Samantha Radloff: We have a customer care department. Three customer care employees that currently manage that, and then also construction manages the schedule within that. Everyone's pretty involved with it already. Everyone does like their own part.
Greg Bray: Well, Samantha, we do appreciate your time today. This has been a fascinating conversation to learn more about how you guys are being successful. Do you have any last words of marketing advice you'd like to leave with our audience today?
Samantha Radloff: I think consistency is key. You definitely have to be consistent and don't be afraid to break something that isn't broken, and make it better.
Greg Bray: Well, Samantha, if somebody wants to reach out and connect with you, what's the best way for them to get in touch?
Samantha Radloff: They can email me at sradloff, which is R A D L O F F @hughstonhomesmarketing.com, or text me at 4 0 4 3 4 5 5 9 9 1, [00:20:00] or find me on LinkedIn.
Greg Bray: Well, thank you again for joining us, and thank you everybody for listening to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.
Kevin Wietzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. Thank you.