This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Eva Gribler of Onyx+East joins Greg and Kevin to discuss how to weather the continuous need for change in home builder marketing.
The home building industry is constantly evolving and so must marketing strategies. Home builder marketers should be ready and willing to adapt. Eva says, “So, just making sure that we are changing with the times. Making sure that we are doing the things that get people interested in our product. Just make sure that you are not afraid to change.”
Marketing requires experimentation. It’s about figuring out what works and what doesn’t and being willing to adjust accordingly. Eva describes, “I think it's just research and trial and error…Now, in today's market, you have to catch someone's attention in the first four seconds of a video. If it's not working, I think it's just take it down, move on, and let's try something else.”
The continual evolution of home builder marketing is what makes it so exhilarating. Eva explains, “That's the great thing about marketing is that it's different every day, and that's what makes marketing so exciting. When you come in the door, you think you have a plan for the day, and most of the time it doesn't happen and we're not doing the same thing day in and day out. It's exciting, it's fun, it's fresh, and it's invigorating.”
Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how to embrace the ever-changing home builder marketing business.
About the Guest:
Eva is a Marketing, Strategy and Research professional with extensive experience in consumer insights, strategy development, data analytics and product and brand management. She is currently responsible for developing a deep understanding of market conditions to guide decision-making for the senior operating teams. She thoroughly enjoys digging in and looking for solutions to the puzzle through evaluation of market competition, supply/demand assessment, quantitative/qualitative market research, and integration of all market information to develop a strategic plan and guide decision-making.
Eva’s strong suit is in anticipating trends and results; identifying potential barriers and bottlenecks; while making decisions with broader company vision in mind. She is results-oriented and is regularly sought out by others for suggestions and solutions. She is a thought leader that maintains strong relationships; can be consistently counted on to leverage the ability to influence others, at all levels in the organization, in a positive and constructive manner.
She has a passion for creating and executing marketing strategy to drive brand positioning, brand storytelling across multiple channels including website design, digital campaigns, social media, photography, video production, public relations, collateral, and investor outreach. She is an experienced leader in working with marketing agencies, forming strategic partnerships while creating a collaborative environment with the belief that they are an extension of the team.
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: We're excited today to have joining us Eva Gribler. Eva is the Director of Marketing and Strategy at Onyx and East. Welcome, Eva. Thanks for joining us today.
Eva Gribler: Thank you both for having me on today. I'm really excited to chat with you guys.
Greg Bray: Well, why don't we start out by just helping folks get to know you a little bit and tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Eva Gribler: Sure. I have been in the industry for 25 years. [00:01:00] I have worked mainly for large public home builders and switched to Onyx and East about two and a half years ago, where I help with marketing and strategy, both sides. So, assist the land acquisition teams on pricing and product decisions on the land side, but then also oversee all of our marketing activities on the consumer side as well, with a marketing team of three people underneath of me.
Kevin Weitzel: So, besides you lying about the number of years you've been in the industry, 'cause there's no way that you've been doing this for 25 years. We don't use the video on this, it's just the audio, but there is no way that you are older than 25. But that set aside, can you tell us one thing personal about you that's not work-related that our listeners can learn about you on our podcast?
Eva Gribler: I am a water bug. I grew up boating my entire life, and that is my happy place. I love wake surfing and I love being out on the [00:02:00] boat with my family. I have two boys. I have a senior in high school, so I'm going through all of that right now, all the feels, and I have a seventh grader as well. So, two boys. I'm a boy mom, and I love every second of it.
Kevin Weitzel: So, we talking like Mastercraft family?
Eva Gribler: Yes, Mastercraft family. I love my Mastercraft boat.
Kevin Weitzel: Boom. Greg, Eva has some fantastic taste 'cause that is an outstanding boat.
Eva Gribler: Yes, we bought our dream boat about four years ago and we love every second we get on it.
Kevin Weitzel: So, you've got like the whole boom and riser assembly. The whole works or what?
Eva Gribler: Yes, we do.
Kevin Weitzel: That's nice.
Greg Bray: Kevin's looking for a visit coming up here anytime now.
Kevin Weitzel: I am.
Eva Gribler: Well, let me know if you're ever in Indiana in the summer, I'll take you for a boat ride.
Kevin Weitzel: I've been, but all my relatives live up in the Angola area, like way up north.
Eva Gribler: Oh, okay. Yeah, I'm about three hours south of there.
Kevin Weitzel: Oh yeah. That's a ways.
Eva Gribler: Yes.
Greg Bray: Well, and Eva, of course, a senior, you're probably in the middle of all those college [00:03:00] application essay funness, which is just a nightmare. It's like a whole nother class doing all those college essays.
Eva Gribler: Yeah, actually, my son is gonna be going into the trades. So, we're really excited about that because we need people in the trades desperately, especially in the construction industry. But he is gonna be an auto mechanic and he's going to school in Ohio to learn how to work on race cars. So, we're really excited about that.
Greg Bray: Very nice. Well, you must be a really proud, Mama. That's great.
Eva Gribler: We are.
Greg Bray: Well, Eva, tell us a little bit more about how you got into home building and decided to make that your career path.
Eva Gribler: It's actually a long time coming. My grandfather actually was a home builder in the small town where I grew up, and I was my grandpa's sidekick and I went with him growing up to all of his jobs. Back then I told him I was gonna be his business, you know, lady, and take care of all the stuff for him, and unfortunately, he passed away when I was 13. It's so funny that I ended up in this industry when I [00:04:00] graduated from college just because of shadowing him for so long. Love the industry, love housing, have a passion for it, and it's just, I guess in my blood. Here I am 25 years later after graduating from college and loving it.
Kevin Weitzel: Where'd you go to school and was that your intended pathway after college just to go into the whole building industry?
Eva Gribler: It wasn't. I went to Indiana University in Bloomington. Have a marketing degree. Really loved the research and analytics courses that I took there. I liked the marketing part of it too. I moved to Atlanta after college for about a year and then came home cause I was too far away from family, but ended up getting a job with John Wieland home down in Atlanta, Georgia my first year out of college, and started there and been in the home building industry ever since.
Greg Bray: Well, tell us a little bit more about Onyx and East for those who aren't familiar. You know, where do you guys build, which type of are you targeting, and some of the background about the company?
Eva Gribler: Sure. Onyx and East was founded in 2015. [00:05:00] It's an urban home builder, mainly focusing on urban locations with townhomes. We launched a single-family detached line in 2020. We concentrate on redeveloping underused vacant parcels. We don't tear down things. We just uh, use underdeveloped, vacant parcels.
We have products that can fit a first-time home buyer, and then we have products that can fit a first move-up, and we have products that can fit the luxury buyer. So, in the urban areas, you know, things change very quickly from street to street. So, being able to, you know, differentiate yourself within a small footprint of an MSA is very challenging, but with all the products that we have, we can do that very effectively.
Kevin Weitzel: Now being a townhouse guy myself. I love townhouses. Do you have a luxury townhouse in the first-time buyer price point?
Eva Gribler: We do not.
Kevin Weitzel: Trick question anyway uh, 'cause it doesn't really exist, at least in the Arizona market.
Eva Gribler: No, it doesn't.
Kevin Weitzel: You [00:06:00] know, one really interesting factoid way that I learned about your company or not your, well not your company, but the company you represent, you work with, Onyx and East, is that your CEO is a female, and that is a rarity. That's like a unicorn in our industry. Can you tell us a little bit about that too?
Eva Gribler: Yes. Kelly came from the multi-family development world and brings a fresh perspective on home building to our company, and really focuses on our culture and serving different price points. And one of the things that we've been trying to focus on in the last couple years is being able to provide more affordability in new construction because it's really hard to provide affordability in new construction because costs and trades and all of those things.
But we really try to serve price points to attract all buyer levels at the same time. But again, we really focus on the culture of our company and making sure people's voices are heard and making sure that if somebody has a path they want to explore they're [00:07:00] open to that and making sure that people learn what they are engaged to do and want to do. So, it's a really great company to work for.
Kevin Weitzel: I personally also like that you brought up affordability. You know, there's only so much you can do with materials. You can go with the kind of bare-bones, first-time buyer, Formica this and I don't know, eighth-inch interior drywall. Who knows what you can do with materials, but you can't get past the price of dirt? So, how are you guys leveraging your position to be able to find dirt that is affordable to be able to do a first-time builder home on?
Eva Gribler: Typically in order to provide that affordability, as you know, you're kind of going to that next outer ring, outside the high prestige submarkets or even areas in the downtown market, and just being on the doorstep of those next areas and being able to provide just a little bit of a different price point. At the same time, still being close to all of the amenities and everyday conveniences that a consumer [00:08:00] desires.
Greg Bray: So, when you guys are trying to market to such, it sounds like, a wide variety of potential buyers, because a first-time buyer's a little different than that luxury condo townhome buyer might be. What kind of challenges do you have to overcome in just figuring out your messaging and how you do that outreach to those different demographic groups?
Eva Gribler: Yeah, absolutely. That's a great question. We have to really focus on what are the key selling points for those communities and why we think that people would choose that community, and the messages are very different. With the luxury buyer, you're focusing on location and luxury finishes and what everything is nearby, and with the entry-level buyer, you're talking to them about owning possibly versus renting.
You're talking to them about monthly payments because if someone sees the $350,000 price tag, a lot of people don't understand what that payment equates [00:09:00] to. So, we try to help them in understanding the financial aspect of that is, what are you paying in rent today? Here's what your mortgage would be. So, it's really doing those dollars and cents and hitting those key metrics that people desire at the different price points that they're looking at.
Kevin Weitzel: We just had somebody on that had oh, Greg, who was it? Their quote was divorce the rent payment, date the, uh.
Eva Gribler: No. Date the rate, marry the house. Yes.
Kevin Weitzel: Date the rate and marry the house. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Eva Gribler: Yep. That is everywhere all today. That's what's keeping everybody on the fence right now are interest rates. So, there's a lot of that date the rate, marry the house going around.
Greg Bray: No, it's definitely a unique time in getting the messaging out with all the changes that have been happening, and just not knowing where it's gonna be tomorrow, you know, as far as rates and prices as well. It's hard to move sometimes when you're worried about something's gonna change tomorrow.
Eva, tell us a little bit more then about how you guys have decided to structure your sales and [00:10:00] marketing team. You mentioned you had three folks that work with you. Which skill sets did you decide to focus on as you were building that team and how's that team look today?
Eva Gribler: Yeah. So, within our marketing team, we have myself and then we have a marketing manager that kind of helps oversee all of the day-to-day operations, and then we have a graphic designer and content creator and a social media specialist. Obviously with everything that's going on in the social media world, we've had a lot of impact in the last three to four months since she took that over in increasing our interactions, engagement, likes, and followers as well. So, we're really excited about where we're going with that.
Greg Bray: Which social media platforms are you guys focused on? What's your primary uh, channel?
Eva Gribler: We are focused a lot on Instagram and Facebook through organic as well as search, paid search, and then we obviously produce some things in TikTok. We do have a TikTok channel, but [00:11:00] that audience trends to be a younger audience, and most of the time if something really goes viral on TikTok, it ends up on Instagram. So, we concentrate on putting those reels on Instagram and trying to get interaction that way.
Greg Bray: We don't hear a lot of builders talking about TikTok yet. There's certainly some. So, it sounds like you're one of those leaders exploring that, and trying to figure out how to make that work well.
Kevin Weitzel: And you're also in a market where, you know, you said you're going after some first-time home buyers, which are younger. You are building in a lot of urban and infill areas, which is typically going to be that younger hip or crowd. So, in all reality, you might be one of those companies that can see a major impact from that type of marketing spend or effort, if you will, not necessarily a spend.
Eva Gribler: Yeah, we hope so. We believe in trying things and keep trying things, and if it doesn't work, let's readjust and keep trying. We do a lot of AB testing with our ads, whether it be an exterior, an interior photo, or a payment [00:12:00] versus a price range. Just trying different things and seeing which one works best and keeping our eye on the ads that we do go, and if they're not being served up, if they're not going anywhere, then we pull them down and try something different. That's where we're different is we're not afraid to fail. We just wanna keep trying and see what's working.
Kevin Weitzel: And not like we're asking you to open up your kimono super wide, but what is your typical spend percentage-wise on more of the traditional methodologies of billboards, radio ads, television, print?
Eva Gribler: Uh, we are spending very little on that because we are still a very young home builder, you know, only being in business for seven years. We did recently do some OTT, over-the-top digital streaming advertising, over the last six months because we're trying to expand in Florida and then also get our brand awareness out in the Indie market. So, we did do that. We stopped that now to kind of shift some of that spend to more of the paid search where we [00:13:00] can truly measure the impact of our spend. Because with the OTT, while we did put a QR code on the TV, we did get some interaction with that, it's really hard to measure the response from that.
Greg Bray: So, talking about measuring then. When you're looking at your various opportunities, what are some of the key metrics that you guys are watching? What's, what's the thing when you login in the morning and you're looking at reports, what are those few pieces of data that are just most important that you like to check every day?
Eva Gribler: Obviously, we're looking at our leads and how they're trending. Also, our website is huge for us. So, we're looking at time on site. We look through our click-through rate on our paid ads as well as our top content pages versus the bounce rates and where are people coming in and where are they immediately leaving and how long are they staying on the site. Right now, our time on site is over two minutes, and we're really excited about that and we're trying to keep that content on there to keep [00:14:00] people on our site as long as we can.
Greg Bray: That's a very respectable time. It shows that people are interested and learning and working through. So, you know, and it's also one of those things for people listening that it's hard to compare from one site to the next because the structures are different and you have to be careful. Well, they're, they're at this much time and they're at that much time and, but as you make changes, trying to get that to increase is obviously a, an important metric for sure. As you've been pushing more and more of your content out there, what are you finding that engages your buyers online the most? Which types of things pull them in better than others as you've been doing your experimentation?
Eva Gribler: We have seen the most impact with videos, virtual tours, anything that's moving is all of the rage today. Everybody wants to watch videos and see that interaction of being there almost live.
Kevin Weitzel: When you say videos, are you doing home tours and features on like, window technology or lighting technology packages? [00:15:00] Or are we talking about like puppies and kittens? Cause I'm a sucker for puppies.
Eva Gribler: Yeah. So, we do monthly drone videos to show community progress. So, we have a video on our website that shows as a community is coming out of the ground, monthly progress videos. We do have some communities where we just have someone talking about the community, the floor plans, that sort of thing, and then also too, we've been doing some drone work with our communities to showcase our rooftop decks that we have on our townhomes. Kind of showing what are the different ways that you can use that. So, we're trying to get a variety of um, video work on there, and then obviously just the 360-floor plan tours that are made from renderings.
Greg Bray: Have you had one of those particular efforts that just blew your mind it was so much more successful than you thought it was gonna be. You know, as you were saying, Oh, let's put out this particular message or this particular video, and you were just happily shocked by how well [00:16:00] received it was. Anything come to mind?
Eva Gribler: I think really the videos that we've had the most success with are the coming soon videos where we describe what the community is going to look like as it becomes finished, and putting those renderings out there and talking to people about the location, everything that's nearby. It's like instead of reading it, people can visualize it, somebody's telling them about it. So, it's all of the same things that we have on the website, but it just tells you about it instead of trying to read everything that's on a website.
Greg Bray: That's an interesting insight that we want stuff just poured in our head, so to speak, as opposed to actually having to do the work to read it. Nobody reads well. They all scan on websites too. They don't read the details. Not that they don't read well like they're dumb, but they don't read in detail because we're so busy and, and running so fast, keeping it scannable.
But that video content does explain it in a whole different way when we can engage visually with the images and stuff while we're hearing the words or reading [00:17:00] subtitles, whichever it may be. That's interesting that you've seen that type of engagement at those kinds of videos, for sure. Has there been one that you were real excited about that just totally flopped, that was just like, Oh, well, that was a learning experience? Moving on.
Eva Gribler: We've done a couple of paid advertising, like on social media where we thought, Oh my gosh, this is fantastic. You know, we thought we were hitting the right things and then we literally got very little interaction. We thought we were hitting the right selling points of that community and it really didn't.
We just, you know, kind of repositioned that. It was more of a first-time home buyer community. We kind of put out there the main selling points, but we didn't focus on price point or payment at that time, and that's what buyers were truly looking to understand, and so it's just making sure that you have the right content for the right audience.
Kevin Weitzel: And we're not talking about major failure such as reaching out to basketball players and then no basketball players buy the [00:18:00] homes. So, you're struggling to even sell the homes. We're talking about reaching out to basketball players, but hockey players still come by the homes anyway.
Eva Gribler: Right. Yeah. So I mean, that is sometimes the truth. We have in our townhomes a wide array of buyers that come to our community. We have anywhere from singles to starting families to empty nesters. So, a lot of times we wanna target and be more specific about who we wanna target, but with our urban living, the urban living is convenient and attractive to a lot of different buyer profiles.
Greg Bray: Eva, I'm curious to know how long it takes you to pull the plug on something, right, when it's not working. Often, we expect it to work. Oh, just a little more time. Just a little more time. What is it that kind of, Oh, nope, we're moving on? Didn't do what we wanted. What's kind of your threshold there to say, Okay, didn't hit the target, let's try something different?
Eva Gribler: Well, we run a lot of different ads for the communities at the same time and we can generally see. You know, 'cause sometimes [00:19:00] too, it takes a little bit of time for them to procure and be served up and put in the platform. So, if they aren't getting served up, they generally tells us that it's not content that people wanna see. So, generally, we can see that in a matter of, you know, a couple of weeks and then we can kind of reevaluate because, with all the algorithms that are out there in today's world, you know pretty quickly if something is gonna picked or not.
Kevin Weitzel: Greg, you seriously just asked her, in essence, so are you one that's just willing to break it off, or are you the one that thinks you can make him better and make him change his ways and you know, it's one day he'll, he'll be the man I need him to be. Is that what you were just literally just asking?
Greg Bray: I'm gonna move on now because I'm still stuck on the whole basketball player, hockey player analogy. I'm not quite sure where that came from.
Kevin Weitzel: Hey, sometimes you market the basketball, and people, and hockey players are the ones that show up. It just happens, you know. They're in Indiana, you know, it's a Hoosier state.
Eva Gribler: That's right. We love our basketball here.[00:20:00]
Greg Bray: That's true. That is true. Well, Eva, something a little more serious, um. So, when, when you look back at the things that you've learned so far in your career, what's something that you just know now that, Gosh, I wish I had known that a long time ago? Anything come to mind that's just man, this would've changed everything if I'd understood x years ago.
Eva Gribler: I think it's just research and trial and error. Kind of like what Kevin just said. It was like, Well, let's just give it a little more time and a little more time. Now, in today's market, you have to catch someone's attention in the first four seconds of a video. If it's not working, I think it's just take it down, move on, and let's try something else.
You know, the length of attention span used to be eight seconds, and like I said, now it's four. Is it gonna get shorter? We don't know, but we just have to make sure that we keep putting that content out there that people engage with quickly, and that's what we strive for right now because that's where it's at. It's trying to [00:21:00] get that engaging content out there to drive people to our website. That's what it all leads to is getting them to our website and generating them to a lead that our salespeople can talk to.
Kevin Weitzel: We don't want people swiping left before they even get the message, right?
Eva Gribler: Exactly.
Kevin Weitzel: Let me ask you this. So, you've been around 25 years. You've got a degree. I mean, successful at what you're doing. Where do you look for inspiration? Because nobody just goes, I'm gonna go to the office and do everything that I wanna do. We always look outside the industry or to our peers or to The Home Builder digital marketing Podcast and Summit, but where do you go for your inspiration?
Eva Gribler: I think I look at what other people are doing, top agents, top home builders. I think just looking at content across the board of, you know, what's trending following those trends. You know, and I rely on my team a lot. I've got a young team. You know, I'm the old dinosaur and I have to step out of my comfort zone because the way that I used to do things [00:22:00] even five years ago isn't even applicable to today. So, just making sure that we are changing with the times. Making sure that we are doing the things that get people interested in our product. Just make sure that you are not afraid to change.
Kevin Weitzel: I could not agree with you more, and here's why. Because I am that dinosaur. I'm the guy that doesn't use self-checkout. I'm the guy that won't buy anything on Amazon because I think it's an evil corporation. I am that guy. However, a colleague pointed out to me that we have this barber shop here in downtown Phoenix. That uh, has no phone, not one phone whatsoever. There's no phone number on their website or anything. It's all online booking and this place, and I'm like, they're gonna be done in days.
And he's like, No, check this out. They had a line around the building of people waiting to get haircuts. We're talking a simple barber shop and a line around the corner waiting for people waiting to get in without a phone. So, there are different ways and new ways of doing things that they, because obviously, they're reaching their client base. So, I think it really does come down to that messaging and [00:23:00] how you're reaching out.
Eva Gribler: That's right. Well, and I mean, just kind of talking about some of the things that we learned at The Digital Marketing Summit is that consumers want everything at their fingertips online and just providing them the content and the information that they need. You know, we learned that everybody is, it's 365, 24/7, and so people are buying homes at 3:00 AM, or you know, looking at information and want that information, and most of the time you're not gonna be able to talk to somebody at 3:00 AM. So, providing that content that they want because you never know when somebody's gonna decide to get on our website and look for information.
Kevin Weitzel: Speaking of at once accessibility, post-COVID, is your company, is Onyx and East still offering, or have you offered what do they call that at once, virtual or?
Eva Gribler: Buy now?
Kevin Weitzel: No, not the buy now, but where you can just go view a home where you can go tour home at your leisure.
Eva Gribler: Yeah. So, we do have YouTour so people can log in, scan their driver's license or credit card, and do YouTour, and they can tour [00:24:00] anytime they want. We do have that on our models, and then we do that with a couple of spec homes that are completely finished as well. So, we do offer that.
Greg Bray: So, you know, you mentioned that you look to your team who's maybe of a younger mindset for ideas and to kind of push you out of the way you've been doing it, but flipping that, what's the advice that you would give to that marketer right out of school who's just getting started in their career, who wants to be like Eva when they grow up? How would you invite them to get started?
Eva Gribler: Just be a sponge to the people that are around you that have experience. It's truly asking questions, seeking advice, and don't be afraid to put your ideas out there, and don't be upset if your idea isn't taken, because not every idea is a good one. It's that whole thing of don't be afraid to try and if you fail, then just try something else.
That's the great thing about marketing is that it's different every day, and [00:25:00] that's what makes marketing so exciting. When you come in the door, you think you have a plan for the day, and most of the time it doesn't happen and we're not doing the same thing day in and day out. It's exciting, it's fun, it's fresh, and it's invigorating.
Greg Bray: That's some great advice. I think maybe based on that, we should probably uh, end on that high note. Don't be afraid to fail and soak it up as a sponge is awesome. Eva, if there's folks listening who want to, uh, reach out and get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to connect?
Eva Gribler: Uh, You can reach me email eva.gribler, G R I B L E R @onyxandeast.com, or if you wanna give me a call, you can call me at (317) 409-6572 or I'm on LinkedIn as well.
Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your time with us today. We really appreciate it and thank you everybody for listening to The Home Builder Digital Marketing podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.
Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. Thank you.