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Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast Digital Marketing Podcast Hosted by Greg Bray and Kevin Weitzel

180 Unifying Marketing and Technology Teams - Ty Brewer

This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Ty Brewer of HistoryMaker Homes joins Greg and Kevin to discuss how unifying home builder digital marketing and technology teams improves business.

Home builder digital marketing and technology teams often operate in two very separate departments because of the value they place on different incentives. Ty explains, “I think that on the technology side, a lot of time people are drawn to the widgets, they're drawn to the tools, and they're not really attracted to the people side of the equation. And just as much on the marketing side, you have people who are drawn to the people but don't really live and breathe the tools or technology. And so, because they come from separate ends of the spectrum, usually you don't find that meeting in the middle like you should.”

Collaboration between digital marketing and technology teams can be vastly improved when digital marketers learn to understand the language and motivations of the technology team. Ty says, “Because that's what IT people really do care about is the facts. If you're a marketer and you're trying to get your technology team on board, remember, you've got to speak their language of love and the things they like are new toys and they like data.”

One of the many advantages that result from digital marketing and technology team partnership is the desire to assist each other in achieving a common goal.  Ty says, “But another great thing about having the marketing and IT groups tied so closely together is that they can now see the data and the results of what they did. They can see that if we're doing A/B testing, they're just as interested in this as the technology people are. And so when they say we're doing A/B testing, well, the technology team is interested in helping them out because they're on the same team. So, when it comes to creating a new Power BI report or creating a new data source overlay, they're just as involved and they're just as tied together to the outcomes because they're the same department. Everybody wants each other to succeed.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how home builders benefit when digital marketing and technology teams work together.

About the Guest:

Ty Brewer is chief digital officer for the HistoryMaker family of businesses. He oversees marketing, market analytics, and the core technology groups that support all areas of the business, including HistoryMaker Homes, ONM Living single-family rentals, and Jabez Development. Before joining HistoryMaker in 2019, Brewer was the CIO for Greystar, a fully integrated real estate company offering expertise in investment management, development, and management of rental housing properties globally. Before joining Greystar in 2015, Brewer was senior vice president of strategic marketing and president of the cloud computing division at RealPage. Prior to joining RealPage in 2010, Ty was chief information officer for Riverstone Residential, helping them grow into the largest multifamily management company in the US. Prior to that, he spent 13 years in commercial real estate for two publicly traded REITs. Ty holds a bachelor of arts degree from Texas Tech University.


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 Zonda Liveabl.

Greg Bray: And we are excited today to welcome to the show Ty Brewer. Ty is the Chief Digital Officer at HistoryMaker Homes. Welcome, Ty. Thanks for joining us today.

Ty Brewer: Thanks for having me.

Greg Bray: Well, Ty, let's start off helping people get to know you and tell us just a little bit about yourself.

Ty Brewer: Well, I came to HistoryMaker about four years ago. Before that I was in multifamily with a company called Greystar. They're [00:01:00] one of the larger apartment builders, managers, investment management firms. I'd spent five years before that in software RealPage, which services the multifamily industry. But for me, coming to HistoryMaker was a little bit of a homecoming.

My dad owned a house painting business, and so I grew up around construction. From the time I got paid 35 cents an hour to sweep floors all the way through college, I would work in the summers. I started off in painting. He did some general contracting work. So, I've kind of had an opportunity to do everything.

Greg Bray: Thirty-five cents an hour. All right.

Ty Brewer: I wasn't even worth that.

Kevin Weitzel: My first minimum wage job was $2.85. So, 35 cents an hour is, man, that's low. All right. So, that's the how you got here phase, but we need to know something personal about you that people will only learn about on our podcast, non-business related.

Ty Brewer: One of my hobbies is long-distance cycling. I've done this for many years and I'm about to head to ride from Seattle to Vancouver in late August. It's [00:02:00] 200 miles. I've done it four or five times before. Absolutely love the ride, but it's a great break from the Texas heat.

Kevin Weitzel: So, you've done Ragbrai, I assume? RAAM?

Ty Brewer: I haven't done, RAAM is crazy. Haven't done Ragbrai. It's on the list. But there's a ride here in Texas called the Hotter in Hell Hundred. I think I've done that six times and I never want to do it again. Been there, done that. Don't need it anymore.

Kevin Weitzel: I raced professionally back in the eighties, 83 to 89.

Ty Brewer: Oh yeah.

Kevin Weitzel: All right. So, there is a proper answer to this question. Campy, Shimano, or SRAM?

Ty Brewer: The bike I ride every day is Shimano, but my favorite, the bike I have attached to my trainer is SRAM. I have SRAM Red on a trainer, but I love that selection. That group set is the best.

Kevin Weitzel: Just so you know, Ty, that was the wrong answer. Campy is the appropriate answer.

Ty Brewer: I know Campy is what everybody has. And I have a Pinarello, so it's an Italian bike. And it's begging for Campy. But it [00:03:00] came with Shimano, so that's what I've got.

Kevin Weitzel: You gotta change it.

Ty Brewer: It's blasphemy, isn't it?

Kevin Weitzel: It is.

Greg Bray: I have to say, I'm a little curious how it took you six times to decide you never want to do it again on that one ride. It seems like one time should be enough to decide you never want to do it again.

Ty Brewer: Well, after about the third time I decided, I didn't want to do it again, but I have this thing about telling people how much I love cycling and they get on board with this and they'll say something like, you know, I've set this goal of riding the Hotter in H Hell Hundred. I'd really like it if you wrote it with me. And so, I've been suckered into it a few times and at this point now, I just, no one can sucker me into it again.

Greg Bray: Got it. Got it. All right. So, you mentioned that you were in software and that coming back to home building was kind of a homecoming because of some of your early life experience, but what really made you decide you wanted to get back into more of the home building industry versus some of the other things you were doing?

Ty Brewer: Well, I started off my career in commercial real estate, so [00:04:00] office and industrial, and I loved that. It was just a great time to be in the industry. I got out right around the time that, that industry was going down. I didn't know it was going down, but sort of got out at the peak and moved into multifamily right around the time that it was accelerating, around the time it became an institutional investment. I did that. So, I was in multifamily from 2007, either working for multifamily companies or the software company, up until 2019.

It was really that I was running to. This opportunity to be at a home builder did feel like that coming home, but it was also the unique company. The culture we have at HistoryMaker was extremely attractive to me. Being a private company, I felt like I was a little bit of a refugee from public companies. And so, I was ready to take those experiences that were hard earned but be able to put them into place in a company that was family-owned and operated.

We're the oldest builder in Texas. That opportunity was just irresistible, the idea of getting back to home building. In apartment building, you're building, I'll say housing, but in home building, you're building homes, [00:05:00] and that tie to say, we really are building something that will change people's lives. People are going to grow up here and they may live in this home for 20 years. You don't really see that in multifamily. So, this was just a little bit more emotionally tied.

Greg Bray: Tell us a little bit more about HistoryMaker Homes, the area that you serve, the type of home buyers that you guys are working with.

Ty Brewer: Well, HistoryMaker has a great history. We are the oldest home builder in Texas. Next year will be our 75th anniversary. We're fourth-generation, family-owned and operated. Our CEO, Nelson Mitchell, has been operating the company for, gosh, I want to say almost 20 years that he's been the CEO. It's just a very unique company. He believes in what we're doing, that we're more than just a business.

You know, we have some values, Christ-centered focus and listen, consistent, predictable, and high performance. And that Christ-centered piece is something you just will never find in a public company. But even the privates, I think sometimes, are a little bit shy about bringing the character and the [00:06:00] personality of the owner into the business, afraid it might turn off customers.

While we may worry about that a little bit, I've seen, in talking to sales counselors and talking to customers, sometimes that's actually a draw. They feel like they can trust us. They feel like they can trust our company. So, that was something that just, I was attracted to it because they were not embarrassed about their convictions.

We serve Dallas Fort Worth. That's where we started and founded. Originally built the company to house returning veterans from World War II in 1949 and has continued to grow throughout the DFW Metroplex. About five or so years ago, we expanded to Houston, and then this year, we expanded into San Antonio. We hope someday to get that fourth market. It's not really on the table right now, but we want to be in all the major markets in Texas.

Greg Bray: One of the things that got me intrigued about having you on the show is your title. I'm going to confess. All right. Chief Digital Officer is not a title that I have seen at home builders very [00:07:00] often. And so I'd like to peel that back a little bit and understand where that comes from and kind of what that includes at HistoryMaker Homes.

Ty Brewer: Well, let's first admit that it's a made-up title. You haven't seen it very many places and I'm not real hung up on it. I've had an interesting career. I kind of had this luck that I got into real estate, and I was a technologist originally, but I got into this around the time that dot-com came around. So, any programmer who knew HTML was suddenly getting involved in the marketing department.

So, I built a website whenever I was working in commercial real estate, built the very first website for any commercial real estate firm that got listed on Yahoo. So, here I am a technologist, but I've always had an interest in sales and marketing, and I've been able to weave that into a career where at one time I was a Director of Marketing, and then I was a Director of IT. I've been successful in sort of blending that combination.

In multifamily, I got my first job as a CIO, a Chief Information Officer, [00:08:00] and the software that we implemented would show prospective renters, homes. It's like an MLS for home building. It's called an ILS, so a listing service. I was able to select a vendor, a partner who helped us build this out, and I got involved in what do we need to do to attract residents in multifamily. So, this idea of being able to operate in marketing as well as in technology has just been very, I'll say, natural for me, but maybe not so common elsewhere.

But about 10 years ago, I saw this stat that said more than 50% of a company's technology spend is now spent by the marketing department. And so, if you have, you know, more than 50% of your company's technology spend is done by marketing and maybe the other half is spent by IT, being able to have someone who can live in both worlds and speak the language of both kind of brings it all together.

So, I was very fortunate that our CEO saw this capability I had. We had a need for that at the [00:09:00] company. He said, you know, I want you to run marketing and IT. What do you want your title to be? I said it doesn't matter. And we came up with Chief Digital Officer. There aren't very many of us, but there are a couple out there and it's the people who cross over into both worlds.

Greg Bray: All right. I got to say that we're going to peel this back and dive in a little deeper because the one person running marketing and IT is pretty unique. I mean, Kevin, are you familiar with anybody else? I mean, we've got people running sales and marketing. We've got people running IT, but running IT and marketing together, I think is definitely a fascinating insight that I want to understand.

Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. But the problem that creates though, is that then Ty can only yell at himself as a marketer when the IT side isn't quite cutting the mustard to what his vision was. How do yell at yourself, Ty?

Ty Brewer: Well, whenever I first got here, we had an ERP that was really fantastic. It tied together all levels of the operations. So, from purchasing, bidding, [00:10:00] construction, scheduling, and it also had a sales component. But as I dug into it, that sales component, they were just ticking the box. The company that built it did the bare minimum. I recognized there was an opportunity to implement salesforce.com. Went to the CEO, made the business case and he said, great, go get it done.

If I hadn't had the marketing experience to see the gap, the deficiency, I probably would not have recognized that we needed to upgrade our technology stack. And without the technology experience, I probably wouldn't have been able to implement it successfully. We did it in six months. And so that combination really does help. But the downside of that, as you said, is I have nobody to blame but myself whenever our technology stack isn't generating the leads that we need. So, it is kind of there's one X on the forehead, and I guess I take accountability for all of the shortcomings, but there's synergies there, too.

We built a data warehouse the second year I was here, and I made sure that the data warehouse started off by including [00:11:00] marketing data so that we could know how many leads are coming, what are they turning over into prospects, and then what that conversion rate is on. And if I didn't have that experience or at least the perspective of marketing, we might have missed that opportunity. And so I, I think it gives us more strengths than, than weaknesses.

The downside is, and I'll admit it, I tend to see marketing problems through the lens of technology first, maybe more so than through the lens of people or process. I think the way that the world is going with more digital spend than there is traditional spend on say billboards, for example, I think that's probably a safe bet to be on. But I will admit I have those deficiencies on when we drive and we're looking at signage and I'm looking at marketing windows, I go, huh, unless it's an electronic billboard, I really don't know that I have a lot to say on this.

Greg Bray: Well, Ty, tell me in your opinion, why are marketing and IT so separated in so many companies? Even if it's not like a single leader over both, there still [00:12:00] seems to be this wall between them where they don't play nice all the time. What do you think kind of drives some of that different view of the world, I guess?

Ty Brewer: Yeah. And I think that's really unfortunate because in multifamily, there are a couple of chief digital officers, and those people that I know in that space are absolutely brilliant. They really do get both sides of the market and they've been able to transform the results of their company. One of the frustrations I had while working in IT was, I always felt like I was pushing an invisible spaghetti noodle and I needed somebody to pull it.

But the reason it was invisible was because a lot of the work we did, nobody ever saw, or nobody cared about. And I was always frustrated because I wanted to make an impact on the bottom line of the business. I wanted to contribute in some way that was tangible, not just, oh, look, I upgraded your email server. Now email is even more efficient than it used to be. That didn't feel real or concrete. By getting involved in marketing and getting involved in sales, I can actually go [00:13:00] out there and say, wow, I'm making an impact on the bottom line.

I think the reason why you don't see this more often is there just aren't many people who think like that in technology or think like that in marketing. I think that on the technology side, a lot of time people are drawn to the widgets, they're drawn to the tools, and they're not really attracted to the people side of the equation. And just as much on the marketing side, you have people who are drawn to the people, but don't really live and breathe the tools or technology. And so, because they come from separate ends of the spectrum, usually you don't find that meeting in the middle, like you should. Finding a person who can sort of walk on both sides is just hard. And if you don't have that person who can walk on both sides, those two people are often coming at it from just different perspectives. And I can see why they wouldn't see eye to eye.

But I do think that one of the problems with technologists in general is they don't know the business. They don't get involved in the business enough. They feel like they have a great servant attitude and if somebody asks them to do [00:14:00] something, they'll do it. But if they really understood the business, they would see problems through a different set of eyes and they would bring solutions to the business rather than the business bringing them problems. And I think that's just maybe the technology industry in general. We have a lot of technologists who see themselves as technologists who happen to work in business rather than businesspeople who work in technology.

Greg Bray: I think that's a great insight and Kevin, by the way, I think maybe the title of this episode should be pushing the invisible spaghetti noodle.

Kevin Weitzel: I won't be able to unsee that for the rest of my life.

Greg Bray: Hey everybody, this is Greg from Blue Tangerine and I just wanted to take a quick break to make sure you know about the upcoming Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit that Blue Tangerine is hosting together with OutHouse, October 18th and 19th in Denver, Colorado.

This is gonna be an amazing event full of digital marketing insights, knowledge, best practices, and most importantly, some fun. So, be sure that you get registered today and come hang out with us, an amazing team of speakers and presenters that are gonna be together. Again, that's October 18th and 19th in Denver, and you can learn more and get registered at buildermarketingsummit.com. We'll see you there.

Well, Ty, a lot of our listeners come more from the marketing side for those who are maybe struggling a little bit to get IT to bring a little more to the table and say, hey, help me find solutions to these marketing opportunities or challenges. How would you suggest that they communicate better with that technology side? Or what are some tips for helping them bridge that gap a little more easily? [00:15:00]

Ty Brewer: Well, I hate to use the stereotypes, but because I came from a technology background, I'll stereotype the technologists. We are really comfortable in the world of data. I remember saying to a marketer once that, I care about your feelings, but bring me facts. Because that's what IT people really do care about is the facts. If you're a marketer and you're trying to get your technology team on board, remember, you've got to speak their language of love and the things they like are new toys and they like data.

So, one of the things that I found was very effective as a marketer would be going and explaining the math behind, we budgeted that we need five sales in this community this month. Well, what's our conversion rate of prospects to sales? Do the math. Okay, now that you understand this that tells you how many prospects you need. Well, how many leads do we need? Let's do the math and figure out that conversion rate from leads to prospects or maybe leads to appointments. Work that math out. Show that to the technologists, and then they'll understand the business.

And [00:16:00] once you explain to them that this is a numbers game, and in order for the marketer to generate the numbers they need to get the sales they need, they need leads. And how do you work that lead out? Well, I need technology. Here's the technology support we need. I think if you talk in terms of data, the technology people will immediately attach to it and they'll understand, Oh, now I understand why you want a data warehouse.

The other part about this is never losing fact that this is a dollars and cents business. If you can quantify the cost for acquiring a lead, quantify the cost for acquiring a customer, then you can go to the CFO if that's who you need to speak with and make the business case for why we're investing in this technology. Because sometimes the technologists don't have the business case to invest in a data warehouse or an analytics toolbox.

So, it really is a partnership to say, you, the technologist, can help me solve a business problem, and we're going to together develop the business case that's dollars and cents. We're going to get this funded, you get the new toys that you want, I get the leads that I want. We can [00:17:00] make this work together if we partner. So, I think it's really just speaking the language of technology if you're a marketer.

Greg Bray: So, now coming at it from the IT side, Ty, as you look from the fact that you are a technologist, do you ever find yourself wanting to just do it all yourself versus bring in partners because, oh, I know how to do that, or I can, you know, our team can build that? How do you decide what stays kind of in the family versus what you outsource or bring in partners to help with, either from a technology implementation or from a marketing support type of role?

Ty Brewer: Well, that's a really difficult question because it's more art than science. I actually have a chart that I learned about from the CIO of American Airlines. I went to a conference, and he was speaking and he called it his purpose model. And he said, the first thing you have to understand is what's your core and what's mission critical. And if you understand your core, these are things you must do. If you understand what's mission critical for success, then you can draw your [00:18:00] box out and figure out what do we need to do ourselves, which things do we need to partner with, which ones are commodity items, which ones do we say we're not going to do it at all? And that purpose model really has helped me figure out when is it okay to send this work to someone else?

I used to joke that in IT, there's this commodity side of the business, and if Bill Gates came to me tomorrow and said, Ty, I'm going to give you exchange 2050. It's the future. Like, we have a time machine. I'm giving you and you alone the world's best exchange server. That doesn't impact my revenue. It doesn't change my expenses. It does not move the needle in the way that we conduct business.

And so that's one of those where I say, you know what? Parody is fine. I don't need to be better than anybody else. I'm fine with parody. But that also applies to the marketing world. If you are in a master plan community and your signage is just as good as everybody else's, that's probably okay. But if you're out in the middle of a third ring where you really [00:19:00] desperately have got to get every drive-by that you can, you can't have a parody sign. You've got to have a market-leading sign. It's core to your operations, core to your identity.

And so really understanding where it's okay to have parody, where it's okay to be like everybody else, but also key is understanding where it's not okay to have parody. Where, you know, if you show up and you bring a gun to the knife fight, that makes a difference. That's great. But sometimes it's okay to bring a knife to a knife fight if nobody cares. It's an art rather than a science, but that purpose model really did change my thinking.

Greg Bray: It sounds like that was a conference well spent when you brought home that much of an insight there to apply it and still remember it in such detail. That's awesome.

Ty Brewer: Yeah, I've carried it everywhere. I've gone.

Greg Bray: So, Ty, as you've been working on implementing various opportunities to improve your processes and things, tell us about a time where things just went wrong and how you worked through one of those obstacles to make the project be more [00:20:00] successful.

Ty Brewer: I hope this is like a 10-hour podcast because we can go on and on and on. Thankfully, in the last few years, we haven't had too many major problems. But we have had our share of mistakes and often the mistakes were well-intentioned, but we were moving too fast and unfortunately, sometimes it can really impact the bottom line. We had leads coming in that were going into a nonexistent space instead of dropping into Salesforce so that our online sales counselors could work them, they were dropping into a place that just didn't exist. I would say that's a forgivable mistake because these kinds of things happen.

But when you look back on it and you say what are our lessons learned? We didn't do enough testing. We made a lot of assumptions that the technology stack we had invested in would work the same way it had with the other lead sources. So, those are kinds of the small mistakes. The biggest mistakes are almost always, you know, there's hardware, software, and wetware, and wetware is the person. And most of our problems have come [00:21:00] down to wetware, where from a, either a marketing or a technology perspective, we haven't really appreciated how difficult change is for our employees, but also for our customers.

That's something that we're really focusing on this year is just improving our change management so that the wetware, the sales counselors who we depend on to sell the homes and we don't get transactions without the sales counselors buying in. We've sometimes made things overly complicated because as technologists we love the technology or as marketers, because we have this ideal view of the world, and we haven't always done a good job translating that into the sales counselors who have to use the tools or use the messaging.

And you know an example of that, sort of in abstract terms, is marketing comes up with some great messaging for a campaign, we produce the flyers, we create the creative, we post this everywhere, but unless we've gone out to the sales counselors and given them the words to use, the stories we want them to tell, we really haven't moved the needle much on this campaign.

And we [00:22:00] ran a campaign not long ago where that was something we missed. They saw the words, they saw the creative, they saw the artwork, and went, that's really pretty, but it did not change the conversation they had with the prospects. And so, we're now making sure that whenever we do roll something out, whether it's technology or marketing, that we go all the way down to the front lines.

The idea used to be; we're arming them for combat. Now, we're going to arm them and we're going to show them how to use the weapon and we're going to watch them use it, and we're going to follow up and really confirm they know what we're doing. Otherwise, we feel like it was maybe a little bit of money that was spent inefficiently.

Greg Bray: So, you mentioned earlier about using data to make decisions, using data to convince others, especially from a technology standpoint. How do you deal with the creative side of the marketing department who wants it to be prettier? It's like, it may or may not change things, but this is ugly. Darn it. And we need, we need something nicer. And you're going, but it didn't change the [00:23:00] conversion rate. It didn't change the whatever. How do you balance that? Because we need those creatives and you know what we hurt their feelings sometimes when we say that, just been my experience.

Ty Brewer: Yeah. For a hot minute, years ago, I worked doing marketing work and I did the graphic design. So, I would do the layouts. This is back whenever people published in print, so I did a lot of work in print. And I had those moments where I created something that was absolutely inspired. And I would take it to my boss, and I would want him to just like, wow, you're the best ever, this is amazing. But more often than not, he had edits. And I had to learn to manage my boss. I had to give him three pieces of work. One of them would be so bad that he would immediately say, this is awful. And now he's used his executive authority.

So, I had to learn that I need to give him something bad to say no to, but I had to be comfortable with the other two options. And that was the difference between being an artist and an artiste. The artiste is in love with their work, they're [00:24:00] striving for perfection. And the artist is trying to get something out the door. Making sure that your marketing department has the right personalities is hard because you love the genius that the artiste will give you, but at the same time, you've got a deadline. The campaign has to go out in two weeks. That's when you need a production artist. Someone who says, I did the best I could with the constraints I had. So, that's part of the equation. It always just goes back to having the right people.

But another great thing about having the marketing and IT groups tied so closely together is that they can now see the data and the results of what they did. They can see that if we're doing A/B testing, they're just as interested in this as the technology people are. And so, when they say we're doing A/B testing, well, the technology team is interested in helping them out because they're on the same team. So, when it comes to creating a new Power BI report or creating a new data source overlay, they're just as involved, and they're just as tied together to [00:25:00] the outcomes because they're the same department. Everybody wants each other to succeed.

So, we've done a good job of just minimizing, not only the conflict but maximizing the collaboration by having them work together. I've been very happy to see the marketing department sit down with the technology group and work closely together, and they all feel like, well, this feels very natural. We are on the same team. Rather than one servicing the other, they service themselves, which is we're just one team.

Greg Bray: I love the artist versus artiste comparison there. As you are out there trying to find new ideas, what are some of the sources that you go to, to look for inspiration, both on technology and from a marketing standpoint?

Ty Brewer: I try to go to networking events, company events like Zonda or Zelman because I found that while I am an, we'll say an introverted technologist or an introverted marketer, I get so much out of talking to other people. The willingness for our competition to collaborate in a [00:26:00] co-opetition way continues to astonish me. I found that if I go out and tell them what we're doing and I'm open about it, they will too. I usually learn probably more from them than they do from me. I'm inspired by just what the other developers are doing, the other builders are doing, and there's no shortage of good ideas from the community out there.

That really is where we go to say, gosh, so and so is doing this really well. We need to raise our game, or is there a way we can do what they're doing and just change it a little bit? There's this saying about artists, I'm going to get it wrong, but you know, the great artists steal. That's what we do. We want to steal the best ideas that someone else has and change it a little bit so that it's personal to us and unique to us, but we're inspired by what other companies are doing.

Greg Bray: There's actually a book out there that I had recommended to me. It's called Steal Like an Artist. It's this idea that all of these ideas have been around and we're just kind of massaging them and personalizing them just a little bit and helping move them forward.

Ty, as you [00:27:00] are working with your marketing department and kind of walking in both worlds, is there some piece of the digital marketing landscape that you're like, man, if I had only known this when I started X years ago it would have made such a difference, but I just kind of picked it up here in the last little bit? Anything come to mind that you just wish you'd learned a long time ago?

Ty Brewer: From the technology side, I really want things to make sense. I want things to be logical and reasonable. I'm learning how to be less frustrated by the art side of this, especially let's say search terms. We go out there and we put a search term that we're certain, you know, we are certain people are going to be clicking on that and we're going to generate the leads we need. But that is all art. You don't really know until you've done the experiment as to whether or not you picked the right search terms or placed the right ad.

I wish I had learned to manage my expectations earlier in my career. Because I just imagined, we're going to get this right the first time, we're going to nail it the first time. And the fact is, you don't get it right the first time. You just have to commit to the process, be [00:28:00] persistent with it, and keep on trying.

I was at a conference in San Francisco during the early dot-com days, and I'm talking to someone, and they said that they've invented this thing on websites where automatically it displays one ad to one group of browsers and another ad to another, and they thought they had invented A/B testing. Maybe they did. I don't know. I was in San Francisco at the time, and this was a web conference, and maybe this is the person who invented A/B testing.

But when I heard about this concept, I thought the whole world is going to change. We've cracked the code. Well, here we are 20 years later, and everybody's doing A/B testing, and it still is difficult. It still doesn't give you that empirical results you want. There's an unlimited amount of tweaking going on. And so I've just learned to be a little bit humble about the limits of technology and what it can do for you. You really need people with business insights, business experience, marketing knowledge to make it all work.

And that's something I'm just very appreciative. We have a great [00:29:00] marketing team here, great technology team. And so I don't have to do much heavy lifting. I just have to know when to listen and when to shut up. But I would say late to the game is realizing the limitations of that, you know, the perfect algorithm, it doesn't exist, but it's something you just have to keep trying on.

Greg Bray: Well, Ty, again, we appreciate your time today. Any last words of marketing advice for us before we sign off?

Ty Brewer: Oh, I wish our competition wasn't so good. They keep us honest. I hope they do keep doing a good job because it does give us something new to do every day and every week, and I'm just fortunate to work in such a great industry.

Greg Bray: Well, if our listeners want to connect with you and reach out, what's the best way for them to get in touch?

Ty Brewer: You can find me on LinkedIn. There aren't many Ty Brewers out there. So, if you type in the search, you'll find me. Or you can email me ty.brewer@historymaker.com.

Greg Bray: Well, thanks again, Ty, for being with us, and thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. [00:30:00] I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with Zonda Livable.

Ty Brewer: Thank you, Greg. Thanks, Kevin.

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