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

214 The Benefits of Outsourcing Digital Marketing - Mindy Lepp

This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Mindy Lepp of LEPPDESIGN joins Greg and Kevin to discuss the benefits of outsourcing home builder digital marketing.

Home builders who adapt towards digital marketing advancements will position themselves to capture more homebuyer leads. Mindy says, “There's so many things, not only in the building industry but also in marketing that are just constantly changing. And just a year ago when you think of AI before it came out to now. So, if you are not keeping up, you are going to lose because someone else is going to keep up and they're going to take away those potential customers.”

When a home builder gets to a point where they can no longer keep up with digital marketing, they should find resources to assist. Mindy explains, “I would definitely look at outsourcing it because there comes a time in your business where you realize, okay, I've grown enough to a point where I need professional marketing help. It does not make sense for me as either the owner of the company or maybe the admin person or the secretary, whoever it is, adding that to their plate when they don't even have the expertise for it.”

It can be overwhelming to make digital marketing strategy changes, but reaching out to agencies and resources can help ease the transition. Mindy says, “Don't be scared to take the leap of faith. I know it's such a hard point when you are in that sort of awkward position that we've been talking about where you're like I need marketing help, I've been doing it myself, I need someone to really take a look at it and I don't know where to turn….but take that leap of faith. You will be happy that you did and that you freed up all of those hours of your time that you have spent for so long trying to do it on your own.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how home builders can take advantage of digital marketing resources.  

About the Guest:

Mindy Lepp is the Marketing Director for LEPPDESIGN, a full-service design and marketing firm based in St. Augustine, FL, but serving clients all over the country. Mindy and her husband Eddie run the company together and offer remote ongoing marketing services (Social Media Management, Website Management, Print Marketing, etc) with a special niche in the building industry.

Mindy is an active member of her local HBA, served as PWB 2022 Chair for Jacksonville, FL, is currently 2024 Chair of the NAHB PWB Professional Development Subcommittee, and NAHB PWB Trustee 2023-present. Mindy was also listed as one of the top 10 “People to Watch” in Jacksonville by the Jacksonville Business Journal in 2022.


Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody, and welcome to today's episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.

Greg Bray: And we are excited today to have joining us, Mindy Lepp. Mindy is the Marketing Director at LEPPDESIGN. Welcome, Mindy. Thanks for being with us today.

Mindy Lepp: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Greg Bray: Well, let's start off just to help people get to know a little bit more about you. Give us that quick overview and introduction.

Mindy Lepp: Sure. As you said, I'm Mindy Lepp with LEPPDESIGN. My husband and I run our marketing firm together. [00:01:00] We are based out of St. Augustine, Florida but we have clients all over the US. We're a full-service marketing firm, offering social media, website management, graphic design, Google ads, really everything under that marketing umbrella.

Kevin Weitzel: Well, before we take a deeper dive into that, please divulge some personal tidbit of information about yourself that has nothing to do with work or the home building industry whatsoever.

Mindy Lepp: Okay. I was toiling over that question, trying to think of something that most people don't know about me and I think I will have to choose the fact that I sang the national anthem at a minor league baseball game.

Greg Bray: Fun. Which team?

Mindy Lepp: The Daytona Tortugas.

Greg Bray: All right. The Turtles. Okay.

Mindy Lepp: Happened to be Bob Ross night, so that was also fun. He apparently is from Daytona, so.

Kevin Weitzel: You said, Bob Roth or Bob Ross?

Mindy Lepp: Bob Ross.

Kevin Weitzel: That guy was the best, absolute best.

Greg Bray: So, are you going to sing for [00:02:00] us now?

Mindy Lepp: Oh, no.

Greg Bray: No, no. Okay. Alright. I just wanted to give you the opportunity, you know, we can pause for a little patriotic moment. That's pretty cool. That's pretty cool. Was it scary? Kind of intimidating to be out there on, on the field, or?

Mindy Lepp: It was. I definitely had never sung in front of that many people before. So, yeah, it was a little nerve-wracking.

Greg Bray: Well, Kevin does some Elvis.

Kevin Weitzel: But I only do late seventies Elvis, you know, when he got really chunky.

Greg Bray: Well, Mindy, tell us a little bit more about your career journey and especially what kind of led you to get into marketing and especially more in the home builder and construction industries.

Mindy Lepp: Sure. So, I'll start with my husband because he went to school here at Flagler, which is in St.Augustine. He graduated with a degree in graphic design and also fine arts. He started working pretty much immediately as a graphic designer for several companies, moved along across the way in his journey. While he was doing that, he started getting some clients [00:03:00] on the side. So, we talked about it and he said, you know what? I think we have enough clients to start our own graphic design and marketing firm. What do you think about that? Asking me if I could help in some way.

This was back in 2005 when we were talking about it and we officially launched in 2006. I initially came on as just a behind-the-scenes, I'm going to do web development. I'm not going to talk to anybody. I can stay in the background. Over the years I just kept adding on more and more skill sets because it just didn't make sense to stop right there at web development. Well, if I know web development, I better learn search engine optimization. And if we're going to build a website for somebody, they need social media after that, so I better learn social media.

I just kept loading on the skill sets and learning and soaking in as much as I could over the years. Now we're where we are, where we can offer really everything marketing-related. So, that's kind of how things [00:04:00] got rolling there. And now, as a turn of events, like I said, I was the behind-the-scenes person and now I'm, I would say the face of the business. I'm the one that goes out and does networking and speaking and all that kind of stuff, so.

Kevin Weitzel: So, going back in the time machine, back to the original first couple of years, you said 2005. You're talking back just before, back when it was in this heyday before the housing market crashed. Were your first clients in the home building industry or were your first clients kind of scattered across the board?

Mindy Lepp: That's a good question because now that we've been in the home building industry people assume that I was there during the crash marketing-wise, but we weren't. For the first several years of our business, It was just kind of all over the board as far as our clients go and it's only been in the recent I want to say 7, 10, somewhere around their range that we started having the niche in the building industry.

Kevin Weitzel: Let me have just a follow-up to that. Did you find that specializing more in the whole building [00:05:00] industry, do you find that home builders will benefit more from marketing companies that specialize in home builders versus just random, all-across-the-board marketing companies? Might be an odd way of asking a question. You get what the question is, right?

Mindy Lepp: I do. Yeah. Whenever you have a specialty, you learn things along the way that another more generalized marketing company probably doesn't know. And so, once we did develop that niche, I just went full force into kind of making that base target market. Every home builder is going to be slightly different variation of that, but you kind of learn, okay. This is kind of what the ideal target market looks like, this is kind of their age range and this is sort of their interests, and this is where they're going to be on social media and all those kind of details. So, I think it is definitely helpful to have a niche within your marketing to have that deeper knowledge.

Greg Bray: So, because you see multiple builders, Mindy, you obviously see what's working, what's [00:06:00] not, you know, some of the things that you think you could help them with. When you think of builders that you have not worked with yet, right, because obviously, you fix it all. What are some of the things that you see a lot of builders messing up? I'll use that word. What's broken for so many of them that you've come across?

Mindy Lepp: Generally speaking, a lot of them have been hesitant to kind of move forward with the constant change of technology, specifically in websites and things like that. A lot of times you might run across a website that hasn't been touched in a really long time. In the short time I've been in the industry, things have gotten better. I've seen a lot better websites overall, but when I first started, it was fairly common to see websites that were kind of stuck in the nineties.

Kevin Weitzel: I got to forewarn you. You gotta warn Greg ahead of time before you say something like a website hasn't been touched since the nineties. That causes him to go into crazy, crazy fits of holy [00:07:00] cow. How do I get involved with this and change this crazy scenario? You've gotta do it.

Greg Bray: I remember the nineties just for the record. I'm just saying,

and the websites we did in the nineties were not very good, so.

Mindy Lepp: Yeah, like I said, we've been in business since 2006. Search engine optimization tactics that I use back then were horrible compared to now, but that's what worked then.

Greg Bray: So, the fact that a website is out of date is a concern, if I'm understanding you correctly. It looks old. What are some of the signals that you think builders are sending when they are out of date? What's the behind-the-scenes message that their customers are getting when that's happening?

Mindy Lepp: When a potential homeowner customer looks at an old, outdated website, I think you just intuitively assume that the overall business is going to be possibly old, outdated. I know from a consumer standpoint; I would be [00:08:00] maybe concerned. Do they have technology in building their homes or, you know, are they going to be behind the times and other things as well? It gives that subliminal message, we're not ahead of, or even current with the times. That might be a concern across your entire business possibly.

Kevin Weitzel: Can I follow up on that? Let me ask you this because again, homebuilders, a lot of times they've been building homes the same way for 50 years or three generations, whatever the terminology they're going to use, but is that really a problem? This is kind of a loaded question because it is a problem, but is it really a problem in the fact that they're still using the same two-by-fours they used 40 years ago? They're still using the same drywall. They're using drywall tape and mud. Why do they need to be current with their relevancy?

Mindy Lepp: There's so many things, not only in the building industry but also in marketing that are just constantly changing. And just a year ago, when you think of AI before it came out to now. So, if you are not keeping up, you are going to lose because [00:09:00] someone else is going to keep up and they're going to take away those potential customers.

Greg Bray: I think it's a fascinating missed opportunity when a builder doesn't recognize that people judge their company based on the look of a website. In the big picture, if we're totally and completely rational, which stick with me here, Kevin, Alright? If we're totally and completely rational, the idea that I have a bad website means I build bad homes. There's really no connection and skillsets whatsoever. I can build a beautiful home. Perfect. With all the latest and greatest and have a very bad website.

But there's a psychological connection like Mindy was saying that I think is real. We all do it if you really dig deep, that's an ugly website. I don't wanna do business with them. They look old. They look outdated. It's really fascinating to me that we judge products that way because of a website and how it works. I don't think that's totally a rational decision, but I think it's very real. Thoughts?

Kevin Weitzel: If you don't care about your website, then do you really care about building homes? [00:10:00] Do you have the attention to detail on are your two-by-fours are properly placed and everything else? Is that kind of what you're leaning toward there, Greg?

Greg Bray: I think that's what the buyer's thinking. Yeah, I don't think it's necessarily what the builder's thinking. I think they can probably build homes really well and not have a clue how to make a nice website because they've been doing that. But Mindy, what have you seen?

Mindy Lepp: No, I agree, Greg. I think, like you said, it's a psychological thing that you put those two things together. I mean, I know if I'm looking at an accountant's website and it's from the 90s, I'm going to be like, uh, maybe they don't have the most recent tools then for what I need for my accounting, so I'm not sure if I want to go with them. You just automatically put two and two together, and they might be the best accountant ever. Maybe they have all the tools, but if their website doesn't look new and up to date, then you automatically assume that.

Greg Bray: Now, Mindy, have you ever seen a website that's got blog articles that haven't been updated since like 2016 on it? Even if it's beautiful, right? Even if it's beautiful, what's the message [00:11:00] there kind of connected?

Mindy Lepp: Yeah, same thing. If they haven't posted a new blog post or if you go to their social media, and they haven't posted in two and a half years, you're like, uh, are they still in business? You know, maybe they forgot to turn off the domain name or something for the website, or the social media account.

Kevin Weitzel: That kind of full circles come back to my point that home builders are very good at building homes. I mean, there's not one out there that I've met that is just building balsa wood walls, but they don't have the bandwidth to handle their social media, their website, their printed marketing collateral, their digital marketing collateral. What advice do you give to a home builder that is kind of at their wits end? They don't have any more hours in the day to create that. What do you recommend?

Mindy Lepp: Yeah. I would definitely look at outsourcing it because there comes a time in your business where you realize, okay, I've grown enough to a point where I need professional marketing help. It does not make sense for me as either the owner of the company or maybe the [00:12:00] admin person or the secretary, whoever it is, adding that to their plate when they don't even have the expertise for it.

Every company has to do it when you first start. You're a startup, you got to do whatever you can to make ends meet and have some kind of marketing out there. Every builder hopefully reaches a certain point where they're like, okay, I really should not be wasting my time on this. I don't even have the skill for it. So, I would suggest, yeah, looking at companies that offer that all-encompassing management services for you.

Greg Bray: So, Mindy, somebody Is ready for that. They're like, okay, I need help. I want somebody who's an expert to kind of do this. You put this beautiful plan in front of them and then Maybe you still struggle to execute it. What are some of those things that you see get in their way? Maybe it's just a mindset or is it still time? What is it that they struggle with actually kind of taking that next step to implementing some of those marketing plans?

Mindy Lepp: Yeah, I think a lot of it is just time. I've had [00:13:00] customers reach out to us and they say, Oh, I just want a marketing plan put together. I just want you to look at everything and tell me what I'm supposed to do. So, I'll look at their website, I'll look at their social media, look at everything and I'll put together this beautiful presentation of, okay, this is how many times you should post on social media and this is all the changes I think you should make to your website and so forth.

I'll look six months later and I see nothing's been changed. And so, it's almost a waste of time and money, obviously, on their part, if they're not ready to invest to have someone to manage it for them. They have the best of intentions, but it's just, they're so busy. They have a million other things that are actually part of their home builder business, the day-to-day stuff. They shouldn't really be trying to do marketing. They don't have any training in it.

Greg Bray: So, where do you feel that line is about which parts of it they should outsource and which parts does it make sense for a builder to maybe hire somebody to do in-house? Or is it [00:14:00] just so different across builders that there's no pattern?

Mindy Lepp: Yeah, it really varies on the size and volume, what you're bringing in, how many homes you're building per year because at a certain point, you are going to need to have somebody there eight hours a day doing marketing and maybe somebody doing events. But there's also that point where it's like, you don't have enough marketing to justify eight hours a day.

Or even if you do and you say, okay, well, I'm going to hire somebody, then usually you're hiring just a social media person or just an SEO person, and so you're not getting all the pieces of the puzzle. And I think the benefit to hiring a firm is that you'll get the pieces that you can have all cohesive together, all those pieces of your marketing into one rather than kind of piecemealing it out and having one person do one skill set in the office.

Greg Bray: I think that's a real important point you're making there is that sometimes we look at, gosh, I'm spending X dollars on marketing. I could hire somebody for that. But [00:15:00] as soon as you hire one person, you're limited in the skill sets they bring because those hours are not all the same skill set, not all the same experience that you might be getting for those dollars across where you're getting two hours of this person and five hours of that person or whatever it is. And it varies dramatically. I think that's a real important point you just made there.

Mindy Lepp: Yeah. And I think it's hard too if you're hiring multiple people that are not necessarily working together because then they'll be possibly portraying two different messages. For your company. Just for an example, at one point, we were doing marketing for a company and then they had somebody else doing search engine optimization and writing blogs because they'd been with them forever, and so they brought us on after to do the other stuff that they couldn't do. It was a constant me telling the SEO company, no, that's not on brand. No, can you adjust it? It's tough too, even if you have multiple different people doing different things and they're not all working cohesively [00:16:00] together on your marketing. So, you have to be careful about that as well.

Greg Bray: No, that's a great example. So, as you are then looking at, they need to start with something, where do you kind of recommend builder start? If I can only afford like one piece, what's the first piece when you're trying to ramp up that marketing that you recommend starting with?

Mindy Lepp: Usually it does go back to the website like we talked about. It's such an important piece to your marketing puzzle. It's your 24/7 salesperson. And so you want to make sure that firstly, is up to snuff, and then after that, you can start building other pieces, focusing on your social media, maybe doing print ads, maybe doing Google ads, social media ads. But your website first needs to be good because you don't want to pay for a Facebook ad or a Google ad or some other ad to go to a bad website. You have to make sure your website is properly set up.

Greg Bray: Which social media platforms have you been doing the most with with builders? Is it still all [00:17:00] Facebook and Instagram, or are you seeing other things beyond that that are working well?

Mindy Lepp: Those are the two main ones that I focus on. My philosophy with Twitter is if they come to me and they already have a Twitter account, I'll throw some stuff up there just so it doesn't die. But I don't typically say, let's get on Twitter. I'm still kind of keeping my eye on threads, haven't quite come to threads yet as far as let's do this kind of thing full force. I do still post on LinkedIn, but that's more infrequently. So, it would be Facebook and Instagram primarily.

Greg Bray: Now, but Kevin does a pretty mean TikTok dance.

Mindy Lepp: Nice.

Kevin Weitzel: I don't really, but I make fun of it a lot because I see homebuilders on there every once in a while and I don't get it. Maybe it's my age. I'm in the wrong demographics, but I just don't get TikTok. I don't understand why anybody would ever want to market, I'm holding finger quotes up, for the fact that we're on a podcast, but why they [00:18:00] would want to choose that platform to market, you know, homes, maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I'm missing the messaging, but.

Mindy Lepp: I've heard it work for some, but that's another one that I'm kind of just holding out on and keeping my eye on to just see if the overall demographics can change like they did with Facebook. As we all know, Facebook started out young, college-age kids, and then their moms and grandmas wanted to get on and see what they're doing. All the young people dropped off or they just got old with it, you know, like me.

And so, I don't know. That's the same thing might happen with TikTok. I guess we'll see how it goes.

Greg Bray: So Mindy, as you kind of work on a social media plan, what are some of your recommendations for like what to talk about, how often to post, what are some of the basics that you include in those plans?

Mindy Lepp: Sure. I would say at minimum two posts a week, two to three is kind of where I am when I'm posting for my clients. [00:19:00] More is great if you have the content for it, but I would say two to three just so you have something you have some kind of presence on there consistently. And then as far as what to post, people love pictures, and obviously that's what you have to do with Instagram, right? But try to post as many beautiful pictures as you can. It depends on what kind of company you are. I have a remodeler. I have some people that do that kind of thing, and so before and afters are effective for those kinds of companies.

Photos, people, faces, people love to see people. So, even if it's somebody's birthday in your office, post about it. People love that kind of thing too. Just anything personal like that, people like to cling on to. And then also if you can get some construction process videos and photos, people love that too.

Kevin Weitzel: So, I want to revisit the time machine only because you said something kind of interesting in the advice of your syncopation and your strategy on your, uh, social [00:20:00] outreaches, et cetera. But let me ask you this, from your standpoint, if you were going to go into a time machine and give yourself advice, what skill do you have now that you wish you would have had give it 10 years ago, whether it be technology-based or just something that maybe you have really mastered and you are just black belt in right now that you really wish you would have that skill set 10 years ago? What advice would you give the young Mindy?

Mindy Lepp: That is a really good question. I feel like I'd want to sit on that one for a while. Let's see. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on search engine optimization, but the funny thing with that is like I alluded to earlier, the stuff that I know now works now for search engine optimization, it wouldn't have worked 10 years ago. It's not going to work in two years. That one's a tough one.

I think the strategy piece. That to me, I really enjoy strategizing. It can just be sitting down for an hour, trying to think of what I'm going to put [00:21:00] on a flyer. I think that's something that I've definitely developed more, more, more, more, more over the years, and something that I enjoy doing now that I think 10 years ago, I wouldn't be in the same place. So, I probably would want to give myself some tips and pointers of how to do that and maybe how to do that better.

Greg Bray: So, Mindy, put your, client hat on. What tips or advice would you give to the builder who's trying to manage the agency relationship and trying to make sure that they are getting the right kind of results from their agency? What tips would you give them? What kinds of questions should they be asking? What kind of results should they be expecting? What are some thoughts there?

Mindy Lepp: Yeah, that's a good question. You want to make sure that your agency is giving you reports on a consistent basis. I would recommend monthly. You don't want them to be working with you for six months and all you know is what you know by looking on social media that they've been posting and you have no clue what else [00:22:00] is going on behind the scenes. So you want to make sure you're getting some kind of reporting once a month.

Numbers that I like to look at are the number of visitors that you get to your website per month. You want to keep eyeballs on that and make sure that that is not dipping, obviously. You want to make sure it's staying or at least fluctuating with the normal kind of seasonalness of the business.

And you also want to make sure that you're obviously getting enough leads, right? But I think that's something that you'll know on your end sales-wise, but you have to be able to connect the dots somehow. So, if you say, okay, great, we're getting a lot of leads now. And then you look at your report and you say, oh, that's because we've been doing X, Y, Z and this is how many visits we've gotten to the website and how many leads from Facebook, et cetera, then you know things are working and you can keep growing up on that.

Greg Bray: How do you challenge builders to try something new in [00:23:00] their marketing that they've never done before? What are some of the ways that you encourage them? Because it can be a little scary, right? I'm going to spend money or time or whatever on something that I've never done before. What if we get no response? What if we get no leads and I'm just dumping this money in a hole? What are some ways that you make that safe for them to try?

Mindy Lepp: I think if you have some kind of either plan on how we're going to track this, that gives it a little bit more comfort. For instance, okay, we're going to do this magazine ad and we're going to put this specific QR code that goes to this specific landing page on our website, and we'll give it six months to a year. And at the end of that, we'll look at how many visits went to that landing page, and then we'll know whether that magazine ad worked or not. Something like that I think is comforting to know, because they know, okay, we're going to look at it, we're going to see if it worked.

I think also giving just any other sort of numbers or stats can be helpful in saying, [00:24:00] hey, I found this new software or feature that we can put on the website and I'm seeing it work for all these other websites, and I'm seeing a lot of people talking about it that we really should be doing this and then they can see the numbers for themselves and make an educated decision.

Because, yeah, I know it's hard to just kind of jump in when you have no guarantee, and sometimes there are no guarantees with marketing. Sometimes it's just for brand awareness and you don't ever have a tie of one to one that that specific thing that you did actually worked. So, it does get a little tricky sometimes because there is an aspect of marketing that you can't track. But for everything that you can try to track it as much as possible.

Greg Bray: Yeah, there's nothing like the old brand awareness hole to just dump money into, right? They're going to hear about us and that'll be good for some reason in the future, but it's important. It's real [00:25:00] and it's important. So, Mindy, just as we wrap up here, appreciate your time, but as you look out there for ideas and things you want to try for your builders, what are some of the places you go for inspiration and encouragement?

Mindy Lepp: There's one blog that I follow by Neil Patel, which he is a search engine optimization specialist. So, that's one that I keep my eyeballs on because that is such a moving target, so I try to keep up to date with that as much as possible. Other inspiration is just by looking at other really well done builder websites and builder social media because you can learn so much by just watching and seeing what other people are doing. You say, Oh, I love that idea. Oh, I like how they did that video, or I like how they did this on their website. And so, it's a constant just taking like little tiny pieces of what other people are doing and making it your own and customizing it. So, as long as you don't stay in your cave and you're out there looking at what other people are doing, then you can learn a [00:26:00] lot.

Greg Bray: Any last words of advice that you want to share with builders out there to help them kind of jumpstart their marketing today?

Mindy Lepp: Don't be scared to take the leap of faith. I know it's such a hard point when you are in that sort of awkward position that we've been talking about where you're like I need marketing help, I've been doing it myself, I need someone to really take a look at it and I don't know where to turn. But you Just take that leap of faith, start looking online for reputable companies. Make a short list of people that you think would be a good match for you, but take that leap of faith. You will be happy that you did and that you freed up all of those hours of your time that you have spent for so long trying to do it on your own.

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

Mindy Lepp: They can visit our website, which is leppdesign.com. So, it's my last name and then the word [00:27:00] design.com. I'm also on LinkedIn. Feel free to reach out to me there and send me a connect request. Just say, Hey, I heard you on Greg and Kevin's podcast and then I'll accept you.

Greg Bray: You wouldn't accept them if they'd heard on some other podcast?

Mindy Lepp: No. Of course not.

Greg Bray: Only on this podcast, will she accept your connection requests? Thank you, Mindy. All right. Well, thank you, Mindy, so much for spending time with us today. 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. [00:28:00]

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