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32 Innovating to Make it Easy on Customers - Ashley De Young-Seibert

Innovating to Make it Easy on Customers - Ashley De Young-Seibert

Ashley De Young-Seibert, the VP of Marketing at De Young Properties, drops a slew of marketing tips to help your business on this week's episode of the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. Listen in to learn from a true innovator and see why De Young Properties is like Elvis.

Ashley De Young-Seibert joined the De Young Properties team in 2011, continuing a family tradition of home building. She represents the third generation of the family business. Ashley manages De Young Properties’ website, digital marketing, special events, social media platforms, interior design and model home merchandising, and all other forms of advertising and public relations. Ashley has specifically led the initiative for De Young Properties to build an interactive social media presence, focusing heavily on engaging video content, with profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Houzz, and Instagram. Ashley has been a critical factor in the growth and evolution of De Young Properties as not only a leader in quality craftsmanship and innovation but also focusing on the latest design-trends and leading-edge amenities, while never losing sight of the most important aspect of the business – customer service. 

Transcript

Greg Bray:  [00:00:00]Hello everybody. And welcome to another 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 pleased today to welcome as our guest on the show Ashley D. Young Siebert, the vice president of marketing from the De Young Properties.

Welcome, Ashley. 

Ashley De Young: Hi, it's an honor to be here. So thank you for having me. 

Greg Bray: Well, it's our pleasure. So actually for those who haven't met you before, why don't you give us that quick introduction of yourself so we can get to know you a little better? 

Ashley De Young: Yeah. So yeah, like you mentioned, I'm the vice [00:01:00] president of marketing for my family's home building company, De Young Properties.

We're a three-generation family company and we're based out of the Central Valley in California. We've been building homes for over 45 years. it all started with my grandfather who began building after world war two. So he was a pioneer in the industry. He mentored my parents and now my brothers and I work alongside our parents, Paula and Jerry De Young.

and we definitely have a passion for building homes, but also giving back to the community that supported our company for over 45 years. So we're a St. Jude Dream home builder. We've built three 13 st. Jude dream homes. We're doing our 14th one right now. Um, and with the help of our community, And our trade partners, we've raised over 12 point million dollars for the kids of St. Jude. so it's definitely a passion project for us every year. And then we've also been the lucky builder up two homes for extreme makeover home edition, for two amazing local heroes in our community. So that's just kind of the background of our community or our company as well. 

[00:02:00] Kevin Weitzel: That's super cool, but that's all the business side, Ashley.

Yeah, I need to know this is just my little thing. I need to know one little secret, something that nobody out there outside of your close friends knows about you. One little piece, any tidbit. 

Ashley De Young: Yeah. well, I am a former singer-songwriter. I say former because I have not performed in a while. but in the past, I've been able to record music in Nashville and LA.

Um, if you dive deep, you might be able to find some songs on YouTube they are no longer on Apple. I, I stopped spending money on putting my music out there but some fun things. I was able to open up for the British rock band Bush. So that was really cool. Um, and then also I think that coolest performing experience I've ever had, was I went on a cruise to The Bahamas with my favorite band Paramore, and I was selected to sing a Paramore song onstage in front of Paramore so that was definitely, really cool too. 

Greg Bray: Awesome. That sounds amazing. Yeah. We'll have to schedule another [00:03:00] time thereto, to tap into that skill set here. Cause, cause Kevin likes to sing too. So maybe get something going there. You so, so, but actually I got it. I got it about the family business piece because that's got to add an extra little again now.

All right. The family might listen to this, so let's tread carefully, but um, what's that like working with mom and dad and the brothers, you know, At work all day, you know, that's gotta be kind of interesting, I guess I'm just staying with interesting. 

Ashley De Young: Yeah. Yeah. It's definitely interesting. luckily my family and I, we really get along and we have a deep respect for our parents.

my dad on the construction side and my mom, she works in the advertising department with me and it's just so amazing to be able to work with your parents every day and learn from them, everything that they've learned in their years of being in the company. When they started the company, they were just boyfriend and girlfriend.

And my grandfather decided to make my dad, the president of the [00:04:00] company. My mom's like, he's just my boyfriend's dad. Uh, so it was just it's, it's a funny history. Um, and it's just. Honestly, we felt lucky to be able to work with each other and be there every day and spend as much time as we get to with our family.

It's hard to stop talking about work at home though. but it's still a fun thing. 

Greg Bray: Right? How do you keep Thanksgiving from becoming a board meeting, right? That's 

Ashley De Young: yeah. Yeah. We feel bad for our spouses, I think is the most interesting part probably. Now 

Kevin Weitzel: do you have to separate work and family? So when you're at work, your workload, so like your relationship with Ryan at work versus we hang out as a family.

I mean, is he giving you, he's not giving you wet willies or anything? 

Ashley De Young: No, he definitely loves to play pranks on us, but, yeah, it's, it's definitely a fine line of being, you know, silly with each other, but also being a professional and not calling mom, mom in front of everybody probably. 

Greg Bray: Sure. So tell us how you decided to go [00:05:00] from, you know, Singer-songwriter into the home building. Other of course the family pulled you in. I'm sure that's part of it. But somewhere along the line, you made a choice. Right? What was it about home building that made you want to be part of that? And how did you kind of come into that part of your career? 

Ashley De Young: Yeah, well, growing up in the home building industry at a young age, I was always drawing homes, floor plans, and like furniture, layouts.

I was always drawing my mom thought I was going to be an architect, but I'm not. Very interested in the math and numbers side of things. Um, so it was pretty obvious that I was really interested in all of the creative departments within the home building industry. So after graduating, I went to Fresno state and I graduated with a mass communications and journalism degree.

And, back in 2011 and on a Saturday was my graduation. And Monday I began working full time. So I've been in the industry coming up on 10 years now. And, you know, I've seen many things throughout my childhood and being in the building industry, like grand openings with a line of customers, rapping out the door and all [00:06:00] the way around the corner.

but this year has definitely been interesting because, you know, we've our company has never seen in the virtual grand opening and we have launched multiple already. And our last one, the pre-grand opening sold 100% of all of the available homesites within the first four hours. So we've definitely had some good success with those.

Um, so yeah. 

Greg Bray: What do you think was one of the keys to that success? Cause that sounds like a very successful event. I mean, tell, tell us a little more about that. 

Ashley De Young:  so regarding our virtual pre-grand openings, it's definitely a team effort and the communication is key.

Our sales team, our marketing team, our management team. We all had to work together to at the drop of a hat, just decide, okay, we need to make it virtual. So our first one was back in March and literally within one week we changed everything and made it virtual. Um, you have to make it an easy process for the customers.

Obviously you don't want them to be confused on what to expect. So making [00:07:00] videos is very important and, um, you know, explaining to them. It's just as easy as clicking this link signing up and you'll be attending. So that was one thing that I feel like was easy for us because our team works really well together.

and also the location of the community. The one that we launched in March, March that was really successful, um, was very good location, great school district. And it was the final phase of that community. So it was the last chance to find that lot that you're looking for. And that's why I think it was also very successful.

Kevin Weitzel: In regard to that neighborhood. What was the target audience? I mean, are you looking at first-time buyer and move up? Is this a luxury home? Where, where, what was that segmentation? 

Ashley De Young: It's not a first-time buyer. It was more of a move up. luxury home. The home sites were larger than most communities. And so it definitely provided more space for pool in the backyard, RV parking, different things like that so it was definitely more of a move-up buyer. 

Greg Bray: I got to get my [00:08:00] RV parking spot. I haven't thought about that yet. That's a good one. So I'll have to ponder that a little bit.   So let's just take a moment and talk about the upcoming 2020 home builder digital marketing summit virtual series. It's going to be starting on October 29th. 

Kevin Weitzel: And if you don't want to be a knuckle dragon mouth breather like myself, then you better register now. 

Greg Bray: That's right. I think it doesn't matter if you're an experienced chief marketing officer, or if you're brand new to the home building industry, we are giving you a chance to take your marketing and sales to the next level, by learning from the top home building digital marketing experts. 

Kevin Weitzel: You're going to be able to do more and sell more homes by learning from the industry's best. And when we say the industry's best, we mean it. We're talking Jimmy Diffee, Angela McKay, Bassam Salem, Spencer Powell, Dana Kovach, Chris Hartley,  Eric Martinez, Stuart Platt,  Greg Bray, a builder panel. And of course myself, Kevin Weitzel. 

Greg Bray: It's truly a star studded lineup, Kevin.

And for that, tell him [00:09:00] how much it's going to cost. 

Kevin Weitzel: $15,000. Now we're just kidding. It's only actually going to be nothing it's free. So get your whole team together buildermarketingsummit.com. It's all virtual. So you can learn from your home, your office, or your home office. 

Greg Bray: We know you're busy. So we're trying to accommodate your schedule.

The home builder digital marketing summit virtual series will be two hours once a week on Thursdays for 40. 

Kevin Weitzel: It definitely won't wreck your schedule, but you'll still learn a ton of tricks that you can put into practice right away. 

Greg Bray: So go to buildermarketingsummit.com today and register and

remember it's free and now let's get back to the podcast.  So Ashley you've been doing this for a little while, then it sounds like as far as, especially with the, with the marketing side, what are, what are some of the.

Outside of just the recent escalation that, that COVID is caused. What are some of the trends you've been watching and seeing in digital marketing in general and the changes you've kind of been encouraging within your own company? 

Ashley De Young: Well, um, I think [00:10:00] definitely the making the process easier for the customer, they deserve it.

Our, our home building industry definitely needs to work harder at making the process of finding. And understanding how to buy and build a brand new home. So the unintended access we've definitely been working on that on our inventory homes and then we, we heavily focus on our virtual content. So we have an in house, videographer photographer, and then we also have an in house graphic designer and marketing specialist.

And then it's my mother and myself in the marketing department. And so all of us. Really divide and conquer, and it's nice to have it in house because we can just at the drop of the hat, go and get a Matterport to her filmed. 

Kevin Weitzel: So wait a second. You say your mother works in the marketing department too and your VP of marketing, does that mean that she answers to you? 

Ashley De Young: Well, it has been interesting the change of time. So like within the last three years, we used to spend 70% of print. [00:11:00] Of our advertising dollars on print. And we are now at like 5% on print and the majority of our money is put towards digital efforts and obviously our website.

So she has definitely learned a lot of, I used to learn a lot from her when we used to do a print more. But, um, you know, now it's, it's definitely a learning curve and she's, she's hanging in there. She loves Instagram and social media, so she gets 

Kevin Weitzel: it. So on the digital side, I know because you utilize our interactive floor plan.

So obviously we know that you're using that tool and you've already told us that you find that valuable. At least I, I think that that's what you've said in the past. Um, but what other digital tools are you guys using to differentiate or to elevate your product besides like the matter ports and creating that grid?

Those graphics. 

Ashley De Young: Yeah. Well, I definitely love having the kitchen changer feature. So having a way to visualize what your kitchen is going to look like is amazing. and then also having with our interactive floor plans with you guys, we also have all of [00:12:00] our elevations on there with the color schemes, and yeah.

Being able to allow customers to see what the home is going to look like. Even if it's just a rendering and not a real photo of the house, you still get a really good idea of what it's like. We've also brought our design studio appointments, into a virtual sense. So customers will get a virtual packet ahead of time and be able to see all of the, the things that we're offering.

And we kind of put this together, ourselves, this virtual, but we are looking into, um, doing an envision project 

Greg Bray: so, Ashley, one of the things you mentioned is you've got an in house videographer.

I think I don't know for me, I think that sounds unique and a little different, I don't know that most folks are investing in house like that. What was kind of your, your thought process about, Hey, we need to get somebody on our team? We can have doing this all the time. What kind of led to that decision and, and what has been some of the results you've seen from that?

Ashley De Young: Yeah, I think for us, it's been important to bring activities in house. If it's something that typically has to go [00:13:00] through multiple rounds of editing. So for our team, we Photoshop, we create graphics. We edit video content, flyers collateral for the sales team, even though I'm so against printed material, we're slowly trying to make everything more digital, but it's nice to have it all under one roof because we can. Edit them as soon as we need to and not be spending that much money on that. So we leave the outsourcing typically for our, our third-party partners that we really trust and have great relationships with. We work with, do you convert for digital marketing? And we love being part of builder groups.

I think that that is also something that not many other builders are involved in, and it's nice to be able to talk to people in noncompeting markets and learn from them. And then also ask them word of mouth, like, who are you working with, and what have, what projects have you done that have really been helpful for your company?

So do 

Greg Bray: you ever find that? Okay, well, we've got this video expert. We need something for them to do. And you're [00:14:00] like, I don't know, what should we video? Well, let's go video something, right. Or do you have plenty? Is the pipeline just so long, you've got so much to do. And so many ideas. It's no problem. 

Ashley De Young: Yeah. The pipeline is so long. There's literally an endless amount of things you can video. And my brother, he will call me at, you know, 9:00 PM at night and be like, I have another idea for a video. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, just add it to the list. Do you know? So there are endless amounts, you know, we do a floor plan tour of each floor plan.

And we have that with voiceover. And so if you're wanting to just hit play and not do a whole virtual clicking through the house with the Matterport, you just can click, play, and watch the whole thing at your own pace, we also do, video testimonials with customers. Um, Even just videos of selections that you could choose from.

I mean, there there's an endless amount. I think another thing that really stands out with our company is we're a very energy efficient home builder. So in our model home center, we have a smart home experience center within one [00:15:00] of the models. And we've done videos in there explaining every single product that goes within the walls of your home.

That makes it healthier to live in healthier for the environment. And it saves money on our customer's energy bills. So. I mean, there, there's an endless amount of topics to go over. 

Kevin Weitzel: My girlfriend says it's healthier when I'm not in the house. So apparently the breathing is easier and everything else, 

Ashley De Young: not as stuffy, 

Kevin Weitzel: not as stuffy.

So let me ask you a question, talking about the implementation of these various tools. Have you had any scenarios where you've had to overcome challenges with implementation or adoption or even getting buy-in from sales teams? 

Yeah. it's definitely hard to get the sales team. You want to do a few things.

Um, but I think our company, we strive to create innovative projects and pro communities, and we are always thinking of the next big thing and being leading edge. Um, and so it's sad that it's taken a pandemic to make virtual appointments happen, [00:16:00] but that's where we're at. And, I think with our team, they really know that we like to be innovative.

And so. As soon as we told them within one week the sales team that we were going to make the event virtual, they were like, okay, go for it. We're all in. And so, they, they already kind of know that that's our MO we like to be innovative. We love technology. Um, and so I don't think that it has been that difficult to, make sure that each department is on board.

Greg Bray: I'm just, I sorry to go back to the the video piece, just cause that's that I find that so terrific and amazing that you guys are doing so much. Cause I think there's a real opportunity there that a lot of builders aren't tapping into, because the way that you can connect with people on video is so much easier than it, you know, whether it's a testimonial or a tour or whatever.

Um, so I just think it's great that you guys have made that kind of an investment, uh, to have someone. So it's so easy now, right? Because you've got the resources, you've got the skills in house. So, so kudos, I guess, is [00:17:00] where I'm going with that. I'm not sure that's the question. 

Ashley De Young: Yeah. Thank you. I think what has been really interesting is obviously doing these virtual grand openings.

We are not in front of the customers. I can't have our videographer film them. So we've literally just been recording a conversation with the customers in the middle of their virtual appointment with the sales agent and doing the testimonial, virtually saving it and posting that on social media. So honestly, that has been something that's kind of just really funny, that that's how we're doing video testimonials, but Hey, I want to.

I want our future customers to hear from our current customers, the easiest way that we could do it during virtual grand openings. 

Greg Bray: No, that's that's terrific. So tell us a little bit more about your customers and what types of, you know, reactions are you getting from the, obviously you, you had a big sellout, you know, so on this event.

So, so that one went well, but in general, are you finding, as you move more digital that's your customers are saying finally, or are they [00:18:00] going well? Okay, we'll try it. You know, what, what type of reactions are you saying? 

Ashley De Young: Yeah. I think the first community that we launched virtually the one, yeah. Back in March, um, a few of the customers had been waiting for a while because it was the final phase.

And then to find out that it was going to be virtual, a few of them were disappointed. And so, um, you know, We came up with some fun ways to make it exciting along the way, even though they weren't going to be in person with us. And so in advance, we had some fun ideas where we created swag gifts and we mailed them to the customer before the virtual grand opening.

And we had fun signs that they would hold up during their virtual appointment. We would take pictures of them and just. Make it exciting, before they are signing on the dotted line that they're, you know, they're marking this moment in time and it's going to be a fun memory. They're going to have a photo of this moment, even though they're not in person.

so that was one way that we made it more exciting for the customers. There are [00:19:00] definitely a lot of customers though, that were, um, had no problem with the tech side and were able to easily hop on. They were saying. Willing to do video testimonials with us. So it was probably 50 50, the, I would say, but I think, these most recent ones that we've done the last month, sending these guests advanced to the customers and mailing them to them was probably the turning point for making them more excited about the process.

Greg Bray: So that's, that's a terrific idea is kind of sending them this, this kit ahead of time. Right. Of, of here's all, here's all the stuff you'll need, you know, which normally they would walk in and you'd hand to them. Right. Or, or, or, or something along those lines. So, so that's a that's a great insight. do you find that I think video testimonials again, is an, an opportunity to, a lot of builders are not tapping into, do you, do you find that people are very willing or are there some, like no way you cannot.

Use my video anywhere because nobody wants to see this or hear from me, you know, they, they, are, they, are they comfortable with that? Or you have to kind of persuade them a little bit. 

[00:20:00] Ashley De Young: Well, um, we definitely persuade them a little bit and offer, you know, a chance to win another prize in the personal selection process of their design appointment.

If they do the video with us and it's only typically takes five minutes. So quick. and also it's not live. We edit it to make them sound, you know, exactly how they want to sound. And so that makes it a little bit. Less stressful for the customers. But, um, I think our customer is obviously they see all of these video testimonials that we do every grand opening and the ones that are, you know, just prospects and they haven't decided to buy yet.

They're kind of aware that we're really into hearing from our customers and it gets them starting to think about, well, why am I purchasing a home? And, and what story do I have to tell? And so I think the customers that choose to build with us know that you know, we're a family company and we love sharing family stories.

So they're definitely more willing than maybe people buying at other home builders. 

Kevin Weitzel: So let me get this straight. I can buy a [00:21:00] home from you. You can edit my voice to sound like I want it to sound so I could sound like Elvis and be like, does this De Young Properties, home come with a peanut butter banana sandwich.

You could do that for me, 

Ashley De Young: I don't know about the tone of the voice, but we could definitely help your sentence. Make sense. 

Greg Bray: I don't know where to go with that. 

Kevin Weitzel: It's a peanut butter banana sandwich baby. 

Greg Bray: The problem is, is that I've seen Kevin's picture of his Elvis impersonator, and he's really good. 

Ashley De Young: So we might need to hire you for another event.

Kevin, 

Kevin Weitzel: I only do last year, Elvis, you know you right the year before he died, but when he was fat, cause I can't do skinny Elvis anymore. It's just not physically possible with the build that I have gifted myself. so yeah, if you ever want a fat Elvis, I'm your man. 

Ashley De Young: I'll let you know. All right. 

Greg Bray: And, yeah, we'll, we'll set up a sign up for or something.

So we can see all the requests coming in for that, Kevin, 

Kevin Weitzel: but you know like Elvis though, you know, he was [00:22:00] a, you know, regardless of what side of the fence you're on, whether, you know, we stole music or he was his music or whatever, he was still, no matter how you look at it and innovator in music and very much so like de young properties as an innovator in how you're selling homes.

Where does an Elvis go? Where does an Ashley de Young look for inspiration? Where, what are those trends that you're looking at to find out how you can shape the direction of the young properties? 

Ashley De Young: Well, I definitely love looking at different industries. So I sign up for like hotels, their interest list for booking appointments, or even just, you know, retail options.

And I, I love looking at graphic designs from e-blasts that other people send out and just really love different industries. And then, like I mentioned, of course, Build our groups. I love hearing from other builders and learning what has been said accessible for them. So that's something that I do. And then I love listening to podcasts just like yours [00:23:00] and other podcasts.

Yes. And just continuing education, I think is always important. It didn't stop just after you finished your schooling. It continues your whole life and I love continue this education. 

Greg Bray: Well, we appreciate you listening to the podcast, you know, it's and that's awesome. And there's, there's so much that we can learn, you know, I think when we stop learning, that's when we're in trouble.

Right. So, so do you have any pieces of advice? You know, things for people who want to learn from, from Ashley, you know, what, what do you want to share is that, that. Big takeaway for today. 

Ashley De Young: Yeah. I think I'd really recommend making sure that you're partnered up with the right team, the right companies that have the same values as you, and that can help you where maybe you fall short to achieve the goals that you're working on and really make lists of specific goals that you're looking into doing.

Um, I also love backtracking. So knowing what our goal is, and then going all the way from the beginning on the customer's perspective, to make sure that we hit our goal. and seeing [00:24:00] it in their eyes sometimes is also helpful. I think making connections with other marketing professionals in any industry, not even just home building, like I mentioned, I, I love looking into other industries and bouncing ideas off of each other.

Um, and then just surrounding yourself with experts in the field that you're in. And, I think just you'll have a chance to grow along the way. If, if you're surrounding yourself with experts, 

Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, Ashley, thank you so much. You've shared so much with us today. We really appreciate the insights and getting to know you a little bit better as well, along the way.

So thanks again for your time. If there are people that want to reach out and connect with you, what's the best way for them to do that? 

Ashley De Young: you can email me. My email is ad@dyoungproperties.com. Um, or you could call me if you want to as well. I don't, 

Greg Bray: no, the phone still works, right. People don't don't always have to just, just email.

So yeah, by all means, so, well, thanks again, Ashley, for your time today. We really appreciate it. Thank you everybody for listening and join us again. Next time on the Home Builder Digital [00:25:00] Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine and I'm 

Kevin Weitzel: Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse. Thank you.

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